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Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat

The Obama administration today ended the official ban on women engaging in front-line combat.

According to the New York Times:

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said on Wednesday.

The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from many positions in the infantry and artillery, even though in reality women have found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.

I know that many of you are current and former military. I’d be especially interested to hear what you think.

41 thoughts on “Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat”

  1. For some women, this will be fine. For others, serving in hostile environments could be an issue. America will accept this change in policy until these women are captured, raped, killed, and then dragged thru cities. Then, the USA will be upset.

  2. Keith – We are going to hear some noise from many – at all levels. The narrative will be sound-byte driven at the press level. So, who cares really, the buzz will wear off.

    Down in the trenches, this decision is well-vetted. And, we know, woman have been serving in combat roles for many years – and it was messy because of a few odd restrictions. Take the recent decision that allow woman to serve on submarines – the first batch recent deployed. While I never served on a sub, I have several friends / family who have. If it can work on a sub, it’ll work on the battlefield. One off issues, um yeah… There always are.

    Will there be some bumps? Sure. Remember the first female Aviator? She died in training and much was “discussed” regarding her “skills” and the appropriateness of woman flying. First Naval Aviator that was Carrier Qualed? She also dies in a mishap – ruled Pilot error. Lots of discussion then… Go back further, and you have woman shuttling aircraft during WWII. Same ole, same ole…

    Change comes slowly to the military – it is the nature of who they are and what they do. Many folks currently serving quietly bitch about don’t ask, don’t tell. Not unexpectedly, slowly but surely, it all works out. And it is… We’ll get the same thing here.

    Some senior leadership in the military will express public support, but share concerns privately. Again this is the norm. The primary concern will be the “domino” reaction associated with the “men” who are serving in that capacity, e.g., will combat performance suffer because men will begin to “act” differently under combat situation? And, I note, “differently” would need to result in a negative calculation – i.e., increased battle casualties. In the long term, it is not going to happen – and they already figured this out…

    In the end, some sniping, some concern, some “mic” time for elected officials, but our service members will do what they always do – get the job done while politicians do politics. And, let’s remember, across all services, a very small percentage of military roles are designated combat. This is as much about senior female officers having access to roles that allow for command positions that get the promos and stars… And, there we have it.

      1. Good question Otis – Yes, I have served in all sorts of capacities where discretion and temptation enter the same equation in the same sentence.

        What are you driving at – the sexual aspect of this? It already exists – look at the number of CO’s relieved over the last 5 years. Drill down on the reasons. Conduct unbecoming is higher than we want to see.

        Driving on another point? Females don’t shoot as well? Fly as well?

        1. that was a very open ended reply – I just asked yes or no if you served in the military.

          And if you served, were you ever in command (did you wear the pin).

          Just asking, there is no point to be made.

  3. Of course. Taking into account the new culture wherein women deny their maternal instincts and celebrate killing their own children, it’s only a small step to train them to kill strange men in combat.
    Will they be excused from combat missions once a month or will they be forced to have their reproductive organs removed?
    Are bathroom facilities available on the killing fields for women or will some newfangled urination system be designed for women so that they don’t have to drop their uniforms for the call of nature?

    All men may be created equal, but men and women are not. Call me old-fashioned, or sexist, but women are the bringers of life, the nurturers of the young, and the only thing that keeps men civilized.
    There is no place for them on the killing fields of combat.

      1. Oh Lord… you have me thinking of car seats that can fit in a Humvee, Susan. (But seriously folks…) All kidding aside, I have seen women who served in combat zones, perhaps inadvertently, some with PTSD and I admire them greatly. Srdem’s points are well made and well taken, by me at least. Women can and SHOULD serve in all areas that are practical. You want equality, Ladies? Here’s the M-4. Unfortunately, not all combat assignments are “practical”. Let the lower level command structure make the decisions and lets stop the grand standing with White House level pronouncements that have no basis in reality.

  4. The picture on Drudge says it all a room full of middle aged men. They aren’t
    the ones I want sending me or my wife or daughter into war.

