"I Said Shut Up!"

Soldier Up Women (Women in Combat)

I had never been a big fan of the idea of women serving in Combat Arms. For those not08s too familiar, most people would probably assume that ‘combat arms’ would mean the Army, or military as a whole.  Combat Arms is actually more of a ‘genre’ of jobs in the military(to put in laymen’s terms).  An example most people can easily understand is Infantry. Infantry is a solid example of a Combat Arms field. You’ve also got combat support, and combat service support.  Think of Medics, Mechanics, Cooks, Finance, Legal, and other paperwork or ‘non front lines’ jobs.

After my attendance of WLC (Warrior Leaders Course – a ‘first step school’ in the education system for Noncommissioned Officers [NCO’s]) in South Korea, I was reassured that women should not be allowed to serve in Combat Arms MOS’s (Military Occupational Skill).  I had seen the performance (or lack there of) of female “NCOs”, and I was disgusted. I knew combat arms were for the roughest, toughest, and strongest of MEN, both mentally, physically, and spiritually (as applied to the individual). However, one day I just woke up one day and realized that women can do the same jobs men could, but I still didn’t think too much about it, or was a strong advocate for it.  Then I was selected to go the EO (Equal Opportunity) School.  In it, I heard many opinions of females, males, combat and non-combat arms personnel.

In EO School, topics were heated. Sexism, racism, personal experiences in both, you name it.  If there was a racist, or derogatory term, it was said. It was really the most unique learning experience I’ve ever taken away from the military. But, getting back to the subject at hand.

In my head, I began running through why women shouldn’t be allowed to fight on the front lines with their brothers in arms. So I had talked to other people, and two things always were said.

italian paratrooper1) The first Argument is that women are not physically capable of carrying an additional 35-50+ lbs of gear, and be physically able to pull a fully grown adult male out of a hostile environment. While it is true, that when the ‘average’ male and female are compared, men have roughly 30-50% more muscle and strength capability then their female counterpart, that does not necessarily mean that women are not strong enough to meet the harsh physical demands of war.  If this were true, I am certain that the military wouldn’t allow females to serve period.  You’ve also got to take to consideration that men and women are physically built different.  This necessarily isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a fact of life. 

(Above: Female Italian Paratrooper)    

Although a smaller percentage (I believe it was 10-15%), the average male also has a natural cardiovascular advantage over their female counterparts. However, what always fails to be mentioned, is that with proper training, the average woman, can match and often exceed the cardiovascular capability of their male counterpart.  This contributes greatly to ones muscular capability and endurance. I hate to break it to you, but with proper training and technique I’ve seen your ‘average’ woman, carry a full grown man over her shoulder.  If you were to look at her, you never would have guessed she was capable of hauling a 200lbs guy an impressive distance. Determination, the right mindset, almost any task can be accomplished.

2) “Women bleed for five days, that requires special hygienic attention that cannot be ignored… this ties into them being emotionally unstable and would probably freak out and kill a male soldier for no reason”.  OR SOMETHING along those lines. Dude. Really?

Again, if it really was that big of an issue, they wouldn’t allow women to serve period. Usually, when this is said, male soldiers response is “when we train in the field, the females get to go back and shower”.  The first thing that irritates me about this, is that the military (for the most part) has always made use of what assets are available.  If a woman needs hygienic cleansing, and the means of cleansing are available without missing vital training, there isn’t any reason it shouldn’t be utilized. It’s not like they go back every few hours or day, there is a standard. In addition, the same male soldiers who complain often utilize every excuse in the book to get out of the field. I’ve seen people injure themselves, claim to have fake family issues, appointment, ect. Although these are often faked, the unit (usually) does what they can to accommodate that soldier. And wanting to kill someone while they’re on their period?… … … …uh … … … …unseen-world-war-2-photos-31 If a female exhibited such an unstable mind set and unpredictability, we would do just as we do with male counterparts… remove their weapon from them, and proceed to remove them from the military. That is a mute point.  So what about a combat zone?  Most soldiers (even infantry) get to see a FOB (Forward Operating Base) or COP (Combat Outpost) at least once a week, if not every other week that has something resembling a place one can clean themselves. But on another note, the technology now exists that allow women to have periods are reduced frequency, or damn near not at all, all together.  The military could opt to issues these means to women.  Joining the military, soldiers, male and female alike understand there are sacrifices that must be made in a combat zone / war.

Fact of the matter is, women have been serving in Armies around the world since damn near the beginning of time. The United States is sucking in this department of women equality, and honestly it really is sex discrimination in its finest and most purest form. Some other countries that allow women to volunteer for combat jobs (like infantry), include: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland just to name a few. Most notably, during WWII the Soviets had over 800,000 female soldiers!! Many of which saw and participated in front line action as  riflemen, tank crewmembers and commanders, and over 2,000  served as snipers!! The most famous of which was one Lyudmila Pavlichenko.  (Pictured Below)                         LudmilaPavlichenko (1)              220px-Aldrich-Pavlichenkojpg
Lyudmila Pavlichenko volunteered and fought for several months as a Red Army sniper against an invading Nazi Germany earning the nations highest awards and decorations, and accumulated 309 Confirmed Kills, 39 of which were enemy snipers. She was only removed from combat after she sustained wounds from a mortar round. Now for those of you who do not know, WWII wasn’t exactly the cleanest war.  Yet hundreds of thousands of female soldiers managed to take care of themselves in hostile conditions, in one of the most physically demanding wars of all time. In addition, just to remind you, technology has sort-of kind-of come quite a long way since WWII, from basic clothing, to clothing to combat cold weather and hot weather. Oh, and there have been significant medical advancements for those who are so bothered by it… you know… the bleeding.

