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[Kingsley Browne, guest-blogging, December 7, 2007 at 5:15pm] Trackbacks
Co-ed Combat -- Closing Thoughts:

I would like to thank Eugene again for inviting me to guest-blog and the readers who have provided thoughtful comments.

In these posts, I have touched upon some of the problems created by sexual integration of combat forces. There are many others that I cover in my book, including the tendency of men to protect women; the double standards often applied to women, which probably result, at least in part, from this same male protective impulse; the disruptive effect of sexual relationships and sexual attraction on group cohesion; and issues relating to female prisoners of war.

A common response to the issues that I raise here and in my book is that, yes, these are problems but they can be worked around; the military will "manage" these challenges with more leadership, more training, and more discipline. One could as easily say, however, that during the Battle of the Bulge GIs "managed" one of the coldest winters on record even with the challenge of inadequate clothing. But clearly both the soldiers and the war effort would have been better off if they had not been compelled to manage that particular challenge.

In deciding on rules about combat integration, the ultimate question can't be how to maximize women's opportunities. Instead, it has to be how to maximize the military's power to defeat the enemy. Clausewitz wrote that "everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult." Mixing the sexes together in an integrated combat force adds substantially to what he described as the "friction" of war. The combat environment is difficult enough; we do no one any favors by making it even more so.

Waldensian (mail):

The combat environment is difficult enough; we do no one any favors by making it even more so.

And how -- exactly -- has assigning women to fly combat aircraft made the combat environment more difficult for anyone (other than our enemies)?
12.7.2007 5:34pm
SenatorX (mail):
Great posts, I read them all. Served 3 years active army during the Gulf War (didn't deploy though) in an intel unit that was coed. I think your posts were very interesting and definitely more accurate than not. I was non-combat and still saw alot of those issues.
12.7.2007 5:43pm
George W. Obama (mail):
Thanks for the off-point rhetoric, Waldensian. But the professor isn't saying he plans to strike down Roe. Calm down.
12.7.2007 5:44pm
HBowmanMD:
Thanks very much for an excellent series, Professor. I've got your book on order.
12.7.2007 5:49pm
KeithK (mail):
I've enjoyed the posts and the comment threads they spawned. While I'm inclined to agree with Prof. Browne I;m looking forward to the counter argument from Capt. Manner next week.
12.7.2007 6:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
In deciding on rules about combat integration, the ultimate question can't be how to maximize women's opportunities. Instead, it has to be how to maximize the military's power to defeat the enemy.

But this is the whole ballgame, isn't it? A lot of us would disagree that with respect to the military, all other considerations are secondary to the singular purpose of "defeating the enemy". If deliberately killing civilians will maximize the military's power to defeat the enemy, a lot of us would say that this would not justify doing it.

And so it is with gender equality. Plenty of us feel that gender equality is one of the most important societal values, at least as important as winning wars. So even if you are right that having women in combat will make it slightly harder to win wars, we're willing to take that risk, because gender equality is important to us and it may not be that important to you.
12.7.2007 6:25pm
Archit (www):

Instead, it has to be how to maximize the military's power to defeat the enemy.

Any means to justify that end? In many contexts, the power to defeat the enemy bends to the needs of other principles, such as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. I don't think the posts have addressed the costs of gender discrimination, either in utilitarian terms (e.g. the unequal distribution of military job training and education subsidies) or in ethical/moral terms.
12.7.2007 6:30pm
New Pseudonym (mail):

And how -- exactly -- has assigning women to fly combat aircraft made the combat environment more difficult for anyone (other than our enemies)?


Of course, no woman will ever get shot down over unfriendly territory. The post-ejection/crash landing environment calls for skill sets much more related to an infantryman than a pilot.

Speaking of which, are there any publicly available statistics on how well female aircrew members do in SERE training at Fairchild AFB? I have a moderately open mind on females serving in combat aircrew positions, but anyone who thinks most of our combat aircraft are more like F-16s than P-3s does not realize what our Air Force and Navy is flying nowadays (not to mention Army -- helicopters do not really fly. They are so ugly that the earth rejects them). To them, I wish a night air refueling in a B-52 surrounded by northern lights with the autopilot inoperative.

I have enjoyed watching the intellectuals and folks with practical experience talking past one another in the previous posts, but chose not to participate. Oh, just to confirm, I am one of those nonreasoning folks who have experience (329 combat missions, but my squadron command was in a support field).
12.7.2007 6:31pm
Waldensian (mail):

Thanks for the off-point rhetoric, Waldensian. But the professor isn't saying he plans to strike down Roe. Calm down.

