Women will now serve in combat

I don’t think this is good.  Not for women, not for our military, not for our culture.  What do you think?

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta plans to announce Thursday a lifting of the ban on female service members in combat roles, a watershed policy change that was informed by women’s valor in Iraq and Afghanistan and that removes the remaining barrier to a fully inclusive military, defense officials said.

Panetta made the decision “upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” a senior defense official said Wednesday, an assertion that stunned female veteran activists who said they assumed that the brass was still uneasy about opening the most physically arduous positions to women. The Army and the Marines, which make up the bulk of the military’s ground combat force, will present plans to open most jobs to women by May 15.

The Army, by far the largest fighting force, currently excludes women from nearly 25 percent of active-duty roles. A senior defense official said the Pentagon expects to open “many positions” to women this year; senior commanders will have until January 2016 to ask for exceptions.

“The onus is going to be on them to justify why a woman can’t serve in a particular role,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the official announcement.

via Pentagon to remove ban on women in combat – The Washington Post.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • NavyChaps

    You’re right. This isn’t good. For a whole host of reasons; not the least of which is that it will have (and already has had) a negative effect on combat readiness.

    But truthfully, this decision was a foregone conclusion when they started using Female Engagement Teams (FET) embedded with the infantry. The FET went on patrol and were just as much “in combat” as their infantry brothers – except for the primary mission of seeking and destroying the enemy. In an age of asymmetric warfare, even the non-combat specialties are just as much “in combat” as those who are “on the front lines.” We in uniform have seen this coming for a while.

    All the problems that you would expect with men and women in close proximity and high stress are very real. The answer for supporters of this move is that they should just “control themselves.” Nice sentiment, but wholly unrealistic – just look at most of our colleges.

    The real question is whether they will lessen the requirements for women who want to serve in the combat arms, especially infantry. Will they reduce the amount of gear that they have to carry? Will they give the mortar base plate to the woman to carry in addition to all her gear, or will that have to go to one of the men? Do they share the load or do we shield them and treat them differently in the name of “equality.” If so, our military ceases to be primarily a fighting force and becomes just a social experiment with guns. Sad.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Lends more credibilty to the belief that political progressives see the military as a social experimentation ground.

  • Paul Reed

    For liberals, more rights always means a higher status for women. If you question these rights, then you’re being anti-woman. Considering the military, what happens when women are forced into combat because of a draft, because after all there’s no difference between a man and a woman? Same goes for abortion. You sometimes get forced abortions. And people will still make fun of conservatives for questioning whether women should be working outside the home or voting, but the realm of the workplace and economics can be a very ugly one, as many women are slowly finding out.

  • Orianna Laun

    In “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” Father Christmas gives Susan a bow and arrow and then indicates that this gift does not mean that she should be in the battle. She responds by saying that she believes she is capable of fighting. Father Christmas says that be that as it may. He then says that when women participate in war, it is ugly.
    On the more glib side, in “The Pirate Movie,” the daughter is going to lead a charge against the pirates. Her father, a retired major general says that with women fighting battles there will never be another decent war again.
    Lady Macbeth discovers quickly what happens when the nurturing sex becomes “unsexed” and stoops to killing. This is what happens in war. I wish it not on the men, but especially on the women. Strangely, there are many parallels between this debate and the abortion debate. . .

  • Richard

    Meh. I work with the military–the Army, have for a number of years. The reality is women have already served in a number of combat roles–this just puts an official imprimatur on an existing reality. We have women chaplains (don’t get me started on that), women soldiers. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise to me.

  • Kirk

    @2

    Wait, seriously? 120 years after the women’s suffrage, the military allows women in combat is liberal social experimentation? What’s the experiment?

  • Kirk

    @3 So what you’re saying is that we’d actually improve the rights of women by making decisions about their political leadership, their economic realities and their choice of careers for them. I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the word “rights.”

  • Cincinnatus

    I think I have a fairly generous capacity to comprehend where the “other side” is coming from on most issues, even if my rhetoric sometimes indicates otherwise. For example, I can understand where pro-choice folks are coming from. I get my friends who have converted to Catholicism or Buddhism. I sympathize with those who think we should be spending more and not less on welfare. Etc.

    But I really can’t understand why anyone would advocate women in combat. Not that giving women combat roles is “worse” than abortion, for example, but I simply don’t understand the logic. Sure, if you’re an old-line feminist (i.e., not a contemporary or “third-wave” feminist), equality is only achieved when, well, men and women are of equal status, for better or worse.

    Nevertheless, beyond that, I can conceive of no good reason, pragmatic or philosophical, to agitate for women in combat. None–except, perhaps, for the sheer need for expendable bodies (cannon fodder may as well be gender-inclusive, yes?). Pragmatically, women are, statistically speaking, a burden in terms of their physical endurance and their capacity to perform the same tasks routinely required of men in combat. Moreover, their admixture in male regiments is obviously not going to mitigate problems of discipline and license.

