Women in Combat Hurt Women at Home

Newsmax contacted me about my opinion on the new “women in combat” decision.  Here’s my response:


The media is focusing on how women in combat will affect military readiness. But no one is talking about the impact it will have on the military families whose loved ones are stationed in distant lands.

I know about the pressures military families endure because I experienced them first-hand. When my husband was assigned to a combat unit during the 2007 surge in Iraq, the only way we could reliably communicate was via instant message and text. Sometimes I wouldn’t hear for him for days and weeks. On one occasion, an entire month passed without a word.

One day, we were instant messaging when he typed the word “she.” I looked at my screen. “A woman?” I typed. A female had been temporarily transferred to his unit’s forward operating base — an unusual occurrence. My husband and I were aware of the unfaithfulness threat during deployment. His friends would come home on leave only to find their wives gone or pregnant. Some received “Dear John” letters. Others saw photos of their wives with other men on Facebook. To safeguard our marriage, I decided not to look up old flames on Facebook, not to have long personal conversations with men, and not to drink. But the idea of him being unfaithful during his service abroad never occurred to me.

He did not have an affair. During his deployment, a few women did cycle through his forward operating base. Sadly, the vast majority ended up ensnared in some sort of sexual impropriety. Fortunately, our family of four — now five — survived the deployment, and we are better off for my husband’s courageous and sacrificial decision to serve in the military. (He is a Harvard Law graduate who left his job as a constitutional attorney to serve his country.) But let’s just be honest about it. The military already has an infidelity problem. When images of David Petraeus flash across the screens of spouses left behind, images of real or imagined affairs flash across the minds of the loved ones left back home.

Please enjoy the rest of this article on Newsmax.

About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

  • Sus

    I wonder if Israel’s and Canada’s military have an infidelity problem. Both have had women in combat for a long time.

  • Chris Calkins

    Speaking as a Vietnam era Corpswave ( female) I have to second your concerns Thank you for bring up this issue. The military environment seems to encourage/embrace sexual impropriety. It did it 40 years ago and, I expect, it’s just as bad, if not worse, now. It seems almost impossible for men and women to inhabit the same space for any length of time without those “hormones” kicking in. I saw it time and time again – good men or women succumbing to that trap and ruining their marriages and, sometimes, their careers. Why on earth would anyone want to place people in the position of struggling with that issue when they, as a combat team, are already dealing with life and death issues?

  • Heather Brinkley

    wait? I’m lost here….and really hoping that I misunderstand….really am!

  • Charles Moore

    This sounds depressingly like a remix of “rape culture.”

    Are you really saying you cannot have male friends on Facebook without truly worrying that you may break your marriage vows? And that you honestly believe NO ONE ELSE CAN EITHER?

    What about other careers? By your logic, anyone who works with someone of the opposite gender is going to either rape or have an affair with that person. Obviously, that’s not the norm. Why do you think it is for military personnel?? Do you really think so little of their self-restraint? Their ability to control their own actions? If military personnel are truly that untrustworthy, WHY ARE WE GIVING THEM WEAPONS in the first place?

  • Charles Moore

    Your stance seems eerily similar to the stance taken against blacks as the military began to allow them in: separate “but equal” units, or not being allowed in the same roles….

    It is hypocritical and sexist. You are smarter than this, Nancy

    • David French

      I’m not sure I follow . . . how is it similar to a racist argument?

      • Charles Moore

        She is saying that some demographic — some significant percentage of the population — should be denied equal access to jobs. That denial is based strictly on the genetics of their birth; it is in no way related to their abilities, their dedication, their willingness to serve. It is entirely based on their gender and nothing else.

        That’s quite similar to the false logic used to argue against equal military service to blacks.

        • Jim Turner

          Saddly Nancy is correct. As a Soldier I have seen it happen time and time again. I ad th eopportunityto be unfaithful to my wife. I turned down th einvitation but neverthe less the single female soldier seemed not to care I was married or had a family. The more spoke of my wide and kids th emore she would press me. I basically ha dto flat out tell her my wife and the vows I made to her are more important to me than a moment of self gratification. Today’s soldiers for the mos part have no moral compass. many including leaders do not understand what morals truely are. Most soldiers have grown up in home completely void of moral teachings, where on Sunday it is more common to enjoy the ball games than to worship God. Many Soldiers do not understand the corelation between God and Morals. Bottom line is men and women can only go so long without sex before the natural urge takes over. Some soldiers seek out a partner to fufill that urge. Some turn to Masturbation. Some (few) forebear and wait until deployment is over or mid tour leave. But many times it is the married soldiers and thier families who pay the real price. Single soldiers as long as it is consentual get a slap on the wrist. I know I treat all females I work with like a communicable desease. I only get near enough to conduct official business. when deployed I do not spend off duty time with them. When in garrison I don’t socializewith females outside of work ever without my wife present. The reason I do this is because I am aware of how tempted by Sex I am and so I take a responsible approach. I don’t think there is a female in the Army whom I have come in contact with except the one mentioned above who would try to firt with me as they all know I would very bluntly, verbally, and rather non- politically correct stop it. But, saddly most soldiers flirt with other soldiers of the opposite sex, married or not. It’s sad but it is common place.