My post was entirely calm, and is directly related to (a) a claim made in this post, namely that we make combat more difficult for our soldiers by including women, and (b) at least two of the other posts, which made separate claims about women's unsuitability for aerial combat.

Apparently you haven't read all the posts.

And this has what to do with Roe?
12.7.2007 6:35pm
mariner (mail):
Oh, just to confirm, I am one of those nonreasoning folks who have experience (329 combat missions, but my squadron command was in a support field).


Don't sweat it.

Reasoning with people who think "opportunity for women" is the most important thing in the world is a non-starter.
12.7.2007 6:36pm
common sense (www):
To the poster who reasoned that gender equality is as important as winning wars: If the unthinkable happens, and the US military has to defend our own territory, why is it less important to win than to have gender inequality in that small aspect of our military that is ground combat forces? In other words, if we are in a war that results in the loss of this great experiment, doesn't any equality we've achieved become moot? Besides, military service is about serving your country, and you should do so where you do best. If its an argument about qualifications, that's one thing. But to advocate diminishing our fighting capability to make a small amount of women feel better about their accomplishments, and a larger group vicariously, has completely ignored the point of the military: to fight and win our nation's wars.
12.7.2007 6:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
To the poster who reasoned that gender equality is as important as winning wars: If the unthinkable happens, and the US military has to defend our own territory, why is it less important to win than to have gender inequality in that small aspect of our military that is ground combat forces? In other words, if we are in a war that results in the loss of this great experiment, doesn't any equality we've achieved become moot?

If there comes a time when there is a serious threat of a ground invasion of the United States of the sort where women in the military would be a serious liability, let's rethink the policy then.

In the meantime, let's not screw over patriotic career women who are offering their lives up for their country because of improbable hypotheticals.
12.7.2007 6:50pm
Waldensian (mail):

I have a moderately open mind on females serving in combat aircrew positions, but anyone who thinks most of our combat aircraft are more like F-16s than P-3s does not realize what our Air Force and Navy is flying nowadays

I actually do realize what our Navy is flying these days. Which Naval combat aircraft do you think women are less capable of piloting, and why?

Of course, no woman will ever get shot down over unfriendly territory. The post-ejection/crash landing environment calls for skill sets much more related to an infantryman than a pilot.

I think this is the only real argument against letting women fly in combat, and I think it's unconvincing. My basic response is "says who?" I suspect that success after getting shot down is related primarily to physical conditioning and mental toughness, rather than to raw physical strength. I have at least one anecdote about a guy who was "no Rambo" and a "scared little bunny rabbit." Where are yours?

I don't think shoehorning women into every combat role makes sense, or ought to be an end unto itself that's the equivalent of winning wars. But I do think that women already have a proven record of success flying combat aircraft, and I have yet to see any evidence that I'm wrong about that. Where is your evidence?

And why shouldn't the military be allowed to make this decision? Do you contend that they are only letting women fly currently because they are under some sort of PC pressure to do so, and are doing so against the knowledge that women are underperforming?

Says who?
12.7.2007 6:51pm
common sense (www):
So you would advocate removing women from combat roles at a time when its necessary? Permanently derailing a career they may have worked years for because of the stigma of not being able perform when things really matter? And having to scramble to find men to fill all of the slots that were just opened? When you make such a fundamental change in the military its forever. You can't go back. So we should talk about the long term consequences. We've been told throughout history that we were done with one type of war or another, just to be pulled back in. And if the woman is really interested in offering up her life in service of her country, shouldn't she do it in the place were she best serves by her abilities, and not in pursuit of some social agenda? An argument that women are just as capable is fine. An argument that we should remake the ground forces to serve some social policy standpoint is not.

In WWII, we did kill large numbers of civilians to achieve military goals. I think it was justified. The military serves a purpose we wish it didn't have to serve. Let it serve that purpose in the best way possible, as efficiently as possible. Don't attempt to hijack it for social experiments.
12.7.2007 7:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So you would advocate removing women from combat roles at a time when its necessary? Permanently derailing a career they may have worked years for because of the stigma of not being able perform when things really matter? And having to scramble to find men to fill all of the slots that were just opened? When you make such a fundamental change in the military its forever.

That's silly. I am saying that your hypothetical is remote-- in fact, it is close to impossible. We are never going to face a serious ground invasion.

But if there was such a threat, we'd institute a draft and could decide who we wanted in the infantry. And if we truly couldn't afford to have women in combat roles, we could make the decision at that time.

Since it is not going to happen, though, there's no sense screwing over military women due to a scenario straight out of Fantasyland.
12.7.2007 7:35pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
Thanks for the very interesting series, Professor. It's unfortunate that some commenters felt the need to resort to ad hominem attacks instead of engaging in measured discussion, but such is the nature of internet commenting, even at the Volokh Conspiracy.
12.7.2007 7:37pm
MarkField (mail):

We are never going to face a serious ground invasion.


