There seems to be no corner of the Western world that is not targeted for dilution. If the targeted group is comprised mostly or entirely of males, the attacks are nonstop. When the US Military faces a new offensive by Liberals that essentially demands that all restrictions are dropped, the question of whether or not females are inherently capably of shouldering the physical and psychological burdens of the Infantry Soldier/Marine is almost never included in the discussion. We hear that restrictions from Infantry assignments cause unfairly laid obstacles in the members career path, that women have successfully performed in combat situations in the past, etc.
When we fight, we are dealing with people who want to kill us. Training and physical conditioning, along with superior equipment, go a very long way to providing us with an advantage. We can not forget that the advantages from these are not without limit. At some point in the fight, which may be a period of extremely vicious and confusing violence ("The fog of war"), the time in which abject exhaustion has set in, or a combination of the two, the fighter must reach down deeply and tap into his basest of survival instincts. If the opponents are all men, then the opponents have an advantage at that point. Not only will they tend to have a greater collective will to destroy the enemy, they will also posses the physical resources from which they must draw to muster one or more necessary efforts.
I am a history fanatic. I obsess over reading historical accounts from all periods. I can tell you that, for example, I have immeasurable admiration for women who have engaged in combat such as Countess Matilda of Tuscany. I could waste my time by rattling off name after name but that would not do us any good. Yes, these women do exist, so the question has nothing to do with this. The main question is whether or not a woman has the abilities to carry tremendously heavy burdens on their shoulders for long periods of time and still be able to, weeks later, move from point A to point B with the speed necessary to keep up with the rest of the unit and thus engage the enemy from as safe and effective a vantage point as possible. The secondary question is if the female mind possesses the killer mentality that is needed to engage the enemy when each side is trying to destroy the other.
All in all, the male-only restriction is treated as if it is an artificial construct, one that has no basis in the inherent differences between men and women. We are supposed to believe that restricting infantry assignments to capable men (Not all men can do this either) is the same thing as prohibiting blacks from playing in the same leagues as whites in professional baseball or maintaining segregated military units or schools.
It is not even remotely the same thing.
Engaging in combat duties/situations for brief periods of time, especially when the vast majority of military personnel alongside you are men (Near 100%) is in no way comparable to performing these duties for weeks and months on end. The physical grind is incredibly demanding.
Marine Captain Katie Petronio has recently written an article on her positions on this subject. Her qualifications as an expert far exceed mine. She is the real deal as far as combat experience goes. She is clearly a physically and mentally tough professional Marine Officer whom I would want on my side in a fight. To add to that, I would not have a problem taking orders from a straight-shooter such as she. Although she restricts her arguments entirely to the physical demands of the work, (Which she concludes exceeds the long-term abilities of a woman, she does not treat the violent, killer mindset that is almost non-existent in the females mind but is so necessary to a infantry Soldier/Marine. She does discuss the danger of lowering standards in order to accommodate, and lessen attrition rates for, females in training courses. Her article is aptly titled-
"Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal".
Her article will appear after the following excerpts from previous posts.
-From the following posts from this site:
The societal current in the West is one of enforced silence on issues such as this. Those who dare raise their voices are met with mockery, outright hostility, or at best pursed lips and raised eyebrows. Anything that does not support the pretend-world that we have created is prohibited. We are effectively not allowed to make mention of the fact that women's and men’s bodies are appreciably different from each other. This applies to short-term bursts of strength as well and the ability to shoulder heavy burdens for long periods of time. It also includes standard infantry tasks like moving, wearing and employing increasingly heavy body armor, weaponry, ammunition, as well as manual labor such as digging and filling sand bags.
I have witnessed this topic being brought up on numerous occasions. This point will of course be dismissed as biased as currently in the US military women are still barred from serving in these unit, but the fact remains that men who have actually been in these units are not calling for women even to share the burden in the infantry. If anything, they would call for stronger restrictions on what men are allowed to be in the infantry. Barely a current or former infantryman exists who, weighed down by a machine gun, a tripod, water, ammunition, a base plate or tube for a mortar (Can't assume that all mortarmen are uninjured), optical equipment, radios, and more, did not have thoughts of dropping out of a formation due to exhaustion while simply moving the distance from Point A to Point B.