    Philosophically, though, the presence of women in combat signifies that there are vanishingly few classes of people recognized in society that are worthy of protection. That is, we seem to have lost the plot altogether. For the common soldier, war has always been about defending wife and children, home and hearth. But now your “wife” is right there, as likely to be slaughtered as you are (and, presumably, you don’t have children, since the women are at war too). What is left to fight for? Nothing meaningful, that’s for sure, War is now a profession, a career, not a noble attempt to defend anything worthwhile. No life is sacred.

    And again, unless you’re an old-line feminist–and there aren’t very many of those remaining–what has been gained here?

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@7,

    As a matter of fact, I have always found it more than slightly ironic that (some) women would consider it “liberating” to become corporate drones like their bourgeois male counterparts. Now, of course, they have the “freedom” to be killed like men in our imperial wars for oil, etc.

  • Aaron Root

    Unit readiness and combat effectiveness are affected not just by sexual attraction between the boys and the girls, but the near-universal tendency of males, regardless of upbringing, to try to protect proximate females when attacked.
    I remember reading about how a number of the bodies of the post-modern, guyland male victims of the Colorado theater shooting were found in shielding stances around the females next to them – in more than one case, not even a wife or long-term girlfriend, just some girl bud he went to see Batman with.
    The harsh reality of small-unit infantry combat is that the mission must come before even the safety of your buddies. Do we think that missions won’t be compromised by male soldiers violating the assault plan because they perceive female unit members to be in danger?

  • Kirk

    @9

    They have the freedom to choose whether or not to do those things, just like you and I. Perhaps there’s more liberty in being a stay at home mom or owning a business or whatever, but there’s no freedom in mandating that as a person’s only option.

  • sg

    It sure would be interesting to see some actual data on the performance of females in the military. I bet it is far poorer on average than the average performance of males. Females in the military are superfluous. Sure, you can use them for a few things. But on average it takes two of them to do the work of one man. And then there is all the drama. And the men still have to do all of the stuff that really has to get done. So women in the military is mostly cosmetic. It looks better to those who want to believe the fantasy of women as functionally identical to men.

  • sg

    @ 11

    Where was the freedom in the draft that gave men exactly no options? They were conscripted to serve and shot for desertion or falling asleep on the watch.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    absolutely disgusting. As a rule of thumb men have always gone to war to protect women and children. Now we have women going to war to protect men? This is sick.
    But even more sick is what has led up to this. The draft was done away with, and military service became a right rather than a duty. The military exists to kill and destroy, that is what it does. No one ever has a right to kill and destroy, though at times they have a duty to do so. But in order to sell military service on the youth we made it about getting a college education and benefits etc. Now it became your right to choose this path to get your education. I made use of that myself at one time and am glad it was there. But once this happened, it is no longer about service but about a right, and with that equal opportunity. Not allowing women in combat roles, effectively made a glass ceiling for the promotion of women in the military, It was a high one, but it was there. And well it’s a right not a duty anymore. Sick and disgusting.

  • Kirk

    @13

    Did I miss something, or are women now required to register for selective service?

  • Richard

    Sg,

    Women have been in the military for years functioning in different roles. Calling them “superfluous” and other remaks about it taking “two of them” to do the work of one man is pretty ignorant.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@11:

    What a trifling remark. The military’s operations are not dictated by a logic of freedom. The military is, always has been, and as a matter of necessity must always be a coercive institution whose foremost concern is efficiency. Even as someone generally opposed to our military establishment, I am completely comfortable concluding that the military is not a social experiment; it is not designed to advance social goals of equality, etc.

    And you’re far too flippant regarding the Selective Service. On the one hand, now that women are “free” to serve in combat, what principle, exactly, prevents the government from requiring woman (i.e., all able-bodied adults) from registering? Indeed, it would contradict the logic of Panetta himself not to require female registration. On the other hand, why are women “free” to choose the military and/or combat but men aren’t, due to the fact that they are required to register. That is, when a real war comes around, men will be drafted, but women can strut around proclaiming their freedom. Right? Because being in the military is all about political correctness and freedom.

    I suppose the freed slaves and Irish immigrants enrolled in the Union Army during the Civil War were just exercising their “freedom” too, huh. After all, they weren’t all conscripted.

  • sg

    @15

    Let’s try this again.


    They have the freedom to choose whether or not to do those things, just like you and I. Perhaps there’s more liberty in being a stay at home mom or owning a business or whatever, but there’s no freedom in mandating that as a person’s only option.

    This statement asserts that women get to choose whether to serve.

    Where was the freedom in the draft that gave men exactly no options? They were conscripted to serve and shot for desertion or falling asleep on the watch.

    This statement asserts that men do not get to choose whether to serve, at least not when it really matters like when there is a war that people will be forced to serve in rather than just asked. Plenty of men did not want to serve in Viet Nam. Too bad. They were sent to deaths anyway.

    So, where is the equality? Women can just do what they feel like doing, while men are actually obligated to do stuff they don’t want to do. This puts women not on equal footing, but with far more rights than men. If we ever get into another war where we are actually threatened, it won’t be the chicks who save us.

  • sg

    @17

    Dang it. Cinn beat me to it and said it better, too.

    I am superfluous.

