pageok
pageok
pageok
[Kingsley Browne, guest-blogging, December 7, 2007 at 1:00pm] Trackbacks
Co-ed Combat -- Pregnancy and Single Motherhood

I've discussed so far a variety of differences between men and women that affect their relative aptitude for combat roles. Another distinction between men and women that has significant effects on military readiness is that only women can become pregnant.

Approximately ten percent of military women are pregnant at any one time. During the Gulf War, pregnancy was the leading cause of women's being shipped back early to the United States. When the destroyer tender USS Acadia returned from an eight-month deployment during the Gulf War, thirty-six of the 360 women on board had been transferred off the ship because of pregnancy. The Acadia was the ship most prominently called "the Love Boat," but it is just one of many that have had that label attached to them.

A comprehensive study for the Navy of female shipboard personnel found an overall pregnancy rate of 19 percent per year. The highest pregnancy rate (27 percent) was on submarine tenders, the class of ships with the largest percentage of women.

With the unprecedented use of female personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, one would think that the services would like to know what their losses are from pregnancy. According to a spokesman for Central Command, however, "We're definitely not tracking it." A Pentagon spokeswoman said that the Army does release information on how many women choose to leave the service because of pregnancy but not information on those who leave the war theater, implying that the information is tracked, simply not released. Only "general numbers" are released, she said, "to protect the rights of women, soldiers and the organization," although it is not clear how anyone's "rights" would be infringed by release of statistical information about pregnancy losses.

When it comes time to deploy, women fail to do so at three to four times the rate for men, the difference being largely due to pregnancy. Once a soldier is confirmed to be pregnant she becomes 'non-deployable' and will remain so for up to a year. After deployment, many women must be sent back home because of pregnancy.

A Navy study found that a quarter of women (compared with a tenth of men) were lost from ships for unplanned reasons. Large numbers of military pregnancies that are carried to term are unplanned (over 60 percent of those among junior enlisted personnel).

Pregnancy in the later stages means total absence of the woman -- who may or may not be replaced -- but even in the earlier stages it results in substantial limitations on a woman's ability to contribute to her unit. One Army MOS in which there are many women is "fueler." Fuelers are responsible for fueling vehicles and are critical to their units. Unfortunately, however, female fuelers are medically restricted from working in that job because of chemical exposure from the date their pregnancy is diagnosed. As the Army was preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom, it had to impose a cap on the number of deployed women who could be allocated to that MOS, and it had to move men from other specialties into the fueler job, creating shortages elsewhere.

Women cannot serve at sea after their twentieth week of pregnancy, and even before that they must be removed from ships unless they are within six hours of a facility "capable of evaluating and stabilizing obstetric emergencies." After giving birth, mothers are excused from sea duty for a year.

Women's ability to avoid deployment by becoming pregnant is a constant source of resentment among men. Intentionally injuring oneself to avoid deployment is a court-martial offense; intentionally becoming pregnant to avoid deployment brings no penalty at all, nor does becoming pregnant to avoid deployment, missing the deployment, and then aborting the pregnancy -- a pattern that creates even intensified resentment. This latter phenomenon is almost certainly something that the military does not track, so it is hard to know how widespread it is, but while I was researching my book, several people (all Navy officers) spontaneously mentioned it to me.

Single parenthood is also a much greater problem among women than men. Although in raw numbers there are more single fathers than single mothers (because of the overwhelming disproportion of men in the military), the proportion of women who are single parents is much higher.

Comparison of the numbers of single mothers and fathers is meaningful only if "single parenthood" means the same thing for mothers and fathers, whereas it clearly does not. A Navy survey that inquired into the nature of custody arrangements found that 76 percent of single mothers had sole custody of the child, whereas only 16 percent of men did. While only 8 percent of single mothers had "joint custody (less than half the time)," 63 percent of fathers did. These are very different parental patterns, and they have substantially different effects on deployability -- differences that are obscured by simply labeling the involved personnel "single parents."

The military recognizes the incompatibility of single parenthood and military service. Army regulations, for example, bar single parents from enlisting, stating that "the Army's mission and unit readiness are not consistent with being a sole parent." The problem comes about when individuals already in the service become single parents. Single parents are required to file "Family Care Plans," identifying someone who will be able to take over parental responsibilities in the event of deployment, but if that arrangement falls through — or if the requirement is not complied with — then there can be a significant problem.