Agreed. And if we did, it seems to me that that's exactly when we'd want everyone to take up arms against the invader.
12.7.2007 7:51pm
michael (mail) (www):
My military experience is primarily that of hearing the experiences and views of veterans as a psychiatrist so that may limit the value of seeing the professor's views as very insightful. Behaving in an honorable way in combat would seem to involve both the conscience and a reflective narcissism, the latter is reflected in the award for injury or death in combat, the Purple Heart, where the awardee is cloaked in the honor and manhood of George Washington. This award spans time but the reinforcements in combat are mostly within the group present. Narcissism implies identity which is harder to find in a mixed gender group. Insofar as I could stand on the shoulders of the Professor to find further insight, I might wonder if there might be special operations such as in intelligence where an all female group might best be able to support each other and a mission.
12.7.2007 8:01pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Archit:

Many principles are suspended in military service, voluntarily by those who join, for the purpose of military order, among them are the rights to free speech. It cannot be claimed that individuals on active duty enjoy all of the same freedoms as other citizens. They temporarily suspend the enjoyment of such liberties for the purpose of preserving them in perpetuity. That said, and claims of unfairness or wrong doing in this case are misguided. The military does not operate like the rest of our society; it has a different culture with different values. The proponent end result of our civil society is maximum enjoyment of liberty, the proponent end result of the military society is the defense of such liberties. The military cannot afford to fail, and hence operates differently.
12.7.2007 8:26pm
Swede:
"we're willing to take that risk"

How big of you. Truly.

But don't you mean you'll let others take that risk?

I mean, really, how is it a risk for you?
12.7.2007 9:12pm
MarkField (mail):

But don't you mean you'll let others take that risk?

I mean, really, how is it a risk for you?


I'll just point out that you're not the one paying the cost of avoiding what you perceive as a risk. I guess that makes the cost seem pretty small to you.
12.7.2007 10:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Dilan.

What, exactly, is the "risk"?
The risk, it seems to me, would be in losing a battle someplace. Maybe it won't happen.
The active duty folks and vets among us think it's likely, win or lose, that our casualties will be higher.
The risk is not sort of a fog of unspecific negatives. It's dead people.

At least say that's okay by you.
12.7.2007 11:03pm
Muskrat (mail):
Professor Browne makes a variety of arguments (some more convincing than others), but seems reluctant to follow them to a set of clear conclusions - stop the expansion of women's roles in the military, roll it back, kick women out of the military altogether, ban them from firefighting and police work, forbid them to go out in public without a male relative escort -- what?

I sense a lack of aggression here, a disinclination to go in for the kill, a vacuum where there should be a desire to take foolish risks in pursuit of the goal of dominating others. Draw your own conclusions.
12.7.2007 11:30pm
Russ (mail):
I've read the posts in these threads with amusement. I think every single commenter who has either been in or is currently in - myself included - agrees with most of Kingsley's points. Those whose military experience has been limited to seeing Saving Private Ryan are on the other end.

As much as some will jump on me for saying it, war is not about equality. It is about killing the enemy and staying alive. Fair fights are for movies and speeches about "gender equity" belong in classrooms.

I've been in for 12 years and have served with many women who have served in those units supporting my missions. As with most soldiers, they do their jobs well, but they are not in direct combat roles. I have run across exactly 2 women, both officers, who could have done what I do(air assault infantry).

Be clear that when I talk about direct combat roles, I do not mean security outposts or convoy escort. They are dangerous and can lead to combat, but they are not leading an attack by fire position in the assault on Fallujah.

It amuses me that so many who are quick to throw out the "chickenhawk" slur are the same ones who are unwilling to serve themselves and see first hand what is required.

We do not exist to serve social engineering; we exist to kill people and break things, and anything that adds disadvantage to that should not even be countenanced. This isn't a basketball game where losing means you practice harder for the next game; it means you and your friends die.

Don't romanticize this. It isn't pretty.
12.8.2007 12:15am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"we're willing to take that risk"

How big of you. Truly.

But don't you mean you'll let others take that risk?

I mean, really, how is it a risk for you?

So I take it then that you don't support the US placing any restrictions on its conduct in warfare (such as with respect to killing unarmed civilians), whether by treaty or otherwise, or even by its own regulation, because it might increase the risk that we aren't maximizing our military effectiveness against the enemy?

The truth is only barbarians believe that there should be no restrictions on warfare. And once we establish that such restrictions are acceptable, protecting gender equality is a very important goal that is worth such restrictions.

