Females in the Infantry? Er…Yes, actually.

Women grunts – you know we’ve argued THAT back and forth. Lots of people pontificate about the idea, from infantrymen to Congresswomen to journalists ad nauseum. You know who we haven’t heard from? A FEMALE INFANTRYMAN – infantryman used intentionally.

Let’s change that.  Oh and remember – we’re trying to have a dialectic discussion here. If you’re just wanting to stir up fuckery, then pick up and move on, don’t waste our damn time. It’s okay to disagree. Hell, this one has our own minions arguing.  Mad Duo

Grunts: dialectic. You’re welcome.

Females in the infantry? Yes.

Chris Hernandez

Over the last several years we’ve had much debate on the topic of women in the infantry. Support for the idea comes from many military women, some of whom, like the Lionesses of the Marine Corps and the Special Forces “enablers”, were embedded with infantry units. Some women in non-combat units who were occasionally on combat missions have also spoken out in favor of allowing women into the infantry.

Unfortunately, support also comes from ignorant morons who never served, would never serve, don’t know anyone who serves, and view military gender integration as a social justice cause. They make stupid statements like “The military has finally recognized that there are no lines or drawn battlefields anymore where they could put the ‘girls’ in the rear. If you carry a weapon, you are in the thick of it.”

Yes, some moron on the Huffington Post actually said that.

A few female combat veterans have spoken out against the idea, including Marine Captain Katie Petronio. She described the physical damage she suffered while working with infantry units, and strongly criticized the federal government’s Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service, which was pushing women into combat arms. “…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.”

We’ve also heard from long-time infantrymen, many of whom oppose giving women even the opportunity to test for combat arms. They and others see the whole idea as “nothing but trouble”. Many veterans, particularly (though by no means exclusively) Cold War-era vets, seem to be dead set against any type of military gender integration, on any level.

I’ve spoken on the subject as well. My take was, allow women into the infantry, but only if they pass a screening test beforehand. And no matter what, don’t lower the standards. But my opinion only means so much. Although I’m a combat veteran, I was never infantry.

So everyone seems to be talking about women in infantry. Everyone except women who were infantry, and who actually were in combat.

Yes, they do exist.

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I was recently introduced online to a woman who served seven years as a Danish Army infantry soldier and deployed to Kosovo and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan she was a rifleman (her word), Carl Gustav recoilless rifle gunner and team leader. That role is roughly equivalent to a fire team leader, but with three soldiers instead of four; her role as fire team leader also made her assistant squad leader. She was in multiple firefights, had casualties in her platoon, and carried her load alongside everyone else. She’s also an American citizen, born here but raised in Denmark. She has plenty of actual infantry combat experience, and understands American culture. Her opinions on this subject deserve to be heard.

At this point, I’m sure some readers are walking away in disgust at the very idea that a woman could be infantry. See you guys later, hope you open your mind someday. On the other side of the debate, “social justice warriors” who know nothing at all about the military won’t read past the last paragraph before proclaiming, “See? Women are the same as men! Open the infantry to all women, you cismale gendernormative fascists!” Well, screw you simpleminded “I put lofty ideals over reality” idiots.

Some readers are skeptical about women in the infantry, but willing to listen to opposing views. Those are the people I’m trying to reach.

I’d like to introduce you open-minded readers to our Danish female infantry combat vet. She’s chosen to remain anonymous, so I’ll call her “Mary”. Mary has moved on from combat arms, and isn’t trying to become the spokesperson for women in the infantry. She’s just a proud infantry combat vet who agreed to talk about her experience.

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I’ve spent hours talking to Mary online and on Skype. Like most infantry soldiers, she’s crude, crass and fun to talk with. Her language probably draws horrified stares when she’s around polite company (she really likes making penis jokes). She’s intelligent and has a quick wit. And no, she’s not a “big-boned” butch lesbian with a crew cut and mustache. She’s straight, married to a man she met in the army, and is pretty much the beautiful blond goddess Americans imagine all Scandinavian women to be.

Mary’s first deployment was to Kosovo, as a peacekeeper in the Mitrovica region. Kosovo experiences periodic unrest, but Mary didn’t see any combat there. Afghanistan, of course, was different.

Mary’s company went to Helmand Province in 2009 for a six-month deployment. She was in a sister company to the Danish troops in the documentary Armadillo, which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. Helmand Province back then, as now, was no joke. When she returned to Helmand in 2011, it wasn’t any safer.

Mary sweeping for IEDs in Helmand Province
Mary sweeping for IEDs in Helmand Province

Mary wasn’t a hero, and doesn’t claim to have done anything more than her job. But that job was to be a real infantry soldier. Even though she’s a woman (a female woman!), she somehow pulled it off.

I’m going to identify the most common questions and objections raised when we discuss females in combat arms, then let Mary give her opinion on each one. Where applicable, my own observations and opinions will be included and will be clearly identified as such.

“Women aren’t physically capable of serving in the infantry.”

Denmark has a conscript army. Draftees have to serve at least four months, just long enough for basic training. Females aren’t subject to conscription but are welcome to volunteer. Mary joined the army at twenty-two and was in an infantry basic training platoon with thirty males and ten females. She made it through with no issues, along with five other females. Two females dropped due to medical problems and two quit (volunteers are allowed to quit, draftees aren’t).

“After those four months, if you pass with a high enough score, you can opt for ‘real’ military training,” Mary said. “After the conscript period, out of 400 conscripts, about 100 of us stayed on for what they call Reaction Force Training, which is a short-term contract where you train for eight months and then deploy to Kosovo or Afghanistan.”

Of the six females in her platoon who graduated basic, Mary and two others chose to stay infantry. But she was quick to point out that Denmark’s standards for infantry were nothing to brag about when she joined.

“Back then, our PT standards were a shambles. You had to pass a two-mile run in fifteen minutes, and do some pushups and situps. There was no special test for infantry, pretty much anyone could do it. Since Denmark really started contributing to the War on Terror, we’ve raised the standards quite a bit for combat arms. And the standards are the same for males and females.”