During the Gulf War, a number of military women with young children were transferred back to the United States because of the stress of being away from their children. Because of the longer deployments involved in the current conflicts, one doubts that this is a lesser problem today. Reliable data are not available (and perhaps do not exist), however, as the military has an obviously strong interest in not widely advertising the possibility of the return home for parents who miss their children.

My next post will be my last, and I will provide a few closing thoughts.

Happyshooter:
Browne is using the Garland study from 2000, which determined reported shipboard pregnancy by visiting on board sickbays and is the best information out there. Note that the 19% is PER YEAR, not per term or career. 19% of the women on a navy ship are pregnant in any given year.
12.7.2007 1:14pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You know not all single parents are women.
12.7.2007 1:19pm
HBowmanMD:
That was mentioned, did you actually READ the post?
12.7.2007 1:21pm
ALS:
J.F.,

The core difference being that a single father isn't per se non-deployable. His chain of command may care for morale reasons, but it doesn't directly affect his ability to do the job.
12.7.2007 1:22pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
I was on board the USS Cape Cod (AD-43) from 1986 to 1990. Our ship did three overseas deployments during this time frame.

We were a sister-ship to the USS Acadia and berthed near her in San Diego.

My experiance was that at least 10% of the women assigned to the ship were pregnant at any one time and during deployments the rate went as high as 20%.

During my second deployment the rate was so high that the ships budget couldn't afford to fly all the women back the the US. At least six ended up at the Navy base in Japan to have their babies. After the budget year changed over they were flown back to the US. My memory is that they were really upset about how the Navy handled this. (Can you blame them?)

Pregnancy issues caused a lot of moral problems. You could see the pattern repeat itself over and over again. Young jr enlisted female having problems adjusting to shipboard life and deployment, one month later, she's pregnant and headed home. There was a cycle to it to. The longer the deployment went one, the more and more it happened.

It was an annoyance for a Navy Auxiliary ship like a Tender, it could be a mission breaker for an infantry platoon.
12.7.2007 1:25pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Just make a rule requiring anyone who becomes pregnant while in the military to abort. Problem solved.
12.7.2007 1:25pm
Sparky:
Hello? Here we are 50 years after the pill, and nobody's heard of birth control?

If they won't take it voluntarily, I say put it in their food.
12.7.2007 1:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
In addition to the loss of a trained person to do a specific job, the expense of training that person to do a job that she will never do is substantial. And wasted.

Allowing yourself to be sunburned to the extent you are not capable of performing your duties is a UCMJ violation. This has surprised more than one freckled redhead who had some time off one Saturday afternoon.

Comparison?
12.7.2007 1:35pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Sparky, people still have constitutional rights, even in the military believe it or not. We can't curtail people's procreative rights. And good lord, Duffy, we can't require abortions! Can you imagine the firestorm that would cause?
12.7.2007 1:41pm
ALS:
Skyler,

It can be unfortunate... A few decades ago, asking the CO's permission to get married wasn't just a tradition. Probably kept more than a few 18 year olds from ending up attached to their first piece of tail.
12.7.2007 1:46pm
Happyshooter:
That was mentioned, did you actually READ the post? I was restating that very important point because I knew you would be reading it and would miss it.

Line up five girls on a navy ship, one of them is pregnant or will be that year.
12.7.2007 1:49pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
ALS, from what I recall, that is still the law. When I was overseas in the late 80's our Marines were told by thorough briefings that marriages while overseas were not lawful without the permission of the commanding officer.

I think that is still the law. It was an important one while in the Philipines.

Yet, Gen Mundy was ridiculed, and rightly so, when he said as the Commandant of the Marine Corps that he didn't want to enlist any married men or women and he wanted to forbid them getting married during their first hitch.

Our Marines are not conscripts, and such decisions are none of the Commandant's business.
12.7.2007 1:51pm
New World Dan (www):
Duffy Pratt,

As a private employer, can I use that strategy for my female emplyees also?

Skyler and Sparky,

People sign away a lot of constitutional rights when they enlist in the military. I don't see why pregnancy can't be grounds for a court martial.

