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[Kingsley Browne, guest-blogging, December 6, 2007 at 2:50pm] Trackbacks
Co-ed Combat -- Cohesion and Trust:

It is a truism that individuals don't fight wars; groups do. That's one reason that the Army's "Army of One" campaign was so controversial. A group can be more or less than the sum of its parts, and the way members of groups interact can be at least as important as the traits of individual group members.

The importance of cohesion to military performance has long been recognized by authorities on warfare. Formation of, and functioning in, large cohesive groups is easier for men than for women, and men are more accepting of hierarchy than women are. Also, injection of women into male groups can undermine the cohesion and cooperation that is necessary to the group's functioning. Sexual competition plays a large role, but it is not the only reason.

A number of studies have found that including women in military groups can adversely affect cohesion. Although in studies of troops in garrison women often are found to have a positive effect on cohesion, in field and deployment settings the effect tends to be negative, and the greater the danger, the greater the negative impact of women's presence. Psychologist Leora Rosen found, for example, that the presence of women deployed in Somalia, where risk was relatively high, had more negative effects than in Haiti, where the risk was quite low.

One of the principal reasons for women's adverse impact on cohesion is that men find it difficult to trust women in dangerous situations, no matter how much they might like and respect women generally. This is true of soldiers, police officers, and firefighters. Not only are men concerned that women will not be able to drag them out of danger if the need arises, but also that women will be insufficiently aggressive in the event of conflict.

Trust is the most important value to all kinds of groups -- even ones not facing danger. Danger enhances the importance of trust, so that it is particularly important to cohesive combat groups.

The decision to trust is "fast and shallow." That is, we don't generally agonize about whether to trust somebody -- instead, it comes to us fairly quickly based upon rules of thumb that we are largely unaware of. In that respect, it is much like sexual attraction: basically, you feel it or you don't. Trust can wax or wane depending upon experience, but it is very difficult to overcome an initial lack of trust. Reasoned arguments about why you should trust somebody who strikes you intuitively as untrustworthy are not likely to be very effective.

To explain why men's reluctance to trust women may be intractable, it is useful to analogize to men's preferences in selecting mates. Psychologists have shown consistent patterns of male mate preferences, with men tending to place a premium on youth and beauty, which have been indicators of fertility over evolutionary time. This preference is found cross-culturally and is stable over time. Men having such a preference would have been at a reproductive advantage over men who found grey hair and wrinkles the ultimate turn-on.

Mating is not the only kind of association that would have had substantial fitness consequences over evolutionary time. Men's choice of comrades for warfare and hunting would also have been highly consequential in our ancestral environment because of the danger involved and the dependence of individuals on their comrades. If so, then one would expect that men today might possess innate preferences for certain kinds of comrades for dangerous enterprises, and these would be comrades who display the traits that would have been markers of effective fighters in our past.

Certainly, we see such preferences acted out. Even in childhood, the farther boys roam from home, the stronger their preference for same-sex comrades. Men prefer friends who are physical risk-takers, and, as men face danger, their preference for all-male groups increases. Men tend to pick up on cues that would have been associated with combat effectiveness in the past (and in the present as well) -- courage, strength, dominance, leadership -- in short, masculinity.

A study of Korean War soldiers found that "masculinity" and "leadership" were the two most important traits of soldiers who were judged to be effective fighters. A related study found that men who had been rated as being effective fighters were independently rated by other soldiers as desirable combat comrades after a week's exposure to each other, even though the men's combat histories were not disclosed.

If men are innately predisposed toward trusting certain kinds of comrades, it may be extremely difficult -- if not impossible -- for women to trigger that trust in men. This effect would prevail even if warfare actually had changed so much that the traditional warrior virtues are no longer relevant.

In making gut-level decisions, the human mind tends to be attentive to the kinds of information available to us in our ancestral environment. So, good grades at a military academy or high scores on a personality test would be unlikely to engender trust even if they were in fact correlated with combat performance, in the same way that a woman's appearance will be more important to the strength of a man's sexual attraction to her than a certificate of fertility from a medical specialist. Intuitive judgments are not easy to change with reasoned argument.

Thus, there is reason to believe that some impediments to effective sexual integration are, in a sense, "hard-wired" into us. If so, the resistance of combat troops to sexual integration is not something that they are going to "grow out of."

A recent survey at the Air Force Academy supports this view. A full 40 percent of cadets, both male and female, expressed the view that women will never be completely accepted in the military because of the physical and psychological differences between the sexes. Twenty percent of male cadets said that women shouldn't even be at the Academy, which has been sexually integrated for over three decades. And, it might be noted, the Air Force is the service with the highest proportion of women.

Some respond to this line of argument by contending that a tendency of men not to trust women is "men's problem," not women's. The issue is not, however, whose "fault" it is (and it is not clear that the concept of fault is even relevant here). Instead, the point is that this lack of trust -- whatever its source -- poses a risk to the effectiveness of military units. Thus, the lack of trust is a problem for both men and women, as well as for the military (and the nation) as a whole.

In addition to its effects on unit cohesion, sexual integration creates a number of manpower challenges, among them being the effects of pregnancy and motherhood, which are the subjects of my next post.

Tim Fowler (www):

You've done an excellent job arguing the case over this series of post. Good point about how - "The issue is not, however, whose “fault” it is (and it is not clear that the concept of fault is even relevant here). Instead, the point is that this lack of trust – whatever its source – poses a risk to the effectiveness of military units."
12.6.2007 3:03pm
CEpperson:
The entire purpose of the way military forces are organized it to increase combat performance of the unit. If a lack of trust settles in a unit (I saw this myself in Somalia and Haiti) then that needs to be addressed and if as is said here is true:

Thus, there is reason to believe that some impediments to effective sexual integration are, in a sense, “hard-wired” into us. If so, the resistance of combat troops to sexual integration is not something that they are going to “grow out of.”


Then we need to seriously think and address it. Women in the military are here to stay though. we need to make sure that whatever direction it goes as to women in combat forces that the effectiveness of the unit is the primary concern.
12.6.2007 3:23pm
frankcross (mail):
This position seems better supported by relevant evidence (though sourcing would be nice). But your conclusion about what "the point is" was raised on the issue of racial integration of military units. It was generally considered not controlling, then. The lack of trust of blacks was said to hamper military effectiveness. How would you distinguish the case of women from the case of blacks?
12.6.2007 3:36pm
Dave D. (mail):
Over the course of comments there seems to be a falling out along the lines of fairness v. previous personal experience.
Those who advocate "fairness" will not address the disparate treatment women demand and have obtained in the pseudo-combat of the Police and Firefighting professions. They denigrate personal experience as prejudice . They revert to the hypothetical world of percentages and projections.
Those who have worked in all male and mixed sex small units under lifethreatening stress have seen the effcts the Professor describes. Demonizing and discrediting this opposition, through dishonest argument, is the prerequisite to overcoming opposition to woman in combat.
12.6.2007 3:44pm
Mark Field (mail):
The author seems to be setting up a classic Catch-22: women can't be admitted into combat because their fellow soldiers won't trust them, but of course women are thereby precluded from ever getting the chance to demonstrate that they warrant that trust.

This strikes me as the weakest link yet, and I haven't been that impressed with the others. I'm still on the fence on this issue, but if this is the best your side can do, I probably won't stay there long.
12.6.2007 3:45pm
Bruce:
This argument seems like a non-starter. You can make it any time a group is unjustly excluded from the military.
12.6.2007 3:45pm
AnonNY:
The difference between the situation of accepting women and the situation of accepting blacks is that while there might have been some initial awkwardness, black men exhibited "masculinity" and "leadership" the same way as white men. However, the point of the article is that most women would not be able to do this effectively (from the point of view of their male comrades).
12.6.2007 3:47pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mark Field.

This may or may not be the best, but it is one component, with weight to be determined.

The problem is, if I read the prof correctly, that women, even if given the chance to prove themselves worthy of trust, will not, as it is either hard-wired that it will not happen, or socialized to a degree beyond the usefulness of undoing.

I will trust no woman in a catastrophe because in catstrophes I've experienced they didn't get the chance for input--I get loud fast--and it worked out. In part, that was because my choice played to my strengths. I will trust guys because when other guys have taken charge, it's mostly worked out.
I haven't seen a woman screw up the response to a catastrophe, but I haven't screwed up, either. So, given a choice, first me, then another guy, then a woman.
I suppose, if we consider my view entirely a matter of experience, my view might be re-educated.
But, suppose it's hard-wired?
12.6.2007 3:52pm
Cornellian (mail):
Thus, there is reason to believe that some impediments to effective sexual integration are, in a sense, “hard-wired” into us. If so, the resistance of combat troops to sexual integration is not something that they are going to “grow out of.”

Doesn't the military regularly expect soldiers to behave in ways contrary to their "hard-wired" instincts?
12.6.2007 3:54pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Mark, I think the point is that the trust required in this argument is trust that is given "prior" to meeting or otherwise knowing a person by people that are at various levels of training and experience. This trust, so the argument goes, cannot be gained by earning it, because it is innate.