  5. I have a question, will women be forced to serve in combat? If your house was on fire would you rather have a truck of firemen or women? Never would I fight a battle, it would go against my nature. We give life, not take it.

  6. The problem with women is force manning levels. Number of Boot on the Ground is a funding and readiness issue. What happens when a women has female issues and has to leave the unit? Where does the replacement person come from? At the basic grunt level, do you have a ratio to men to women (who carries the heavy weapons?); are certain units restricted to movement (ruck sacks 45lbs plus body armor)? Physical standards lowered?

    1. Rex – we are being told no. No “different standards”. Now, that does not mean the standards won’t be evaluated to ensure they are still relevant / appropriate.

  7. I remember back in 1995 when we first had females on my ship… took the ship over a year to adjust to all the new B.S., and even after that we would have ‘issues/problems’…

  8. I am a Marine Corps veteran (female). From personal experience and observation I just don’t see women physically capable of handling the tremendous rigors of this specific role. That’s just the reality of it. Until it can be proven that women in infantry/combat enhances our National Security it should not occur.

    1. USMC – There you go. Right on. As I said in another thread, in some operational capacities, it just will not add up on the physical side. Now, if you are talking pulling 9G’s in a F/A 18, gender is not an issue in terms of performance.

      Demi Moore is not going to be in the Seals…

    2. God bless you for speaking the truth, Lady Jarhead. Recently I had the honor of going to the new Marine Corps Museum near Quantico. A really interesting thing was that one of our museum guides was a woman Marine that enlisted in ’51. She also happened the mother of the Senior Sgt in my Marine Security Guard Detachment (American Embassy Tel Aviv ’77-79.) There was a local High School group going through at the time, many of the girls were interested in the Corps. I told the high school kids of my (indirect) association with the guide, Mrs. Donna Genovese. Mother of Sgt Mark Genovese, now a Captain in the North Haven (CT) PD. The world is a small place when you are a Marine….

      Semper Fi, Sis…

    1. I think that is it. Nice big splashy headline that is garunteed to dominate the kitchen table conversation right as Hilary testifies for congress. Hummm.

        1. Could be. Unfortunate we always have to ask why with this admin. Their motive is to divide and they will manipulate a willing press to do it. And I realized I forgot my “bitter clinger” quote marks on ga-run-teed!

      1. hmmm… that is an interesting view. And did you see Valerie Jarret’s tweet during the same time frame? She was pushing for women to protected by violence.

  9. Its a wonderful example of equality for women. But IS IT EQUALITY?

    Women have been separated from combat “jobs” but have accepted different criteria and standards when it came to physical fitness, weight and height standards, and affect unit readiness without warning when they get pregnant. I applaud their inclusion in the military.

    Pilot, medical, and other roles started to blur the support roles vs. combat roles and the policy definitely had to reviewed.

    But I am concerned about things. One, will the female infantry soldier be asked to carry the same gear, supplies, and extra ammunition as the males in her unit? Or will those males be expected to carry a heavier burden to accommodate this equality?

    My second concern… when will females be compelled to participate in the draft? Should all the teenage girls run to the post office to fill out their Selective Service cards? Or will this social experiment of EQUALITY only be shared with the girls who volunteer for service?

    1. Rick – Two good ending points. We are told no, but what is the unwritten reality… Rumor has it that the brass will ensure that the only true measurement will be based upon operational readiness and ability to perform at “prescribed” levels… Hmmm. This will be a “we shall see”…

      Your second point is a fun one. The logic would say – let’s get them input into the Selective Service Database. This one will be fun to watch in the press.

    2. Your second point is very valid and hits home with me. My teenage daughter has no business being in the military, let alone combat. She couldn’t purposely sign up to harm others. If she had to defend her life or those of her family (say a home invasion) she would. Her psyche just does not allow for “war”.

  10. I just turned 70 and have seen such changes in the military! Used to be, a female member of the armed services HAD to resign if she ended up pregnant (even if she was married). It really made us pause when the ole man and I saw our first military maternity uniform!!!

