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Coed Combat Units - A bad idea on all counts
Weekly Standard ^ | February 4, 2013 | Mackubin Thomas Owens

Posted on 01/27/2013 7:11:45 PM PST by neverdem

For over two decades, I have been arguing against the idea of placing American women in combat or in support positions associated with direct ground combat. I base my position on three factors. First, there are substantial physical differences between men and women that place the latter at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to ground combat. Second, men treat women differently than they treat other men. This can undermine the comradeship upon which the unit cohesion necessary to success on the battlefield depends. Finally, the presence of women leads to double standards that seriously erode morale and performance. In other words, men and women are not interchangeable.

 

Physical Differences

The average female soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine is about five inches shorter than her male counterpart and has half the upper body strength, lower aerobic capacity (at her physical peak between the ages of 20 and 30, the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male), and 37 percent less muscle mass. She has a lighter skeleton, which means that the physical strain on her body from carrying the heavy loads that are the lot of the infantryman may cause permanent damage. 

But can’t these differences be reduced? In the past, gender politics has made it difficult—if not impossible—to ascertain exactly what can be done to improve the performance of women, because advocates of gender equity understand that the establishment of objective strength criteria would have a deleterious effect on their demand to open the infantry to women. Several years ago, the Army attempted to establish such strength standards and pretests for each military occupational specialty, but those efforts were abandoned when studies showed that not enough women would meet the standards proposed for many Army jobs. Funding subsequently was denied for a study about remedial strength training for women. 

Anatomical differences between men and women are as important as strength differences. A woman cannot urinate standing up. Most important, she tends, particularly if she is under the age of 30 (as are 60 percent of female military personnel) to become pregnant. 

Indeed, each year, somewhere between 10 and 17 percent of servicewomen become pregnant. In certain locales, the figure is even higher. Former senator James Webb noted that when he was secretary of the Navy in 1988, 51 percent of single Air Force and 48 percent of single Navy women stationed in Iceland were pregnant. During pregnancy (if she remains in the service at all), a woman must be exempted from progressively more routine duties, such as marching, field training, and swim tests. After the baby is born, there are more problems, as exemplified by the many thousand uniformed-service mothers, none of whom fairly could be called a frontline soldier. 

Women also suffer a higher rate of attrition than men from physical ailments, and because of the turnover, are a more costly investment. Women are four times more likely to report ill, and the percentage of women being medically nonavailable at any time is twice that of men. If a woman can’t do her job, someone else must do it for her. 

If one doesn’t believe me, perhaps one should look at an article by a Marine officer, Captain Katie Petronio, in the Marine Corps Gazette, the Corps’s professional journal (“Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal”). She noted the physical deterioration she suffered during her deployment to Afghanistan as a combat engineer officer: 

 

It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment .  .  . I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.

 

Men and Women 

The key to success on the battlefield is unit cohesion, which all research has shown to be critically important. Advocates of opening combat specialties to women have tried to change the definition of cohesion over the years, but the best remains that of the 1992 report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces: “the relationship that develops in a unit or group where (1) members share common values and experiences; (2) individuals in the group conform to group norms and behavior in order to ensure group survival and goals; (3) members lose their identity in favor of a group identity; (4) members focus on group activities and goals; (5) unit members become totally dependent on each other for the completion of their mission or survival; and (6) group members .  .  . meet all the standards of performance and behavior in order not to threaten group survival.” 

The glue of unit cohesion is what the Greeks called philia—friendship, comradeship, or brotherly love. In The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle, J. Glenn Gray described the importance of philia: “Numberless soldiers have died, more or less willingly, not for country or honor or religious faith or for any other abstract good, but because they realized that by fleeing their post and rescuing themselves, they would expose their companions to greater danger. Such loyalty to the group is the essence of fighting morale. .  .  . Comrades are loyal to each other spontaneously and without any need for reasons.” 

The Greeks identified another form of love: eros. Unlike philia, eros is individual and exclusive. Eros manifests itself as sexual competition, protectiveness, and favoritism. The presence of women in the close confines of a combat unit unleashes eros at the expense of philia. As the late Charles Moskos, the great military sociologist, once commented, “when you put men and women together in a confined environment and shake vigorously, don’t be surprised if sex occurs. When the military says there can be no sex between a superior and a subordinate, that just flies in the face of reality. You can’t make a principle based on a falsehood.” Mixing the sexes and thereby introducing eros into an environment based on philia creates a dangerous form of friction in the military.