Of course, some people don't believe in gender equality, and thus they don't think such restrictions are justified.
12.8.2007 12:34am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The risk, it seems to me, would be in losing a battle someplace. Maybe it won't happen.
The active duty folks and vets among us think it's likely, win or lose, that our casualties will be higher.
The risk is not sort of a fog of unspecific negatives. It's dead people.


It's also dead Americans when we choose not to kill civilians, or we choose not to attack mosques, or we don't kill surrending prisoners, or numerous other decisions we make to be humane in warfare.

We simply do not operate in this conjectured world where the only thing that matters is maximizing the ability to defeat the enemy. We consider competing interests. And gender equality is at the very top of the hierarchy of interests.
12.8.2007 12:36am
Linus (mail):

Of course, some people don't believe in gender equality, and thus they don't think such restrictions are justified.
Now, that's a position I can respect, even if I don't agree with it; to admit that women in combat is a restriction on the military, but think it's worth it (presumably in the grand scheme of things).
12.8.2007 1:01am
LBG:
Gender equality is at the top of the hierarchy of interests? Says who? Can we start w/ the olympics, sports, etc? When women can honestly play sports w/ men, and not piss and moan about having their feelings hurt, then we can say they are equal and can fight the same way.

There is a contingent of knuckleheads in here that are liberal and come in here w/ their views of the military. They've never served, probably wear Che t-shirts and think Hugo Chavez is a righteous dude. They preach about how important gender equity is and discount the dead bodies associated with these experiments. They are naive, foolish, selfish and ignorant of what happens.

Professor Browne did a decent job of outlining what really happens out there. I don't agree w/ everything, but most of it. The amount of time I spend on sensitivity training (not working by the way) so as not to offend a woman, and the time I spend, dealing w/ female problems in a unit take away from my primary purpose which is to get steel on target.

War sucks, it is scary, it has been called hell and it is serious. I feel that a lot of our civilian overlords do not take the responsibility of sending young people into a region as seriously as they should. People die, we die and the bad guys die. We go in and then have the leash pulled back because the ruling elite all of a sudden realize how gruesome war is. This mentality allows them the idea of social engineering in the forces.

Thanks for sharing professor, I enjoyed the book and went through it quickly.
12.8.2007 1:52am
TAV:
You know I am a female Veteran. I strongly believe that women should be allowed to defend this country just the same as men and yes also in combat roles. BUT, and this is a big one, women should have combat training and yes women should be able to defend their country. After all that would be true equality. A concept which this nation was founded on. How can we as a nation promise equality and never give it?
Here is the bottom line. Women and men should not be in the same military together. When the WACS existed the women were ten times tougher than the women we have in our military now and the men were ten times tougher also. WHY? Because the training was tougher for both men and women when they were separated. When you put the two together it lowers the standards not only for the men but for the women also.
History has proven over and over again that women can handle combat roles. Just look at Russia in WWII. They are a prime example. So , although I do believe that women have every right to fight in combat roles and we have the right to defend our country just as much as men's right to do so, I also believe they need to be kept in separate militaries for training and camaraderie's sake. The bonds that men form have a direct bearing on their effectiveness in combat and the same goes for women. Those bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood are much stronger when women only have women to rely on and men only have men to rely on. So let women fight for our country, it is our right to do so but keep the women and men separated in different militaries. If you want an awesomely effective military. Keep them separated but together. I am certain that this concept will baffle many people here. Men want to be dominant and think they are the only ones who can wage effective war. That is an Ego Problem. Women want to have equality but they do not want true equality they want special rights and that is just as messed up as the male ego which says women are weaker.
You all know for a fact that there are many men who are too weak to make it through military training and there are many women who make it thorough just fine. That is a fact. If America wants the best military it can have. Let everyone have the equal right to fight in combat roles for their country but at the same time to keep both men and women as tough as they need to be for war, keep them separated into different armies. This would be a very good way to be diverse and remain tough and effective. Actually it would make our military tougher and more effective than it has ever been before. Because then you would not have women yelling about how men will not give them a fair chance and you would not have men yelling about how women make them weaker. Both would have more than ample opportunity to prove themselves without lowering standards for either.
Okay now is the time for all of the mean spirited egotistical men to rip me up and for all of the men hating militant women to do the same. Because I clearly do not fall into agreement with either of those groups.
I do think that we have no right to boast about equal opportunity when we still have the stupid battle of the sexes going on. We have no right to boast about being a Nation where everyone is created Equal when we have this argument about who should or should not be allowed to fight for their own freedom. So for all of the Military people here. Think about the true meaning of freedom and what exactly it is that you are fighting for before you make the statement that women should not be allowed to fight or before you think that the men should have to do sensitivity training to make you feel more comfortable. If you believe in freedom and equality like you say you do then you can clearly see the hypocrisy in this futile battle of the sexes argument you have going on here.
Either you understand what freedom is and believe in freedom for all or you do not.
12.8.2007 3:31am
swg:
I enjoyed the posts, thanks. I also enjoyed the comments from people who are drunk, like RAV.