  • Hanni

    I think Cincinnatus had it right; the military needs women, if not it could not function and we would have to reinstitute the draft; as C said they are probably just cannon fodder. I cannot understand why the men here are so against this. I am sure there are many women just as capable in combat as men and if they want to do it and are trained, why not? They are not forced to do this, but naturally, the conversation jumps to “lliberals” and abortionl, lol.

  • sg

    “I am sure there are many women just as capable in combat as men and if they want to do it and are trained, why not?”

    The better question is why? How will it improve the effectiveness of the military?
    Short answer: It won’t. We just have so much confidence in our guys to overcome every obstacle we put in front of them, that hey, here is another.

    Also, why would you think women would do well in combat?

    How about this, field a team of top female athletes and have them play a football game against any NFL or NCAA team. How is that gonna come out? Or better yet. Take two NFL teams and substitute five of their players with women. Then, Las Vegas give you odds.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    I wonder will we see a similar phenomenon that has occurred in churches where male participation dropped off, sometimes drastically, once women were allowed to serve in positions that were once men only.

  • sg

    @22

    Depends on what the pay looks like. Also, don’t forget poverty. A poor guy with decent scores can’t get colleged scholarships like women can just for being women. Guys are discriminated against. Therefore the military is more attractive to them for the college benefits.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Well, there is a short history of Canadian women in combat here: http://sistersinarms.ca/history/history-women-military/

    About the same time as Canada changed it’s policy, various other countries did as well (France, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand..). And of course, Israel is famous for its military egalitarianism.

    The UK only allows women in artillery roles, not infantry – and has done so since the 1940′s. And then there is the Soviet experience – one famous female soldier, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, was a sniper who was particularly successful in eliminating enemy snipers. But one could argue that those were extraordinary circumstances.

  • Pete

    “We have met the enemy and she is us.”

    Pogo (updated)

  • tODD

    SG, please, we men are trying to have a serious conversation here, and it doesn’t help to have you getting all emotional. Your comments are unnecessary here.

  • sg

    Re: Scholarships for women v. men.

    Even in fields where the lack of men is a concern, such as medicine for example, the database shows no scholarships designated for men, and nine for women. The database also shows 32 scholarships designated for women in education, teaching and administration, versus four for men in a field where their numbers are low.
    It could be argued the lopsided awards ratio served to “level the playing field to account for historic trends,” says McGill University education professor Jon Bradley. “These awards, in their time, may have been appropriate, but they certainly do not rest well on our evolving 21st century landscape.”
    Many of the scholarships for women, on the other hand, are designated in fields where they have traditionally been underrepresented such as the physical sciences, which offers 47 scholarships, and engineering, with 57. There are seven for women to be electricians, and in welding technology women have 10 scholarships and men have none.
    One of the few places where men have more scholarships is in general forestry where men have three and women two. Scholarships for women in mining number 14, versus one for men. And in nursing, where men have been traditionally underrepresented, women have 12 and men have one.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/designated-scholarships-overwhelmingly-favour-women/article1319477/

    @26
    :D

  • tODD

    SG, calm down! Stop being so dramatic!

  • sg

    Most find data dull.

    tODD finds it exciting, even dramatic.

    :D

  • Kirk

    @17 So you’re telling me that the Joint Chiefs, all of whom are combat veterans and career military men, were illogical in recommending that women be allowed to assume combat duties? That’s what you’re saying. I’d like to think that at least a little thought went into their decision. I’d like to think that they, in their wisdom and experience, determined that capable women should be allowed to serve in combat if they are able and willing because they won’t hurt the effectiveness of our military. I’m sure they thought about these things and determined something different than what you’re saying.

    And my point about the draft is that it’s a red herring for a few reasons. 1. Our military is, and has been an all volunteer force for going on 40 years. 2. Women not being drafted has no bearing on their ability to serve in combat.

  • Kirk

    @24 KK

    Please, stop using facts. This is an emotional argument that we’re having here.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@30:

    1) That’s a fallacious appeal to authority if I’ve ever seen one. Sure, since the Joint Chiefs made the decision, it must be unquestionably meet and right. No “career military man” has ever made an imprudent decision, and certainly never a political decision. Nope, the Joint Chiefs have decided, and their word constitutes absolute truth.

    Look, I’m not suggesting that anyone here is acting hastily or thoughtlessly. But that doesn’t consequently mean the decision encapsulates the wisdom of Solomon.

    2) “Our military is, and has been an all volunteer force for going on 40 years.” Way to shift the goalposts there! The fact that we still have selective service negates this entire line of discussion. Just because the military is currently volunteer doesn’t mean it always will be. Indeed, the persistence of SS implies that there will come a time when it won’t be. You know, when a real war comes around. The hypothetical but not unlikely case of the draft serves as a clarifying lens to expose the hypocrisy of the advocates of this decision. They say–you say–it’s about “freedom” and “choice.” But only for thee and not for me, apparently. (“Thee” being women in this case.)

    3) “Women not being drafted has no bearing on their ability to serve in combat.” Nope, it sure doesn’t. Who said it did? Red herring. And I can assume this statement to imply that you think women ought to be drafted, right?