I think this is the weakest argument put forth. I think the trust issue is more personalized than dependent on gender, though I can see that it might be the case as described. It's just not clearly evident to me as the other reasons are.
12.6.2007 3:56pm
Tim Fowler (www):
Bruce, generally the fact that argument X has been raised in situations X,Y,and Z, and has been shown to be false in X, and questionable in Y, doesn't mean its either false or questionable in Z, unless the reasons why it was false earlier also apply in the same way in the current situation.

The difference between men of different races, are NOT the same as the difference between men and women. This is obviously true on the purely physical side, but the point also holds true for the relevant social and psychological issues. So arguing that "racists tried to use similar arguments to stop integration of the military", isn't much of an argument against Kingsley Browne's points, except perhaps in a purely rhetorical sense. It doesn't give much logical reason to think that his points don't apply, but it might cause people to believe they don't without really thinking the issue through.

The above does NOT amount to an argument that Kinsley Browne is correct, only to an argument that your counter argument doesn't show him to be wrong. I think he is right on at least many of his points, but this comment doesn't provide any direct support for my belief or his points.
12.6.2007 3:56pm
G. M. Price (mail):
As mentioned by an earlier commenter, all of your arguments seem rooted in the mentality of "men can't trust/work with/respect/etc women". Now, I may be wrong - but it does seem to be what your arguments boil down to. With your latest post, you have gone so far as to claim it is biologically hard-wired into us.
I guess the issue I have with any such argument is that it seems to be learned behavior, not built in. While an argument could be made that the current generation of males have already been set on course, and would not be able to set aside a lifetime of social training, there is no reason that the next generation, or the one after that, with a concerted effort, could not be made to blind to the gender difference in, at the least, a "work" environment - much as has been done in many areas with racial differences.
Unlike with racial differences, there may be some question as to if being "gender blind" is something our society should strive for - but that has nothing to do with the capabilities.
To be clear, I am advocate of full integration of troops, using plain qualifications - if a given woman can meet the requirements, and a given man cannot, then the woman is allowed to join, and the man is not.
Almost all the arguments you have made could be made about any socially unacceptable behavior or action - it is not whether or not a given group can co-exist with another group, performing the same duties, it is whether or not those in control of social behavior deem that the action or behavior should be encouraged, and society should change to accept it.
On a more general note, as has been demonstrated by societies throughout history, there is no absolute social values - every society has done some things that other societies would consider unconscionable - this alone should be reason enough to disregard any argument of "biological imperatives" - or to put it more simple, from a historical and sociological standpoint, there is no absolute right or wrong, and any social position adopted by a given society can be justified by those within that society.
It is almost a classic form of ideological blindness - because a person was raised in a given manner, only someone exceptional has the ability to see beyond their own invisible biases.
12.6.2007 4:07pm
Muskrat (mail):
Aubrey writes: "I will trust guys because when other guys have taken charge, it's mostly worked out.
I haven't seen a woman screw up the response to a catastrophe, but I haven't screwed up, either. So, given a choice, first me, then another guy, then a woman."

That's not even logical. You admit you have no experience of women failing in a crisis, but you do have evidence of men failing ("mostly worked out" means "sometimes not worked out"). So you admit that you prefer going with an actor known to be fallible over one that you don't know to be fallible.
12.6.2007 4:10pm
Bama 1L:
Surely someone is going to bring up homosexuality.
12.6.2007 4:12pm
BABH (mail):
I thought Browne's arguments couldn't get any worse. Boy was I wrong. Next up - "women just want to be get pregnant and cook dinner for the dominant male".
These are the same arguments that delayed the entry of qualified women into management and executive positions. Turns out, though, that men can learn very quickly how to take orders from women, and that businesses that treat female employees fairly benefit tremendously. (And didn't Britain do quite well with Maggie Thatcher as Prime Minister, despite these very same fears?)
The thing about the armed forces is that we're really, really good at following orders. Even if they should come from women.

- Former Sergeant, Army Rangers
12.6.2007 4:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Muskrat.
Not exactly. I should have been more clear. I haven't been IN a catastrophe a woman screwed up because either I or some other guy was taking charge.
I am aware of catastrophes where other guys or women screwed up.
Problem is, given our society, the way to bet is a guy otherwise unknown is more likely to have some experience, if only theoretical, in dealing with the catastrophe than is a woman. We live different lives. So, while it isn't guaranteed, it seems to me to be the way to bet. If the woman in question is, say, a cop, and the problem was related to things I expect a cop to do, that's one thing.
But if I know nothing about the actors, I go with the guy.

I was helping out at an accident once. A woman, kneeling next to the victim showed me a hole in his chest. "He's really hurt.", she said, while keeping her fingers on his brachial artery to monitor his pulse. I immediately sealed the sucking chest wound with my hand.
Later, an off-duty cop took over the accident scene and asked us our medical backgrounds. "I'm a nurse." The cop looked at me. "Infantry." "Cool," said the cop.
I saved the guy's life. Why did the nurse not do it? Don't know. Ignorance. Blood borne pathogen training? Point is, an overweight ex-grunt and a currently serving nurse were at an accident site and I did the necessary thing. After that, what am I going to think next time the stuff hits the fan? Right or wrong, I may be, but experience is not easily sloughed off in order to fit theories.
12.6.2007 4:30pm
HBowmanMD:
Bama 1L; Don't ask, don't tell, and I really don't give a flying fuck. I don't want to see anyone or any group of people engaging in any sex practices.

Which is pretty much what the policy strives for
12.6.2007 4:30pm
Cornellian (mail):
Surely someone is going to bring up homosexuality.

Well funny you should bring that up. KB's position amounts to arguing that 1) women aren't physically up to combat roles and 2) that men won't trust women in combat roles, because of a concern that they won't be physically up to the job when the s**t hits the fan (not strong enough to carry wounded people out of the combat zone etc.) Hence it would be interesting to hear what he has to say about gay men where physical strenth and stamina aren't an issue (obviously lesbians would have the same issues as straight women in terms of physical capabilities). In other words, would he say that the attitude of straight male soldiers suffices to justify the exclusion of gay men from the military and how does that differ from the white soldier's aversion to racial integration in the 1950's?
12.6.2007 4:31pm
John McCall (mail):
Speaking as someone who's appreciated your posts as thoughtful and persuasive, I do feel the need to respond to this:

Formation of, and functioning in, large cohesive groups is easier for men than for women, and men are more accepting of hierarchy than women are. Also, injection of women into male groups can undermine the cohesion and cooperation that is necessary to the group’s functioning.

These sentences form an excellent case study of the limits of bald assertion.

Consider the second sentence for a moment. I don't know whether this is true; you continue on to embellish your arguments for it, but they're long on presumption and short on citations to peer-reviewed studies, so that doesn't really establish anything. Regardless, I can accept it as an assertion because it seems plausible to me: I can accept that you might well have actual evidence to support it, even though you aren't referencing that evidence right now. So this sentence is okay with me.

The first sentence, however, is so out of the blue, so wildly generalizing, and so unsupported by my personal experience that I am prompted to frankness: where the fuck are you getting this? In contrast to the first sentence, I cannot immediately find a plausible rationale for this; I cannot accept this as something you're coyly withholding. If you're going to claim that woman are inherently less capable of forming and functioning within "large cohesive groups", you had damn well better have evidence for it, or you are going to have your credibility shot to hell.
12.6.2007 4:37pm
Just a thought:
Purely physical differences between men and women are obvious. But there are also physiological differences between men and women related in part to the different hormone levels in men's and women's bodies. It seems logical to me that different hormonal balances would make men and women react differently to certain stimuli (and thus, men would be hard-wired to trust men more than women).

To say that a man tends to act in a more "masculine" manner and a woman tends to act in a more "feminine" manner solely because of the constraints of society - and that this could be changed if societal traditions and norms were different - is incredibly naive, in my opinion.
12.6.2007 4:44pm
Mark Field (mail):

Mark, I think the point is that the trust required in this argument is trust that is given "prior" to meeting or otherwise knowing a person by people that are at various levels of training and experience. This trust, so the argument goes, cannot be gained by earning it, because it is innate.


I'm pretty skeptical of this argument. In my experience, people don't really "trust" others until they've had experience with them. Whether I'm right about that or not, an important part of the Army's training involves getting soldiers together to form a unit in which they DO overcome this initial suspicion and come to trust each other (indeed, become willing to die for each other). It's well-established that this cohesion takes time and effort, yet that's what Browne is denying to women.
12.6.2007 4:46pm
Mark Field (mail):

It seems logical to me that different hormonal balances would make men and women react differently to certain stimuli (and thus, men would be hard-wired to trust men more than women).


There's all the difference in the world between those things which are logically plausible and those things which are true. A good deal of the criticism Browne is getting involves his failure to make this fundamental distinction.
12.6.2007 4:49pm
Cornellian (mail):
It seems logical to me that different hormonal balances would make men and women react differently to certain stimuli (and thus, men would be hard-wired to trust men more than women).

