Girls Just Wanna Have Guns
By virtue of being lithe and of lower body mass, and having much smaller feet, in the main, women have always been terrific at mountain climbing. Women with 'scopes were first among perseverant astronomers, though their achievements were largely ignored and stepped on by males with high-power magnification. Women are superlative and self-abnegating in the lab, often working 50 and 60 years, unmarried and unchilded, in the shadows of their discoveries before they reap awards and recognition.
Women are great in a myriad of occupations and professions, are as brave and heady as males in the full spectrum of human endeavors -- not to mention childbirth, which Norman Mailer quipped would never be anything a male could do.
Since time began, women aspiring to "male" jobs and occupations have been derided and disrespected as a consequence of their menstrual periodicity. Everything suspect, from womb-connected "hysteria" to lack of judgment and inferior cognition was assigned to the female, and used as a club to deny women representation in education, careers, the opportunity rung on the rigorous escalator of achievement.
But women, on the whole, are not the best candidates for firefighter roles, other than support. The heavier duties of carrying deadweight injured comrades, the upper-body strength needed for many of the tasks associated with the military, and the steadiness required to maintain combat positions in the face of withering fire and lengthy attack, are not the circumstances where women shine. To disagree that women are, in fact, different from men in these specifics is to live in a faux-construct -- we have many strengths, but we are not gorillas, and we have different musculo-skeletal apparatuses and hormonal tides than men.
All this by way of explaining why Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent initiative to open some 328,000 combat jobs is a bad idea. The prospective groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule restricting women from artillery, armor, infantry and other similar combat roles.
Career advancement, yes, does often result from valorous action in war, and to date these emoluments and ribbons of glory have been male-only. But there are numerous reasons not aired in the miles of ink generated by Panetta's (and the president's) little change of definition of who qualifies for what in combat-forward posts and training.
As Ryan Smith, an ex-military (currently a lawyer) who served several battlefield tours in Iraq explains in "The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat: A Pentagon push to mix the sexes ignores how awful cheek-by-jowl life is on the battlefield," there are egregious battlefront conditions that absolutely militate against women being involved in frontline combat.
If you rejoinder that "women can take it," assuredly yes, we can. If we choose to subject ourselves to the glaring lack of hygiene, the days-long stakeouts without toilets, the long spans without proper bivouacking, the shattering noise and grime, and the eternal close quarters with men in the same clutch of duty, without end. But the esprit de corps that is critical to unit success in the military is broken by having women around -- even expertly trained, above-average-strength women with top honors in pushups and hauling and obstacle-course running.
Women are great firearms experts. We win awards in shooting competitions year after year. And Annie Oakley is a proud estrogenic legend in this country. But shooting is not the sum of tasks in combat. Most of the time is spent in awkward human-human contact that is uncomfortable, difficult, dangerous -- and messy.
"I think people have come to the sensible conclusion that you can't say a woman's life is more valuable than a man's life," the retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught once said. But in the IDF, there is a recognition, as is only reasonable, that women are different from men. They are child-bearers, and their status in society is different, obviously, from that of men. Those differences bring consequences that ignoring would be worse than folly on the part of military brass. Imperiling lives is the natural result of the congeries of elements making women in close combat quarters a decided and constant liability.
Israel's top-notch IDF (Israel Defense Forces), acknowledged as one of the best fighting forces in the world, has long had women in their military services. But the jobs they are assigned to are predicated on what women can do without subjecting them to frontline bullets and man-on-woman infantry, deleterious and untimely pregnancies, marriage breakups based on fraternizing in the trenches, and the like. Women are recognized as child bearers, and hard-wired male consideration for women cold-cocks neutral equality on the battlefield. The addition of women into the traditional male-male mucky soup of war or defense changes the equation. Men are prone to gallantry instead of better moves that save themselves and their fellows. Gallantry has little place in the menu of man-hours fighting. It will, as many writers and analysts have observed, cost us lives.
And as for training, there are indications, even now, that standards will be lowered. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made reference to such lowered norms at a Pentagon press conference in January that will be used by critics of the decision to open up combat roles to women. The Washington Times headline read: Gen. Dempsey hints -- Bar likely lowered for female combat units.
No. Wrong. Lowered standards are automatic reasons for rejecting the 'wisdom' of this females-in-combat initiative. Women in threat conditions need the same training and the same reliability as men. Making women acceptably laxer or less tough is simply unacceptable, and works against the equality notion we have come to worship as the gold standard in all of our public life.
Sources say outgoing Secretary of Defense Panetta will announce his decision to permit female soldiers to participate in combat roles starting later in 2013. Special units like the SEALS and the Army's Delta Force, will have until 2016 to document why they should qualify for an exemption to the new ruling.
While some women may be able to come up to the mark achieved routinely by male inductees, most simply won't. How many women wrestlers, miners, and construction workers are filing their tax returns, even in 2013? Not that many. This is not about to change any time soon, even with Pilates, Super-Spin and Zumba classes as the hottest gym tickets around.
Aside from the ineradicable problems of excreting and undressing or not undressing in the tightest quarters, body sores from lack of bathing and maintaining uncomfortable postures for hours on end -- as is typical when armies are on the move, as was true with Desert Storm in Iraq, and will continue to be true, even with reduced military budgets.
