Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Women in the Infantry - Not a Good Idea

H/T Mustang (See sidebar for blog Links)

By Lieutenant General Gregory S. Newbold, USMC (Retired)

Spoiler Alert.  While the issue of women serving in the infantry of our Armed Forces is still officially open to review, the fix is already in and the issue has been decided.  The outcome is revealed below, but first some background…

In 2012, Leon Panetta (who served only nineteen months as the Secretary of Defense), announced just before his departure that all military occupations – including those which involve direct ground combat – would be open to women, thereby reversing not only 240 years of U.S. policy, but the lessons derived from thousands of years of warfare. 

Importantly, but almost as an afterthought, Secretary Panetta offered a caveat -- “If we find that the assignment of women in a specific position or occupation is in conflict with our stated principles, we will request an exception to policy.”  The stated principles included, “Ensuring the success of our Nation’s warfighting forces by preserving unit readiness, cohesion, and morale.”  The tone of the edict, though, was clearly opposed to this option, and the burden of high proof placed on those whose long experience might suggest another outcome.

A matter of such consequence to the security of our country deserves more engagement than by a single political appointee, even if endorsed by a President.  In fact, the Constitution of the United States (in Article I, Section 8), stipulates that it is the legislative branch that shall have the power, “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces.”  This latter body, though (other than some whose shrill voices belies their lack of military experience), has been notably quiescent and has deferred to the judgment of this longtime politician and transitory occupant of the Defense Department. 

The American people -- largely informed by Hollywood fantasy and outlets biased in favor of Panetta’s measure -- are perhaps tone deaf, because they have been deceived by clever re-crafting of the issue.  To them, the issue has long been resolved because, “Aren’t women already in combat?”  (Yes, and performing very well, but the issue is women in the infantry.  Think “hand-to-hand combat,” and you’ll have a better title).  And, “If they can meet the physical standards, why not?”  (Physical requirements are well less than half of the important ingredients in the fighting power of a unit.  Fighting spirit is far greater in importance, and cohesion sapping sexual dynamics will be compounded exponentially in the remote and incredibly harsh environments of the infantry.  If Ivy League campuses can’t control these dynamics, how it can it be less so in the most primitive of human conditions?).  Or, “Warfare has changed, and it’s largely technology that will determine how we fight” (A statement repeated since the time of chariots, and refuted emphatically through today’s conflicts).  And, finally, “Other countries are already doing it, aren’t they?”  (Grossly exaggerated and not relevant to a nation with global commitments.  Beyond the hyperbole of these claims, they also don’t accommodate the emerging insistence by the issue’s champions that “fairness” [an odd word when applied to infantry combat] requires that integrated units must contain at least 20% women.)  Marketing wins over truth, and volume over logic.

Think of this.  While the American public would rise in outrage and incredulity if the government were to require the NFL to lower standards to force inclusion of women to 25% of their favorite team, they sleep through an issue whose outcome will have such grave influence on our national security.

The clock for seeking theoretical exemptions is ticking down, and while the two services most relevant to this issue faithfully test for quantifiable evidence of the impact of inclusion, the fix is already in.  The fix is in, because the decision has nothing to do with the readiness of the Armed Forces, but is solely about politics.  And politics on this issue is intimidated by those with the loudest voices and least experience or measured by those who count votes over principle and national security.  Pogo was right…“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Kid again:  If you're not convinced, read this short take by Ryan Smith - The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat from the WSJ

In case the article disappears, here it is.

America has been creeping closer and closer to allowing women in combat, so Wednesday's news that the decision has now been made is not a surprise. It appears that female soldiers will be allowed on the battlefield but not in the infantry. Yet it is a distinction without much difference: Infantry units serve side-by-side in combat with artillery, engineers, drivers, medics and others who will likely now include women. The Pentagon would do well to consider realities of life in combat as it pushes to mix men and women on the battlefield.
Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war.
Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.
U.S. Marines rest in an amphibious assault vehicle.ENLARGE
U.S. Marines rest in an amphibious assault vehicle. REUTERS
I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.
Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.
Despite the professionalism of Marines, it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. In the reverse, it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable and awkward position. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms.
Mr. Smith served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq. He is now an attorney.
 Women in military - Yes, Infantry? No.