The destructive effect on unit cohesion of amorous relationships can be denied only by ideologues. Does a superior order his or her beloved into danger? If he or she demonstrates favoritism, what are the consequences for unit morale and discipline? What happens when jealousy rears its head? These are questions of life and death. 

Feminists contend that these manifestations of eros are the result only of a lack of education and insensitivity to women, and can be eradicated through indoctrination. But all the social engineering in the world cannot change the fact that men treat women differently than they treat other men. 

 

Double Standards

The physical differences between men and women have, unfortunately, all too often caused the military to, in effect, discard the very essence of philia: fairness and the absence of favoritism. This is the crux of the problem. As Webb has observed, “In [the military] environment, fairness is not only crucial, it is the coin of the realm.” The military ethos is dependent on the understanding that the criteria for allocating danger and recognition, both positive and negative, are essentially objective.

Favoritism and double standards are deadly to philia and the associated phenomena—cohesion, morale, discipline—that are critical to the success of a military organization. Not surprisingly, double standards generate resentment on the part of military men, which in turn leads to cynicism about military women in general, including those who have not benefited from a double standard and who perform their duties with distinction. 

The military has created two types of double standards. The first is the tendency to allow women, but not men, to take advantage of sexual differences. For instance, morale, trust, and cohesion have suffered from the perception among military men that women can use pregnancy to avoid duty or deployments. A very contentious debate over favoritism arose some years ago over the claim that some women had been permitted to advance in flight training with performances that would have caused a man to wash out. 

The second type of double standard is based on differing physical requirements. Last week, after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the ban on women in combat would be lifted, my good friend, retired Air Force general Charlie Dunlap, a former JAG and the director of Duke Law School’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, weighed in: “Secretary Panetta’s decision to lift the ban on women serving in certain combat roles makes sense so long as there is no lowering of the physical or other standards required for the new positions.” 

The trouble is that the desire for equal opportunity is, in practice, usually translated into a demand for equal results. Consequently, there has been a watering down of standards to accommodate the generally lower physical capabilities of women. This has had two consequences. 

First, standards have been reduced so much that, in many cases, service members no longer are being prepared for the strenuous challenges they will face in the fleet or field. Second—and even more destructive of morale and trust—is the fact that when the requirement can’t be changed and the test cannot be eliminated, scores are “gender normed” to conceal the differences between men and women. All the services have lower physical standards for women than for men. Two decades ago, the U.S. Military Academy identified 120 physical differences between men and women, not to mention psychological ones, that resulted in a less rigorous overall program of physical training at West Point in order to accommodate female cadets. 

For instance, the “USMA Report on the Integration and Performance of Women at West Point,” prepared for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services in February 1992, revealed that scores for physically demanding events were gender normed at the academy: A woman could receive an A for the same performance that would earn a man a D. Navy women can achieve the minimum score on the physical readiness test by performing 11 percent fewer sit-ups and 53 percent fewer push-ups and by running 1.5 miles 27 percent more slowly than men. There is immense political pressure to prevent women from failing to meet even these reduced standards. 

 

To argue against women in combat is not to deny the significant contributions women have made to the nation’s defense. For the last century, women have served honorably, competently, and bravely during this country’s wars. It is my experience that the vast majority of women in today’s armed forces are extremely professional and want nothing to do with the two extremes of feminism that Jean Bethke Elshtain described several years ago in Real Politics: At the Center of Everyday Life and that the military spends time and effort trying to appease: the “feminist victimization wing” and the “repressive androgynists.”

I doubt that there is a huge push on the part of female soldiers and Marines to join the infantry. Captain Petronio makes the same point. The impetus comes instead from professional feminists still living in the 1970s and a small number of female officers who believe that serving in the infantry will increase the likelihood that they will become generals. But the Pentagon itself points out that military women are already promoted at rates equal to or faster than men. 