Which brings us to the military curtailments of the re-elected president. Brutal budget slices have already destroyed our retaliatory or offensive strength, such that we will be sitting ducks for a determined and especially asymmetrical force such as the ever-stronger al Qaeda in both the Maghreb, and wherever else you pin the tail on the map. Such calculated cuts in military and tactical supplies, equipment upgrades, accessories and general provender have been detailed despite strenuous objections by the military charged with deploying their forces to exemplary effect. Adding female 'fighters' in upfront combat conditions further confuses and compromises the military effectiveness.
This initiative, from the mouth of Leon Panetta, but doubtless fronting for others in the administration, seems another in the pantheon of disastrous missteps along the lines of Fast & Furious. We have, of course, yet to get a full accounting of the bluffing, intransigence, and simple mendacity involved in this audacious and simpleminded scheme that resulted in deaths of many innocents, including a valued Border Patrol agent.
From a comment thread between David Brooks and Gail Collins of the New York Times: Now [women] wear fatigues and tote rifles. So the Joint Chiefs of Staff have bowed to reality and told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that "the time has come" to stop excluding women from combat positions. The transformation won't happen immediately, and it might not be universal. But it's still a groundbreaking change. When the recommendation became public, except for a broadside from the Concerned Women for America ("our military cannot continue to choose social experimentation and political correctness over combat readiness"), the reception seemed overwhelmingly positive.
It's hard to remember-[...]but it was the specter of women under fire that did more than anything else to quash the movement for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in the 1970s. "We kept saying we hope no one will be in combat, but, if they are, women should be there, too," recalled Gloria Steinem. (Gail Collins NYT excerpt)
From a Newsmax article by David A. Patten:
Former Navy SEAL commander and Montana State Sen. [Ryan] Zinke reacted sharply [Wednesday] to news the Obama administration will drop the prohibition against women serving in military combat roles, warning it is "nearly certain" to cost lives. A Republican who served in the elite SEAL Team Six, Zinke cautioned that introducing male-female dynamics on the front lines "has the potential to degrade our combat readiness."
"I know there are some women who can do the physical training," Zinke told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "When I was a SEAL instructor, the Olympic training center is in San Diego, and I watched some Olympic-caliber women athletes run through the obstacle course better than certainly many of the SEAL candidates could do.
"These were quality athletes. So physically, I think there are some women who can do it. But the issue is what are the unintended consequences?" This is not a Demi Moore movie.
Another debacle that then hurts the country, our citizenry, our prestige and standing abroad as well as women themselves (Think: Benghazi. Think: Algeria) yet manages never to result in an open airing of underlying orders and ideological priming does the U.S. no favors. Somehow the policy only reluctantly comes under the microscope of the slacker media. Have you seen major media pick apart the reasoning behind this bid for votes?
Ex-SEAL Zinke and a few others also suggest that the decision appears to be hastily undertaken and fails to reflect a real-world understanding of combat.
"The hard truth of combat oftentimes is brutal," he said. "We've become so sensitized that warfare is wrapped up in a 2-hour movie featuring stars who always live. And that's not how it really is."
Zinke said the decision to open up combat roles for women should have followed "a longer national discussion than a simple executive order." He is disappointed that the decision was taken lightly, as obviously it was. Zinke also addressed concerns that mixing men and women on the front lines could impair unit morale and effectiveness.
In the case of women in the military, the "jobs" that could be provided would be taken up by men, if women do not fill them. Women have lower testosterone. Their skeletons are lighter. Heavy packs of up to 100 lbs. may compromise their frames, perhaps forever.
Regarding the women in combat issue, this is yet another stealth way of deballing the one institution in the country that still works well, at least until the advent of the scorching budget cuts deman the military's effectiveness as a defensive and offensive force. It is no secret that the military is the orphan-child of a White House that has little use for defense.
Women in the military, in combat-forward posts, will further compromise esprit de corps, lead to a heightening of the already-notable rape and sexual harassment in the ranks, lead without question to a rise in unwanted pregnancies and liaisons (wanted or otherwise), and will create, as per the law of unexpected consequences, a host of other unconsidered sequellae. Men in command units cannot act as they normally would if a female colleague is threatened or in trouble: That spells certain disaster. Female soldiers might not be able to rescue fellow soldiers when one is injured. Women experiencing their menses may be sussed out by sensitive dogs and/or detection devices, and staked positions in camo may be disclosed.
Seem unlikely? It is not. Hunters refrain from aftershave and perfumed soaps when on the hunt, as do professional anglers: Animals and even fish can detect an infinitesimal taint of sweat, scent, cosmetics and ointments in hunters and fishermen.
This is not even to broach the fearsome scenario of captured females in war theaters. What will be done to captured women soldiers, when what is done to our brave male soldiers beggars description and defies comprehension for normal humans? All other armies are all-male -- what are the uneven results of having a male and female force confronting an all-male force? Tennis gives us a good idea: The mixed-gender loses to the usually superior all-male singles.
The men making the decisions are, in this unmilitary administration, largely unacquainted with military needs and circumstances, the president included. They are apparently signally uninterested in correcting their unacquaintedness with the military life. They know it all already, no lessons needed, thank you.
Is there any out? Perhaps. As James Taranto wrote on this topic in his Opinion column in the Wall Street Journal, Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
Net-net, our now-disemboweled military, with the addition of albatross soldiers in duties for which they are unfit and unsuited, will be rendered a laughingstock and present a continuing danger.
This is not "equal rights" for women. It is unacceptable wrongs, for men, and for women. Adoption of this foolhardy misstep will entail headaches, loss of efficacy, and needless deaths. Those in the military who know whereof they speak have already predicted "almost certain needless deaths."