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, Kirk, how are KK’s facts in any way illuminating? So the comparatively inactive armies of Canada et al. send women into combat. And?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnati: Canada was active in Afghanistan for 10 years. We were active in Bosnia. And in Libya. Also, we’ve been providing soldiers for UN & NATO operations for a long, long time (including Desert Storm) – meaning that we have soldiers busy somewhere, permanently. Just because we don’t have humongous armed forces (as we did in WW II – by the end of the war, for instance, we had the third largest Navy in the world), and we didn’t follow Bush down that rabbit hole in Iraq, doesn’t mean we sit on out buts singing kumbaya…… Not that you said that exactly, but anyway.

  • Kirk

    @32 No, they’re not always right. That’s true. But no one has offered anything aside from general platitudes about “what a bad idea” allowing women into combat is or how “men love protecting women,” as evidence that women shouldn’t be allowed in combat. The Joint Cheifs, with their experience and, I’m sure, at the advice of their staff, made the decision that women can serve as ably as men in combat. If you have evidence to the contrary, by all means, please present it.

    And while we’re on the topic of evidence, KK’s link is instructive because it shows that militaries that allow women to fight don’t suffer for it. Despite your assertions to the contrary, Canada has a proud and extensive military history. Canadians have been fighting in Afghanistan for the past 10 yeas, and doing quite well at it. Plus, Israel, one of the most active and successful militaries in the world has had women serving in combat for the past 12 years. They seem to be doing alright.

  • sg

    Plus, Israel, one of the most active and successful militaries in the world has had women serving in combat for the past 12 years. They seem to be doing alright.

    Uncle Sam funds and equips the Israelis who fight against rock throwing Palestinians who have to smuggle in arms. Shocking that the Israelis can one up those Palestinians.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    Doesn’t Israel have mandatory military service?

  • fjsteve

    Considering there are no real mental, physical, or biological differences between men and women, given that those differences that still remain are artificially imposed by patriarchal hegemony, and given that we are a society that has moved beyond being motivated by mere sexual attraction, there is absolutely no reason to keep women out of close combat roles.

  • Kirk

    @36

    Perhaps you missed the war with Lebanon in 2006.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk@35 (and KK):

    Canada, at a maximum, deployed 2500 troops to Afghanistan. Only 225 soldier in the entire Canadian combat services are women. There are more students in the class I’m teaching than there are women serving in a combat capacity in the Canadian military, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Similar numbers apply to the other nations KK lists. I’m not trying to minimize Canada’s commitment or to imply that Canadians are “cowards” and do-nothings, as KK suggested. But a sample of 2500 soldiers–smaller than a single American division–doesn’t, in my opinion, sufficiently illuminate whether women in combat are a hindrance or boon–or neither–to a fully-functioning military.

    The question, in other words, isn’t whether a 2250 men and 225 women could succeed in a few missions in the desert, but whether a fully integrated combat infantry of 1.5 million soldiers could defeat, say, China’s non-integrated military. No, I don’t want this scenario to happen, and I don’t even think it likely. But that’s the question we should be asking when examining future threats and combat effectiveness.

    It is, after all, simply a matter of fact that, as a general rule, women can’t run as far, carry as much, etc. Such concerns might be irrelevant in many missions. But, if battalions are fully integrated, it would reduce the flexibility of the military.

    Furthermore, I wouldn’t use Israel as a shining example. A simple Google search will show you that male/female sexual assaults are reaching “epidemic” proportions in the IDF (1 in 7 female IDF member reports being sexually assaulted). Come to think of it, sexual misconduct is also a huge problem in the American military. Full integration will probably help, right? Right?

    Finally, I think the Joint Chiefs constitute a non-sequitur. For the purposes of my arguments, who cares whether politics or prudence informed their decision? Neville Chamberlain thought he was making a prudent decision too. It’s just irrelevant to the discussion.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, Kirk, my objections to women in combat are mostly philosophical, not practical. Even if women could perform at the same level as male soldiers, even if sexual misconduct weren’t a concern, etc., the questions I raised much earlier in the thread still pertain.

  • Gene Veith

    If pragmatism is the correct philosophy, there should be no problem. Yes, women can kill our enemies. With today’s military technology, that is easier than ever before, and any physical differences between men and women would have little to do with anything. The purpose of combat, we must remember, being to kill people. A woman can pull the trigger on a gatling gun or a missile launcher, no problem.

    But if pragmatism is not the only consideration, much less a correct philosophy, there are other kinds of issues. For example, women have the power to engender life, bear children, and nourish them. If women are uniquely involved with life, should they also take on vocations of death? Is it right to put them in a position of killing other women’s children?

    Is this kind of argument completely out of bounds and incomprehensible today?

  • Paul Reed

    @sg (#12)

    I agree with you. But you have to understand that in America, whenever a controversial topic involving women comes up (women in the military, abortion, rape, contraception), everybody’s I.Q. suddenly just drops 30 points. Data and logic becomes less important, and personal experience and feelings becomes more important. I’m not sure why this is.