In short, there is no reason for this change. It doesn’t make the military stronger, and risks making it weaker by undermining the factors crucial for combat effectiveness. 

Mackubin Thomas Owens is editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a Marine infantry veteran of Vietnam.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: infantrywomen

1 posted on 01/27/2013 7:11:49 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem
This is just what Obama wants; another long and drawn out argument that can have no end and no conclusion. This is just like global warming, health care, free birth control pills and the debt ceiling. There is something going on behind the scene that no one is catching on to yet.

YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!

2 posted on 01/27/2013 7:16:00 PM PST by Baynative (I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.)
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To: neverdem

Reasoning and discussion is useless. the intent is the complete destruction of the military powers of The united states of america and create parity in the world.

The left has won. The only thing left is to watch the death of the country. It will not take the full of the term of the beast.


3 posted on 01/27/2013 7:16:00 PM PST by Breto (Stranger in a strange land... where did America go?)
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To: neverdem

Reality is thrown out the window when socialist idealogues are in power.


4 posted on 01/27/2013 7:24:06 PM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: neverdem

This is an excellent article. Military cohesion is also a reason why openly homosexual men don’t belong in front line jobs. The sad truth is there is a double standard for women in the military, they do get sick and are unavailable for duty more often, men do pick up the slack, and our leaders don’t really care. This is about politics, not military effectiveness.


5 posted on 01/27/2013 7:27:27 PM PST by CitizenUSA (Why celebrate evil? Evil is easy. Good is the goal worth striving for.)
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To: neverdem

Bookmark


6 posted on 01/27/2013 7:29:56 PM PST by corlorde (forWARD of the state)
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To: Travis McGee

The feminazis will be getting badly embarassed. There’s a reason that I haven’t seen any female furniture movers.


7 posted on 01/27/2013 7:31:12 PM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem

I remember a discussion on one of the morning news programs. It was about this exact subject. There was military woman who thought women could be in combat and that idiot Baba Wawa.

After one of the guys said that the training was different for men and women, Barbara just flat out stated that he was wrong and the training was identical.

About 30 seconds later the guy asked the woman officer if the training was the same and she admitted it was not. I remember thinking that at least she didn’t lie like Walters.


8 posted on 01/27/2013 7:43:29 PM PST by yarddog (One shot one miss.)
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To: neverdem

We should endorse professional women as defensive linebackers...


9 posted on 01/27/2013 8:03:46 PM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: neverdem

I can not think of one thing that a woman adds to the capability of a front line platoon to complete their mission. She is smaller, weaker, slower and the simple fact is that men behave differently when a woman is present.

Women have a civilizing effect on men that is contrary to breaking and killing things. Plus, the natural sexual tension between the sexes can bring chaos to a platoon.

Guys that go camping with guys only, know what I am talking about.

Men should protect their women. (Except, Rosie O’Donnel of course)


10 posted on 01/27/2013 8:44:57 PM PST by super7man
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To: neverdem; RIghtwardHo; Reaganite Republican; Clintons Are White Trash; HerrBlucher; mgist; ...
+

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11 posted on 01/27/2013 8:56:13 PM PST by narses
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To: neverdem; RIghtwardHo; Reaganite Republican; Clintons Are White Trash; HerrBlucher; mgist; ...
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12 posted on 01/27/2013 8:56:42 PM PST by narses
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To: neverdem; RIghtwardHo; Reaganite Republican; Clintons Are White Trash; HerrBlucher; mgist; ...
+

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Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

13 posted on 01/27/2013 8:57:48 PM PST by narses
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To: neverdem

Actually the article is wrong about one thing, they can urinate standing up.

Just a tangent, but you can’t ping them for this.


14 posted on 01/27/2013 9:00:12 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: neverdem

I even see many of the points expressed in this article in the schools where I have worked, which is not exactly an environment marked by physical stress, combat, or life-threatening circumstances.

Female teachers get sick more often. They take off more time than male counterparts. They take the normal stresses of the classroom differently than most men, too, with many of my female colleagues responding more emotionally, in both good and bad ways. Men are more measured. Many female teachers are simply not as driven as the male teachers, which is why there are more men working on administrative certificates. Despite decades of trying, men treat women differently, usually with a respectful deference, and women tend to create private girl’s clubs that separate themselves from the men on the staff. Hot, young, attractive female teachers attract the attention of every (heterosexual) male, a truth that everyone acknowledges.