images (1)Last I checked, the DoD wants soldiers.  Soldiers who believe in the their country that are wanting and willing to defend it by any means necessary, and want to be part of a greater good.  Women should be able to defend, and fight for their country, or at least have the choice to, just as men do. Last I checked, this country was made by men and women, is maintained by men and women, and should be openly protected by men and women equally.

On a final note. Everyone seems to think that there is going to me a massive influx of females into Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and other combat positions.  This is highly unlikely. Every woman who would enlist, would not want to be combat arms, just as every male who joins doesn’t.  It takes a special type of person, and certain mentality, mind set, to volunteer for such harsh job positions.  On top of that, we have training.  Just as men, if women would not be able to accomplish required tasks, or meet standards they are, and will be released from that job, and reassigned. However, should standards be met, there isn’t any reason they (females) shouldn’t be able to have a the job. If for some reason this isn’t acceptable, then I think we have larger issues at hand (like proper training and evaluation) than worrying about whether or not females should be allowed in combat positions.  But this doesn’t seem to be the case, so it is (woman’s right to volunteer) an issue.

Most people will talk about instincts. Men naturally wanting to protect and defend women.  I personally feel that in time, women will be treated and valued, and protect asbankus-06 male soldiers are.  When I look at a female soldier, all I see is a soldier. I do not value their life any more then I value another soldiers life. This is something that will come in time. However, the ball must get rolling.

Some people will talk about religion, and how women are not supposed to fight wars or work and what have you not. That they should be homemakers… pop’n out babies and delivering world class meals from their home kitchen.  These are people who are unable to separate their own religious belief, with what the government should and should not be allowed to control, or implement.  Religious opinion and influence has no place in government laws and/or decision making, or institutions. (Even though it does, which is an entirely different topic in on its own). (Above: Danish Infantry Training)

imagesWhen it comes down to human rights and equality.  Something the US presses for and advocates for so much… sure does seem to be behind, in the most simplest of ways: A PERSONS right, to choose…protect…and fight for… as they so seem fit, for a country that they love. 

2112200878000(Squad from a female integrated infantry battalion – as is the very top picture upper right hand corner)

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3 responses

  1. I recently made a film about women in the combat arms in the Canadian forces who have been fighting on the frontlines in Afghanistan.

    Sisters in Arms tells the stories of three female soldiers who have chosen the most difficult and dangerous military professions.

    The film explores their experiences from pre deployment through to the war, and their return home, exposing the personal and unique perspectives of female soldiers in combat. One of these soldiers is my sister and she was the inspiration behind the film.

    Canada is one of a handful of countries that permit women to fight in combat, the US and UK do not and this policy is currently being hotly debated at the most senior political levels.

    From my experience making this film, I think you will find that women are capable but there are a number of issues and considerations that may influence their decision to join in these roles.

    You can find out more on the film’s website http://WWW.SISTERSINARMS.CA and on the facebook page. Your comments are welcome.

    Thanks

    January 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm

  2. john smith

    Many of your facts are correct about women serving in other armies around the world and in history however it was not as cut and dry and pretty as you are trying to make it.

    Just because women did serve in the Soviet army did not mean that they were treated as equals. Most were treated poorly and many were turned into field wives. That is being forced into relationships with senior officers and NCO’s. Further to this the Soviets did not do this for any shining example of equality, it was only done because a body is a body and they needed the numbers. This is not a shining example of equality.

    Many modern integrated armies have these problems as well and it does have a serious effects on moral. Being a former member of a military that was the only issues with women being in the combat trades. It plagued training bases and my unit.

    Having men and women train and work together in their prime in any job has its disadvantages. In the atmosphere of the military it can be disruptive and damaging. From a senior member who is married to a junior member and the nepotism flourishes. Then there is the old question of the disruption in barracks and in the field with open fornication. This can be one of the most distracting behaviors to discipline and moral. I have seen it time and time again and there is a dynamic that is created that has serious consequences for the unit and the male and female members. This is a constant battle in most modern mixed militaries and anger and resentment flourishes when relationships start.

    In the past any fornication was usually done off base and it was out of sight out of mind but because of the large influx of mixed units military installations are becoming more like college campuses. Sadly the rules are rarely followed and there is little discussion about this issue. If anything it makes the Military and awful place for some women because there is little respect when fraternization is abundant.

    As far as I am concerned the ability to do the job is a non issue and so is the heath dynamic but the serious issue is the lack of professionalism that is exhibited by both men and women in mixed units with respect to fraternization is the real problem and unfortunately little can be done to stop this behavior besides not allowing it the first place.

    January 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    • Jane Doe

      John Smith, I see your point of view, however, you forget about our homosexual male soldiers who are a distraction as well. They do the fraternizing as well and no one says anything about that. How do you propose to fix that issue??

      September 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

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