Like so many other things, here, the only winning move is not to play.
12.7.2007 1:53pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
What I'm hearing is that the Navy currently provides lots of incentives to get pregnant, and does not provide disincentives for the fathers of those kids. Both sides of that equation could be changed fast.
12.7.2007 1:54pm
Babylonandon (mail) (www):
Another little statistic they don't follow is how many of their females are running around the boat making a killing as prostitutes. This has long been a problem and they were arresting rack ladies back when I was in the fleet in the late 80's and early 90's.

Pregnancy wasn't the only problem either. It was a followed (and published in Stars and Stripes) statistic back then that a servicemember (no pun intended) was 8 times more likely to catch VD from one of the Navy women than they were from the brothel girls in the Philippines. In 50% of those cases the infected sailor would have contracted more than one type of infection simultaneously, too.

I have said it repeatedly that there is one way to deal with the whole mess of coeds and and gays in the military: a ban of sexual contact between servicemembers as a part of the UCMJ. You have sex with a shipmate, you get a dishonorable discharge. You want to have sex...do it with a civilian. Sex in the service is nothing but a problem for morale and discipline.
12.7.2007 2:02pm
PLR:
Clearly we need to recruit more gay sailors to help improve the loss experience.
12.7.2007 2:03pm
Muskrat (mail):
The great thing about this argument (some women will drop out of career track X, wasting training expenses, disrupting staffing, and causing resentment among male colleagues, thus we shouldn't allow them to start it), is that it applies to anything with a training or learning curve, including law firms, medical practices, etc. "Why should I put you on my surgical staff when you might drop out and mommy-track on me?"

It raises again the extent to which Browne is advocating not just refraining from extending the role of women in the military, but of ratcheting it back from where it is now-- and if so how far back?
12.7.2007 2:06pm
Cold Warrior:

Hello? Here we are 50 years after the pill, and nobody's heard of birth control?


Exactly. I don't see why the military would have to accept women into certain roles if they had a significant likelihood of becoming pregnant. As I noted in the previous thread, why not limit women applicants to those who are sterile or on Norplant? Really, is it that hard to do that?

Would that "shock the conscience?" Why? What kind of conscience says "better to exclude all potentially qualified women than to allow a qualified woman to assume the job provided she takes appropriate steps to avoid the possibility of pregnancy."

After all these posts, I have to say I've reached a very simple conclusion:

Kingsley Browne just needs to get out more.

This is a generational thing, and he is not a young man. I live in the Rockies, and just about every weekend I see super-fit, highly competitive young women throwing caution to the wind and doing dangerous things (very well, I might add) that I wouldn't have even considered trying when I was 21. I admire their their skill a rock climbing; I curse at them when the blow past me on their snowboards. I shake my head in disbelief when they do nutty things like ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado. I go on day hikes and I see them coming down from "Fourteeners" with huge packs.

Yes, the men outnumber them. Maybe by 5 or 10 to 1. But they're out there, and I can't for a moment think that at least a significant proportion of them are suited for pretty much any role the military can throw at them.

Kingsley Browne, you really should get out more.
12.7.2007 2:07pm
Lee2 (mail):
Unless the father of the children born to single servicewomen is another deployed serviceman, this shouldn't be a problem: if the father is alive and not a court-judged unfit parent, he can take care of the children while the mother is deployed. The root of this problem is the custody arrangements. More fathers need to be joint or full custodians of their children. The military should pressure the single mothers to revise their custody arrangements; in particular, to not accept full custody.
12.7.2007 2:11pm
Waldensian (mail):
Seven lengthy posts so far on co-ed combat issues. Yikes. If the issues of Israel and Northern Virginia real estate somehow get inserted into these threads, the VC will be bandwidth-limited to the topics of co-ed combat and (maybe) the Sunday Song lyrics.
12.7.2007 2:13pm
rarango (mail):
Citing evidence based on women engaged in extreme sports in Colorado is not a particularly helpful analogy unless one believes ground combat and its ensuing stresses is the same as rock climbing/ice climbing/snowboarding. Having both snowboarded and been in combat, I can assure you the two are not nearly equivalent. I suspect lots of other vets will tell you the same thing. YMMV.
12.7.2007 2:17pm
Cold Warrior:

It raises again the extent to which Browne is advocating not just refraining from extending the role of women in the military, but of ratcheting it back from where it is now-- and if so how far back?