Mary participating in a biathlon
Mary participating in a biathlon

Mary spent the Kosovo deployment working out, which prepared her for Afghanistan. “I wasn’t in great shape before I joined the army. Since then I’ve gotten much better, although I’m still better at strength tests than running.” In Afghanistan her combat load, depending on whether she was acting as rifleman, team leader or Carl Gustav gunner, averaged about eighty pounds. According to Mary, she had no issue humping her ruck, never fell out of a march, and never had to pass off her gear to anyone else. Not even when she was carrying the twenty-one pound Gustav.

Mary firing her Carl Gustav during at a FOB range
Mary firing her Carl Gustav during at a FOB range

Most missions in Afghanistan last no longer than a day. Mary never had to hump a 100+ pound ruck for days or weeks at a time. She was quick to point out that she was mechanized infantry, and even on nine-day missions always had an M113 close by. Those who oppose women in the infantry will likely claim that humping eighty pounds on an eight-hour patrol is “easy” compared to the multi-day slogs with over 100 pounds grunts have endured in training and past wars.

True enough. But that’s not the standard for passing infantry school. If that’s the standard we want to maintain, then hold male infantrymen to it as well. I imagine our infantry units would lose quite a few male troops if we did.

“Males and females are physiologically different, and should be separated in the military just like they are in sports.”

Part of the argument against females in the infantry focuses on physiological differences between males and females. The best female athlete can’t compete with the best male athlete, the average woman isn’t as strong as the average male. Genders are separated in professional sports and the Olympics. That’s all true. Mary has, I think, a realistic answer to that.

“People always point to the separate male and female leagues in sports, which is a valid point — it is biology — but infantry isn’t the major leagues, SOF is. Obviously we’d love to have all our infantrymen consist of 6’5″ super-athletes, but it’s not realistic. If you’re letting in small guys who barely pass the standards, what’s the compelling argument for keeping women out?

“And the ‘I’m 3000 pounds with all my gear on, how is Sally Cheerleader going to drag my ass out of the line of fire’ argument? Jesus. EVERY platoon has at least one or two guys no one else can carry. We had one huge motherfucker that needed three to just pull him out of an APC. So is there gonna be an upper size limit, too? Some guys were so tall, they got back problems from sitting in a cramped APC. Everyone’s got their cross to carry. Everyone comes with benefits and drawbacks.”

Mary's artwork, showing a Danish infantrywoman during a short break on patrol
Mary’s artwork, showing a Danish infantrywoman during a short break on patrol

I know a 5’4” airborne infantryman. When he graduated from infantry school he weighed 117 pounds and is maybe 130 now. With gear, he would weigh around 200. If he had to evacuate another geared-up soldier, even if the soldier was just as small, he’d still have to move about 275 pounds. It’s highly doubtful he could evacuate a casualty on his own, but nobody is talking about banning him from the infantry because of his size. And I’ve known other combat arms soldiers smaller than that. Nothing qualified them for combat arms other than their gender.

But women who prove their physical capabilities are still banned. That doesn’t make sense to me.

“Females have a higher incidence of injuries in combat.”

Based on Mary’s experience, this doesn’t apply to all women. She’s had some issues, but nothing worse than what a typical male in the infantry will suffer.

“My feet have always been my weak point, apparently. Had plantar fasciitis after my first combat tour, got over that; had some issues with the ball of my right foot after my second tour. They’re okay now, but it tends to flare up every once in a while. Other than that I’ve been stupid lucky. Never really suffered many injuries — sprained an ankle once, had some wrist pain for a while, bruised a rib. The insides of my big toes are basically numb, but that happened straight out of basic and never went away. Crap issued boots. Tore my rotator cuff a month ago, but that was after I left the infantry. Go figure.”

Mary carrying her company's guideon on the Nijmegen March, a 4-day, 160 km road march commemorating Operation Market-Garden in Holland
Mary carrying her company’s guideon on the Nijmegen March, a 4-day, 160 km road march commemorating Operation Market-Garden in Holland

But objective data is objective data. If there is conclusive proof that infantry life is physically harder on women than men, it can’t be ignored. Mary just hasn’t experienced it, or seen it in the handful of other female infantry soldiers she served with. “I’ve read all the studies and data about women and high incidences of physical injuries,” Mary said, “and I don’t really know what to think.”

“Females will have hygiene problems in the field.”

According to some, women are at much greater risk of getting sick from the inherently unsanitary conditions of the battlefield. Newt Gingrich once famously said, “Females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days because they get infections.” Mary spent a lot of time in muddy Afghan ditches, but never got an infection.

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“I get so sick of that getting trotted out every single time by people who don’t know how vaginas work. I just … agh, I don’t know what all these ‘infections’ are I’m supposed to be getting. Urinary tract infections? Thrush? Lice? Without getting too vulgar, I dipped my cooch in more Afghan ditch-water than you can shake a stick at, and I didn’t even get a fungal infection. My FEET sure did, but the lady garden’s pretty self-cleaning apparently.”

Mary dipping something into Afghan ditch water
Mary dipping something into Afghan ditch water

But what about women not being able to manage their periods in combat? “I never had mine in Afghanistan, so I don’t know if that’s cheating. I have a hormonal IUD, and period stoppage is apparently a very common side effect. Besides, I wanted some kind of long-term solution in place in case of a POW situation. But if you do have periods? Tampons. Baby wipes. It’s not rocket science. I’ve changed tampons on exercise. They just go in the same hole in the ground as everything else.”

She did, however, concede one serious danger about female biology in combat: “The Taliban are like bears, they can smell period blood.”

“If females were in an infantry unit, they’d have to have completely separate sleeping areas and latrines.”

Back in the good old days when I joined (late 80’s), females were treated like an endangered species who had to be kept as far from scumbag enlisted males as possible. Young male soldiers were threatened with legal punishment and/or physical brutality for going too close to the forbidden female-barracks zone. I remember being shocked when I saw a group of coed medical officers sleeping in the same hooch back in 1990.

It’s not 1990 anymore.

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In Iraq at least one Marine base had a “convoy rest stop”, a big open bay full of beds where units passing through stopped for rest. There were no separate areas for females. Nobody went insane with lust. In Afghanistan I saw Civil Affairs teams, MP platoons and an engineer detachment house males and females together. Nobody went insane with lust. When our replacements arrived in Afghanistan, they had one female soldier. She slept in the same tent with all the males, with only a couple of ponchos hung for privacy. Nobody went insane with lust. I was on a French firebase in Afghanistan, and for a time males and females shared a shower tent partitioned into individual cubicles. We used the same latrines. And nobody went insane with lust.

