[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.