  1. Even more confusing is the entry of "trans-gendered" troops (are there really that many who want in?).
    And of course there's always this:
    "OK, i need someone to take that hill under withering MG fire. Ugly John, you stay here and cover Suzy Q and Blondie. Good luck girls."
    Think that would happen?

    1. ED, the percentage of situations where this would add anything positive is so miniscule (2 women have completed 2 of 3 trials for Army Ranger) as to not be beneficial because it draws so many women into the situation who will fail, OR cause standards to be reduced and cause the team they are with to fail. Ain't worth it. Ain't worth it. Girls - Ladies - Badass Ladies.. Don't like that you can't be military Infantry? Too bad. Many people can't be many things. Suck it up and move on.

    2. But my point was that the sentiment of the NCO might be to protect the cute young things at the expense of the other grunts.
      I also suspect that with homosexual soldiers, should Sarge be of that persuasion.

    3. Ed, Agreed. It takes a man out of the fight.

  2. I'm OK with this insanity so long as ALL women have to register for the draft and Selective Service when they turn 18 too.....just like the guys. Now...that's equality. Now...the first time a woman comes home in pieces in a body bag or captured and our enemies never heard of let alone comply with the Geneva convention...we'll see Clinton, Boxer and Feinstein ask for an exemption. This is a war for women...not against them. Like the puss bucket Clinton claims.

    1. IMP, A righteous idea if the draft were to be reinstated. And as I always say, there Is No War on Women in the USA.
      Isn't it a pain in the ass to be constantly surrounded by bullshit?
      You know it will be Bush's fault.

    2. IMP, Are people still required to register for selective service today? If so, I completely lost track of that.

    3. Yes indeedy...they sure are. Men only of course.

    4. But "The Draft" no longer exists. I believe it was NIXON who eliminated it. That's a long time ago.

    5. But the Selective Service still does.
      I had a draft number of 36.
      Nixon ended the draft (while I was in training) at 32.
      I was a draft dodger. I had joined the Air Force.

    6. Ed, When I was 17, my draft lottery number was 364, When I was 18, it was 309. When I was 19 and eligible, it was 5. I got a letter the day after the lottery was on TV.

      Because I have all sorts of metal in my left leg from a motorcycle accident when I was 16, i was classified 4F.

  3. The geniuses behind this are a group of women who belong to what is called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS). These ladies are quite often the wives of high ranking government officials, which may include the wife of the Secretary of the Army and all of her bridge pals. And they troop around the US at government expense and talk to testosterone centric females about such things as equal treatment, equal access to the NCO club, condoms in the ladies room, and stuff like that. Oh, and whether anyone discriminates against them.

    Then the ladies go back to Washington, formulate their ideas, and submit them to the Department of Defense. And then the ladies hound their husbands until the husbands finally agree to implement their dumb-ass recommendations and when they do, the ladies feel good about themselves and live happily ever after. Meanwhile, young women suffer severe stress fractures of their bodies because they aren’t really men, no matter how much testosterone they have in their systems, and the nation over all is placed at greater risk.

    The focus of our national attention should be what is best for America, over that which is good for ego sensitive manly girls.

    1. Do you get the impression that most of these hyper-aggreessive females may be lesbians, Mustang? A great number of homosexuals –– women AND men –– get married more for convenience and gaining acceptable social status than love.

    2. Mustang. GENERALLY speaking, women getting involved in logical/mechanical/legislative things has not been good for America. GENERALLY speaking, women operate under the primary motivation ruled by emotion. This is great for family units and motherhood but disasterous for things that I will loosely describe as involving the ice cold vermin of our world. There can be no emotion when dealing with such evil, only steely eyed frosty killing of the evil. There is no time to wonder or empathize with what evil's motivation might have been. Who cares. Kill it and move on.

  4. Not only do women not belong in combat units, they don't belong in uniform, period.

    Politically incorrect, oh well. I served on active duty in a rear-echelon job (military intel) for 10 years in the 1970's and 1980s, and these years were the beginning era of opening up non-combat military occupations to women.