Rather reminds me of that case involving a statute excluding women from the legal profession on the grounds that the stresses of the job would endanger their delicate constitutions, thereby putting at risk their primary role of producing children. I'm sure that seemed plausible at the time as well.
12.6.2007 4:53pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Can't we keep the discussion of homosexuals out of this? It's not relevent. The reasons for or against them being in the military are completely unrelated to this issue. Let's keep this focused a little bit.

We're discussing women in ground combat. Not women in airplanes. Not women in combat support. Not women in the military. Only women in ground combat billets.

I think this latest posted reason is pretty weak, but the others are more than legitimate.

One point I haven't seen addressed is the contract with the women already in the mlitary. I remember back when women Marines were starting to be required to qualify on the rifle (or some similar issue) and my boss, a female captain at the time, now a colonel and the best boss I've ever had, was miffed. She had joined up to do support roles, not combat training. The "every Marine is a rifleman" concept didn't apply to women Marines.

Clearly in the case of the colonel, she changed her mind quickly and got with the program, be that program good or bad, but when women join up, they are promised by Congress and their contract that they will not be purposefully put into combat.

I wonder if we start putting women into combat roles, how many currently serving women would balk if they were transferred to the infantry?

I think it would be amusing to see the reaction as all these female admin clerks, electricians, radio operators, etc. suddenly get told, you're infantry now.

Remember, most people don't choose what their job is. If you're to be an 0311 infantryman or a hypothetical infantrywoman, you go when you're told to go.
12.6.2007 4:57pm
Bama 1L:
Cornellian: Yep.

I think Browne needs both the "women can't fight" and "men can't fight alongside women" arguments in order to justify the total exclusion of women from combat. Otherwise, the very few women who can fight (because they are physical and psychological outliers) would, rationally, have to be let in.

So where do homosexual men fit in? I don't think anyone nowadays would buy "homosexual men can't fight," but "heterosexual men can't fight alongside homosexual men" convinces many. It would be nice to know where Browne is on this issue.
12.6.2007 4:58pm
HBowmanMD:
I may be idiosyncratic but I was aware of (male) homosexuals in the military (in my unit, in fact under my command) and as long as their behavior didn't rise to my official attention, I didn't care.

As Barry Goldwater said (and I support) "I don't care if they are straight - only that they shoot straight".

But, we have some evidence of homosexuals in the military outing themselves, taking a discharge, rather than go into combat...Which doesn't do the US, the military, or the gay rights community any good.
12.6.2007 5:04pm
Cornellian (mail):
But, we have some evidence of homosexuals in the military outing themselves, taking a discharge, rather than go into combat...Which doesn't do the US, the military, or the gay rights community any good.

I suspect there are a number of straight soldiers who make that claim as well in order to get out of combat. If that's a problem, the military knows exactly what policy change will fix it.
12.6.2007 5:11pm
Cornellian (mail):
I may be idiosyncratic but I was aware of (male) homosexuals in the military (in my unit, in fact under my command) and as long as their behavior didn't rise to my official attention, I didn't care.

Far from idiosyncratic, I suspect your view is held by the large majority of people in the military under the age of 40.
12.6.2007 5:12pm
Retired Guy:
I'm with BABH...why is it so many professors who observe such powerful truths about military service have never worn a uniform. I'm a professor who retired from the Army first, and I can count on no hands the number of times that generic gender characterizations of trustworthiness were supported by my field experience. In mixed-gender units I trusted the people I knew (except the terrifyingly incompetent), and I cannot imagine making the kind of gut-level ancestral environment decision that the professor describes.
When the evidence comes from the Korean War (remember the roles of women then) and a survey of AFA Cadets (oh, please), we might want to limit the sweep of our generalizations.
12.6.2007 5:23pm
r78:
Speaking of accidents anecdotes, I was at a traffic accident once with an overturned vehicle and I saw a guy rush up to the SUV and cut the driver's seat belt and then pull the driver out and drag him by the arm with the driver's head unsupported and flopping around.

When the EMT's got there, the driver had no mobility or pain sensation in any of his limbs.

I don't know if this paralysis was caused by the impact (the occupant compartment did not look crushed) or by the idiot pulling the guy out and flopping his head all over the place.

I asked the "rescuer" why he did it and he said he was concerned about fire. I didn't see any fuel leaks and there were no flames.

I didn't ask the "rescuer" if he was infantry, but he sure was a take charge kind of guy.
12.6.2007 5:42pm
Just a thought:
There's all the difference in the world between those things which are logically plausible and those things which are true.

Obviously. But Browne's arguments and observations also correspond with my own personal observations of men/women, and seem to correspond with a lot of observations from studies/surveys finding that that there are different tendencies in men and women.
12.6.2007 5:52pm
Greg (www):
We're discussing women in ground combat. Not women in airplanes.

The OP is titled Co-ed Combat. Not, Co-ed Ground Combat. The professor has cited the fact that women can't even be trusted to land combat aircraft. If women are unable to lead, unable to be brave, unable to land an aircraft, unable to be trusted, how can the conversation be cabined in to ground combat?
12.6.2007 5:53pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
r78, that's an absurd story.

The man suspected that there might be a fire after a violent accident with a vehicle turned over. In a split second he had to decide if his suspicions were legitimate enough to act on.

I would say that even though you say that there was no risk of fire, the fear that there was a risk of fire was not unreasonable.

If there were a potential fire, then to save the man would require quick action. The man did so and got the victim out of there quickly and avoided the possibility of burning to death, a most gruesome method that I recommend all avoid at high cost.

Now, the victim is safe from an unrealized potential of a fiery death. You speculate that the man caused paralysis in the victim based on an EMT assessment while the man is probably still at the very least groggy.

I'm left wondering why you didn't do more to help this victim, especially since you were aware that there couldn't possibly be a fire. Why weren't you a take charge guy and save this victim in a better way?
12.6.2007 5:54pm
Cold Warrior:
Let me try to unpack the latest argument.

Part 1: Group cohesion is critical in the military, and some studies suggest that the introduction of women into formerly all-male groups weakens that cohesion.

This is fine. Not sure if it's true, or to what extent it's true. Translating this into policy, I am willing to defer to the military's judgment on the issue. In other words, I'll accept the argument that the military is not the place for social engineering.

Part 2: an attempt at explaining Part 1 through a bit of sociobiology.


To explain why men’s reluctance to trust women may be intractable, it is useful to analogize to men’s preferences in selecting mates. Psychologists have shown consistent patterns of male mate preferences, with men tending to place a premium on youth and beauty, which have been indicators of fertility over evolutionary time. This preference is found cross-culturally and is stable over time.


Umm, not sure where this is going ...


Mating is not the only kind of association that would have had substantial fitness consequences over evolutionary time. Men’s choice of comrades for warfare and hunting would also have been highly consequential in our ancestral environment because of the danger involved and the dependence of individuals on their comrades.


... but it's certainly quite a leap of faith, isn't it?


In making gut-level decisions, the human mind tends to be attentive to the kinds of information available to us in our ancestral environment. So, good grades at a military academy or high scores on a personality test would be unlikely to engender trust even if they were in fact correlated with combat performance, in the same way that a woman’s appearance will be more important to the strength of a man’s sexual attraction to her than a certificate of fertility from a medical specialist. Intuitive judgments are not easy to change with reasoned argument.


O.K., now we've descended into parody. Exactly what kind of analogy is this? If my goal is to produce a child and I am presented with (A) beautiful young woman with doctor's report saying she is unable to conceive; and (B) unattractive older women with "fertility report" that's off the charts, I'm picking (B). If my goal is to, umm, become aroused, then I'm going with (A). Let's say I have to wander out into a Baghdad street to retrieve a radio dropped in the middle of the street. I have one sharpshooter to provide cover. I am told sharpshooter (A) is a woman who has the highest recorded score on all tests, and (B) is a man who has the lowest recorded score. I'm going with (A). If instead of the information I was given for (A) and (B) I was simply told that one is a man and the other is a woman, I might go with the man under the assumption that the average man is a better shot than the average woman. Likewise, if I have to pick Anonymous Man A or Anonymous Woman B to shoot a 3-pointer for me to win a Pontiac I'm going with Anonymous Man A. But tell me that Anonymous Woman B is Cheryl Miller and Anonymous Man A is some Cold Warrior type? My choice is different.

So isn't Browne's assumption here the same? In other words, he assumes that this is like some kind of choosing teams for basketball in a co-ed rec league where I don't have to have two women on my squad. Or it's like Survivor, where we're picking teams under a veil of ignorance? Does this in any way reflect the real world? Isn't this exactly the same problem with Browne's earlier posts; i.e., the assumption (without evidence or argument) that we must fall back on gender as a proxy since more specific information is either not available or is not available by any cost-effective means?


In addition to its effects on unit cohesion, sexual integration creates a number of manpower challenges, among them being the effects of pregnancy and motherhood, which are the subjects of my next post.