Well, that's the heart of the problem, isn't it. If you look at Browne's previous book, he was arguing that women just aren't suited to lots of other professions as well (scientist, CEO, you name it).

Again, I'm willing to say: "Let's defer to the military on this issue. The U.S. military is not the proper place for social engineering; its role is just too important. If our military leadership thinks women in combat roles would damage effectiveness, then we should defer to their judgment."

But when I say that, I understand that to a large extent I'm simply ratifying existing prejudices, and I'm saying that I am willing to accept that because there's a good reason for allowing the military to trail (or even refuse to follow forevermore) general social trends.

I am not making up unsupportable excuses and arguments for my biases. They are what they are.

In short, Browne's arugment is old-fartism cloaked in anecdotal "social science." Yeah, you could say I'm not convinced.
12.7.2007 2:19pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
NW Dan,

Getting pregnant as a means of missing movement or avoiding duties certainly CAN be used as a reason for court martial. There's no question about that.

But that will never happen unless it is particularly agregious, and even then it will not go very far.
12.7.2007 2:20pm
HBowmanMD:
Cold Warrior: For every super-fit young woman you can find, I can find 10 on the other end of the bell curve: Morbidly obese, horrible aerobic capacity, little weight carrying capacity (except hauling their carcass around).

And snowboarding is nothing like combat (or even the military in general).
12.7.2007 2:22pm
Mark Seecof:
The services refuse to address the pregnancy problem seriously but I do not know why. Perhaps top brass actually favor women disqualifying themselves from deployment. The services are pleased to discharge or even court-martial soldiers reluctant to receive dangerous, unapproved anthrax immunizations, but do not mandate contraceptive use and do not discipline female soldiers who get pregnant.
12.7.2007 2:27pm
Adam J:
I have to say I find this a particularly weak argument. What is the problem with women being unavailable more often, that it will cause personnel shortages? But won't this problem be compounded if we don't hire military women at all?
12.7.2007 2:28pm
Ahmad Arturos (www):
Maybe the DoD can lace the mess-hall vittles with mashed up birth-control pills. It works in the prison system where they put salt-peter in the food to diminish the male sex drive. That way we get more bang for the female enrollment buck.
12.7.2007 2:31pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Cold Warrior:

You anecdotes only prove you can't see past the end of your own nose. Your political agenda clouds your thinking.
12.7.2007 2:34pm
Cold Warrior:
rarango said:

Citing evidence based on women engaged in extreme sports in Colorado is not a particularly helpful analogy unless one believes ground combat and its ensuing stresses is the same as rock climbing/ice climbing/snowboarding. Having both snowboarded and been in combat, I can assure you the two are not nearly equivalent. I suspect lots of other vets will tell you the same thing. YMMV.


And HWBowman repeated:


Cold Warrior: For every super-fit young woman you can find, I can find 10 on the other end of the bell curve: Morbidly obese, horrible aerobic capacity, little weight carrying capacity (except hauling their carcass around).

And snowboarding is nothing like combat (or even the military in general).


Of course it isn't.

But there's my frustration with what is couched as a logical/scientific examination of why women aren't suited for combat. After all, Browne's book is supposed to be presenting "new evidence" to uphold an old argument.

But the "argument," as it is set up, is completely irrefutable. Why? Well take this as an example:

Browne: studies show that in many non-combat contexts women are far more risk-averse than men. The ability to accept great risk is essential for those chosen for combat roles. Therefore, women as a class are not suited to combat roles.

ColdWarrior: but there is a small minority of young women (small in percentage terms, but sizeable in real numbers) who show an extremely high tolerance for risk; many women excel in ultra-high risk extreme sports and competitive tests of endurance. Doesn't that tend to refute your argument that women as a class are not suited to combat roles?

rarango/HWBowman/other supporters of Browne:

Hah! You are implying that participation in extreme sports is akin to combat! What a fool!

Well ... if you are willing to dismiss the counter-examples, you must also dismiss Browne's "new evidence" about male-female difference in risk-taking behavior in non-military combat settings. After all, those settings are at least as far removed from "combat" as my settings.