    I always feel that a man or woman should pursue whatever they are capable of doing and achieving. And I do feel that a large number of roles blur over into the “combat” area — primarily pilots or aircraft or ‘coptors, where they can be excellent.

    That being said, it is ridiculous to expect women to be able to do and have the huge lifting, carrying and endurance capabilities that a 6’ 6″, 230 lb. man can do. If the females are not quite capable of doing “everything”, they are therefore encumbering and endangering the men they are with because the men will then have to make sure it gets done.

    Also, there is the hygiene needs of the monthly. There is a need for a female to have access to bathrooms. I don’t think I need to go into the details about this; we’ve all lived around women, we all know how it goes. The female fliers fly their duty time and then are capable of being free to tend to their needs. I can’t imagine how female combat warriors would be able to tend to cleanliness while in a tiny outpost in Afghanistan!

    There’s a place for strong females, and we see strong women around us all the time. And, when needed, women can and do heft a rifle as well as anybody else. All those covered wagons that settled the west contained almost as many women as men.

    If a woman wants to do the heavy lifting, and can do it, well, more power to her. Let her do it IF she can keep up with her male counterparts.

    But in extended combat circumstances? In my opinion, I feel women would not ADD to the effectiveness of the unit over the long run. And, it’s the effectiveness of these units all over the world that make our military as strong as it is.

  11. FWIW, I was deployed on a destroyer tender (USS Yosemite) that had females onboard. Having women on a ship changes everything. It was like a soap opera at sea. Sailors falling in love; sailors acting in ways they wouldn’t normally act; constant drama. Sailors at sea get very lonely, male and female, and having both sexes represented in that environment caused lots of problems. I certainly don’t blame the women, just making observations.

  12. Ahhhh – Leon, good old soldier he is… Hillary is in the Senate getting beat like a $20 working girl and Leon jangles his keys: “Look! Something SHINEY!!!”

  13. The “requirement to report a plan” mandated by Mr. Panetta gives the service components the option to delineate exclusions and exemptions. This they will do, with a strong argument and specifics. You will never see gender-mixed direct action Spec Ops units. Specifically, females as assaulters. It is simply too much for all but maybe a couple dozen women to achieve the physical prerequisites (let alone sustained operational performance), and therefore not worth the effort and expenditure. This case can be made fully and in such a way the external observers can do nothing other than concur (particularly within current budget constraints).

    You may well see female-only Infantry platoons or companies or battalions. Perhaps even a female combined arms brigade. The current, watered down physical standards will be lowered yet again to accommodate their existence. These units will be ceremonial in nature, will never be committed to direct combat unless surrounded by and integrated with parent maneuver units of regular (all male) constitution. They will serve their purpose; that is, to allow female officers to “check the block”, and acquire combat arms career tracks.

    That is all this is. Gender equality of outcome. There is no concern for U.S. combat capability, nor is the true motive women’s suffrage. It is all about the death of chivalry, and making feminists feel they are “the same”.

    1. There are already women in some Special Operations units. I’m not talking staff. Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units are relying on women already. I’m not partial for them to be Special Forces or Rangers, but I wouldn’t put it pass the femminists and this Administration to push for it.

    1. excellent piece from Mr Smith, he is spot on. This is the problem when civilians try to run the military, thinking it’s mostly milk and cookies time.

  14. Sounds like fun. Let me know how well that works out the first time one of the gals has to poop in an MRE bag in front of 20 Marines in the back of a Bradley en route to a combat zone.

    1. Or how well it works out when a 120 pound gal has to heft a 230 pound male counterpart off the battlefield. Pure dead weight. Not that there aren’t some women more than capable. It’s usually the exception, not the rule though.

      How well will it work when enemies purposely set out to capture said gals and repeatedly rape them? Or use them as pawns for their demands since America values women and children (those alive anyway)?

      Lots of problems with this, but hey we’ll live through more unintended consequences in order to achieve “progress”.

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