          Now if the Military wants to make all female infantry units cool, but coed units have always and will always be plagued with sexual problems.

  • Elena

    Well lady, I’d say that’s your own problem. If you don’t trust your husband not no have an affair, whether he’s deployed overseas or on a business trip, you probably shouldn’t be married.

    • Heather Brinkley

      well said elana!

  • Charles Moore

    Convenience/availability/opportunity (or the lack thereof) isn’t what makes a good person good. Else they are not, in fact good at all. They’re just lazy.

    • jdens

      To be fair, good people make mistakes, and I read somewhere that opportunity is the greatest predictor of infidelity. That said, it’s still not a good argument for barring women from combat. I mean, are we going to make jobs like pilot and flight attendant single gender, too?

  • Dee

    PLEASE tell me that I am misunderstanding something. I feel like I should be going up to every female soldier that I know and ask her if she realized she was a whore.
    I get it.. being away from your spouse and not having sexytimes sucks, but you know what? Soldiers do it every day. If your spouse (man or woman) truly loves you, he/she’s not going to be getting it from a fellow solder. If someone wants to cheat, they’re gonna do it, regardless if the opportunity is readily available or not. You say your husband didn’t cheat and your marriage survived. Well then he’s a good guy. Can’t you just be happy that he loves you enough not to cheat on you, regardless of this particular woman, instead of basically insinuating that she was there looking to *do* something more than her job?

    • Heather Brinkley

      exactly….it’s about trust and commitment…if you can’t trust them to be faithful…why are you with them?

  • Anna

    As a female veteran who counseled a number of junior enlisted men about relationship issues affecting their performance on the job, I can tell you – infidelity doesn’t happen just because the women were there and the poor unsuspecting men were lured off the straight and narrow by a wicked temptress – it happened because the men had marital issues BEFORE they decided to engage in an affair, and the opportunity presented itself.

    Simply put, if you’re legitimately worried your man will drop his pants just because he’s around other women instead of you, you’ve already lost ground in your marriage.

    • Christie

      Not true. Temptation in a lonely atmosphere over a long period of time brings out the worst in any man or woman – even in a good marriage. Just ask any of the many who suffer because of infidelity. Good people who are lured by weakness.

      • Charles Moore

        So women shouldn’t be allowed to serve as traveling salespeople or consultants either?

        And why are WOMEN singled out here? Why are you not trying to legally punish the MEN who are equally to blame in any non-rape infidelity?

        • Jim Turner

          No women shoul dbe alllowed in combat roles but segregated from men. When I was in basic training I didn’t ven know females were being trained on the same post I was on util graduation I was able to go to the mai PX and saw newly graduated female privates. At that time we had no incidents of sexual impropriety. Then I went to AIT at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. an dwas trained right alongs side the females. They were in our Barracks on the 1st floor. Every Recall formation on Sunday afternoon. Article 15′s were being anounced for this and that soldier getting caught having sex. Or a group of soldiers getting investigated for rape. and then within a couple of years guess what happens we find out that APG was full of sex scandal going rightto the top enlisted soldier Sergeant Major of the Army McKinney.

          So the answer is they can do the same jobs and serve in th esame capacity but need to be seperate by gender to maintain good order and disciplin. I am not say men can’t control them selves from my observations the many women in th earmy are worse than the men.

      • chicago dyke

        addressing the ignorant author of this post: oh, you’re a ghostwriter for the Palin klan. i get it now.

        why don’t you more properly follow your bible, hon? you know, stop talking. because you’re a woman and have icky womanly parts. and jeebus wants you to.

        if you can’t “keep your man” well, maybe you should think about why that is. hint: it’s not because he isn’t or can’t do his job with a fellow female while overseas.

        -CD/Quantico grad/Hemant’s blog at Patheos reader

  • Heather Brinkley

    well said Anna!!! I do not understand the point here. All I am reading is that they can not trust themselves to be true in the marriage.

  • http://www.gadlaw.com Gilbert Davis

    Well the world has an infidelity problem and the idea that ‘keeping women out of combat’ would alleviate that problem is nonsense. For one thing they are already there as you pointed out. For another thing they are already there just short of the forward deployed troops so no relief for you there. Besides, as you pointed out there is already the problem right back at home and no matter how you veil yourself or get your husband to veil himself or whatever that’s not going to change anything anywhere. Might as well board the women left behind up in their homes and put chastity belts on them for all the good it would do. The bottom line – women were in the front lines but not getting the credit for being in the combat they are already in. That’s the bottom line, fairness to men and women of the Armed Forces.

  • Deena

    I can’t imagine a more stressful time in a person’s life than combat and war zones in general. Sometimes it’s just smart not to put temptation in people’s way. And if there are those who are smart enough to recognize the potential, and set up rules to minimize all possible risk, well, I certainly applaud them.

    • Charles Moore

      If they can be trusted to use heavy weapons with self-control and self-restraint, they darn well should be expected to wield self-control and self-restraint with their bodies, too. If I couldn’t trust John Doe with what is in his pants, I sure as heck cannot trust him with a machine gun. Ditto for Jane Doe.