Moral: if that's the case, then I guess there's nothing much left to Browne's book, and I guess you shouldn't buy it.
12.7.2007 2:35pm
johnnypeepers (www):
Ahmad, have you ever heard of the Substantive Due Process clause of the 5th Amendment? Well, neither has Scalia, but that is irrelevant. Depriving an enlisted female of the fundamental right of reproduction would be a violation of her Constitutional rights. I do not know where you are from Ahmad, but we do not treat women in our armed forces like prisoners. I hope you were making a ill-conceived attempt at humor.

johnny
12.7.2007 2:37pm
Skyler (mail) (www):

What is the problem with women being unavailable more often, that it will cause personnel shortages? But won't this problem be compounded if we don't hire military women at all?


The mind just boggles at some of the remarks here.
12.7.2007 2:38pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Well, if the Court overturned Roe, then there would be no Constitutional impediment to the military requiring its soldiers to get abortions. If a legislature has the power to outlaw abortion, why wouldn't it have the converse power to require them?

So maybe you would be in luck, and you could require the same of your employees, if it just weren't for that pesky Roe decision.

Also, its possible that a different level of scrutiny would be available to the military given the Secret Code of Military Toughness.
12.7.2007 2:41pm
Cold Warrior:
EIDE_Interface scolded me:

You anecdotes only prove you can't see past the end of your own nose. Your political agenda clouds your thinking.


What is my political agenda? I can tell you, quite honestly, that I don't have a dog in this fight.

I do, in general, have a bone to pick with any poorly-constructed argument on a policy issue.

If you see some flaw in my reasoning (a flaw that does not equally apply to Browne's reasoning), feel free to point it out.
12.7.2007 2:45pm
Lior:
Adam: Well, women being unavailable more means that you need more women to replace an equal number of men. If a man is unavailable 10% of the time but a woman 25% then you need 12 women do to the job of 10 men. If your hiring doesn't take this into account (that is, if the manual says that the unit needs X specialists of type Y, irrespective of gender) then you will be short. In particular, if women's availability tends to correlate with deployment you are in a vicious bind: taking the "man" as the basic unit, you need a bit more than one woman for each slot to be filled by a man, to ensure availablility. But if in peacetime the women are about as available as the men you have too many people on your payroll -- and that is expensive.


One solution is to pay people based on their expected availability (that is, pay women less). This is probably true to some extent (I'm sure soldiers get paid more when they are deployed) but perhaps the discrepancy isn't large enough.
12.7.2007 2:47pm
rarango (mail):
Cold Warrior--I am willing to accept counter examples if they are valid; extreme sports and combat are simply not comparable. In fact, I would assert that there is nothing comparable to combat. Combat is a unique experience. Nor do I accept all of Browne's examples or assertions; but, I agree with his thesis and have said elsewhere this subject is, I believe, not one that can be proved scientifically. To me, it is fundamentally a question of one's values, and even more tangibly, the transaction costs involved in identifying and integrating the very few women who genuinely could perform combat tasks into ground combat units.

Quite frankly, in reading the numerous responses to Professor Browne's posts, the thing that strikes me is that those who have some experience in the military and in combat have tended to agree with Browne's thesis if not all of examples. I don't think that Professor Browne needed to convince those with that experience, and if he hasnt convinced those without that experience, that may something about their "young fartism" and preexisting value sets.
12.7.2007 2:49pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Duffy, by your logic the following statement would also be true:

If a legislature has the power to outlaw burglary, why wouldn't it have the converse power to require it?

Again, the mind simply boggles.
12.7.2007 2:51pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
rarango, I think your concluding paragraph is about right. Browne simply adds nothing new to the debate and some of his arguments are quite weak and tend to reduce the perceived legitimacy of the points that are good.

Prof Brown, thanks for the debate, but I think your book needs some work. If there is going to be renewed interest in putting women in combat, your book will not especially help achieve a rational result.
12.7.2007 2:56pm
Greg (www):

the thing that strikes me is that those who have some experience in the military and in combat have tended to agree with Browne's thesis


2003 poll in Military Times

"• More than two in three supported the idea of women serving in combat, though many suggested women should only get such assignments if they choose them."

37% of the military respondents thought women should get combat assignments in the same way as men, 30% thought they should get combat assignments only if they wanted them and only 26% thought they should never get combat assignments.
12.7.2007 2:59pm
Hey Skipper (www):
I have to say I find this a particularly weak argument. What is the problem with women being unavailable more often, that it will cause personnel shortages?

In my area of personal experience, combat aircraft, this argument is very, very strong.