  • Cincinnatus

    SG WHY ARE YOU PARTICIPATING IN THE WAR ON WOMEN?

  • fjsteve

    Can we also stop telling our little boys that its wrong to hit girls?

  • Jon

    Um, good point there. Are women now going to have to register with Selective Service?

  • fjsteve

    Jon, yes, there’s no reason women should be denied the opportunity to be drafted!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus – you are undermining your own argument. Size is not the issue. Relative participation is. So, in these countries where women can participate, for more than a decade, they still make up a small percentage of the total combat troops. Why should the American experience by otherwise? Furthermore, no major collapse in morale or anything else has happened in these forces. Why should the American experience be other?

    Whether you had say 1% of 2500 soldiers, or 1%o f 2 500 000 soldiers, the relative interaction of man and woman will be the same.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK:

    I was going to bring that point up myself. I don’t think it undermines my argument, though it does mitigate the concerns of those (among whom I am not) who fear that introduction women into combat roles will result in a collapse of discipline and morale. That was never my argument. And you are right: female combat participation, until women are drafted, is unlikely to be very high. (Personal experience bears this out: a military academy near my place of birth was forcibly integrated, with much Sturm und Drang, when I was younger–and now maybe 5 female students attend.)

    Note that questions of morale and discipline are separate from questions of effectiveness, or of philosophical propriety.

    And, apropos the problems in Israel, what are the rates of sexual assault against women in the Canadian armed forces?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus, the only studies I’ve been able to find were looking at all sexual assaults involving the armed forces – the victims could be civilian, cadets (similar to boy scouts), dependents or military personnel. I did not find a break-down. The only useful statistic is that whereas in the Canadian general population the sexual assault ratio was 89 per 100 000, for assaults involving the armed forces it was 69 per 100 000. There does not seem to be grounds for claiming woman in combat changed anything, but the definitive stats are not there.

    http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/macleans/military-response-to-rape-charges

  • DonS

    Love the comment numbering!

    Great comments above. I particularly appreciated some of the thoughts offered by Cincinnatus, Bror, and sg. I think it was Bror that said this foolish idea came out of the idea that service in our armed forces has become a right, rather than a duty. This is absolutely right, and considering military service to be a right is absolutely wrongheaded. With this mindset, there is no logic in preventing those with physical disabilities from serving — we should make accommodations for them like we have in every other aspect of society under the ADA! Equal protection concepts REQUIRE us to register women for the draft — otherwise men are being unfairly singled out. There is no end of mischief that can be visited on our military readiness and morale when we consider service to be a right, in complete contravention to the status of military service during our nation’s entire history. But, that’s the kind of society we have devolved into.

  • sg

    “female combat participation, until women are drafted, is unlikely to be very high.”

    It would be zero if they had to meet men’s fitness requirements.

  • sg

    Can we also stop telling our little boys that its wrong to hit girls?

    Not at all. Rather teach them it is always wrong to defend themselves. They should report it to the nearest female in charge who will talk to the offender. The offender, of course, will find this all very amusing and persist in bullying.

  • sg

    08 JUNE 2011

    I’m absolutely certain that if the ACT had been scored with a sex-based rubric comparable to our military’s physical fitness requirements I’d have had a much higher number to brag about . . . or be too embarrassed to mention. “I did awesome on the girl ACT!”

    I seriously don’t know how anyone can publicize these things, much less actually use them, with a straight face.

    Army Physical Fitness Standards (Too lazy to link to other branches, but rest assured that no equal opportunities require equal performance.)
    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/a/afpt.htm
    POSTED BY REBEKAH AT 8:10 AM

    You gotta look at that link. It is hilarious. The fitness requirements for men aged 57-60 are higher than for women age 17-21!

  • fjsteve

    Kirk, et al, regarding Selective Service:

    The draft issue is not a red herring simply because we haven’t had to use it for 40 years. Every male between 18 and 25 is required by law to register. Why is it still, in this day and age, limited to males only? As I understand it, this could be, according to past legal decisions, a violation of the Due Process Clause:

    since women are excluded from combat service by statute or military policy, men and women are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft, and Congress’ decision to authorize the registration of only men therefore does not violate the Due Process Clause. The testimony of executive and military officials before Congress showed that the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than “equity.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0453_0057_ZS.html
    emphasis mine

    So, since those statutes and policies no longer exist, there are no legal barriers for women to be required to register for Selective Service.

  • fjsteve

    Excuse me, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS @ 51 – do you know if the physical requirements are different for women than for men? If not, then that negates your argument.

  • helen

    My son went to officer’s training at Pensacola. There were a few women there. At first he said, he thought the drill instructors were picking on them; the women got extra this and extra that at every opportunity. Most of them washed out. The ones that survived had developed the strength to keep up. Then he saw the wisdom behind the “extra drill”.
    The return because of pregnancy from the first Gulf War was estimated at 15-20%, (not counting the ones who came up pregnant at home because on second thought they didn’t want to be deployed). [That's Navy scuttlebut, not statistics, but it was seen that they left the area by the plane load.]
    If they are going to train women, perhaps the women should be willing to wear the “five year patch” so that they won’t upset the combat effectiveness of a unit unnecessarily by bailing out at an inopportune moment.
    Truth is, women don’t want combat as much as they want to be generals… but most generals have gotten there by seeing combat. [Most, I said.]
    Recruiters don’t talk about the “joys” of living on the front lines; they promise large sums for extended education when you get out. [If you get out/in what shape you get out is not a topic.]