Why on earth would you pick a mother for a combat role? If you can exclude women altogether, surely you can exclude mothers. Surely, too, you may also exclude those likely to become mothers. Why couldn't I just exclude women who aren't sterilized or on Norplant? (And no, I would not find it in the least bit offensive to do so. If the military is exempt from the rules that govern most of society -- and since I agree that that exemption is justified -- I don't see why anyone should fret about this.)
12.6.2007 5:58pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
A difference between sexual integraton and racial integration in the Army was that blacks and whites had to meet the same standards. There was never a special PT test for black solders or white soldiers. After seeing the movie Men of Honor I am no longer sure that integration did go as smoothly in 1948 as we have been lead to believe. I should also point out that the Army had not competley integrated in 1950.
12.6.2007 5:59pm
stoneyforest:
Skyler said:


Remember, most people don't choose what their job is. If you're to be an 0311 infantryman or a hypothetical infantrywoman, you go when you're told to go.


That may be the case in the Marines, but in the Army most enlistees know what their MOS is going in. Their choices may be constrained by failure to meet requirements for certain specialties, or by other considerations, but nearly everyone I know knew what their MOS would be before they signed an enlistment contract. It is possible to enlist based on "needs of the Army", and there is some involuntary reclassing going on due to deployment requirements, but for the most part in the Army you do choose your job.

If combat MOS's were opened to women, I very much doubt we would see many if any women involuntarily reclassed as 11B's. Hypothetical women in ground combat units would almost certainly be volunteers.
12.6.2007 6:08pm
Colin (mail):
If I'm ever in a vehicle accident, please god, send me r78 instead of Skyler.
12.6.2007 6:09pm
Ben P (mail):

A difference between sexual integraton and racial integration in the Army was that blacks and whites had to meet the same standards.


That's why I see these arguments as getting weaker as we go along.

I'm willing to buy the argument that physical ability plays a significant role in some forms combat.

and no one really disputes that Men and Women have different physical attributes, if they didn't we wouldn't have male and female sports divisions.

From that I'm willing to accept the military dictating single sex physical fitness requirements in any specialization where physical strength is important. I'd even defer to military experts judgment on that point. Likewise with the pregnancy arguments hashed out earlier.


But when we start getting into psychological arguments, this strays a lot closer to sounding like attempting to cloak traditional gender stereotypes in the language of social sciences and the needle on the BS meter climbs a little higher.
12.6.2007 6:13pm
paulV (mail):
The problem is that men aqnd women in uniform have different expectation and are treated differently. It is doubtful that a women who gets pregnant and is mother of breast feeding baby would be expected to perform the same as a man in combat. Most of the posts here are based on prejudgments that of the relationships of men and women. I think that both men and women try to take advantage of the easy way out. In combat women have more opportunity to avoid tough times. I read one time that Israelis realized that death and injuries to women soldiers are too traumatic and reduced unit cohension.
12.6.2007 6:14pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
It was a hypothetical, after all, Stoney. I can hypothesize any way I want in my hypothesis.

Colin, you'd better hope that car doesn't catch fire, then! :) Personally, I'd want Aubrey there over any of y'all.
12.6.2007 6:15pm
r78:
Skyler -

Why didn't I do more? Well I saw the accident happen in the opposite lanes of traffic on I-80. By the time I could safely pull over, I was about 200 yards from the accident. After I parked and ran back, I was crawling over the median barrier when I saw the idiot on his knees looking into the passenger compartment. When I got over the barrier, I saw him pulling the guy out of the SUV. I started yelling at him and I was only about 50 yards away at that point so I assume he heard me but he just kept at it and started dragging the guy away. I got there and tried to stabilize the guy's head so it wasn't flopping around and I got the "hero" to put him down.

It seems that you, like the action hero at the scene, watch too much TV. When a vehicle is on its back and it isn't leaking fuel and there isn't a fire - the vehicle isn't just going to spontaneously combust. Why you imagine that the action hero had to make a "split second" decision is beyond me.

The right thing to do was to assess the danger and act accordingly.

After the accident, the guy wasn't "groggy." He was unconscious but airway, breathing and circulation were fine so I didn't do anything except keep him still. He came to after the paramedics arrived and was oriented to time and place. The paramedics asked him about pain in any of his extremities and he said he couldn't feel them. And then he couldn't move them. The parmedics touched and tapped his fingers and his legs and he couldn't feel that. One of the paramedics asked me "Why in hell did you move him?" I told him to ask the action hero.

I don't know what happened after that. Maybe the paralysis was temporary and maybe it was not caused by the stupidity of the action hero.

I guess I am not surprised that you feel free to question me about things you know nothing about, given the fact that you don't hesitate to impugning the honor and valor of a Silver Star recipient by suggesting that the medal was awarded to her just because of political considerations.
12.6.2007 6:16pm
MarkField (mail):

But Browne's arguments and observations also correspond with my own personal observations of men/women, and seem to correspond with a lot of observations from studies/surveys finding that that there are different tendencies in men and women.


If science has taught us anything, it should be not to trust our own personal observations. The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". As for the studies, that's fine, but we've seen no links. And general findings that there are different tendencies in men and women aren't probative on the specific assertions Browne's making.
12.6.2007 6:22pm
SIG357:
The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

Actually, it is. Data is simply a collection of datums, or "anecdotes".
12.6.2007 6:48pm
Colin (mail):
Colin, you'd better hope that car doesn't catch fire, then! :)

Wise advice! I often hope that my car doesn't catch on fire.

Personally, I'd want Aubrey there over any of y'all.

Meh. I'd prefer a first responder who's assessing the personnel on the ground on the basis of their abilities rather than their genitals.
12.6.2007 6:49pm
SIG357:
Nice to see liberals developing a concern that the honor of our vets not be impugned.


But I have yet to read a decent argument in favor of women in combat roles. Any takers?
12.6.2007 6:52pm
abu hamza:
I'm with Ben P 100%. And I'll say again, this is a weak guest blogger. But his posts have effectively smoked out from hiding all the mysoginists like Richard Aubrey.
12.6.2007 6:56pm
SIG357:
this strays a lot closer to sounding like attempting to cloak traditional gender stereotypes in the language of social sciences and the needle on the BS meter climbs a little higher.




Do you take it for granted that "traditional gender stereotypes" are ignorant superstition then? And that women are just as capable of soldiering as men?
12.6.2007 6:57pm
Ben P (mail):

But I have yet to read a decent argument in favor of women in combat roles. Any takers?


I think that's a bit of a strawman.

Well, at least it's a strawman among most of the posters here, and, I suspect, most of the population as a whole.

Many people have noted that even if the occasional male soldier doesn't get to choose their MOS, female soldiers in combat units are almost certain to be volunteers.


I think the better proposition is an argument for why an individual female who is in all other respects (physical strength, mental stability, etc whatever measure you want to use) the equal of her male counterparts, and who wishes to be a part of such a unit would be denied.

I'll admit there are arguments to be made from unit cohesion, but I find them much less persuasive as a whole than the others.
12.6.2007 7:01pm
Ben P (mail):

Do you take it for granted that "traditional gender stereotypes" are ignorant superstition then? And that women are just as capable of soldiering as men?


I would have thought that was obvious from the text immediately above.

No, but I do expect an argument based on stereotypes to be justified by facts and not mere assertions. I'd agree with earlier commenters that the military is not congress's plaything for social engineering, but neither does that mean it can justify discrimination without evidentiary support.
12.6.2007 7:04pm
frankcross (mail):
SIG357, the case for women is easy. It is that the best qualified woman who volunteers is better than the very least qualified, most marginal, man who would be accepted. That's one. Then on down the list of women until the marginal man and marginal woman are roughly equal.

So the case against women must essentially reduce to the argument that the very worst male combat soldier is better than the very best female combat soldier, or that we can't evaluate the quality (a serious separate problem, I think), or that putting men and women into the same unit is inferior to single sex units, regardless of equal aptitude.
12.6.2007 7:13pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
There's another reason why men don't trust women in combat: women have a heightened sense of empathy. Men, by contrast, have a heightened ability to turn empathy off or to limit its focus when desired. Hunting and combat require that disconnect with regard to one's quarry.
12.6.2007 7:16pm
wpeak (mail) (www):
First, on impugning a silver star recipient, I should think that anyone who had been in the military would be quite aware that medals are often awarded for political reasons, from the unit's to the Pentagon's and beyond.

Secondly, many here have obviously not been keeping up with developments in CogSci, EvoDevo, etc. Be careful or your own prejudices might be embarrassingly exposed. Some of you sound as if you haven't thought about these issues since the 60s. Much has changed.

Finally, with regards to the post, the point seems to be whether men are hardwired to trust only other men.

So, is it true? Then if so is it innate?
12.6.2007 7:18pm
MarkField (mail):

Actually, it is. Data is simply a collection of datums, or "anecdotes".