Of course, we’re not supposed to express any of these realities, but I’ll bet that any good social scientist could measure it using reliable research methods.

On the other hand, a lot of us in this mixed-sex environment are old - I just celebrated my 57th birthday. We can navigate the currents of sex professionally. That wouldn’t be the situation in the armed forces.

I was thinking about being a 19-year-old soldier with a hot, attractive, young female soldier next to me out in the wilderness somewhere. Hell, she wouldn’t even have to be very attractive. What I know is that at the age of 19 my libido had only one speed, and that was overdrive. Now add to that the stress of combat. Young men take young women on roller coasters to “scare” their date, which promotes all sorts of bonding behaviors. Combat creates that scariness for real, and I’d have no doubt that sexual yearning is a predictable outcome. I don’t know why sex is prompted by this kind of scare, but it is.

And afterwards? Jealousy, recrimination, resentment, shame, guilt. Not a good way to run an army. A good way to ruin one, though.

God help us.


15 posted on 01/27/2013 9:00:38 PM PST by redpoll
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To: neverdem
A woman cannot urinate standing up

This is about the only thing in this article I could disagree with!

Of course they can...it's messy and they have very little directional ability,but nonetheless they CAN pee standing up! C'mon!

16 posted on 01/27/2013 9:03:55 PM PST by oldsalt (There's no such thing as a free lunch.)
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To: neverdem

From Saturday afternoon pirate movies:

A woman on a ship is bad luck.

Philosophy that still works.


17 posted on 01/27/2013 9:10:56 PM PST by Scrambler Bob ( Concerning bo -- that refers to the president. If I capitalize it, I mean the dog.)
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To: redpoll

Why do you suppose the military doesn’t release pregnancy rates? Try to find those stats anywhere.
On my last ship, an Arleigh Burke DDG, we had a cadre of 60 enlisted women and averaged one pregnancy every month. Every time we left port we had to find another home for the pregnant sailors, usually at the Transient Personnel Unit. There’s a law we had to follow that required us to be able to get a pregnant sailor to a neonatal care facility within four hours.


18 posted on 01/27/2013 9:39:23 PM PST by GreyHoundSailor
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To: neverdem; CitizenUSA; corlorde; yarddog; super7man; redpoll
Combat operations entail applying and enduring unimaginable brutality until victory. Therefore, only the most severe restrictions on human emotions and behavior can foster the required high morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion. Human sexuality simply cannot intrude into this extraordinary dimension where those displaying the greatest savagely win.

Combat forms personnel into small, rigid, task oriented units. These people continuously face extraordinary stress punctuated by killing other humans. At the point of collision, men face environments characterized by unbelievably sacrificial, primitive and intimate relations.

Such environments are inherently chaotic and brittle. They can be overcome only by a totalitarian leadership and narrow focus unimaginable for those who see any opportunity for social engineering.

The regimental combat teams for infantry, mechanized and armored units are now the playthings of bureaucrats committed to equal opportunity, and dismissive of warriors enduring the brutal carnage imperative for victory. The institutional memories of fighting ferocious, capable enemies such as the Germans, Japanese, Chinese, and North Vietnamese have disappeared.

George Orwell said it best, “Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

P.S.
Notice General Dempsey, who never fought the enemies mentioned, questions the necessity of current high standards which already allow inferior female performance.

I tell those who ask they should never join any branch of the military. And began doing so when they repealed DADT. I reasonably expect affirmative action to be applied overtly or covertly to homosexuals in consideration for promotion. Therefore one should expect the lesbians and sodomites to make the decisions about sending little girls and a few good men into harms way. I imagine these will be interesting conversations at times, because I ended up as a VFW Post Commander.

Well what are they going to do? Fire me from a job I never really wanted. Now they can't put me on an LST and ship me off to the Mekong Delta.