Mary told me about an experience she had in basic training. During a river crossing exercise every soldier had to strip naked, put all their clothing into their ruck and carry it across the river, where they dried off and put their uniforms back on. They did this as a platoon, with males and females being “battle buddies” as they crossed the river. Mary remembers what her male river crossing partner said before they undressed:

“If you promise not to look at my shriveled cock, I won’t look at your boobs.”

Her response? “Deal.”

While I don’t expect that to happen in the US military (if our drill sergeants made males and females strip in front of each other, they’d be put against a wall and shot), Mary’s experience shows us that male and female soldiers can be around each other, even naked around each other in training, without losing control.

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Mary stayed with her platoon, not in separate female quarters, on both Afghanistan deployments. She thinks her willingness to share hardships with men, including their crappy quarters, helped her get accepted into infantry units. “I want to say it was the fact that I shared a tent with my squad, actually,” she said. “We live together in the field in Denmark, but during training men and women are quartered separately. My last unit, I was almost never away from my boys. Even on ranges or whatnot, usually they’d forget to book a separate room for me, and even if they did, I’d still just bunk in the same room as my platoon, because … well, they’re my platoon, where the fuck else would I be?”

And Mary doesn’t see the latrine issue as an issue at all. In the field she used a device (which she calls a “she cock”), a purpose-built plastic tube, that allows her to urinate without undressing. “It’s about the size of a dry-erase marker,” Mary said. “I kept it in a ziploc bag in my thigh pocket. It got kind of gross occasionally, but probably not more than an actual dick.” With that device she mastered the fine art of peeing while standing and in other unladylike positions. She even managed to urinate around male soldiers in some pretty difficult situations.

“Once I peed in a bottle in front of an exercise observer/controller, in a moving APC,” she remembers. “In all fairness, we’d just woken up, been activated in a hurry, and I hadn’t had my morning piss — what was I gonna do? I asked him if he was sensitive and then unzipped my pants. Then I guess I made it worse by handing the warm bottle to my platoon sergeant and asking if he needed to go, because it was still half empty. He laughed and said no, he was good.

“The controller was horrified. He was opposite me, on the gimp seat behind the driver, and he just started crawling further and further away.”

Mary is, without doubt, unique in this regard. She has no apparent issue relieving herself when and where she needs to, without being self-conscious about it. Most women wouldn’t do that. And that’s fine. Only the unique women would fit in the infantry anyway.

“Women in the infantry will have such a high pregnancy rate they’ll leave units shorthanded.”

“I’m kind of surprised pregnancies are such a huge deal in your armed forces,” Mary says. “I don’t know if it’s because we only do six month deployments. I mean, you can only get so pregnant in six months. But honestly, I’ve never even heard of anyone in the Danish Army being shipped home due to pregnancy, or having to be replaced before a deployment.”

Denmark’s army, which allows women in combat arms, apparently doesn’t have a pregnancy problem. The French army, which assigns some women to the infantry, didn’t seem to have a problem either. In the ten months I spent working with the French army in Afghanistan, I never heard of a female soldier being evacuated due to pregnancy. Yet my battalion sent home six.

The US Army doesn’t allow women into combat arms, makes concerted efforts to keep males and females separate, and even banned sex for all deployed soldiers (married couples were later allowed to have sex, and the Army eventually gave grudging permission to single soldiers). Yet we still have a pregnancy problem. Why is pregnancy a problem for us, but not for Denmark or France? Probably because we don’t allow women in combat arms, make concerted efforts to keep males and females separate, and ban sex between soldiers.

We Americans consistently refuse to acknowledge basic human needs and behavior, and stupidly think we can eliminate problems with prohibitions. Soldiers in war have always needed something to help take the edge off. Until the end of the Vietnam War, the military let soldiers blow off steam with alcohol and sex. Today, our military wants us to be chaste monks and nuns who abstain from anything that might offend someone. So we ban alcohol, sex and even pornography, force those activities underground, and pretend these bans actually accomplish something. We have senior leaders, echelons above reality, spewing ridiculous advice like “If you’re under stress you should find a productive way to relieve it, like by enrolling in an online college course” (yes, I actually heard a sergeant major say that). Yet we all know that some soldiers are drinking, having sex and watching porn.

If you’re not supposed to have sex, are you going to have birth control available? Probably not. I never saw condoms on any American base overseas, although I’ve heard some clinics had them. The French, on the other hand, always had a bucket-o-condoms sitting on their clinic’s counter. A French military doctor told me, “Our only rule about sex is, ‘be smart’.” Other than that, sex wasn’t considered the military’s concern. Denmark sounds like it has the same attitude.

“Our med center had morning after pills for the asking,” Mary said. “I was getting checked for athlete’s foot once, and there was just a freaking Tupperware box of it on a shelf. I asked, ‘Uh… do you guys need that a lot?’ The medic just shrugged and said, ‘It happens.’”

Denmark understands stressed out soldiers at war might have sex, don’t consider it evil or punishable, and take intelligent measures to avoid pregnancy. Denmark doesn’t have a pregnancy problem. America maintains ridiculous puritanical standards, clamps down on sex between soldiers, then sticks its head in the sand and acts like clamping down works. America has a pregnancy problem. Should we learn anything from these two different approaches, with their drastically different results?

Of course not. Stay the course, America. It’s been such a success so far.

But anyway, Mary’s experience with the Danish army shows that having females in the infantry beside males doesn’t automatically an equal out-of-control pregnancy rate.

“If we allow women into combat arms, we’ll have to lower the standards.”

This, I think, is a valid concern. Far too often, our Army chooses political correctness over combat effectiveness. Soldiers can be deployed downrange barely able to operate a weapon, without knowing how to call for fire or a medevac, but guaranteed to have received multiple sexual harassment briefings. My worry – shared by many – is that women will be allowed into the infantry, but only about 5% of them will pass the first integrated infantry course. The Army, of course, will worry that it appears sexist. And the second mixed class will magically have a 90% female pass rate.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Marine Corps hasn’t lowered its standards, and so far not a single female has passed the difficult infantry officer course. A handful of females have passed the enlisted infantry school, reportedly without being given any breaks. That’s how I, and Mary, believe it should be. The standards are the standards, and stay as they are.