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 57: Yes, the physical fitness standards for men and women are most definitely different, as common sense would tell you they have to be: http://www.topendsports.com/testing/forces-army.htm

    However, I am curious as to how the converse would negate my argument? In what sense? Perhaps in the sense of my disability argument, but certainly not in the sense of subjecting women to mandatory selective service registration. My argument is that military service is a duty, not a right. If you make it a right, then you have to extend that right to everyone, and make accommodations for those who don’t physically measure up. Under that argument, men have the right, under equal protection principles, to not be singled out for the draft.

  • Grace

    This will weaken our military – women are not as capable, meaning they are not physically equal to men.

    A large segment of our society (women) want to compete with men on every level. Football is one area they have tried to enter, being on the same teams as men, both university and pro. Obviously they can’t compete.

    God didn’t make women to direct men, or to protect them, lead them around. It doesn’t work.

    Having observed the medical field for a long time, it became apparent when I was a child that female physicians are not as talented as men, as a general rule. There are a minority who measure up, but it’s very small indeed.

    I believe that women do many things just as well as men, and many times are superior, however the military and becoming a physician are not vocations that fit in that category.

  • NavyChaps

    Consider the opinion of CAPT Katie Petronio, USMC. Her experience SHOULD provide our leaders direction on the wisdom of this move. However, the reality is that it won’t — because it gets in the way of ideology.

    http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/article/get-over-it-we-are-not-all-created-equal

    @42 Dr. Veith asks a wonderful question — is pragmatism the only concern in the decision of whether women should be in the combat arms. Sadly, I think that it is the only argument that will carry any weight in today’s society. The greater questions he asks would be scoffed at because it is automatically assumed that women and men are interchangeable (see women’s ordination). Even here, the comments have centered on the pragmatic argument. Pragmatically, you can look at the argument one of two ways: 1) Combat effectiveness is primary and since women can’t do what the men do, they can’t be infantry; or 2) Equality is primary and therefore anyone can do it regardless of gender or ability.

    The annual physical fitness standards are already vastly different for men and women. For the ability to serve, this is the minimum. But there are many men who simply cannot do what the infantry does. And they don’t get to be infantry. But what if a woman can? The pragmatic answer says, “go ahead.” But that never answers Dr. Veith’s question which is, “should they?”

  • tODD

    Arguments made regarding physical ability are not, as such, arguments against having women in the military. They are, rather, arguments for a more consistent application of physical standards without respect to gender. Sure, women are, on average, less strong than men. But that doesn’t mean that every women is incapable of meeting the standards expected of men, anymore than merely being male guaranatees that one is capable of them. So, again, if you want to make physical ability part of your argument, then you need to argue from physical ability. But what I seem to be hearing here is the suggestion that, because women are, on average, less physically capable than men, that therefore no women should be allowed in combat units, even if they are physically capable. That doesn’t make sense.

    Paul Reed (@43) complains that “data and logic becomes less important” in these sorts of discussions, but, frankly, I don’t see opponents of this change offering up a lot of, well, data or logic. And, frankly, I don’t think they should, because those are the tools of pragmatism, and using such tools, you are likely to lose the argument.

    This is fundamentally a philosophical issue. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the underlying philosophy has a lot of traction in this day and age. Because you’re trying to tell women what they can’t do based on ideas about what they ought not do, in general.

    I’m sympathetic to the end that many are arguing for here, but I’m reading a lot of poor arguments to that end, and that makes me wary. For instance, Veith says (@42) that “women have the power to engender life”, which, yeah, isn’t true. “Bear children and nourish them”, yes (though as a father, I also nourish my children, just not with breast milk). But no, women are not “unique” in the power to engender life. I do believe it still takes two to tango. Veith also asks, “Is it right to put them in a position of killing other women’s children?” But why not also ask if it’s right to put men, or let’s just say fathers, in a position of killing other fathers’ children?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 62: You’re arguing a hypothetical with respect to physical ability. Because the fact is that military policy IS to apply different PT standards to women than are applied to men, as we have already discussed above (see, for example, Klasie @ 57 and me @ 59).

    If the military, and particularly combat positions, were only open to women who could meet PT standards applicable to men, that would exclude almost all women and be opposed by many fewer people, including probably myself.

  • http://qofq.net Chris Bundy

    I agree. This is not good. This is only going to cause problems.

  • fjsteve

    Even if the PT standards were applied evenly across the board, would it negate the inherent unfairness of the Selective Service System as it would only apply, solely on the basis of gender, to a subset of all those who may otherwise be qualified?

  • tODD

    Well, DonS (@63), that is interesting. Because you appear to be making an almost purely pragmatic argument, not one that is philosophical in nature as to gender roles.