The reason that he did not was that his body has the ability to be pushed physically by his will to continue.
A person, even one who starts out in great physical shape, may have all the right intentions to push on, but if the body does not have the tools to do so, it will fail.
I served both in units that allowed females and those that did not. The women, although in good shape and spirits, simply did not posses the ability to perform this type of heavy manual labor that was required. The only people whom I have witnessed calling for such a move are those who have not been in that environment.
Today we define things from the outside. We decide things are what we would prefer they be.
An interesting note is that I have heard isolated support for allowances of this type from some civilian police officers. It is a known fact that females do indeed make fine law enforcement officers; especially since the days of needing the 6' 4" 220 lb Sheriff/Cop are long gone. Our tools, which include tasers, pepper spray, and vastly improved radio communications have eliminated much of the advantages of the big guys in this case.
Some cops who have never been in the military though, tend to heap much importance on their work tasks and thus equate their work more or less with that of infantry soldiers (This is particularly true with SWAT personnel). They move and communicate tactically, shoot military-type weapons, stay in better physical condition, etc. The similarities stop at that point. From there the infantryman picks up a long, extremely physically demanding grind of heavy and extended work that taxes every guy until he needs to call upon himself to continue, even if it is to avoid being ostracized by his peers for failing to keep up.
As societies become more safe and secure, one of the results is that women begin to demand to be allowed to everything that the boys can do. For most jobs, that works out well and fine. Few would hold that women cannot drive trucks, do tree cutting, roofing, sanitation removal, or any other civilian jobs.
Fighting, especially when it is done within the context of killing or destroying an enemy force's ability to destroy you, is an entirely different matter
When we begin to presume that the current level of security that we enjoy one that we have created as a result of years of technological and material superiority will continue forever, we paint ourselves into a dangerous corner.
Men's bodies are capable of shouldering much heavier burdens for long periods of time than are women. They have a much more aggressive, fighting-oriented mindset. This is of course partially due to environmental/cultural factors, but it is also a natural result of the male mind, which is formed by male hormones. When a man engages the enemy, he does it in a ruthless manner with the intention of killing him. This mindset is essentially foreign to that of a woman. The reason that men have borne the burden of fighting through the millennia has nothing to do with a “no girls allowed" mentality; the reason that women have not historically been fighters/soldiers is that they can not do the job in a manner that a guy can. Ancient societies needed soldiers that could wield clubs, swords, shields, armor, and other tools germane to those who will be either on a long campaign or sent to commit to a pitched battle. Any society that may have included women as part of its regular fighting force is no longer around. The reason for this is that any such force was annihilated in combat and therefore has been lost to history (For the record, although some ancient Iranic tribes did teach women to shoot arrows from horseback, the actual "Amazons" are an absolute myth).
An argument often employed in support of allowing women into combat roles is that we no longer have to fight with shield, sword and spear. The conclusion is that, since we now have so much heavy equipment and technology on which we can rely, brawn and killer instinct is no longer necessary.
Such a position leaves out a wealth of factors.
A fighting force needs people capable not only of being able to shoulder and fire a weapon, but also those who can carry, extra ammunition, body armor, communications gear, sufficient quantities of water, tripods for machine guns and base plates for mortars, etc., and still be able to relentlessly deliver aimed fire at their opponents for sustained periods of time.
Another factor not taken into account by the "girls are as good as boys" mentality is that nothing guarantees that any fighting force will always be able to operate in the manner in which they expected the operation to proceed. Sure, we have tanks, armored personnel; carriers, etc, but what happens of an enemy force of substantial size is able to approach one's position and attack at close quarters? When something like this occurs, being able to shoot a weapon like it is done at a rifle range or other training conditions is only a small part of what is now needed. The enemy must be repelled by vicious and terribly violent actions that are both physically and mentally exhausting. Not only must one be able to shoot, move and communicate while carrying his rifle, he may also have to pick up a machine gun, move it to another position, set it up, and have it delivering fire in a matter of seconds. We cannot ignore the possibility that the battle will turn into a matter of who can kill whom when ammunition is not longer available. At that point, swinging rifles and the utilization bayonets, knives, entrenching tools, and axes/tomahawks are what will make the difference.