Mary with other soldiers before a patrol. Hard to tell which one she is? That's kind of the point.
Mary with other soldiers before a patrol. Hard to tell which one she is? That’s kind of the point.

“Women can be in the Danish infantry if they pass THE standard, not an adjusted standard,” Mary says. “We’re even welcome to join our Special Forces, but no one’s passed so far. They have a pre-training course similar to Ranger school, where you get a tab, and I’ve heard of one woman passing that. They’ve just stuck to their guns with the standards, and so far no one’s been able or willing. I understand that Americans are worried that standards will be lowered, or that COs will feel compelled to look the other way and ‘pass’ substandard women in order to look good. And that’s a relevant worry. But Jesus, grow a fucking pair. Every single lowered standard or ‘benefit’ that women have ever had in the military was given to them by well-meaning, misguided men. It’s just not doing anyone any favors. I’ve heard some people argue, ‘Maybe we could lower the standards a little, just to begin with, until enough women have joined’, but that’s pure poison. Just one woman who actually passes the standards will have a much greater effect on soldiers’ opinions than five substandard women.”

Just one woman who actually passes the standards will have a much greater effect on soldiers’ opinions than five substandard women.

I can’t make the point any better than that. If we open the infantry to females, and do it right, we will likely only have a tiny number of females who are willing and able to do it. But those few women will be true warriors, who earned their right to stand and fight among their brothers and sisters.

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Mary has shown us that it’s possible for a certain type of woman to serve in the infantry. A woman who’s physically capable, isn’t overly sensitive to “harassment”, likes making penis jokes, can fling insults right back at guys who insult her, and doesn’t mind getting dirty, or getting shot at, or shooting people. There aren’t many woman like that, but they do exist.

I’m an American. I don’t believe in equality, I believe in equality of opportunity. I’m not arguing for American women’s right to be equal; who the hell wants to be equal? I want to give American women the right to prove they’re better. Not better than men, but better than anyone who can’t or won’t hack it.

Mary, a citizen of the greatest country that has ever existed, didn’t have the right in America to prove she’s better. But Denmark gave her the right. She took advantage of that right, passed THE standard, served her country as a combat infantry soldier, and will forever hold her head high because of it. She isn’t proud because she was Special Forces, or because she was so amazingly brave. She’s proud because she was just a regular Jo, who did her best. I respect her for that. And I wish America would have given her the chance to be an infantry soldier with an American flag on her shoulder, instead of a Danish flag.

And consider this: Mary is still a young woman. If she chose, she could come back to the US and join the US Army. And even with seven years of infantry experience behind her, even with two deployments as a grunt where she proved she can pull her weight under fire, she wouldn’t be allowed to even try infantry school. But a seventeen-year old, 5’4”, 110 pound male who can barely pass a PT test WOULD.

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Tell me how keeping Mary out of the infantry is fair. Or logical. Or how it helps America win wars.

breachbangclear.com_site_images_Chris_Hernandez_Author_BreachBangClear4Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris (seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LIGHT writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley and Proof of Our Resolve. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog, Iron Mike Magazine, Kit Up! and Under the Radar. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.

Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog.


Chris Hernandez has 112 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Hernandez

105 thoughts on “Females in the Infantry? Er…Yes, actually.

  • March 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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    BTW, just out of curiosity:

    How many branches of the US military are currently using a gender blind PFT standard for all of their members? I think it’s still zero.

    Why isn’t that being done FIRST and why aren’t female service members PUBLICLY DEMANDING to be measured by the same standard as men, regardless of MOS? To my knowledge, I have never read an article where I have seen a woman lead that charge. None of the politicians talking about integrated infantry are discussing that either. Why?

    That has consequences:

    Explain to me how a female is going to accept a promotion to E4 or E5 based largely on a PFT score that penalizes her male counterparts for outperforming her. I don’t know how that works out leadership wise since I was just a dumb grunt. But, in the grunts, cutting your teeth on the first rung of the leadership ladder is a sumbitch. I guess the airedales and the pogues have figured out a way to overcome the fact they are promoting under performers based on gender. Maybe they don’t care?

    Grunts care.

    They care about who picks up corporal and sergeant and they care about why they picked it up. A lot. They know that person controls their entire destiny and indeed, their life. We are knowingly handicapping women from being effective junior leaders if we do not institute gender blind PFTs (and promotions) immediately and well before we integrate the military.

    And we ought to be (hu)man enough to say “You know what? Gender blind PFTs will probably mean fewer women get promoted across the military but we are ok with that because we are in the business of defending a nation, not a demographic.”

    Reply
  • March 31, 2015 at 12:35 pm
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    It’s math. It’s always been math.All war is math.

    You find a subset of females that can perform to the existing standard. Fantastic. Draw your Venn Diagram thus: females/people who can hack it/males.

    Great. You’ve convinced me that some women are as good as men for infantry applications. Not “better than” just “as good as”. In the BEST CASE SCENARIO, the taxpayer will receive protection from an infantry that is no better than the one they have now. Fair enough?

    Now show me the cost associated with a mixed gender force versus the all male one. All the extra housing, recruiting, training for instructors, people do deal with the media, people to mediate the problems within the units and develop policy, the hand picked officers and SNCOs that will risk their careers to make this go. Everyone agrees there will be additional hard and soft costs during this transition.

    (Wait? What! Does all this additional cost occur in the mixed gender offices of disbursing and personnel? What about on ship and in the hangar? You bet. One of the single greatest problems within Navy perso today is unplanned pregnancy and single parenthood. The taxpayer in on the hook for all of that. The Pentagon has been sitting on the gender data for decades and we all pretty much can guess why. We just don’t want to admit that the we can’t afford to be “modern thinkers”.

    And at the end of this infantry exercise, no one will be able to say this new mixed gender force is any better than an all male one. Cost will be up but no one will care because America is the land of the checkbook and we can afford anything.

    Sometimes the key to rendering service to others is knowing when your service creates more headache than benefit.

    Reply
  • October 28, 2014 at 8:34 am
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    Couple points:

    1) Your comment is also anonymous.