Let's assume a squadron of 30 pilots that is fifty percent female. In order to maintain the required manning level, given the pregnancy rates cited, this squadron would have to have 32 - 33 pilots -- and that is ignoring the pregnancy effects upon the far smaller number of pilots who are instructors and flight leads.

Just to get someone through pilot training and initially qualified in an operational aircraft cost roughly $1.2M. Add the training required to become a flight lead and an instructor, and that total reaches $2M. Jump that amount to nearly $3M if that pilot also goes to Weapons School (AF) or Top Gun (Navy).

These women add absolutely no combat capability with respect to an all male squadron.

Therefore, this additional $4 - 6M per squadron is completely wasted.

What should be obvious is that the notion of women in combat units is sustainable in inverse proportion to their presence.

And that has to be even more true of the Army and Marines, who see real combat.
12.7.2007 3:09pm
rarango (mail):
Greg: I tried to find out the question was asked in the Military Times poll, but couldnt. Women currently get combat assignments but it is not clear if the question asked about integration into ground combat units. Two different things entirely. The way the military is currently structured, women in the combat support and combat service support branches are most definitely in combat areas and exposed to enemy fire--esp in an insurgency environment that is Iraq.
12.7.2007 3:11pm
rarango (mail):
Greg: I tried to find out the question was asked in the Military Times poll, but couldnt. Women currently get combat assignments but it is not clear if the question asked about integration into ground combat units. Two different things entirely. The way the military is currently structured, women in the combat support and combat service support branches are most definitely in combat areas and exposed to enemy fire--esp in an insurgency environment that is Iraq.
12.7.2007 3:11pm
Greg (www):
A better link. If you click on race/gender/gay, you'll find the questions asked. 2004:

5) On what basis should women in the armed forces be given combat assignments?

2003

It's not the best poll question ever asked, but the fact that one of the possible answers is "Never get combat assignments" I think, at the least, we can at least see that most military folks (two-thirds) disagree with the professors conclusion which is that women should NOT be in combat roles (whether that's on a ship, in a plane or on the ground).
12.7.2007 3:17pm
Cold Warrior:
rarango said:


In fact, I would assert that there is nothing comparable to combat. Combat is a unique experience.


See, that's my point.

I'm not denying this, which is why I said I'm willing to defer to our military experts on the issue. In fact, Browne himself added this comment to one of his earlier posts, in which he noted that all the studies he relied on (regarding differences in risk-taking behavior among men and women) deal with something quite different than being shot at in combat.

But Browne obviously thinks other studies are useful indicators of combat suitability; if he didn't, why would he write an entire book presenting this "new evidence?"

If we want to say, "combat is different," then let's just say it and move on, rather than trying to marshal evidence from other aspects of human endeavor.

So you see: it is easy to impugn someone's motives by saying "well, you're just a liberal," or "what else would you expect from a Bush apologist," or some such thing. I happen to believe in the very old-fashioned notion that an argument may be either good or bad, and that it's "goodness" or "badness" is separate and apart from one's political biases.

So maybe Browne is right for the wrong reasons. But that doesn't make his reasoning sound.
12.7.2007 3:21pm
Greg (www):
Here's a recently published Rand study. I won't attempt to characterize it. I'll leave it to you guys to read.
12.7.2007 3:37pm
rarango (mail):
Cold Warrior: point taken.
12.7.2007 3:40pm
Cold Warrior:
Thanks, rarango.

[My faith in the virtues of civil discourse momentarily restored ... ]
12.7.2007 3:47pm
theobromophile (www):

As I noted in the previous thread, why not limit women applicants to those who are sterile or on Norplant? Really, is it that hard to do that?

Would that "shock the conscience?"

Yes. Perhaps you are (blissfully) unaware of the effects those drugs have on women. Some women, who are prone to blood clots, cannot take them. (Of course, such women may not be fit for active duty anyway.) Hormonal contraceptives are ineffective when taking some medications, including antibiotics. Are we to discharge a woman any time she gets an infection? Many women also experience depression - and, IMHO, chemically depressed people + military arms is just a bad idea.

If there were male hormonal contraception (which is in the works), why not require that? Considering that vascetomies are reversible, why not snip every man who enlists?