Men are also much less likely to falter on a psychological level in combat. No one claims that men never suffer form Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The difference is that a man's mind is programmed to override the otherwise overwhelming fear during a high-stress situation. It is far more likely that a man, when faced with the powerful fear of being killed, will immediately be able to turn the switch and convert that fear into either a resolve to kill as many of the enemy as possible or to descend into an outright rage. A related factor is that that men are much more likely to so fear the loss of respect from their peers that would result from allowing fear to impair the ability to "keep up" in a fight that one, who would otherwise run away, will stand and fight with a fury to avoid having to be ashamed when faced with his teammates after a battle.
Even the normally mundane task of staffing a guard post at a checkpoint can turn into a maelstrom of hectic and savage violence in a second. That checkpoint is in place for a reason; it is needed both to prevent the entrance of an enemy and to serve as an observation post from with communications can be made so that reaction forces can be deployed in the event of an attack. If we allow women in combat roles, then we must allow that there will come a time when a checkpoint with be staffed entirely or almost entirely by females. In an event such as this, we are not looking at an infantry company in which one or two female soldiers are not going to make an appreciable difference in the fighting strength if the unit. At this point, those who staff the checkpoint are the fighting unit, and there is little between them and the inner perimeter of a military unit. That position must be defended with a ferocity, the nature of which is almost unimaginable. Are to assume that a force comprised of, say, experienced Taliban fighters, will be held off by females for a sufficient amount of time to deploy a reaction force to the threatened area?
The problem that we face is one inherent in political correctness. We are supposed to be so afraid of the social stigma of being branded a sexist that we bite our tongues when topics such as this arise.
Those in decision and policy-making positions at the Pentagon are going to have to be honest with themselves and the American public. War fighting, and the preparation for the same, is not a forum into which we can bring the “everyone gets a trophy” idea. If female soldiers want to be foolish enough to pretend that they are being unfairly discriminated against, then they need to be reminded do the facts. A Military is formed with the purpose of being able to destroy wither the entire enemy force or severely impair its ability to damage ours. It is not a place to make people feel good or “empowered”.
As an aside, we must also note that, is females are allowed in combat roles, there will be many more female prisoners of war. It is sickening that we are so afraid of hurting feelings that we would even consider subjecting our soldiers to, not torture and rape, but mob-rape. We cannot allow the hubris of some women who affect to be unconcerned about such a possibility to influence our decisions
Captain Petronio's article:
As a company grade 1302 combat engineer officer with 5 years of active service and two combat deployments, one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan, I was able to participate in and lead numerous combat operations. In Iraq as the II MEF Director, Lioness Program, I served as a subject matter expert for II MEF, assisting regimental and battalion commanders on ways to integrate female Marines into combat operations. I primarily focused on expanding the mission of the Lioness Program from searching females to engaging local nationals and information gathering, broadening the ways females were being used in a wide variety of combat operations from census patrols to raids. In Afghanistan I deployed as a 1302 and led a combat engineer platoon in direct support of Regimental Combat Team 8, specifically operating out of the Upper Sangin Valley. My platoon operated for months at a time, constructing patrol bases (PBs) in support of 3d Battalion, 5th Marines; 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; 2d Reconnaissance Battalion; and 3d Battalion, 4th Marines. This combat experience, in particular, compelled me to raise concern over the direction and overall reasoning behind opening the 03XX field.
Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality. Shockingly, this isn’t even a congressional agenda. This issue is being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS). Their mission is to advise the Department of Defense (DoD) on recommendations, as well as matters of policy, pertaining to the well-being of women in the Armed Services from recruiting to employment. Members are selected based on their prior military experience or experience with women’s workforce issues. I certainly applaud and appreciate DACOWITS’ mission; however, as it pertains to the issue of women in the infantry, it’s very surprising to see that none of the committee members are on active duty or have any recent combat or relevant operational experience relating to the issue they are attempting to change. I say this because, at the end of the day, it’s the active duty servicemember who will ultimately deal with the results of their initiatives, not those on the outside looking in. As of now, the Marine Corps hasn’t been directed to integrate, but perhaps the Corps is anticipating the inevitable—DoD pressuring the Corps to comply with DACOWITS’ agenda as the Army has already “rogered up” to full integration. Regardless of what the Army decides to do, it’s critical to emphasize that we are not the Army; our operational speed and tempo, along with our overall mission as the Nation’s amphibious force-in-readiness, are fundamentally different than that of our sister Service. By no means is this distinction intended as disrespectful to our incredible Army. My main point is simply to state that the Marine Corps and the Army are different; even if the Army ultimately does fully integrate all military occupational fields, that doesn’t mean the Corps should follow suit.
I understand that there are female servicemembers who have proven themselves to be physically, mentally, and morally capable of leading and executing combat-type operations; as a result, some of these Marines may feel qualified for the chance of taking on the role of 0302. In the end, my main concern is not whether women are capable of conducting combat operations, as we have already proven that we can hold our own in some very difficult combat situations; instead, my main concern is a question of longevity. Can women endure the physical and physiological rigors of sustained combat operations, and are we willing to accept the attrition and medical issues that go along with integration?
As a young lieutenant, I fit the mold of a female who would have had a shot at completing IOC, and I am sure there was a time in my life where I would have volunteered to be an infantryman. I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007. I completed Officer Candidates School (OCS) ranked 4 of 52 candidates, graduated 48 of 261 from TBS, and finished second at MOS school. I also repeatedly scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests (for example, earning a 292 out of 300 on the Marine physical fitness test). Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry. I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.
I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load, I was diagnosed with a severe case of restless leg syndrome. My spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. While this injury has certainly not been enjoyable, Iraq was a pleasant experience compared to the experiences I endured during my deployment to Afghanistan. At the beginning of my tour in Helmand Province, I was physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations in the heart of Sangin, one of the most kinetic and challenging AOs in the country. There were numerous occasions where I was sent to a grid coordinate and told to build a PB [Patrol Base] from the ground up, serving not only as the mission commander but also the base commander until the occupants (infantry units) arrived 5 days later. In most of these situations, I had a sergeant as my assistant commander, and the remainder of my platoon consisted of young, motivated NCOs.[Non-Commissioned Officers (Corporals and Sergeants)] I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.
By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy [This appears to be opposite of atrophy from under-use] in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. 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, and the construction of 18 PBs later, 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.
There is a drastic shortage of historical data on female attrition or medical ailments of women who have executed sustained combat operations. This said, we need only to review the statistics from our entry-level schools to realize that there is a significant difference in the physical longevity between male and female Marines. At OCS the attrition rate for female candidates in 2011 was historically low at 40 percent, while the male candidates attrite at a much lower rate of 16 percent. Of candidates who were dropped from training because they were injured or not physically qualified, females were breaking at a much higher rate than males, 14 percent versus 4 percent. The same trends were seen at TBS in 2011; the attrition rate for females was 13 percent versus 5 percent for males, and 5 percent of females were found not physically qualified compared with 1 percent of males. Further, both of these training venues have physical fitness standards that are easier for females; at IOC there is one standard regardless of gender. The attrition rate for males attending IOC in 2011 was 17 percent. Should female Marines ultimately attend IOC, we can expect significantly higher attrition rates and long-term injuries for women.
There have been many working groups and formal discussions recently addressing what changes would be necessary to the current IOC period of instruction in order to accommodate both genders without producing an underdeveloped or incapable infantry officer. Not once was the word “lower” used, but let’s be honest, “modifying” a standard so that less physically or mentally capable individuals (male or female) can complete a task is called “lowering the standard”! The bottom line is that the enemy doesn’t discriminate, rounds will not slow down, and combat loads don’t get any lighter, regardless of gender or capability. Even more so, the burden of command does not diminish for a male or female; a leader must gain the respect and trust of his/her Marines in combat. Not being able to physically execute to the standards already established at IOC, which have been battle tested and proven, will produce a slower operational speed and tempo resulting in increased time of exposure to enemy forces and a higher risk of combat injury or death. For this reason alone, I would ask everyone to step back and ask themselves, does this integration solely benefit the individual or the Marine Corps as a whole, as every leader’s focus should be on the needs of the institution and the Nation, not the individual?