    2) I concur that there is no logical reason to implement different support packages for the tiny number of women who would be both willing and capable. My argument is that the right women wouldn’t need different support packages.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 8:42 pm
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    An anecdotal account by an anonymous source does not a case make. I have a career of seeing women in military roles from the inside to include in SOF and my wife was an airborne qualified JAG in the 82nd Abn. (who BTW doesn’t believe women should be in the infantry) so this is not comments from the cheap seats. When it comes to women in the infantry, the idea that none of them can do it is false but the sample set of those willing is miniscule and the % of the willing that are capable is infinitely smaller. Militaries are organized and trained to fight and win wars, not as equal opportunity employers in every manner. I know some will make the “blacks were not allowed to serve for years” comment and that was based on a racist and fallacious application of race bias and not based on ability/capability. Women have overwhelmingly a severe deficit physically and that is indisputable. That cannot be discounted and physicality is the foundation of infantry operations. Do a MCCRES or ARTEP road march and see how well that ends for the women? If the military were actually an “equal opportunity employer” then you wouldn’t need a college degree to become an officer or a pilot…but you do. The reason is that historically the highest likelihood of success in the officer and officer-flight programs is overwhelmingly by college educated applicants (that was vetted in WWII when you actually could fly without a degree). To radically change the make-up of an institution and require an very different support package for commanders as well as certain social concern makes no logical sense. Why change the entire 82nd Abn or 1st Mar Div for 26 women? The cost benefit (like the rational’ for not allowing non-college educated applicants into OCS or flight school) is completely against it. The cost alone for integrating 1 in 300-500 WILL take funding and that funding will almost certainly come either directly or through a back door from training funds. It is nothing more than a social experiment and not a necessity. We don’t have a manning problem that 100 women will fix, so why create one? Men are far better suited and the system is already built and refined for them without females present. Leave it that way and spend the effort training them better.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm
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    I served at a FET member attached to an infantry battalion. I loved it. This article was such a wonderful read and very refreshing.

    I personally believe that standards should not be lowered because I know women who are capable of meet those standards. I think we can all agree that standards should remain the same. I didn’t fuck around on deployment but if I had chose to I was on birth control to avoid bleeding on missions. Weird, I know, women can plan their period? What sorcery is this? If we bring up physical restrictions I would like to point out that I am not an infantryman, but I did outruck infrantrymen. Not all men can be infantry just like not all women can be infantry. I also slept in the same room with male soldiers on missions. It was first suggested to put all the women in a room together and I refused to have a room of targets for Afghans to rape, so I insisted on men in the room, that and there was always room to keep soldiers out of elements. If we are going to talk about vaginal health, I also was in some pretty nasty wadis up to my armpits, I never once had an issue, but as a medic I did help treat some nasty jock itch. Real men and women manage their own bodies.

    I earned a CAB but was awarded a CMB instead for my tour to Afghanistan. I handled wounded soldiers and wounded taliban. I look back at my deployment and miss that year. I would happily deploy again if I could serve in combat. Whenever I think of the rise against women in combat I think of the US Forest Service with the integration of women. There was a lot of the same arguments used then, that women are weak, slutty, problematic, a liability, ruin the “brotherhood”, no more cussing, etc etc the list goes on. Time and time again women not only exceeded standards but would tell some of the dirtiest jokes to men.

    I reemphasize that NOT all women can do it, but not all men can either.

    Reply
  • October 23, 2014 at 1:20 am
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    Its great to hear her story.

    But in a general sense, most women are probably not like Mary. I think this may be the issue. A few female infantry soldiers are not the same as millions of other women.

    In short, keep the standards the same for men and women. If the women pass, that’s good. It will serve to screen women who are fit for the role.

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  • October 19, 2014 at 10:09 am
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    As a former female soldier from 92-00 serving with 24th ID, and after reenlisting, 3rd ID, I really appreciate this article. Being in a Rapid Deployment unit, regardless of your job, you were a soldier first. I was held to the same standards for all 18th Airborne qualification test as men (20k ruck march carrying the same weighed load as men, 4 mile run, and so on). Sexual harassment, yes, before, during, and after my time in the Army. I’ve never looked to be a victim or a damsel in distress in these situations, I handled it. I was in the Signal Corp, and supported the brigade TOC and TAC (all male units). If you act and carry yourself as a soldier first, mission first, there is no gender. Granted I had to prove myself to my team, and to soldiers from the all male units, but in doing what was expected, the questions of “do you need help” stopped. WE had a job, and I was part of the team getting the job done. I took a sledge to 6 ft ground rods in the desert, hoisted camo, dug fox holes, threw up 9 meter antennas, pulled guard duty, buried cables, went weeks without running water, and days without sleep. I always had shared sleeping arrangements (if available) with my team/platoon. I didn’t man up, I soldiered up. To be treated like a soldier, you have to be a soldier. Military isn’t for the lazy, weak and close minded individual of either gender.

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  • October 19, 2014 at 1:52 am
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    I am all for the women to be in the infantry… as mentioned as long as physical and psychological standards are kept the same. The problem is not in the genitalalia, but the social stigma and politics. Why do I think that way?

    For the simple examples and one of them would be Audie Murphy. – The most decorated US Army soldier of all time. Not a lot of people knew, but Audie Murphy was about 5’4 feet tall and nearly failed basic training. The Drill was about to make him Cook, but he persisted and persevered. The worst of all that 100 something pound skinny kid contracted malaria in the early campaigns and yet became something that we only see in action movies these days. In fact A. Murphy applied to Navy, Marines, and US Army Air Corps (Air Force) and got laughed out from the recruiting offices due to his size. No one thought that such 16 year old kid (His sister falsified his birth certificate so he could get into the service) would ever become The War Hero.

    I believe the right minded women, who can put their mettle and achieve the male standards of an infantryman could become something akin to that.

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  • October 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm
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    “Back in the good old days when I joined (late 80’s), females were

    treated like an endangered species who had to be kept as far from

    scumbag enlisted males as possible. Young male soldiers were threatened

    with legal punishment and/or physical brutality for going too close to

    the forbidden female-barracks zone. I remember being shocked when I saw a

    group of coed medical officers sleeping in the same hooch back in 1990.”