Will you be allowed a rebuttal after CPT Manner's reply?
12.8.2007 4:23am
George W. Obama (mail):

History has proven over and over again that women can handle combat roles. Just look at Russia in WWII. They are a prime example. So , although I do believe that women have every right to fight in combat roles and we have the right to defend our country just as much as men's right to do so, I also believe they need to be kept in separate militaries for training and camaraderie's sake. The bonds that men form have a direct bearing on their effectiveness in combat and the same goes for women.



Actually, I am the "egotistcal male" who supposedly would rip you up, and I think your argument is just fine, because it isn't female supremacist nonsense. I don't have any problem with your argument, and I find it interesting.
12.8.2007 5:31am
Cabalamat (mail) (www):
This series of posts has talked about disadvantages of women in the armed forces. What aobut the advantages, if any? I can think of four, offhand:

1. to increase numbers. During WW2, many countries have women in the armed forces, in order to conscript the maximum number of people, and to ensure that more fit young men were available for the infantry and other combat roles where physical strength is most important. This obviously doesn't apply to the contemporary USA; but as MarkField pointed out, would apply if the USA was in danger of invasion.

2. small size. Why have people inside tanks, planes and other vehicles anyway? Because people (currently) have more cognitive ability than electronics. But people need to take up space, which limits the performance of the vehicles they are in. If a tank was crewed by women (or small men), it could be a smaller size for the same mass, which means it's armour could be thinker.

3. high voices. Women have higher-pitched voices than men which I've been told makes their speech clearer in noisy environments; therefore thye might make better radio operators than men.

4. if women's bodies are better at coping with high accelerations (I vaguely recall that this is the case) they may well be more suitable to aircraft undergoing high-gee manouvres.
12.8.2007 5:49am
George W. Obama (mail):
3. high voices. Women have higher-pitched voices than men which I've been told makes their speech clearer in noisy environments; therefore thye might make better radio operators than men.

Great. More female supremacist nonsense. In any event, women are actually paid attention to less, because higher-pitched voices are harder for the human brain to decipher. So you just completely made up the crap you just wrote.

4. if women's bodies are better at coping with high accelerations (I vaguely recall that this is the case) they may well be more suitable to aircraft undergoing high-gee manouvres.

If they were the case, then NASA wouldn't have any male astronauts, and all SEALs would be female. But no, females who try out for SEALs keep having their lungs burst.
12.8.2007 5:54am
George W. Obama (mail):
If a tank was crewed by women (or small men), it could be a smaller size for the same mass, which means it's armour could be thinker.

As others already pointed out, being on a tank crew requires lifting heavy things and dragging wounded mates, and women's bones are likelier to snap, etc.
12.8.2007 5:56am
Arkady:
Damn, this was too late for the main threads, but check out
Miss Utah at the link.

12.8.2007 7:09am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Maybe Browne is right, that women wouldn't do as well in combat. I'm dubious. It's a testable proposition. Usually it's difficult to do controlled experiments involving people because of autonomy and ethics concerns, but the military already reduces people's autonomy. They could have women-only and co-ed units and see how it works, or doesn't work. There's a learning curve to any change in system, so it would take a while to run this, but it would be worth doing.
12.8.2007 8:13am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Dilan. Gender equity is worth dead soldiers and possibly worse.
So, what percentage of increased KIAs is worth it, and what percentage is excessive?
12.8.2007 8:26am
Skyler (mail) (www):
Actually, it's quite true that higher pitched voices carry better on HF radio at lower frequencies. Male radio operators are taught to speak in a high pitched voice in such situtations when signal strength is poor. This is a matter of simple physics.
12.8.2007 8:36am
LBG:
We keep hearing that women are as strong as some guy or guys. I've yet to meet that man and those women. Also, the dude that is weaker than most women is NOT the guy that will join the military and NOT going to be chosen for a combat MOS. I mean it's nice to say that and all, but to be honest, I have yet to meet those people. Separate male and female units, sure. As an officer I like it as I don't have to spend my time dealing w/ the high school antics. And since we can no longer bring a brigade of Hooker's girls around, having a female unit around will solve the sex problem. No command and control issues. Good order and discipline are kept as they are not in the same units so they can screw all they want, and only one unit will be affected. Of course they will lose 10 to 20% of their manning or womanning, but I'm positive, that won't affect their readiness. They'll fight grrrrrreat. So, if Congress and our cowardly senior officers are going to shove women down our throats, then please, NOT integrated. Let them hold their own ground. If they work, then fine the argument is moot. If we have a ton of body bags filled w/ young ladies or PTSD sky rockets, hey no worries, the feminists back home can cheer and say how wonderful it is the women can be treated just like men. There's your honest experiment. It doesn't happen because the powers that be are terrified they will see w/o equivocation, a failure of the experiment and the argument is shot.
12.8.2007 8:41am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
LBG.