General Martin E. Dempsey
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Dempsey

Gen. Dempsey: If Women Can’t Meet Military Standard, Pentagon Will Ask ‘Does It Really Have to Be That High?’
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gen-dempsey-if-women-can-t-meet-military-standard-pentagon-will-ask-does-it-really-have

19 posted on 01/27/2013 10:00:24 PM PST by Retain Mike
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Dangerous Times: Gimme a General Who Won't Fight!

The Great Gun Debate: Selwyn Duke vs. Brett Joshpe

The Dot Matrix, Reloaded - How do you ban assault weapons when you can print them?

STUDENTS WARD OFF HOME INTRUDERS WITH AR-15 Rochester, NY

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

20 posted on 01/27/2013 10:01:36 PM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: Baynative

Yes, more chaos courtesy of the Obama administration. You accurately described what is happening.


21 posted on 01/27/2013 10:29:52 PM PST by The_Media_never_lie (Actually, they lie when it suits them! The crooked MS media must be defeated any way it can be done!)
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To: ladyvet

What do you think?


22 posted on 01/28/2013 1:05:42 AM PST by Impy (All in favor of Harry Reid meeting Mr. Mayhem?)
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To: neverdem

Successful cultures/civilizations reflect and build upon nature and the natural order of things. One of the resiliencies of Christian thought is the acceptance of God’s creation. Liberals reject that.

To them civilization is a moldable social construct and to a degree they’re right. At some point your policies will put your civilization perpendicular to nature. That’s lights out.


23 posted on 01/28/2013 3:59:39 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: redpoll

All this is proof of one of two things, either the left wishes to destroy the effectiveness of the military in every way possible (which seems like the real answer) or they are incapable of comprehending reality which is true for some no doubt but probably not of the ones who are in a position to decide these matters.


24 posted on 01/28/2013 6:01:04 AM PST by RipSawyer (I was born on Earth, what planet is this?)
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To: RipSawyer

It’s the latter. Sure, the Left wants to destroy the military, but how could men and women sharing foxholes hurt the military?

Men and women are the same. Gender is a societally imposed construct... You know the drill.


25 posted on 01/28/2013 6:06:55 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas; RipSawyer

I agree with you and Rip. I don’t believe the left is capable of understanding reality. They are under a delusion. Of course, they think WE are the deluded ones. I try to see things from their point of view so that I can better understand them. I can even argue their positions, but it’s essentially nonsense to me.

In regards to women in combat, equal standards aren’t applied to military women who aren’t currently in combat. Are we expected to believe the military is going to create newer, tougher standards for women?

The military women I have talked to feel this is about equality. They say they are being denied promotion because they don’t have the necessary combat duty on their records. They say it’s not their problem if men coworkers treat them differently. That’s the man’s problem.

It’s about their needs and wants, NOT improving the military.


26 posted on 01/28/2013 6:20:19 AM PST by CitizenUSA (Why celebrate evil? Evil is easy. Good is the goal worth striving for.)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


27 posted on 01/28/2013 7:46:24 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: neverdem

It also must be noted women treat men differently than other women as well. Feminists apparently have no problem with that. Why wouldn’t she not send her female friend on a deadly mission? Why wouldn’t she save her friend over a guy in her unit? They’re sisters....

It cuts both ways. None of this is any good. People see “Aliens” and a Vasquez-type character and think it’s really how it is.

I would applaud the female captain who served in Afghanistan for being honest and admitting and actually writing about it, that the stress is really going to be crippling and career-ending for most women. Just confirming and acknowledging what the common sense intelligence has said all along about this. Not that there aren’t women who can’t serve, or whatever, just that it’s really not a good situation to put women into, and that in the military, you aren’t just thinking about the individual, others depend on you, and if you can’t do the job it puts others lives at risk when you’re talking infantry or special forces.

Feminists aren’t really bothered by it because as most of the military fighting force is men, they don’t care if the men die at the expense of women in combat. They will claim the men were already risking their lives being in the military. The difference is that all those men, on average, outperform the average woman just by being men and being built differently. They all more or less can do the same things, haul the same things, get there ir roughly the same times, and are expected to.

Expecting the average female soldier to be equal or better than the average male soldier is akin to expecting the average dad to be equal or better than the average mom. They aren’t built for the mom role. They’re built to be the dad.


28 posted on 01/28/2013 8:43:49 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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