Actually, no. But that was a throwaway line by me and I'm not going to debate it here.
12.6.2007 7:19pm
Smokey:
Can I please do my anecdote here? Thank you:

In one of our college P.E. classes the instructor had us do a co-ed team excersize [this well before the women's-rights issue had gathered much steam. The Susan B. Anthony dollar was still some cross-eyed engraver's wet dream].

The excersize went like this: the men & women were divided into teams of ten each of the same sex; a couple of teams of 10 men each, and a couple of teams of 10 women each. In various excersizes, the team members were changed around, but initially we were kept as same-sex teams. The results were always the same whenever the competition was between different-sex teams [we also competed between co-ed teams, but that's not relevant here].

The excersize: form a team pyramid under time pressure, with no discussion allowed. You know, 4-3-2-1, hands & knees on the person below. We were timed by stopwatch.

The result: the boys made the girls look pretty helpless. IIRC, it took about 7 - 12 seconds for the men to form a pyramid; the women were still frantically arm-waving directions at each other almost thirty seconds into the experiment.

There may be a lot of reasons why the men appeared to intuitively know better how each one fit into a cohesive team. I don't know. But I do know that the excersize made a major impression on me, which remains to this day.

I think teamwork under pressure is genetically hard-wired into males through natural selection. Others can draw their own conclusions.

[PS - I love women! IMHO, my wife is perfect. But each sex has its specialties. We're different, see? Men are better fighters. Women are better midwives. For the good of the country, we should stick to what we do best. And I believe that most women would heartily agree: what good it being a female, if your country loses a war and is taken over?]
12.6.2007 7:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
frankcross.
AFAIK, nobody has said there is no possible crossover.
The point is that there are so few that the other requirements for integration outweigh the benefits of taking on women, no matter that they are as good as the worst guy, or better.
Unit cohesion is an issue which has something but little to do with raw ability.
And the inevitable gender-norming of standards, which has already been seen in the military and police and fire departments will be, already is, a matter of divisiveness.
If the issue of unit cohesiveness--which those with experience have mostly said they saw reduced--can be solved, and if the standards aren't going to be gender-normed, and if the women don't get special treatment due to their inability to cut it due to gender-normed standards, then the question of ability by itself might be usefully addressed. Because, by removing all the negatives we are left with a positive, however small, with no downsides. That happens in the real world a lot.

Misogynist? On top of racist. Great day for Aubrey.

r78. I saved the guy's life. Hope that isn't too much for you to bear.
12.6.2007 7:23pm
Rolly:
If Prof. Browne's posts and the comments have shown me anything it's that Kinder, Küche, Kirche is hardwired in certain humans of the male persuasion.
12.6.2007 7:34pm
r78:

Nice to see liberals developing a concern that the honor of our vets not be impugned.


If you are referring to me, you might want to know that I am a lifetime NRA member, sustaining member of Ducks Unlimited, voted for Reagan twice, and am active in the Federalist Society. There is a difference between being a conservative and being an idiot, but it is a big tent so come one in.


Misogynist? On top of racist. Great day for Aubrey.

Still haven't found any data to support your dumbass assertion that "most" of McNamara's 100,000 were black and latinos, I take it?


r78. I saved the guy's life. Hope that isn't too much for you to bear.

I don't doubt that you are the hero in most of your memories.
12.6.2007 7:48pm
Incredulous:
all the mysoginists like Richard Aubrey

No comment on whether Aubrey is qualifies or not, but ... you think they were hiding?!
12.6.2007 7:52pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
r78, my point was that it wasn't an unreasonable fear. You or I might not have that misconception of cars burning on fire after an accident, but it does happen and there might have been something to make the guy suspect it.

But you were there and personally assessed the character of the man and I have no reason to doubt that the guy was an idiot. There are a lot of idiots out there.
12.6.2007 8:17pm
Michael Mahoney (mail):
Why not use the same method used in the past to determine the combat worthiness of a particular group? Put them into a segregated unit and let them have at it.
Is this too PC even for the people who think women have something to prove as combat soldiers? Let them put themselves on the line, literally. Hey, I'm all for equal rights if you can prove your an equal to the task that enables the right.
I think this idea is too simple, way too definitive and so un-PC. The proof; I didn't see it in any post on this subject. Like it is the third rail or something.
12.6.2007 8:18pm
Ben P (mail):

Can I please do my anecdote here? Thank you:


If we're telling stories ....

I mentioned it before, but the analogy I draw in my mind is team sports. Obviously combat is much more serious, but they're similar in many ways. Many of the characteristics that make a very good competitive sports team are also those that make a very good combat unit.

to my knowledge the NFL hasn't yet dealt with a female football player, but several colleges and a number of highschools have.

When I played in Highschool we had one such girl on our team. This girl was every bit as physically capable as most of the other members of the team, (she was also my size, and I was a lineman) and to the extent that training requires mental toughness she was every bit as mentally tough as well, indeed probably mentally tougher than a good percentage of the team. (apropos of nothing she is also "out," now, but was not at the time)

As I said before, football isn't combat, but I can say with a high level of confidence that I wouldn't hesitate to trust such a person in any team environment, including combat.
12.6.2007 8:18pm
Dave D. (mail):
...The discussion of this topic has devolved into dirt dishing. I guess all the meaningful angles have been explored.
12.6.2007 8:27pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
And the inevitable gender-norming of standards

So there's nothing wrong with women in combat, except that it could lead to something else that is bad.

Nothing wrong with sex within a unit, but if it's in cramped quarters like a ship eventually it will be sex standing up, and that could lead to dancing.
12.6.2007 9:13pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
. . . . and that could lead to miltary failure and conquest of our nation and the end of western civilization. That's all.
12.6.2007 9:57pm
George W. Obama (mail):
Given all the distorting of Browne's arguments here, we are probably witnessing a lot of projection. Those prejudiced toward sex inclusivity in combat roles, even when it harms military effectiveness -- or precisely because it harms military effectiveness -- insist that anyone opposing sex inclusivity in combat roles -- for any reason -- must be prejudiced.

As a result, commenters enter the thread under the pretense of caring about open discussion of the issues, but when Browne and those who are convinced by his evidence cannot meet their shifting and irrationally skeptical standards, they revert to (a) male-bashing, (b) accusing men who support military effectiveness of being misogynist throwbacks, (c) throwing up the strawman of homosexual soldiers (as if gay men are women; way not to be sexist, eh?), or (d) insulting the dignity of black men (as if black men are women; yeah, skin color is like lactation and pregnancy).


What is so bizarre is that if you catalogue all the bizarrely offensive assertions the Brownshirts anti-Browners make, it appears they are:


1. misandrist;
2. homophobic;
3. racist;
4. and consider straight white males to be the societal norm.



While it is possible to have a coherent worldview based on such beliefs (e.g., radical feminism), the obvious alternative is that these people simply argue recklessly and illogically because they hate the military, and will use any argumentative or rhetorical means to tear the military down.

So, my question is, are any of you going to come clean on the fact that you're radical feminists who believe in a Hegelian-Marxism master-slave dynamic that results in the end of history and start of herstory when women are ruling over men! or, on the other hand, will you just admit that you hate the military and don't really have any sensible objections to Browne's arguments?
12.6.2007 10:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
David Chesler.
I presume you know better, but it would be worth my time to explain that everybody else does, too.
For the results of reduced standards, see the extensive discussion ref Lt. Kara Hultgren.

Skyler. Nope, buddy. Not going to happen. Tough luck.
12.6.2007 10:20pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
What's not going to happen, Aubrey?
12.6.2007 10:27pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
end of western civ
12.6.2007 10:51pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Then women and gays will suffer the most........


...And that makes them...THE WINNERS !
12.6.2007 11:00pm
Dave D. (mail):
...But I'm glad I stuck around and got to see how it ended.
12.6.2007 11:01pm
frankcross (mail):
George Obama, that's a sad and terribly wrong post.

I'm open to Browne's arguments. However, some of the posters in response are plainly misogynist. They stereotype women in a demeaning way. All women are stereotyped as being essentially the same. You are playing a silly little game whereby you try to cover up misogyny by attacking anyone who identifies it. That is precisely what you are accusing others of.

And you completely misunderstand the analogy to gays and blacks. People are not saying that their situation is the same as that of women. They are using what is known as an analogy. I.e., if a certain rationale for excluding women would also have been an effective rationale for excluding blacks, one must critically evaluate the validity of the rationale.

So, instead of namecalling, you might wish to engage the actual logic of the arguments.
12.6.2007 11:09pm
Jen:
I'm undecided about women in combat, and after reading all of Prof. Browne's posts, I still am. These posts have been remarkably unpersuasive rehashes of the same old arguments, but something has been bothering me that I couldn't identify.

Was it that he is bashing women? Nope. By in large, he isn't bashing women, though he does say that they are less courageous and "hard to trust".

It's finally dawned on me that what has been off-putting to me about the posts is not how he talks about women, rather it is the poetic, wistful and often reverent language describing warriors/masculinity. It's really quite creepy. A few examples:

"courage, strength, dominance, leadership- in short, masculinity."