      • Jim Turner

        Its funny how we soldiers are constantly at least quarterly having to have sexal harassment classes, SHARP (Sexual Harassement and Rape Prevetion) and fraternization classes yet we only go to the range once or twice a year. Resisting the urge to Kill people with heavey weapons (something that is unnatural) is not the same as resisting the urge for sexual gratification (something that is natural). Terrible arrguement Charles. you are speakijng of 2 different emotional responses. Most soldeirs don’t have to resist the urge to kill. They uselly have to get the courage up to kill as it is an unnatural act for human beings to commit and not pleasurable at all. With sex it is the opposite you have to have th ecourage to resist because sex is pleasurable. Just speakig as one soldier here.

    • Kristen inDallas

      Refering to an entire gender, 50% of the population, as a “temptation” strikes me as more than a little odd.

  • wkdkween

    I can’t believe in this day and age, that anyone could write such an article.

    • Will

      I can, and it’s really, really sad. Worse yet, she doubtless thinks she’s somehow standing up for the rights of women. Ugh, depressing.

  • http://lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com LutheranChik

    I seem to recall that this same argument was used to deny women access to higher education and the paid workforce back in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    • marilove

      Yeah, it’s one of the oldest sexist tropes in history: Men are weak, and women tempt and should be kept away from the weak men. Ugh. It’s insulting to BOTH genders.

  • marilove

    So, women are nothing but walking vaginas who tempt weak men? So why give men guns? If they can’t be trusted to keep it in their pants, why trust them with a gun? This entire post is disgusting trash.

  • Craig

    So true! And let’s just name the real danger to ladies-at-home: unescorted women venturing out into public spaces without their burkas.

  • Will

    Geez-ow, I go to Afghanistan to fight fundamentalism and come home only to find that it’s taken over while I’ve been away. Look, other posters already said it: if you’re so paranoid about your marriage that you can’t drink while you’re away from your husband for fear you’ll cheat, you have an issue that you should work on. The same goes for you immediately confronting the terrible specter of infidelity because there is a woman PRESENT where your husband is. Sheesh.

  • Rocko

    You are one hundred right on in your statement.
    It’s good to hear someone speak the truth.
    Go to any bar or sit down food place within a few miles of a base, Navy, Army, Marine, etc and you will have no problem meeting a female that has her husband stationed overseas.
    It’s really disgusting to think, these females are so easy. It’s not only the young ones but also the older ones.

  • rumitoid

    Too strange and nonsensical to comment on. Oops, sorry, I do have a comment: are you for real?

  • pagansister

    Women and men shouldn’t be allowed to serve in combat together? They already are serving together—as proven by the women who have come home in body bags and with permanent disabilities. Women are going to chase the men and “seduce” all those innocent men and make them unfaithful to their wives at home. Seriously? The article seems as though we should return to the days when women weren’t allowed to vote, or have a job outside the home—as their job at home was to have children, take care of them and the husband. Women finally broke out of that when WWII took the men to combat and the women proved they could work in the factories, making planes, tanks etc. When they returned it was harder to put them “back in their place.” However, women were in the military too—-flying planes to some of their destinations, nurses, and the men then took them over. They have successfully flown planes, helicopters, trucks etc. in the Middle Eastern conflicts. They have died and been wounded for this country—so not making it official for them to be considered “combat’ troops would be ridiculous.

  • pagansister

    correction: “—–flying planes to some of their destinations—(delete nurses)—and the men took them over.

  • Derrythe

    Really? The argument you came up with for women not serving in combat is so you and women like you can have some peace of mind that your husbands aren’t fooling around on you while they’re out there? Whatever happened to trusting the person you love, and not jumping to the assumption that after a few months away from you we’ll jump into bed with the first thing with breasts he sees?

  • Michael Payne

    I am assuming the women in combat crowd here want women to sign up for selective service at 18. This way all young ladies can be equally treated and forced to face having there legs blown off. Our president has promoted this since a Senator. How about a good ship sinking, who gets the life boat? The strongest? or women and children? Do you really want an androgynous culture? The silly argument that they will be faithful or not, no matter the environment is lacking. in 1660 pregnancy rates out of wedlock were less than 1%, today it is about 5000% percent higher at around 50%. Promiscuity is promoted, so that young men are taught that women are sex toys from a young age. When your hero, James Bond, is sleeping with every pretty women, you gain a picture for what women are for that is not in accord with faithfulness. Obviously, percentage wise people that work as strippers are going to have a higher percentage of unfaithfulness than those who work as bus drivers. If you play with fire, you have a greater chance of getting burnt. While I reject the pragmatic argument of the author, what disgusts me is that many here are signing there granddaughters death warrants. Additionally, why not open the military up to 12 year olds? If we want to give equal rights? There was a 12 year old ships cpt in the war of 1812. So why npt take away little girls dolls and force them into a draft to die, while males stay home and change diapers. help you!

    • Derrythe

      You realize there is no draft, right?