Which leads one to really wonder, what is the benefit of this potential change? The Marine Corps is not in a shortage of willing and capable young male second lieutenants who would gladly take on the role of infantry officers. In fact we have men fighting to be assigned to the coveted position of 0302. In 2011, 30 percent of graduating TBS lieutenants listed infantry in their top three requested MOSs. Of those 30 percent, only 47 percent were given the MOS. On the other hand, perhaps this integration is an effort to remove the glass ceiling that some observers feel exists for women when it comes to promotions to general officer ranks. Opening combat arms MOSs, particularly the infantry, such observers argue, allows women to gain the necessary exposure of leading Marines in combat, which will then arguably increase the chances for female Marines serving in strategic leadership assignments. As stated above, I have full faith that female Marines can successfully serve in just about every MOS aside from the infantry. Even if a female can meet the short-term physical, mental, and moral leadership requirements of an infantry officer, by the time that she is eligible to serve in a strategic leadership position, at the 20-year mark or beyond, there is a miniscule probability that she’ll be physically capable of serving at all. Again, it becomes a question of longevity.
Despite my personal opinion regarding the incorporation of females into the infantry community, I am not blind to the fact that females play a key role in countering the gender and cultural barriers we are facing at war, and we do have a place in combat operations. As such, a potential change that I do recommend considering strongly for female Marine officers is to designate a new secondary MOS (0305) for a Marine serving as female engagement team (FET) officer in charge (OIC). 0305s would be employed in the same way we employ drill instructors, as we do not need an enduring FET entity but an existing capability able to stand up based on operational requirements. Legitimizing a program that is already operational in the Corps would greatly benefit both the units utilizing FETs and the women who serve as FET OICs. Unfortunately, FET OICs today are not properly screened and trained for this mission. I propose that those being considered for FET OIC be prescreened and trained through a modified IOC with an appropriately adjusted physical expectation. FET OICs need to better understand the infantry culture and mindset and work with their 0302 brethren to incorporate FET assistance during specific phases of operations to properly prepare them to serve as the subject matter experts to a regimental- or battalion-level infantry commander. Through joint OIC training, both 0302s and FET OICs can start to learn how to integrate capabilities and accomplish their mission individually and collectively. This, in my mind, is a much more viable, cost-effective solution, with high reward for the Marine Corps and the Nation, and it will also directly improve the capabilities of FET OICs.
Finally, what are the Marine Corps standards, particularly physical fitness standards, based on—performance and capability or equality? We abide by numerous discriminators, such as height and weight standards. As multiple Marine Corps Gazette articles have highlighted, Marines who can run first-class physical fitness tests and who have superior MOS proficiency are separated from the Service if they do not meet the Marine Corps’ height and weight standards. Further, tall Marines are restricted from flying specific platforms, and color blind Marines are faced with similar restrictions. We recognize differences in mental capabilities of Marines when we administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and use the results to eliminate/open specific fields. These standards are designed to ensure safety, quality, and the opportunity to be placed in a field in which one can sustain and succeed.
Which once again leads me, as a ground combat-experienced female Marine Corps officer, to ask, what are we trying to accomplish by attempting to fully integrate women into the infantry? For those who dictate policy, changing the current restrictions associated with women in the infantry may not seem significant to the way the Marine Corps operates. I vehemently disagree; this potential change will rock the foundation of our Corps for the worse and will weaken what has been since 1775 the world’s most lethal fighting force. In the end, for DACOWITS and any other individual or organization looking to increase opportunities for female Marines, I applaud your efforts and say thank you. However, for the long-term health of our female Marines, the Marine Corps, and U.S. national security, steer clear of the Marine infantry community when calling for more opportunities for females. Let’s embrace our differences to further hone in on the Corps’ success instead of dismantling who we are to achieve a political agenda. Regardless of the outcome, we will be “Semper Fidelis” and remain focused on our mission to protect and defend the United States of America."