    Glad to see us dinosaurs are still kicking around and, yes, as a Cold Warrior Infantryman, this article has given me a solid perspective but still has one incredibly glaring problem – the fact that she was mechanized. She wasn’t Light Infantry and didn’t have to the hump the Basic Load this kid had for a 3 day patrol (http://bit.ly/1Cyk118).

    I also have to question the Danish versus American physical fitness standards – are they compatible in any way?

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  • October 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm
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    The occasional bull dyke might make it for a limited time but really?

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  • October 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm
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    This is a very realistic example of what a true female warrior is. Many of might objections to women servicing in the infantry have been addressed to my satisfaction. It is vitally important that the standards for being an infantryman not be altered in any way to comply with any political correctness at the expense of combat readiness, and I thank you for this opportunity to express my views on this issue, sempre fi !!!!

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    • October 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm
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      *One* sample isn’t a justification for change.

      Reply
  • October 15, 2014 at 10:34 pm
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    I enjoyed the article. My question is: Why is this even a conversation worth having if we already have different PT standards? Shouldn’t we be talking about making all soldiers(female and male) adhere to the same standard? How can you possibly be advocating for “fairness” when the there are already two standards? Or perhaps there should be physical qualifications per MOS and gender should be meaningless?

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    • October 16, 2014 at 7:49 am
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      I generally agree that the PT standards should be the same. However, we also grade on a curve for age. Should a 50 year old E-9 be graded on the same scale as an 18 year old? I’m not so sure on that.

      I do, however, strongly agree with gender-neutral, MOS-specific physical qualifications.

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      • October 17, 2014 at 11:10 am
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        I wasn’t even going to go into the age thing! You’d have to keep the age adjusted standards otherwise you’d lose too many experienced infantry leaders. Besides, with age and experience comes rank usually, so most of the time i don’t think it’d be an issue.

        Mainly, I was suggesting that right now the qualification is different per gender. If you were to allow females in infantry today they would only have to meet the female scale like any other female in any other MOS. So this talk about not lowering standards is kind of a “cart before the horse” proposal based on the fact that the standards are currently different, no?

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      • October 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm
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        LOL – my FOG ass would be hard pressed to run a solid mile with a messed up back and a knee headed towards replacement. Age takes it’s toll on an Infantryman.

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  • October 15, 2014 at 10:51 am
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    I wonder if anyone has noticed that the US military has not won a real war (Panama, Grenada and Desert Storm/Desert Shield notwithstanding,) since 1945, called it a tie in Iraq in order to save face and leave (and is in no hurry whatsoever to go back and fight ISIS,) and is currently having its ass handed to it in Afghanistan by barbarians with AKs and tubs of HME, and trying to figure out how to escape without losing too much face (good luck.) In general, in today’s world you can’t go wrong going against the US military-doesn’t matter how incompetent you are, they’ll outdo you, and all you have to do is not quit until they leave, at which point you can pretty much massacre anyone who picked the side of the Americans while they wring their hands on CNN.

    But the main priority is, of course, debating whether women should be in the infantry. What about social justice? Some men are physically weak, and some women are really strong! Look at this feisty Danish lady soldier! She was an infantryman (infantrylady)! If the US military takes them in without dropping standards for political reasons, it could totally work, guys! It’s just not FAIR to deny women the opportunity to serve in infantry units!

    Like Tim Lynch used to say, when you can’t do anything about the important thing, the unimportant things become really important. Just like I’m reading all kinds of articles about how great lady infantrymen can be, with lots of anecdotal evidence, I used to hear about the professional Iraqi army, how well-trained they were, how they were planning missions and doing everything on their own, etc. And for the same exact reason-when there’s a political demand for something, there will be a supply of anecdotal evidence and of flacks, in uniform and out, ready to pump it. Well, I was working with the same Iraqi army, and I’ve had enough encounters with women in the American military to say that the reality is very different from these rosy portrayals.

    Say what you will about ISIS and the Taliban, but their leadership is focused on how to win their war instead of bullshit like this. In other words, they’re winning because they deserve to win more than the US presently does. But I’m sure once the US has pulled out and absolved itself of responsibility, it will allow women into the infantry, just like the Danish and French. Then it will be on to the next milestone of military social justice-transexuals, pre- and post-op. After all, why not? Some of them are really strong, some European armies let them serve in combat, it’s just not FAIR to deny them the opportunity, etc.

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    • October 15, 2014 at 11:17 am
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      I apologize. I wasn’t aware the existence of higher-priority issues meant nobody should discuss this one. I also wasn’t aware I ever referred to this debate as “the main issue”. But I must have, because you wouldn’t throw that out for no reason, right?

      And yes, you’re right. Some men are physically weak, but are still allowed into the infantry. Some women (like that feisty Mary) have served in the infantry in other countries but aren’t allowed to here. If women like them could be integrated into our infantry without lowering the standards, well, yes it could work. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that allowing more capable people into combat arms actually might be a good thing for combat arms. And you’re right, it isn’t fair to keep qualified capable people out.

      Your comparison to the reports about the Iraqi army are amusing. I didn’t discuss any large group of people. I talked about an individual, and discussed individual capabilities. Are you claiming no females are capable of serving in the infantry? I’m saying some of them can. I’m not claiming they all can, or that they’re all great. I’m saying individuals can do it. True or false?

      I’ve also had bad experiences with female soldiers. Those soldiers don’t belong in the infantry. I’ve also had bad experiences with male soldiers. Have all your experiences with male soldiers been rosy?

      Interesting that you think the Taliban and ISIS “deserve to win”. I guess allowing a single qualified woman into the infantry is so bad, the US would be better off being destroyed.

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      • October 15, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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        The existence of higher-priority issues means at the least that we can put this one aside while those ones are resolved. The inability to prioritize is a pathology. It’s like those sergeant majors downrange enforcing reflective belts on big FOBs while things outside the wire were going to hell.

        Fair has nothing to do with anything. The nominal purpose of the military is not to be fair or to offer equal opportunities to each and every individual. It’s to win wars. Fairness, next to that, is irrelevant.

        I used the rosy reports about the Iraqi Army as an example of anecdotal evidence (the supposed competence of individuals or units) brought up in response to a political demand and being used to justify politically-demanded policies. Which had disastrous consequences, but no individual American will ever face personal responsibility for them. In the exact same way, once women are pushed into combat positions in the US military, and standards predictably drop and physically unqualified women are pencilwhipped into positions where lives depend on them (and they will be-there are plenty of officers with zero political courage,) this will have disastrous consequences for the units affected and no advocates of combat unit integration will ever be held responsible.

