Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Women should be allowed in combat
That all changed when outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did away with a 1994 Pentagon policy that banned women soldiers from direct combat roles.
I'm fine with women severing in combat roles if:
1. All women now have to register with Selective Service just like men when they turn 18.
2. The military truly institutes gender-neutral standards for combat positions, particularly infantry.
3. If most women cannot meet these gender-neutral standards, then the military does not start lowering standards for the sake of "equality"
Within reason, I don't see a problem with this. The surest path to advancement in the military is to serve in combat. I'd like to think that the women currently serving who are taking and returning enemy fire right now have the same opportunities to distinguish themselves as our men do.
Where reason comes in is in the standards that are set. Combat is physically gruelling. It really does require a lot of physical strength, including upper body strength. Set a minimum standard for infantrymen based on the realities of combat.
Any woman who can meet that standard should be allowed to serve her country, just as a man who meets that standard is. And they should both be given the same pay, opportunities for advancement, and recognition.
Lower the standard, though, and we have a serious problem. A problem that will lead to unnecessary casualties and deaths.
For me it really comes down to this, and all the other arguments about harassment, fraternizing, etc. are marginal. Define the job requirements accurately.
Can she do that job? Yes? Then allow her to serve.
No? Then she may serve in another capacity. Why is that so difficult for people to accept?
I'm quite fine with this. It is not really changing something so much as it is recognizing a change that has already happened.
Differentiating between men "in battle" and women in a supporting role behind the lines is a concept that almost comes from the era of WWII and Korea and Vietnam - where you had clear lines between the front lines and support operations. No such thing really exists anymore. Military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan (you name it) often sit right in the center of combat zones, and are quite often targeted by insurgents.
Point is, warfare tactics change over time, and strategy and concepts must change with it. We no longer have Normandy, where leaders planned things from safe locations far away from the front. We now (in almost anything we are fighting) are embedded in the middle of the same cities in which our enemies live. Female soldiers are not at any less risk than their male counter parts and deserve to be awarded combat status.
I am a very committed conservative, but I really do not see this decision in terms of political correctness, or as a right/left issue. Rather, I think it is an appropriate acknowledgement of a reality that already exists.
I have talked to a few women that have come back from serving in the Middle East. And while it is only anecdotal, I see them as having faced the same fears as any of the men. And even further, understand them to have the same commitment to service.
American women are very powerful beings. Further, some of the most effective armies in the world have understood that women have a significant role to play - not just behind the scenes, but as warriors. Certainly not every American woman would want anything to do with being a soldier (a lot of men do not either), but for those that do, I salute them, and think they should be given the chance.
Face it folks, women in combat is now a fact of life. But we must also remember the risks involved with women in combat situations
The timing is as right as it could be made, as occasions for boots-on-the-ground take-and-hold actions probably will become fewer and fewer, given all the technology we're deploying to wage remote war. But we shouldn't kid ourselves that both men and women in forward combat positions will not suffer hideously in the event that we do find ourselves in violent ground actions.
We're reminded by Benghazi, Mali and Algeria, not to mention the still-unresolved matters of Iran, Syria and elsewhere within the newly awakened Middle East and North Africa, that nothing is certain. If we should find ourselves in ground actions against Islamist extremists, our captured man and women in front-line positions could be abused horrifically and executed. And this despite the measures the Pentagon surely will take to minimize risk of such outcomes.
The prize is one worth a risk, but let's not be too dismissive of the actual risk.