    I maintain, though, that if one opposes this change solely on the grounds of physical ability, then your beef is with the unequal standards, not with allowing women to take on this or that role in the military.

    And, you know, my proposal is no more hypothetical than anyone else’s here. We’re all arguing for what should be.

  • tODD

    FJS (@65), but you already made a pretty compelling case (@55) that Selective Service is unlikely to remain gender-specific for too long.

  • NavyChaps

    From the perspective of a Commander, there is one other issue that creates a serious problem: pregnancy. Once a servicemember is pregnant, they are not going to combat. If they become pregnant in combat, they go home immediately. Either way, the Commander loses a member of the team for whom there may or may not (more likely not) be a replacement. This is even more important in the infantry where squads and fire teams work closely together for many months to build the cohesion required to complete mission and hopefully have everyone come back alive.

    We’ve tried to enforce “no pregnancy” within 3 months of a deployment, but that just “isn’t fair”. And I certainly don’t want to encourage an abortion (though I have actually heard that suggested by leaders). But now the team is short one and the rest have to pick up the slack. While she gets to stay home, work on college courses (at Gov’t expense), and not sleep in the dirt. And more than likely she won’t be held accountable in any way lest it be seen as a mistreatment of women (even if she isn’t doing her assigned job). Speaking of “unfair.”

    Regardless, tODD @62 is probably right that the philosophical argument will not carry much weight today. The answer is a proper understanding of vocation (thanks Dr. Veith!), but that is viewed as terribly neanderthalic by those who are pushing a radical feminist agenda.

    There is still an opportunity to push back against the diktat of SECDEF, but it has to come from the people of our nation telling their elected officials that this is not ok. Congress can still pass a law that forbids women in direct combat arms roles. If the nation says, “meh”, then it is done. But then, we ought to demand that the women get the full “equality” treatment – from Selective Service to the same demanding physical standards.

    And then, God help us should this light weight force have to defend us.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 66: Well, yes, I am arguing pragmatically. Because we are long past the days of chivalry in this world, and arguments based on military readiness are a lot more persuasive to more people in this unchivalrous age that arguments appealing to protecting women and children because that is the traditional role of men. And we are arguing the propriety of real policy, not a hypothetical one. My greatest concern, besides the obvious impact on readiness and morale which this politically correct policy will result in, is that it will ultimately expose a lot of women who DO appreciate traditional gender roles to enforced military service, because of the draft, and its inevitable ultimate application to women because of this new policy.

  • tODD

    DonS (@69), curious that you complain about my use of hypotheticals, and then go on to make your “greatest concern” based entirely on the hypothetical existence of (1) not only an active draft, but (2) one in which women are called up.

    Call my naive, but it seems to me that an actual draft is about as realistic as an actual declaration of war. There are reasons we tend to want to avoid either of those as much as possible.

    NavyChaps (@68), you said that “The answer is a proper understanding of vocation”, but I’m curious what you mean by that. What, in the doctrine of vocation, prohibits a woman from being in a combat unit?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 70: I retract my point about hypotheticals. I misread your original post — it’s clear to me that you were not arguing what I originally thought you were arguing.

    That aside, I don’t think the concern about selective service is a hypothetical. With this new policy in place, women will be required to register for selective service within a few years. The draft might be a hypothetical — I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future either. But you never know.

  • PC

    Although there will be radical feminists who will insist that women must, due to the equality issue, sign up for Selective Service, I doubt that women will ever be compelled by Congressional action to do just that. Once the American public really understands the real and dangerous consequences of yesterday’s SECDEF’s decision, taking Missy down to the Post Office on her 18th birthday to really “sign up” for the draft will be a political bee hive that neither party will want to touch.

  • DonS

    PC @ 72: If a man brings a constitutional equal protection claim in federal court based on the requirement that men register but women need not, he may well win. The requirement would be court-imposed, not legislatively imposed.

  • fjsteve

    PC @ 72,

    They may not have a choice. If it’s brought before the Supreme Court and they decide that the Selective Service System is unconstitutional under current policies, the only choices they will have will be to either reverse the policies allowing women to serve in combat or revise the system to make it more equitable–in other words, require women to register. I don’t think the public will enjoy either situation but, if I had to guess, I think political pressure would trend towards revising the policies.

    But, yes, women in Selective Service would be a triple win for old-line Leftists. First, women would, once and for all, be considered equals in every way. Second, in times of war more women would be opting for higher education. Third, as they see it, the broadcasting of women coming home in flag-draped coffins, or with severe disabilities, would evoke public outrage and be the death-knell for unjust imperialistic wars of aggression (if that hasn’t already happened).

  • SKPeterson

    fjsteve @ 74 – Because only men can die properly in unjust imperialist wars of aggression? I think this will turn into just another means for advocating more wars, more aggression, more killing, more unwarranted intervention. It’s just another step in making everyone a servant of the God-State.

  • fjsteve

    SKP, for all the lip service about gender equality, I have to believe that most of the public still feels differently about women getting maimed and killed than they do men. Now, you may be quite right in your assessment but the ideologues to whom I was referring don’t have a great track record of predicting where the laws of unintended consequences will lead.