I disagree about one thing. If we get the bad results you describe, it won't be a triumph. It will be the fault of the patriarchy, shoving untrained women into the trenches, and a number of other predictable claims.
No doubt Dilan will be right up there yelling.
12.8.2007 10:19am
Fred77777 (mail):
I've been in 20+ years, been a battalion commander (combat arms)and have 17 months in hostile fire zones, leading female Soldiers throughout, so maybe I know a little something about this. We do manage the problem, but don't tell me male and female Soldiers are the same. They aren't, and having females creates serious problems that can't just be wished, assumed or ignored away. Women are less effective Soldiers in general. That's not disrespecting women - that's a fact. I would not kick all women out of the military, but there is a price to having women (The benefit? Many are smart and committted and do great things). There is no need for women in combat arms units - it would make these critical units much less effective for the reasons Browne points out and will get people killed. I'm not willing to get killed or let my guys (or gals) get killed so some civilian feminist can be happy. BTW, this utter failure of women in combat advocates to appreciate the problems inherent in a co-ed military or to accept they are not simply figments of the imaginations of mean, sexists men, is one reason there is so much resistence to gays in the military. Most of us know and like various gay Soldiers, but we absolutely do not beleive that if gays were allowed to serve openly that they would not become another over-protected, untouchable special category of Soldier that would not have to meet the normal (straight male)standards.
12.8.2007 11:12am
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/08/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.
12.8.2007 11:19am
Enoch:
let's not screw over patriotic career women who are offering their lives up for their country because of improbable hypotheticals.

Instead, let's screw over all the patriotic men who will lose their lives because the women in their combat unit can't pull their weight.

If we're even talking about this in terms of career opportunities for women instead of military effectiveness, it proves we're just not serious about our military and about winning wars.

History has proven over and over again that women can handle combat roles. Just look at Russia in WWII.

History proves nothing of the sort. The example of the USSR in WW2 does not prove what you think it does.

Maybe Browne is right, that women wouldn't do as well in combat. I'm dubious. It's a testable proposition.

Except it will never be tested objectively, because the outcome of such tests would be politically unacceptable.
12.8.2007 11:47am
Yarwtog:
This discussion is interesting, but seems rather unnecessary if one approaches the problem rationally. By refusing to allow any women into combat, the supply is artificially constrained. While the ideal soldier possesses a multitude of physical, mental, and social traits and capabilities, I am not aware of any such ability that solely exists in the male population. Given the large number of combat soldiers needed, it seems very likely that there are a small number of exceptional females that would possess the necessary requirements to serve in combat. If the current constraint were eliminated, then military commanders would be free to select the best individuals for combat and not just the best males. If they believed that one of the female soldiers would be better at combat than one of the males, then this constraint only reduces the effectiveness of the military.
12.8.2007 11:57am
TerrencePhilip:
Any means to justify that end? In many contexts, the power to defeat the enemy bends to the needs of other principles, such as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. I don't think the posts have addressed the costs of gender discrimination, either in utilitarian terms (e.g. the unequal distribution of military job training and education subsidies) or in ethical/moral terms.

The "free speech" rights of members of the military are severely restricted compared to that of private citizens; public criticism of civilian officials, for example, can lead to prison sentences for servicemembers. Political activity and advocacy is severely restricted.
12.8.2007 12:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan. Gender equity is worth dead soldiers and possibly worse. So, what percentage of increased KIAs is worth it, and what percentage is excessive?

I don't know, Richard, what percentage of increased KIA's is the prohibitions on killing civilians worth?

You are just ignoring the issue. Browne's claim that the only thing that matters is killing the enemy isn't even close to being right. And once we admit that, there's no reason not to consider furthing gender equality the same way we consider other interests in making military policy.
12.8.2007 4:01pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Esper: There is no prohibition on killing civilians. Where did you hear that?

The law says that civilians shouldn't be killed if they stay out of the way, or are not held in the way of acting against legitimate targets, and so long as they aren't acting in any way to support the war effort.