        The Talibs and ISIS deserve to win because they want to win, much more than they want anything else. The American military doesn’t want to win as much as its enemies do, and certainly not as much as it wants to be a force for social justice. So it doesn’t deserve to win. You wouldn’t say that a sports team which was more interested in social justice than winning deserved to win, would you?

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        • October 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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          “The existence of higher-priority issues means at the least that we can put this one aside while those ones are resolved. The inability to prioritize is a pathology. It’s like those sergeant majors downrange enforcing reflective belts on big FOBs while things outside the wire were going to hell.”

          No argument. I didn’t say this was a priority to be resolved over more pressing issues.

          “Fair has nothing to do with anything. The nominal purpose of the military is not to be fair or to offer equal opportunities to each and every individual. It’s to win wars. Fairness, next to that, is irrelevant.”

          Not exactly. Yes we need to be able to win wars. Excluding capable, competent American citizens isn’t justified because “fairness is irrelevant”. We won WW2 while segregating blacks, Japanese and women. The fact that we won doesn’t make that segregation irrelevant.

          “I used the rosy reports about the Iraqi Army as an example of anecdotal evidence (the supposed competence of individuals or units) brought up in response to a political demand and being used to justify politically-demanded policies. Which had disastrous consequences, but no individual American will ever face personal responsibility for them. In the exact same way, once women are pushed into combat positions in the US military, and standards predictably drop and physically unqualified women are pencilwhipped into positions where lives depend on them (and they will be-there are plenty of officers with zero political courage,) this will have disastrous consequences for the units affected and no advocates of combat unit integration will ever be held responsible.”

          I agree that lowered standards will lead to disaster. I didn’t argue for lowered standards, and specifically argued against them. So did Mary. Nobody with any brains is saying we should lower the standard to achieve a political goal. I’m saying we should keep the standard, and only allow women who achieve that standard into the infantry.

          “The Talibs and ISIS deserve to win because they want to win, much more than they want anything else. The American military doesn’t want to win as much as its enemies do, and certainly not as much as it wants to be a force for social justice. So it doesn’t deserve to win. You wouldn’t say that a sports team which was more interested in social justice than winning deserved to win, would you?”

          Did we deserve to lose the Korean War because people pushed for integrating black soldiers? That wasn’t “the army being more interested in social justice than winning”, that was recognition of something fucked up in our military and pushing to fix it. Your comments suggest you believe “infantrywomen = social justice = disaster”, which creates a false choice between the status quo and total failure. What I and Mary advocate is allowing only those few women who attain THE standard to be allowed to serve in the infantry.

          I suspect we’d have less than 500 infantrywomen in the entire US military. Would 500 US infantrywomen mean we’re no longer interested in winning, and deserve to lose?

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          • October 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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            You’ve been in the military long enough to know that things are path-dependent. This push for integrating women into combat units is driven entirely by political considerations (there are no military considerations driving it.) Once it happens, the disparate impact standards (the 4/5ths rule) will be applied: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disparate_impact#The_80.25_rule

            Obviously, the leadership of the US military being what it is, they will drop standards. What else are they going to do, admit that they were wrong? Admit that there are massive biological differences between men and women?

            By saying that the US should keep the standard and allow women to serve, you are arguing for a chain of events that will inexorably result in the standards being lowered. It’s not like the precedent is not there-why do you think that there are two PT test scales? This is exactly the way it happened.

            The US deserved to lose in Korea because it didn’t much want to win in Korea. I’d urge you to see that your argument of reducing everything to racial integration is flawed. It’s a false analogy. There are no scientific studies showing that blacks are less physically capable than whites, while there are tons of studies showing that women are less capable by far on average than men. At the same time, the argument lends itself just as well to integrating transsexuals. What’s your stance on that, by the way?

            The fact that the US is more interested in social justice than winning means that it deserves to lose, yes.

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            • October 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm
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              “You’ve been in the military long enough to know that things are path-dependent. This push for integrating women into combat units is driven entirely by political considerations (there are no military considerations driving it.) Once it happens, the disparate impact standards (the 4/5ths rule) will be applied:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…”

              I’d say there were also no military considerations driving blacks or open homosexuals into the military. As I pointed out earlier, we won WW2 without them. I’d ask you, should we have left the army as-is, since that model worked in WW2?

              “Obviously, the leadership of the US military being what it is, they will drop standards. What else are they going to do, admit that they were wrong? Admit that there are massive biological differences between men and women?”

              That’s a fair argument. I don’t advocate women in the infantry at any cost. If our military lowers the standards, it’s not worth it.

              The counterpoint to your argument, however, is that the USMC hasn’t lowered the standards, even at the cost of not having a single female Infantry Officer Course graduate.

              “By saying that the US should keep the standard and allow women to serve, you are arguing for a chain of events that will inexorably result in the standards being lowered.”

              Nope. And I fail to see how other countries like Denmark can do it, but the US is judged incapable.

              “It’s not like the precedent is not there-why do you think that there are two PT test scales? This is exactly the way it happened.”

              Agreed on that, and it’s bullshit. The PT standards are too low now. And I’d point out, plenty of males barely make that standard.

              The US deserved to lose in Korea because it didn’t much want to win in Korea. I’d urge you to see that your argument of reducing everything to racial integration is flawed. It’s a false analogy.”

              I didn’t reduce the Korean War to racial integration, and I’d argue that you’re reducing our current war to gender integration. “Gender integration = we deserve to lose” is a pretty strong statement which completely discounts all the other factors involved.

              “There are no scientific studies showing that blacks are less physically capable than whites, while there are tons of studies showing that women are less capable by far on average than men.”

              Agreed, but for centuries blacks were believed to be mentally less capable than whites. Quotes from General Patton:

              1) “Individually they were good soldiers, but I expressed my belief at the time, and have never found the necessity of changing it, that a colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor.”

              2) “They gave a good first impression, but I have no faith in the inherent fighting ability of the race.”

              Black soldiers were considered mentally inferior rather than physically, and it took integration to change that belief.

              “At the same time, the argument lends itself just as well to integrating transsexuals. What’s your stance on that, by the way?”