Surely, we can find a better way to avoid pregnancy issues, whether it be better psychological screening, taking older female recruits (who are less apt to get pregnant to go home), creating a punishment for pregnancy (for both the father and the mother), or, as I've suggested in another thread, sex-segregated units.

As for how far this goes... I read somewhere that a lot of women who do the "mommy track" are the ones who never particularly liked working anyway. Once they get pregnant, they have a socially acceptable excuse to stop working. The women who like their jobs and like working will move heaven and earth to stay in the workforce when they have kids. I presume the same thing happens with the military. That's not a problem with women qua women; it is a problem with a subset of women and a society which allows motherhood to be an escape hatch.

Finally, before we blame women too much for "getting themselves pregnant," pray tell, why are these upstanding young men not using contraception? Are they not also a fundamental part of the problem?
12.7.2007 4:05pm
Mark Field (mail):

Browne simply adds nothing new to the debate and some of his arguments are quite weak and tend to reduce the perceived legitimacy of the points that are good.


This is the problem I've had with his posts. Thanks for articulating it. As I said, I'm on the fence on this issue, but if all I had to go on was Browne.....
12.7.2007 4:14pm
Russ (mail):
There is an underlying thrust of the argument here that many are missing - that there are large numbers of women in service who will intentionally get pregnant to avoid deployment.

I know this sounds insane, but I have personally seen it happen. Remember, we're not talking about mostly mature women who have thought through the consequences, but mostly 18-21 year olds who don't want to go out and get shot at.

Before you jump down my throat, I will stipulate that there would be just as many men who would do the same thing if offered the opportunity to get out of a deployment. But that's the way nature works.

In the 101st, it was remarkable the number of pregnancies that went up once we were notified of pending deployments to OIF or OEF.
12.7.2007 4:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
This is the case with the most numbers, the most quantifiable problems, the most obvious results.
Yet we still have people talking around the problem as if it is not worthy or something. If we talk enough it will just....if not go away, at least recede from the consciousness of all right-thinking people.

If this doesn't retroactively discredit the responses to earlier posts, nothing will.
12.7.2007 4:27pm
Porkchop:
If snow boarding and rock climbing don't count, then how about boxing? Mr. Browne should meet my daughter, the boxer and recent VMI grad. I had the pleasure of watching her beat the snot out of a West Pointer a couple years ago. I guess she got there by sparring all the guys in practice. And she was by far NOT the toughest woman there (not that you'd want to mess with her). One of her roommates absolutely smoked Marine Corps OCS.
12.7.2007 4:30pm
Davebo (mail):
We once put out a fake navy message addressing the pregnancy issue when I was at FASO. Essentially it said that if an unmarried female sailor became pregnant, every effort would be made to identify the father. Should that be impossible, the Command Master Chief would be named the father.

Upon reaching 6 years of age the child would be transferred to the Naval Boys and Girls home for education and upbringing while the mother continued her duties.

Upon reaching the age of 18 the child would be enlisted, thus allowing for the mother to retire.

See, it's no problem!
12.7.2007 4:40pm
Point of Fact (mail):
People always use that boxing example: oh, but they spar with men. Sparring with some middleweights is quite different from being in the ring with Mike Tyson.
12.7.2007 5:02pm
Adam J:
Lior- So your first argument is that hiring may not take pregnancy unavailable into account? Then the obvious solution is for hiring to take this into account, not to not hire any women. Also, while I'm not certain, I'm pretty sure women are not paid when they are unavailable because of pregnancy, peacetime or wartime.

Hey Skipper - Good point with the cost of training, however I suspect for most jobs training costs are not significant enough to justify not hiring women.
12.7.2007 5:13pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Skyler:

A law requiring burglary might run afoul of other constitutional protections. (Possibly due process, or takings, or 4th amendment, for example, depending on what the law actually required.) Assuming you don't believe in the right to privacy created in Roe, what part of the constitution would a law requiring abortion violate?

BTW, I didn't say it would be a good law. Just that it would solve this silly issue of pregnant servicewomen. And also, just because a law would not be unconstitutional, that doesn't mean that it would ever get enacted.
12.7.2007 5:16pm
Waldensian (mail):

Browne simply adds nothing new to the debate and some of his arguments are quite weak and tend to reduce the perceived legitimacy of the points that are good.

Agreed.