"...overcome fear in the face of mortal danger, to be willing to take the fight to the enemy if the mission demands it- risking heir lives in the process- and to inflict lethal violence on the enemy when the situation calls for it."

"The fear of not living up as a man is highly motivating"

"Who are the people who foil robberies, chase down purse snatchers and carjackers, and rescue others from criminal assaults? The answer is that these people are overwhelmingly men."

Oh heroic men, brave warriors- I salute you!
12.6.2007 11:51pm
Janus (mail):
OK, some tangential tidbits . . .

Skip this blurb if you're only interested in GROUND combat, or if you think ANY active-duty military position can be guaranteed to be purely "combat" versus "non-combat", or if you think the service academies exist for any reason other than to provide leaders capable of prevailing in combat (and trust me here, I'm NOT taking an elitist attitude -- merely asserting that American taxpayers are getting screwed if that isn't the case).

I'm working on a project related to gender integration in the Air Force. While my observations may not be relevant to Browne's project, his observations (and those of responding posters) are definitely relevant to mine.

Since October 7, 1975, when President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the United States service academies, the Air Force has systematically worked to provide affirmation, opportunity, and advancement to female USAFA graduates. As a result, the Air Force dominated the first wave of female flag officers to graduate from national service academies -- five of the first seven female academy graduates were USAFA grads. Cadet life at USAFA now exists as a matriarchy. Graduation order of merit (and, therefore, active duty assignment options) are determined by the Dean and the Commandant. Both are women. Character formation at USAFA is now defined as appreciation for diversity and respect for gender sensitivity. The stereotypical swaggering fighter pilot is now persona non grata -- a point reflected in the results of the latest environmental survey of cadet attitudes.

In short, the Air Force has shifted the paradigm. The Air Force intends to be the military service of choice for bright, motivated women by eradicating the prevailing machismo of the past.

Is the Air Force gender agenda good, bad, or of no particular consequence from either the tactical or the stategic perspective?

I don't know. But I think it's worth checking out.
12.7.2007 12:00am
randal (mail):
Kingsley, I was with you until this post. I don't have anything substantive to say except that your arguments here are so weak that they cast doubt on the rest of your series.

If I were your book, I would leave this line of reasoning out of myself.
12.7.2007 12:48am
angeleno:
Prof. Browne,
Almost all the arguments made in this series (not those about empathy and capacity to kill) could apply to firefighting. And virtually all of them, including those that don't apply to firefighters, apply to certain types of police work. Women have increasingly been part of firefighting and police forces on the "front lines." So it would seem that there's a significant potential body of useful data there. Is there empirical evidence to support the notion that women's presence impairs the effectiveness of units by reducing unit cohesiveness, trust, strength, etc. in those contexts? And if you reject the comparison, why?

Also: I'm struck the the method of argumentation here. You do a very good job articulating your arguments, but I see very little effort made to address the issue from a neutral perspective, addressing counterarguments. Perhaps that's becaue this is so condensed, but in this form you appear simply to present intuition, evidence and anecdotes justifying a set of hypotheses rather than to test them against the weight of counterarguments. I hope that in the book you actually test the hypotheses rather than just build a case based on the evidence that appears to support your ideas.

Finally, your use of "masculinity" as an unproblematic framework through which to view various traits seems to assume its own conclusion. While women are of course objectively weaker physically, is there, for example, objective evidence that they are less "courageous" as you imply? by clustering these traits together as "masculine," I'm not sure you're relying ultimately on anything more than a set of stereotypes - a collection that I don't believe most men would even buy into as a group.
12.7.2007 1:46am
George W. Obama (mail):

And you completely misunderstand the analogy to gays and blacks. People are not saying that their situation is the same as that of women. They are using what is known as an analogy. I.e., if a certain rationale for excluding women would also have been an effective rationale for excluding blacks, one must critically evaluate the validity of the rationale.



Spoken like a man who isn't black and sick of being compared to a woman.
12.7.2007 1:55am
George W. Obama (mail):
Frank Cross,

I should probaly note that I don't consider your posts -- other than the most recent one aimed at me -- amongst those that I was cataloguing. If all the other posters had been as fairly critical as you, I wouldn't have written what I did, which I think is dead-on. I am not a misogynist, but most of the anti-Browners here are misandrist. Indeed, a commenter the other day said point blank that women had better brains than men.
12.7.2007 1:58am
George W. Obama (mail):

Oh heroic men, brave warriors- I salute you!



Well, what's wrong with the MILITARY having a warrior ethic? What's CREEPY about a warrior ethic? I suppose most of the history of humankind is creepy. And I suppose men who value masculinity are creeps. Because -- as noted in another post -- the haters of the military in here hate the military because its necessity shows men aren't useless and masculinity isn't just a social construct.
12.7.2007 2:06am
Cornellian (mail):
Given all the distorting of Browne's arguments here, we are probably witnessing a lot of projection. Those prejudiced toward sex inclusivity in combat roles, even when it harms military effectiveness -- or precisely because it harms military effectiveness -- insist that anyone opposing sex inclusivity in combat roles -- for any reason -- must be prejudiced.

While it is possible to have a coherent worldview based on such beliefs (e.g., radical feminism), the obvious alternative is that these people simply argue recklessly and illogically because they hate the military, and will use any argumentative or rhetorical means to tear the military down.


Pot, kettle, etc.
12.7.2007 2:38am
George W. Obama (mail):
Pot, kettle, etc.

What a persuasive argument! Have any citations?
12.7.2007 2:42am
Angeleno:
Well, what's wrong with the MILITARY having a warrior ethic? What's CREEPY about a warrior ethic? I suppose most of the history of humankind is creepy. And I suppose men who value masculinity are creeps.


This misses the point. The person who criticized Prof. Browne's reverence for the warrior ethic and masculinity raises a fair point that has nothing to do with whether a "warrior ethic" is good or bad or historically common or not.

A researcher who is attempting to support a hypothesis that women don't belong in combat is a bit less persuasive if he appears to revere "masculine" culture and to assume his conclusion that combat belongs in the hands of "masculine" people. "Creepy" or not, if the researcher betrays an ideological bias that bears directly on the subject of the research, it makes the work much less convincing.
12.7.2007 2:57am
George W. Obama (mail):

A researcher who is attempting to support a hypothesis that women don't belong in combat is a bit less persuasive if he appears to revere "masculine" culture and to assume his conclusion that combat belongs in the hands of "masculine" people. "Creepy" or not, if the researcher betrays an ideological bias that bears directly on the subject of the research, it makes the work much less convincing.



This is not what Jen said. Even if Jen had said this, it is off the mark. Perhaps Browne became reverent of the warrior ethic as a result of this research. In other words, he wasn't wedded ideologically to this hypothesis, but rather the empirical results related to "whether a warrior ethic is good [and] historically" persuaded him.

But...if you're looking for bias, you can just conjecture it.
12.7.2007 3:08am
George W. Obama (mail):
"historically common"
12.7.2007 3:09am
Angeleno:
Perhaps Browne became reverent of the warrior ethic as a result of this research.
Perhaps. Any evidence for this, or just conjecture?
12.7.2007 3:16am
George W. Obama (mail):
Perhaps. Any evidence for this, or just conjecture?

It's just as likely as your spurious and libelous speculation, which is the point.
12.7.2007 3:32am
Enoch:
It's finally dawned on me that what has been off-putting to me about the posts is not how he talks about women, rather it is the poetic, wistful and often reverent language describing warriors/masculinity. It's really quite creepy.

One wonders if a wistful, reverent tribute to the virtues of femininity would ever be described as "creepy". No, no, never, of course not! Yet we know that Men (and especially White Men) are Evil and Must Never Be Praised or said to have any Singular Virtues Lacking in Women.
12.7.2007 8:07am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Indeed, a commenter the other day said point blank that women had better brains than men.

I missed that. I did see comments that said a commenter said that, soon after a commenter said a goal should be better brains, and that this was harder to correct than better bodies. (I was reminded of what Ron White said, you can't fix stupid.)

Any way you divide the population into sub-populations with overlapping bell curves, if you exclude the sub-population with the lower mean you're reducing the overall quality of the final selections, by the contributions that the right tail of the left group would have provided. This has an external benefit that selection is a little cheaper if you're fishing in the richer pond, and it has an external cost, not so much to the members of the right tail [because that's offset by more opportunities to the men they would have displaced] but to society at large by encouraging the use of stereotypes.

Spoken like a man who isn't black and sick of being compared to a woman.

Nobody has compared blacks to women. (By the way, there are black women.) Folks have compared the argument as applied to women to the same argument applied to blacks. If the argument can lead to a faulty conclusion, the argument is not valid, whether or not the instant conclusion is good or bad, and it shouldn't be added to the weight of evidence in favor of the instant conclusion.
12.7.2007 8:51am
Happyshooter:
After seeing the movie Men of Honor I am no longer sure that integration did go as smoothly in 1948 as we have been lead to believe. I should also point out that the Army had not competley integrated in 1950.