If a civilian is near a munitions plant, or in a munitions plant, or is being used as a shield at a munitions plant, he has no protection whatsoever from laws of war as practiced by all nations for the past 150 years or more.

And, Browne did not claim that the only thing that matters is killing the enemy. He implied that the only thing that matters is winning. But killing the enemy is fun, too.
12.8.2007 4:32pm
LBG:
Skyler wins the Mad Dog Mattis award. :) Dilan, you are obviously not a serving member in the military. Nobody in uniform that deploys believes the military should be used as you suggest. We are just not willing to lay down our lives so that people may feel good about their lot in life.

I'd like to thank Fred7777 for his comment. It carries great weight and is honest. We manage the problems inherent in coed combat. I have served with some women. And there are definite differences. But those that push for full integration ignore them. As do our senior leaders in the mil because careerism and fear of the politics involved dictate that they get on board with that issue. There is often a great divide between the DC senior officers and the ones in the field. Unfortunately, the DC guys make policy. Oh, one more thing, you will not hear many men go on record about the things they've seen regarding women in the force because we are not allowed to.
12.8.2007 5:49pm
Enoch:
Browne's claim that the only thing that matters is killing the enemy isn't even close to being right. And once we admit that, there's no reason not to consider furthing gender equality the same way we consider other interests in making military policy.

Yes, logically, if there are "other interests" besides winning the war, all these "other interests" are obviously of equal importance! Everyone should be able to see that providing career opportunities for ambitious women is at least as important as reducing civilian casualties and collateral damage.
12.8.2007 6:25pm
HBowmanMD:
One of the few things MacArthur got right: "There is no substitute for victory". And anything that has even the potential to delay that victory must be avoided. To do otherwise risks more lives (on both sides).
12.8.2007 10:15pm
TLove (mail):
Those who argue for women in the military do so because to make an exception for the military is to give up the entire game - that men and women may have systematic differences that lead to different outcomes. The ability to get pregnant being an obvious one (and even that one is in effect denied through the demand for day care for working women).

Those pushing women on the military believe that you must ignore male female differences everywhere and in all circumstances, or discrimination against women will become automatically acceptable everywhere and in all circumstances. They buy into the slippery slope argument completely. It doesn't seem to occur to them that the military is the most extreme human occupation, where differences between men and women are most obvious, and that the military does not set a precedent for the civilian economy (any more than the NFL does, which also doesn't have any women playing in it, even though there is no rule against women).

It really is ok that we keep women out of some military occupations if their presence has a demonstrably negative overall effect (as it apparently does), and it doesn't immediately follow that they can't therefore get tenure in the Harvard physics department.

Do the Israelis let women in combat units? They tried in 48, and my recollection is that the women were rapidly withdrawn from combat because they had a sufficiently negative effect on the behavior of the men around them that it more than offset their additonal numbers (israeli men taking more risks to protect them, arab men behaving more aggressively when opposing them).

But to even consider the effect of women on combat effectiveness is to concede that there might be a difference worth investigating, and thinking that is an anti-feminist thought crime.
12.8.2007 11:37pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Not even the happy-talk idealists who proclaim women=men believe their own rhetoric when the time comes to actually implement their ideas. How to prove this? Easy.

Look at the redesigning of submarines so they can have female crews aboard. Separate accommodations, separate showers, etc. All this extra wasted space on a craft that is so cramped for space that no crewman can even have their own bunk, but rather rotate them as the shifts change.

If women were truly interchangeable with men, you wouldn't need a redesign. But then reality comes and smacks you upside the head.

Hurts, doesn't it.
12.9.2007 4:43am
LBG:
Oh yeah, I forgot!! We had the DC Madam case where one of her girls was also a teacher at the academy. They very quietly moved her. No GCM, nothing. She must be a victim. You know, a person trafficed. It's horrible how these young ladies are viewed as sex objects. I am so certain she did not make that choice of her own volition. It must have been because she wasn't allowed to go to combat and she lives in a patriarchal world. I bet her daddy was mean to her. Craziness, just crazy.
12.9.2007 6:56pm
Andrew P. Eppink (mail):
What in the world is Brown's labored analysis but common sense? Who but a lawyer could possibly think otherwise? Can't believe people so are readily sucked into lawyer bs.
12.9.2007 9:19pm
Andrew P. Eppink (mail):
War is hard enough on men, and ultimately horrifically destructive of the kindness, compassion and generosity inherent to the makeup of most women. In a word it's destructive of their femininity. And that's the biggest reason I think women should be explicitly limited to support roles. It may well be that possibly quite a number of women could conceivably get an F-14 (evidence of my age, I guess) back aboard safely at nite in bad weather, better than the men, if only because she'll read and adhere to the flight manual, and be an excellent trainers for the men because of that. But women still shouldn't be directly exposed to combat.