  • Grace

    PC @ 72

    “Once the American public really understands the real and dangerous consequences of yesterday’s SECDEF’s decision, taking Missy down to the Post Office on her 18th birthday to really “sign up” for the draft will be a political bee hive that neither party will want to touch.

    They will run the other way – It’s important that the American public understand and LEARN, exactly what this means. All too often they read half a paragraph, (if it’s about women’s rights) they read no further but check their ballot as YES, on just about any issue, on ‘women’s rights.

  • Grace

    Sorry PC, I blockquoted the wrong paragraph.

  • sg

    “Truth is, women don’t want combat as much as they want to be generals… ”

    Thank yon, Helen.

  • dust

    DonS at 5:58, you said:

    “If the military, and particularly combat positions, were only open to women who could meet PT standards applicable to men, that would exclude almost all women and be opposed by many fewer people, including probably myself.”

    Not so sure if you’re correct about “opposed by fewer” sorry….my guess it would be opposed by many, many more!

    Very likely the very ones who support it now…they know it would not work without some sort of extra “support” shall we say :)

    cheers!

  • Grace

     ‏

    Unintended pregnancies on the rise in servicewomen
    By Genevra Pittman
    NEW YORK | Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:15pm EST

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – “Just over ten percent of women in the military said in 2008 they’d had an unintended pregnancy in the last year – a figure significantly higher than rates in the general public, according to a new study.

    The findings come amid news that the Pentagon will lift the ban on women in front-line combat jobs starting in 2016.

    “It does definitely have implications for troop readiness, ability to deploy (and) troops in combat missions if they are potentially at high risk for unintended pregnancy and pregnant women can’t be deployed,” said Dr. Vinita Goyal, who has studied unintended pregnancy in female veterans at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Access to birth control can be a problem for troops deployed for long periods of time – and if women do become pregnant, abortion is legally restricted on U.S. military bases. Women who get pregnant while overseas must be evacuated.

    Dr. Daniel Grossman from the University of California, San Francisco, who worked on the study, called the rates of unintended pregnancy “really shocking.”

    “Women in the military certainly deserve more than that. This needs to be addressed across all branches of the military,” he said.

    The Pentagon could not provide a comment by deadline.”

    READ the REST:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/us-pregnancies-servicewoman-idUSBRE90N1B820130124

  • Grace

     ‏

    If women are not allowed to be deployed if pregnant, WHY would men be allowed to deploy if their wife becomes pregnant? Isn’t one just as important as another?

    Women have privileges then men don’t have – are mother’s more important than fathers?

     ‏

  • fjsteve

    sg, @79, thank you for thanking Helen. I wanted to but I didn’t want to sound like a cad.

  • PC

    In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. “The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323539804578260132111473150.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Are you ready to see your daughter in this predictament?

  • tODD

    PC (@84), if that’s a reason to keep women out, maybe we should also keep our sons out of such predicaments, as well?

  • PC

    Of course, tODD! But the reality of a sinful world dictates that there will always be wars. I don’t want my daughters or yours in direct combat. And in my professional military opinion, direct combat should be fought by men. I fully understand that the U.S. Armed Forces could not do their mission without women serving in a variety of critical support roles but I don’t see any military requirement, none whatsoever, that women need to be in direct combat. What Ryan Smith described in the WSJ article wasn’t war, but rather the deplorable and necessary conditions of just getting to the point of contact. Actual combat is much worse.

  • Abby

    NavyChaps @61 I like that article by “Katie.” I can’t argue logically about this topic except to say, the women who want to do this are “nuts.” And so are the men who think this is a good idea. I need to bring a little humor in here. Here’s a word from another “Katie”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuwfgXD8qV8

  • Tom Hering

    I just heard today that 200+ female American soldiers have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and 800+ wounded. So the reality of women in combat seems to have been with us for a while already. Another point that was made is that in today’s wars, the concept of “front” and “rear” is outmoded. All personnel should expect to be attacked, and to have to engage the enemy in return. Finally, what the new policy really does is allow women – who for all practical purposes have been performing as combat soldiers anyways – to have the same opportunities in the military that men have. And why shouldn’t they, if they’re already dying in service to their country?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom raises a good point. Chivalry is dead, so why bother trying to recover it? The military is about careers (hence, the military-industrial complex is a self-perpetuating organism), not defense or honor, etc. Cf. the military structures of other established empires: Rome, Russia, Britain.

    Of course, I’m still opposed to the policy, but I’m a reactionary.

  • PC

    Yes, Tom does raise a good point. Experiencing direct combat should be all about equal opportunity instead of decisively winning. What was Ryan Smith and I thinking about in @86 above?

  • sg

    Okay, I saw a hilariously irreverent comment elsewhere, I have to share in a paraphrase:

    WTF, I thought the entire point of war was to save your women, kids and territory.

    It is so stunningly obvious, yet clearly we have missed the point. If we don’t value our kids more than anyone else and we are giving the place away to invading foreigners anyway, then we might as well let them shoot our women, too. We seem to believe we have no identity, no territory, no posterity. Nothing really matters.


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