It did not go well at all. There were very serious racial violence problems in the Army, Navy, and Corps from the mid-60s to as late as the mid-80s. The worst were in the early 70s where several large race riots broke out on bases and officers could not enter many barracks areas unarmed, and many went with MP escorts.
12.7.2007 9:01am
A.C.:
Who here hates men? Just asking... most of the women here (to the extent I know which participants are female) are grappling with the issues and trying to reach conclusions, which occasionally involves presenting counterexamples. I haven't seen anyone put forth arguments that sound like they come from the race/class/gender obsessions of the liberal academy. People who are into that seldom hang out here. If people take the occasional mild effort to push back as evidence of misandry, then they are just as silly as the feminists who wig out if anyone asserts that men have more upper body strength than women.

I'm with those participants here who find the physical arguments about women in combat (and here I am talking about ground combat) persuasive, although I do think we're just beginning to investigate the limits of women's physical strength and how to make best use of it. The psychological stuff is way squishier, not the least because (1) most women don't get a lot of systematic practice in forming large, cohesive groups, and (2) a lot of women behave differently when men are around, often by conscious choice rather than because evolution has wired them that way.

An example of the latter -- I suppose we can all agree that all women who aren't seriously disabled can open doors, and that zillions of women around the world do so every day. Nevertheless, men in this culture seem to enjoy opening doors for women. Now, what happens if a take-charge kind of woman refuses assistance when a man opens a door for her? She gets labelled a bitch. So, most women let men open the doors even though it's all very silly. Cooperating with the ritual avoids a lot of pointless arguments.

Ditto driving, various home and garden tasks, loading the car before a trip, and a whole lot of other ordinary things that are well within the physical limits of both sexes. I find that most of my male friends just assume they will drive when we get into a car together, and I usually let them go with this assumption to avoid conflict. (There are a few exceptions, guys who aren't allowed to drive MY car because they work the stick shift all wrong. And I won't ride with my brother at all because he drives like an idiot.)

A lifetime of this "whatever you say, dear" (shortened to "whatever" by some people) stuff leaves women primed to defer to men, because really taking charge would involve an insane number of stupid, pointless arguments over every detail of daily life. And a lot of women have it hammered into them at an early age (mostly by older female relatives) that their role is to take care of harmony in daily life, to make things run smoothly and to keep ego (the woman's ego, that is) out of consideration.

I'm convinced this attitude is made, not born. But once it's made, I think it takes a very strong-minded woman (most likely backed up by professional expertise and operating on her own turf) to override a group of men who have ideas that don't match hers. At that point it's a matter of habit and experience -- someone who has little experience of self-assertion in small matters probably won't do it very well in large ones.

(Fathers -- and mothers -- of daughters, take note. You won't always be there to keep them from getting into cars with the guys who drive like idiots, so better make sure they get to practice self-assertion while they're young. Teaching them to rescue others comes after that... a lot of girls seem to grow up with no sense that they can rescue themselves!)
12.7.2007 9:25am
rarango (mail):
I have followed Professor Browne's posts with considerable interest as a retired cavalryman and viet nam vet. I appreciate Profesor Browne's attempt to look at the issue empirically. At the end of the day, I doubt that the empirical evidence will be sufficient to make the case one way or the other. It will remain a value laden question. I started reading the thread with a mindset, based on my own military experience that trying to integrate women into ground combat units was a bad idea. Professor Browne's posts have confirmed my opinion. Ultimately, however, I simply have no idea if the case for women in combat can be made or disproved with studies or data.

A word on "the warrior ethos." During my time in the military, retiring in 1986, the idea of a warrior ethos existed primarily in the writings of David Hackworth and other (IMO) ultra military types. I have seen increased use of the term and, in general, the development of an ethos about military service and warriors and the like that did not exist a generation ago. And I think, based on absolutely no personal research at all, that this ethos has arisen as a consequence of the all volunteer force. It is a value which permits the all volunteer force to establish a separate identity within the larger society. I will leave it for the readership to determine if this is a good thing or not. I have my own opinion.
12.7.2007 9:39am
Jen:
"One wonders if a wistful, reverent tribute to the virtues of femininity would ever be described as "creepy". No, no, never, of course not! Yet we know that Men (and especially White Men) are Evil and Must Never Be Praised or said to have any Singular Virtues Lacking in Women."



If I were purporting to write something resembling a scholarly argument about the role of women in society and instead launched into worship of the feminine, then yes- it would be both creepy and unpersuasive.

I am not saying that men are "evil" in any way. I also have great respect for all members of our armed forces. However, such reverence for the masculine warrior ethos does belie some prejudice on the part of the researcher and calls into question whether he is casting about for anything to back up a foregone conclusion or actually examining this from a neutral point of view.
12.7.2007 9:56am
Randy R. (mail):
" But there are also physiological differences between men and women related in part to the different hormone levels in men's and women's bodies. It seems logical to me that different hormonal balances would make men and women react differently to certain stimuli (and thus, men would be hard-wired to trust men more than women). "

Perhaps this is true. But then, there are studies that suggest that lesbians psychological make-up is closer to hetero men than to hetero women. If true, then Browne and everyone else here would have to concede that lesbians would be as good in the military as men. Indeed, I have known several lesbians who were highly decorated and did a bangup job in the military.

Of course, that would mean that these people would have to accept a person who has two strikes against her: She's a woman, AND a homosexual. So therefore, supporters of Brown's theory will have to attack this by saying that lesbians are just as bad as women in the military.

Or they will simply attack me, which is easier and more consistent with their arguments.
12.7.2007 10:01am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
A.C. Presuming you're right, then we need to promote a substantial change in the socializing of girls beginning with the earliest years.
I just happen to have a picture of my grandaughter, five months old, with one of her two boy cousins, seven months old. She's in the higher percentiles for height. He's off the charts. His hands are three times the size of hers. He's a head taller. Twice as heavy. The other boy cousin, nine months old, is even bigger, which is to say, farther off the charts.
I can see a limit to socialization here. She's going to have to be a girl. So, I expect, will be any guy who shows up at a family gathering with her and finds the cousins.
Nevertheless, the entire socialization process will have to be substantially rejiggered for at least one generation before we can even begin to demonstrate what is and is not hard-wired.
There may be other advantages to that, but in this case, it would be in aid of getting a few women into combat units. I don't see society getting together to make the effort.
12.7.2007 10:05am
rarango (mail):
RandR: for what it is worth, I have served with homosexual women in the military and my experience is they were excellent soldiers. As to your point re psychological make up. Please note that Professor Browne goes beyond psychological make up and, if I am reading him correctly, roots the psychological difference in hormonal make up. The question seems to me to be is homosexual women had the same hormonal make up as heterosexual men, AND, do hormones affect psychological outlook. I will defer to more learned people than I on this subject.
12.7.2007 10:14am
Uncle Fester (mail):
Angeleno said:

Almost all the arguments made in this series (not those about empathy and capacity to kill) could apply to firefighting. And virtually all of them, including those that don't apply to firefighters, apply to certain types of police work. Women have increasingly been part of firefighting and police forces on the "front lines."

Here's the thing- cops and firemen aren't allowed to talk about that. Speak up on the female performance topic, and you'll have your head cut off. There's no point- nothing will be done, and we all know it. There's no formal method to deal with poor performance by women in these roles.

Worse, there's no informal way either. If the bad performer were a man, massive amounts of peer pressure would be brought to bear on him. That same pressure can't be brought on a woman, because that makes it a hostile environment, and memos and lawsuits fill the air.

Work the thought experiment yourself: In training, Fireman Bob is sent to pull ceilings in a room, and works too slow to suit the rest of the crew. The crew will torture that guy mercilessly- if he gets better, and stands up well under pressure, it's a data point that says he can be trusted. Now, pretend the aforementioned new firefighter is a woman- that same pressure can't be applied. And if it is, how many lawyers out there think there's a case?

That's how it works in the real world.

If there's no formal correction process and there's no informal correction process, how does one establish any level of trust? Does anyone out there not believe that there are real disincentives for line commanders in holding women to the same peformance standards as men?

Combat and firefighting isn't (aren't?) the courtroom or the classroom- there's no appeal or re-test. Bad Things happen right away.

And by the way- that's why the "women in combat" issue is different from the race or homosexuality issues.
12.7.2007 10:47am
Lugo:
I haven't seen anyone put forth arguments that sound like they come from the race/class/gender obsessions of the liberal academy.

Of course you have. The liberal academy insists that men and women are 100% functionally identical and interchangeable, and that's exactly what a number of people have argued in these threads.

The psychological stuff is way squishier, not the least because... a lot of women behave differently when men are around,

Men behave differently when women are around, too - and when the men in question are in a military unit, it is entirely reasonable to ask whether or not this is detrimental to combat effectiveness.

I have known several lesbians who were highly decorated and did a bangup job in the military.