Indeed I don't think women should be 'frontline' (for want of a better word) policemen or firemen either for so many of the reasons Browne and others enumerate.

All this evil and irrational leftist bs will be the end of the Nation.
12.9.2007 10:25pm
bookmoth (mail) (www):
Question for Kingsley Browne -

I'm a MA psych student writing my thesis on the decision to kill during combat. One factoid I've come across about women in combat is that Israel used to have women and men fight side by side in combat - until 1948, when Israel realized 2 things:

1) Men got overprotective of women.
2) Arabs wouldn't surrender to women.

Have you found this to be true?

Janine
12.9.2007 11:25pm
Cal (mail) (www):
Interesting discussion.

1) I accept as given that most if not all men who have served in combat oppose women doing the same. However, the military as a whole appears to disagree. Elaine Donnelly's complains regularly about the military's violation of what she views as appropriate gender restrictions. Similarly, when the House tried to restrict women from combat positions, it faced significant resistance from the Army and the Pentagon, and ultimately passed a much less restrictive bill, with the only major change being the lead time required any time they open another position for women. (I don't know if the legislation actually became law.)

It's odd that the same people who usually oppose civilian interference in the military are in this case all for it. How do they explain their opposition to the military's aggressive expansion of the use of women? Shouldn't we assume that they are doing it to improve effectiveness?

2) Many of the objections about women in critical roles comes down to procedural issues: the women game the system with pregnancy, aggressive physical standards would inevitably be lowered, and so on. Shouldn't procedural issues be addressed differently? In many cases, the procedure itself would fix the problem. If a woman faced a dishonorable discharge for getting pregnant, I suspect a lot of teenaged female high school graduates who go into the service for benefits and the chance at a husband with same would find something else to do. Likewise, "single parent" custodial issues could be handled more unsympathetically, which would reduce the occurrence either by enforcing better choices or leading the prospective recruit to choose a different job.

I wonder if any attempt to create procedural solutions would likewise be opposed by the military? It seems at least possible.

I've come up with two explanations for the military's opposition to increased gender restrictions in combat (and their possible opposition to procedural improvements in the handling of pregnancy, physical requirements, and so on).

First, it's fake. The military leadership doesn't actually want to expand women in combat roles, but does so to avoid lawsuits. This seems unlikely, though, given the aggressive nature of the expansion.

More likely, of course, the active expansion of women's roles in the military represents the belief that more women in the frontlines makes for a more efficient force, despite all the well-documented problems.

That suggests that suboptimal women are still preferable to the men--or the shortage of men--that the military would be stuck with without women.
12.10.2007 12:30am
Just a Nut (mail):
I must say that this entire thesis is quite silly. Only today, as to courage in Colorado a woman security guard was credited with confronting and shooting a suspect who shot several people without apparent provocation.
Much of the thesis is based on placing particular women in positions that are not suited for them and then overgeneralizing.
I recall that in the earlier days of submarines, short men were preferred. Today, probably that should be mostly women with some gurkhas to handle some of the heavy lifting. The reasons are obvious--women can last longer on a limited diet, they have less weight and are usually shorter. Men are misfits. The height and weight considerations require that combat pilots should be women as well. Many gamers have found to their surprise that their toughest opponents are female--to their surprise. The China incident and its presemptuous analysis notwithstanding, in a modern aircraft, women are the best choice for pilots --once we get over the prejudice and only focus on the merit.
12.10.2007 6:49am
Skyler (mail) (www):
Cal:

1. No, we should assume they are doing it to suck up and get more funding. Note until Patraeus took over in Iraq, there were no general officers saying that we needed more people to fight a war. When was the last war fought to victory when the generals all said, "no, we have enough, please don't send more troops?" Our general officers, by and large, have proven to be not very war like. I can't say when that started, but I'd vote at least since Powell was JCS and his political maneuvering in the military. Heck, he made it appear to the American public that he was responsible for winning the first gulf war and he wasn't even a commander. He won the war from a desk. That's the type of general officers we've had for quite a while.

2. It's not just "gaming" the system. There's no way we could constitutionally prevent them from getting pregnant. And there's a lot more to it than simply that.
12.10.2007 6:50am
Andrew P. Eppink (mail):
JaN- You're nuts alright, more evidence of the satanic 'leftist/lawyer syndrome'.
12.10.2007 8:54am
Andrew P. Eppink (mail):
Yes, the woman in CO displayed admirable courage, which is entirely beside the point.
12.10.2007 9:00am