Browne's arguments about how women shouldn't fly combat aircraft have been incredibly weak, if they even amount to arguments. Browne clearly lacks the required technical knowledge to discuss the matter intelligently, and, more importantly, he apparently has nothing whatsoever to say about the actual experience of women flying combat aircraft.

What's actually happened in the past 20 years seems at least marginally relevant to me, but Browne doesn't let that get in the way of theorizing.

The success or failure of women in combat aircraft is not a small issue, either, because Browne seems to be arguing that women aren't merely unfit for specific military duties, but that they are unfit for combat itself.

With respect to aviation, I think that's pretty clearly wrong. I've seen nothing from Browne to suggest otherwise, and Browne certainly bears the burden on this point.
12.7.2007 5:31pm
Porkchop:

People always use that boxing example: oh, but they spar with men. Sparring with some middleweights is quite different from being in the ring with Mike Tyson.


Always? I thought I was the only one who brought it up here.

Mike Tyson is with Al Qaida now? Anyway, if going in the ring with Mike Tyson is your criterion for effective soldiering, we may well end up quite literally with "An Army of One" (or maybe two or three).

There are a lot of middleweights that I certainly wouldn't want to get in the ring with, and I'm *cough* not a middleweight (anymore).
12.7.2007 5:32pm
wpeak (mail) (www):
Geesh, I hope most of you aren't lawyers. You keep rehashing issues that the series specifically addressed. Bringing up strawmen that were already dealt with and generally getting easily distracted by any 'contentious' comment.
12.7.2007 6:20pm
Hey Skipper (www):
Adamj:

Hey Skipper - Good point with the cost of training, however I suspect for most jobs training costs are not significant enough to justify not hiring women.

True.

However, IMHO, flying combat aircraft is the direct combat role that penalizes female disadvantages the least, and where the ages and motivations (all college graduates succeeding in a highly competitive environment) are the most likely to minimize stupid sex tricks.

However, training costs aside, pregnancy losses are still problematic. How do you assign women to critical positions without building in staffing redundancy that does not provide any additional combat capability?

There is no wishing away opportunity cost.
12.7.2007 6:57pm
M. Thompson (mail):
Being currently in the military, I've heard lurid rumors of female junior enlisted serving as prostitutes, to be found by doing things like buying expensive cars. Perhaps some of them are true.

To be honest, my belief is that a pregnancy while assigned to a deployable unit should be considered Malingering, i.e. use illness to escape from proper work (Art. 115 of the UCMJ).
12.7.2007 7:21pm
Ken Arrodee:
The great thing about this argument (some women will drop out of career track X, wasting training expenses, disrupting staffing, and causing resentment among male colleagues, thus we shouldn't allow them to start it), is that it applies to anything with a training or learning curve, including law firms, medical practices, etc. "Why should I put you on my surgical staff when you might drop out and mommy-track on me?"

Someone who wants to quit a law firm or medical practice can quit at any time anyway, so there isn't much incentive to get pregnant in order to leave. The military cannot be quit at any time.
12.7.2007 10:16pm
LBG:
Ok, let's talk manning. SNM 1 is male, SNM 2 is female. They work in the same shop. SNM 2 gets knocked up. She can not be aboard the ship due to chemical issues, fetal development, etc. She is put ashore. Her billet is still considered filled. Now SNM 1 is there by himself (serves him right and they both should go to mast if he was the father), and either he's working double or they have to shift SNM 3 over from another shift or shop as they will not get a new body until SNM 2 is off the books as a USS 10% NEVER Sail sailor. Oh, she still gets paid. She will push paper at a shore command and take some other officer's time and effort to keep her gainfully employed. Please do not compare the military to the civilian world. That is what's getting me quarterly sensitivity training (not working), less weapons and damage control training and Lean Six Sigma. They are different beasts. As for Mike Tyson, well, the men the women fight in the ring are chosen by weight. I took martial arts for a few years and we had some excellent female black belts. There form was gorgeous and precise. But if I got a good punch in, it was less precise, and if I got inside their defense, I could immoblize them and win the match. I, did not use precise martial arts, I used speed, aggression and brute force. AQ does not follow the rules. Check out Michael Yon's work and follow the scary hand to hand incident in Iraq. Mayweather against Ali (his daughter) I'll take Mayweather every time. All due respect to Billy Jean, combat ain't tennis.
12.9.2007 11:26am