Decorated for valor in combat? Source?
12.7.2007 11:05am
rarango (mail):
Lugo: you obviously know what Randy doesnt know: Soldiers are decorated for valor and receive awards for service. I assumed that randy really met awarded and not decorated. There is a difference between decorations (MOH, DSC, NC, SS, and any other medals with a V device), and awards (all others). There simply is not much knowledge of things military in today's society as many posters on this board continue to reaffirm.
12.7.2007 11:17am
George W. Obama (mail):

If the argument can lead to a faulty conclusion, the argument is not valid, whether or not the instant conclusion is good or bad, and it shouldn't be added to the weight of evidence in favor of the instant conclusion.



If the argument is invalid, it falls or stands on its own weight. There is no need to analogize women to blacks in the process, thereby insulting the dignity of black men.
12.7.2007 12:12pm
George W. Obama (mail):
I missed that. I did see comments that said a commenter said that, soon after a commenter said a goal should be better brains, and that this was harder to correct than better bodies.

Then you cannot read. This is not verbatim, but Erin said that "women's brains were better," which the next commenter translated to "women have better brains". The only change was in the construction "brains ... better" to "better brains".
12.7.2007 12:15pm
George W. Obama (mail):
However, such reverence for the masculine warrior ethos does belie some prejudice on the part of the researcher and calls into question whether he is casting about for anything to back up a foregone conclusion or actually examining this from a neutral point of view.

No, it doesn't. You have no idea whether his "reverence" -- which I don't see, frankly -- is a result of the research, rather than the motivation for it. You're just casting around for a reason to smear the professor because you have an predetermined opposition to the content of his ideas, whether true or not.
12.7.2007 12:19pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
An old philosopher, I believe it was Socrates via Plato, told of how the world is like a cave where the people can only see the shadows of each other on the wall of the cave, we can't see each other directly. Our understanding of reality is based on this second hand observation.

Of course that is rubbish. But it's a popular idea in a lot of bad philosophy.

I think we've taken this idea to a new level. Now we have a large portion of our population that ignores what they can see and know first hand and only believe what they see on television. Since women on television are all able to beat up any guy at any time, then there must not be any legitimate reason that women aren't suited for combat.

Women as pugilists is only a creation of the movies. Women as powerful soldiers is only in the movies.

But some people only know of reality from what they see in the movies and what they're taught in universities. They ignore that their wife, daughter, sister, or their own self, and all women are substantially weaker physically than men. They ignore that men are wired genetically to fight and fight for women.

Civilization is a great thing. It tames the brute in the man. But perhaps we've now gone too far. Too many people do not understand that basic nature. They rely on civilization to portray what he is. That portrayal is wrong.

Combat is not anything like most people experience. There is no Starbucks on the corner to take a break. There is no time-out. It comes in many forms, but our military has to be capable of the most unrelenting hardships. Any healthy man can do the job with training. Almost no women, none I have met in my time with the Marines since 1984, can do it as well as the least of these men.

It would be tragic if the shadows on the cave wall convince people of what isn't real.
12.7.2007 12:19pm
Point of Fact (mail):

Erin the Sexist: I remember reading a study that women pilots were better able to undergo g-forces (i.e., less likely to black out in spins) than men, and that they also did better on tests of attention and comprehension of instruments. If it were proven that women were better pilots/gunners along that axis, wouldn't it be worthwhile to modify equipment to have women take over their jobs? We can make stuff lighter fairly easily; it's harder to make brains better. It would save lives too, presumably, to have the best possible pilots ... [sic] And what about all-women units? No precious male lives would be lost, unit cohesion not a problem, and you can bet the volunteer women soldiers would be the gung-est of the gung-ho.


This is clearly an argument that women have better brains than men and should take over their roles in combat, at least as pilots. She is arguing no males should be pilots because men have inferior brains to women. If you cannot see that, you are illiterate.
12.7.2007 12:22pm
LBG:
Nice Lugo!! For valor being the difference. I know a lot of admin weanies that have quite a salad on their chests. Highly decorated? yes. Brave, no.

Lesbians being like males. Ok, but typically not as strong. And before we talk about overlapping bell curves, etc, we wash out men that can not fit the combat capability, so thus, we are NOT comparing the strongest woman with Eggbert the computer engineer.

Warrior ethos is important. Men motivate each other in a rougher and more direct manner. If a man stands up to it and can hold his own, fire off a zinger or two and perform with the group, then he will be trusted.

I do not have the stats on how many women file complaints of sexual harassment and/or hostile work environments. I can, however, tell you that data tend to be skewed by the agenda. I read the Survey for Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Service Academies a couple years ago. What struck me was that if a man expressed displeasure with a woman not being held to the same standard, that was harassment. If a man was told he was not as strong and was not working as hard, that is not harassment. The stats call everything from real harassing to men going out and not inviting women as harassment. The study makes no difference in the end. Also, as for trust and unit cohesion. When asked if false accusations were a problem at the academy, roughly 70% of the women said that it was. So, the following year, the survey excluded that question. Same with the question about being placed in a front line unit. Something like 85% of the women said they would not like to serve on the front if given the chance. They stopped asking the question in their surveys. Oh, btw, men are not really given that choice. Yes here are MOS's and NEC's that are more combat oriented, but when told to go, we can not opt out and can not get pregnant. I've seen several women choose the latter option and try to sea lawyer their way out. Sadly, 2 were officers. They were denied and I got to watch one of them walk around the spaces crying. No crying in baseball, but you can in the U.S. Military now.

Combat is tough. It's scary. Teamwork is essential. It should not be socially engineered to make people that will never get shot at feel better about themselves.

As an officer, I have run male groups and mixed groups. I have found the male groups were easier, had less fighting and tension, worked better together and gave me less headaches. In my mixed gender unit, the women got pregnant, so 2 out of my 5 had to be pulled off the ship. Oh yeah, both were single mothers so that raised a whole other level of difficulty with deploying or just getting work done as they would be late for doctor's appointments, sick kids, etc.

Someone in here mentioned an all female unit. I had suggested that before. Most women I know do not want to deploy with an all female unit. Cat fights, unit dynamics or whatever. The women I've asked don't like the idea. I say do it, but I suspect that it would be a glaring indictment of the idea of putting women in full on combat units. I suspect it would be spun in a postive manner, but when a unit has way more body bags and toe tags than the male units then that is exaclty the evidence you do not want to see. I had held the belief that if a woman or two could do the job then let them. Then I deployed on an all male ship and then on a mixed gender ship. Vastly different, totally different feel and I found the all male ships to work much better than the mixed gender ships. The comeraderie and esprit de corps was more evident when women were not around.
12.7.2007 12:48pm
ALS:
Lugo,

Once again, we are faced with commenters who "know someone," "heard something about," or "read a study," and use that "knowledge" as a basis for instructing people who have personally been there how "there" really works.
12.7.2007 1:42pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
The Soviets used women pilots in an all female fighter regiment in WWII. They did not have any outstanding aces, but they were not considered an operational failure either. I think it is impossible to argue that women make better pilots than men for any reason. My own favorite pilot is female, Hanna Reitsch. She test flew planes that were killing male pilots. She flew a helicopter indoors in the 1930s. She never flew in combat. Unfortunately she was an enthusiastic Nazi. It is hard to get past that. Feminists do not talk about her.
12.7.2007 4:22pm
rarango (mail):
George Larson: Re Hanna Reitsch: I am resisting the tempation to link feminism and Nazis----Ok, I'm not. Back to my Rush Limbaugh show :)
12.7.2007 4:26pm
Porkchop:
Just in case anyone is interested, if you should happen to be the first on the scene of an accident where someone is hanging upside down from his seatbelt or is otherwise trapped in the car, the first thing to do is reach in and TURN OFF THE IGNITION. Cutting off electricity will dramatically lower (but not eliminate entirely) the risk of fire. That makes the decision whether to drag someone out less "split-second." That's not to say that it is always a bad decision to move an accident victim, but it ought not be undertaken without real consideration of the risks.
12.7.2007 5:19pm
Enoch:
The Soviets used women pilots in an all female fighter regiment in WWII. They did not have any outstanding aces, but they were not considered an operational failure either.

Less than 1% of Soviet pilots were women. If the Soviets thought that women pilots were an "operational success", presumably there would have been a lot more of them. In fact this was more of a propaganda stunt than a serious effort to create a force of female pilots.
12.7.2007 5:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Enoch.
Ref women and propaganda:
I wonder what percentage of the Israeli interest in using women in combat was to demonstrate plucky little Israel, to demonstrate Israel with its back against the wall, to piss off Arabs ("Hey, Omar. You got killed by a girl!") and, in general, for reasons other than combat efficiency.
Certainly, the results were as mentioned. That means there is at least a possibility there was some thought given to the results.
12.7.2007 11:20pm
LBG:
Richard, women are NOT used in combat in Israel. They have women in the rear w/ the gear. If you look at the front line guys that went into Lebanon, those were male units. It is a false to say there are female units at the front.
12.8.2007 9:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
LBG. That's why I used the past tense.
Whatever spot Israel is in now, in '48, they did look as if their back was against the wall and looking "plucky" was probably a good idea for internal and international p.r.
12.9.2007 11:57pm