    It was bad then, it is bad now, it will always be bad. The dynamics between young men and young women (no old people in the army among the lower enlisted folk, which comprise 90% of armed forces personnel) are the same as they have been in every walk of life since antiquity: men compete for the affections of women. Accordingly, women KNOW this. And women in the uniformed services use this knowledge to advance their own agendas. They get out of hard duty in any number of womanly ways: bat the eyes at the right guy, and BINGO, no guard duty. Sleep with the right guy and BINGO: promoted? Who knew? Get the right two guys competing for her affections, and things only go well for the gal. And in all cases, things don't go nearly as well for the guys. Double their guard duty, forget those promotions based on merit, none of that.

    And if things start going badly for gals? Fall out, and go on sick call. Get a 'profile' which excuses the gal from any bad duty. And if things really are not working for the gal in uniform, simply get pregnant, and then the duty gets way better. No scummy details for pregnant soldiers, no siree Bob.

    And the morale of units will lots of these conniving females goes right to shit. The males do all the dirty work, the females get all the good stuff. And don't think the males don't notice this. The roster remains the same, but with the gals pulling only a tiny portion of their weight, the remaining mission remains, and its the guys that have to buck up and over compensate for the slacking females.

    They are just forbidden from saying so. Now that I am no longer in uniform, I have no such restrictions.

    Women in uniform are a detriment to any uniformed service they 'serve.'

    Take that to the bank, Kid.

    1. "And if things really are not working for the gal in uniform, simply get pregnant, and then the duty gets way better..."

      Not only "better"...they get out of the military with all the benefits and draw bucks from the taxpayers. Women cops....fire fighters.....same thing there. It's disruptive and distracting. With my own eyes in my town....when I see a female cop do a pullover...there's 2 male cops to back her up.

    2. Impertinent: ditto in the military. If Sarge wants somebody to set up the Colonel's tent, he can do it one of two ways: send one guy to do it, or send two females and one guy. Either way seems to get the job done.

    3. Fredd, I have seen what you're talking about in action. Same as it ever was.

  5. Even the Chinese are having problems with their female throwing abilities...


  6. I'm too vain to do that.........I look into that amphibious assault vehicle and think "No way would I let THOSE hunks see me with absolutely no makeup!' ;-)

    There's MY very erudite comment on this situation. (it's all been said anyway.....women need to do something else.....STAY OUT OF THE INFANTRY...take desk jobs ...which frees good men up to FIGHT...they don't mind looking dirty and wearing green all the time :-)

    1. During WW2...women made some of the greatest, best ferry pilots of all time. Surely they can do that again?

    2. IMP, Women during WWII made fantastic contributions, Rosie the Riveter, Intelligence operators in the UK. Just not Infantry.

    3. Kid: yes, there were a minority of women who stepped up, and got the job done. BUT: for every one Rosie the Riveter, there were perhaps THREE Suzie the Slackers, who called in sick, flirted with the riveting supervisor to get whatever bennies could be had doing so, etc. And I worked with intel operators, Kid. Yes, a few women were an asset to the unit. A FEW. NOT MOST. Intel operators are needed on the midnight shift, the shittiest shift, and guess who seems to be 'manning' those slots almost exclusively? You guessed it. Guys. The gals would be batting their big baby blues at Sarge, and good ol' Sarge aimed to please, and assigning the gals all day shifts, so that he could properly supervise them, you see. It's just the way it is.

      And that's not even arguable.

    4. Fredd....they need to feed these horny dogs more salt peter to keep their peters in check?

    5. Fredd, would I argue with YOU? No way man.

  7. A short while back, I posted this on my Facebook page when Mustang alerted me to this essay.

    Not a single comment at FB! Whassup with that?

    1. AOW, My opinion is that the vast majority of America doesn't understand or give a shit about the military or any of its members.

  8. __DEADLY CONSEQUENCES__ How Cowards Are Pushing
    Women Into Combat___written by Robert L. Maginnis (Lt. Col. U.S.Army -Ret.) and a West Point Grad- I might add -
    I own this excellent book and highly recommend it to all who love the truth--