              Unsure. Transsexuals aren’t a monolithic block any more than females are. I notice that you tend to group people together, referring to women and transsexuals in general rather than as individual cases. Are there some transsexuals who could do the job? Based on Kristen Beck’s experience, I’d say yes. Would they have to be carefully screened to ensure they don’t have some other problem that would interfere with their ability to serve? I’d say yes to that too. But there are undoubtedly other factors that need to be considered. I don’t have an answer for you. My underlying principle is, “Americans who are willing and able to serve should be allowed to serve.” Nothing suggests to me that not a single woman is capable and willing.

              The fact that the US is more interested in social justice than winning means that it deserves to lose, yes.

              1) The fact that I’ve written about this does not in any way prove, or even suggest, the entire US is more interested in social justice than winning. 2) You’re creating another false choice. Raising issues of fairness does not equal “we deserve to lose”. The choice isn’t “status quo or defeat”.

              Reply
              • October 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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                >I’d ask you, should we have left the army as-is, since that model worked in WW2?

                If you ask me whether the US would be better off with its 1945 army today than with what it has, all drawbacks and benefits taken into account-yes. That army was capable of winning wars, this one is not. Of course, a military reflects its society.

                >The counterpoint to your argument, however, is that the USMC hasn’t lowered the standards, even at the cost of not having a single female Infantry Officer Course graduate.

                Yet. But this is a ratchet mechanism.

                >Nope. And I fail to see how other countries like Denmark can do it, but the US is judged incapable.

                Denmark’s army is 10K strong, and they aspire to, one day, maybe, be able to deploy 1500 troops on a permanent basis. I mean, come on. The US military is two orders of magnitude larger, its upper ranks are full of go along to get along leadership, so you get what you get.

                >The PT standards are too low now. And I’d point out, plenty of males barely make that standard.

                Not in the infantry, and they certainly don’t make the argument that the tests are biased against them. And there is certainly no federal law declaring them a “protected class” and nothing like the 80% rule.

                >”Gender integration = we deserve to lose” is a pretty strong statement which completely discounts all the other factors involved.

                There are, of course, many other reasons the US deserves to lose, all of which come down to wanting other things aside from victory. This one is just exemplary.

                >Agreed, but for centuries blacks were believed to be mentally less capable than whites.

                On every study, using every single IQ test I know of, there is about 1 SD separating blacks (as a group) from whites (as a group) and whites from asians. This is not disputed by anyone serious. On the other hand, the US military has an ASVAB with a GT test which is just an IQ test, and GT score cutoffs. The military has not had noticeable difficulty finding enough black recruits who can meet the GT cutoff for most jobs, and while an aircraft mechanic with an IQ of 115 is probably going to be better at his job than one with an IQ of 100, the second one can do the job adequately. There has not been (so far) a strong push to get the 80% rule enforced in MI, SOF, etc. This will probably change in the future-there have been sporadic noises to that effect.

                >Unsure. Transsexuals aren’t a monolithic block any more than females are.

                Well, I’m pretty sure that’s the next step. The military being what it is, I’m sure they’ll do as good a job screening transsexuals for other mental problems as they did with Manning, the Kill Team, those dudes from the Black Hearts, etc. Since we went there, have you seen the research on mental illness rates and life expectancy in the homosexual and transsexual world?

                >My underlying principle is, “Americans who are willing and able to serve should be allowed to serve.”

                My underlying principle is, “a military exists to bring force to bear in the national interest, and not as a mechanism for individual self-actualization.” That’s where we differ, I guess.

                >The fact that I’ve written about this does not in any way prove, or even suggest, the entire US is more interested in social justice than winning.

                Casual observation suggests to me the US government is more interested in social justice than winning.

                >Raising issues of fairness does not equal “we deserve to lose”. The choice isn’t “status quo or defeat”.

                Nope-status quo is also defeat, just a slower one. The choice is between slower and faster defeat, in the service of fairness, equality, avoidance of civilian casualties and the rest of the post-Protestant bouquet of values.

                Reply
                • October 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm
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                  “If you ask me whether the US would be better off with its 1945 army today than with what it has, all drawbacks and benefits taken into account-yes. That army was capable of winning wars, this one is not. Of course, a military reflects its society.”

                  I don’t think this army is incapable of winning wars. I think the public isn’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices to win a war they obviously don’t believe in. I don’t think the WW2 army was better than today’s army, it was just more experienced, larger and backed by a dedicated public.

                  >The counterpoint to your argument, however, is that the USMC hasn’t lowered the standards, even at the cost of not having a single female Infantry Officer Course graduate.

                  “Yet. But this is a ratchet mechanism.”

                  What does that mean? The USMC isn’t lowering the standards. If your argument is that the USMC will eventually succumb to lowered standards, that can’t be proven. We just have to wait and see what happens.

                  >Nope. And I fail to see how other countries like Denmark can do it, but the US is judged incapable.

                  “Denmark’s army is 10K strong, and they aspire to, one day, maybe, be able to deploy 1500 troops on a permanent basis. I mean, come on. The US military is two orders of magnitude larger, its upper ranks are full of go along to get along leadership, so you get what you get.”

                  Then compare it to the USMC. The Corps is around 200k. How is the Corps able to maintain the standards, yet according to you the army is incapable?

                  >The PT standards are too low now. And I’d point out, plenty of males barely make that standard.

                  “Not in the infantry, and they certainly don’t make the argument that the tests are biased against them. And there is certainly no federal law declaring them a ‘protected class’ and nothing like the 80% rule.”

                  Except that plenty of infantrymen who commented here and on FB said they know plenty of substandard infantrymen. Not all grunts out physical standouts. And again, you’re reverting back to the monolithic “all women” argument. Mary didn’t claim tests are biased against her, nor did she claim protected status. She and I are talking about capable individuals, not en entire class of people.

                  >”Gender integration = we deserve to lose” is a pretty strong statement which completely discounts all the other factors involved.

                  “There are, of course, many other reasons the US deserves to lose, all of which come down to wanting other things aside from victory. This one is just exemplary.”

                  Then please bring those other reasons up to someone else. My essay wasn’t about everything that’s wrong with everything. My essay was limited to advocating for specific qualified INDIVIDUALS to be able to serve.

                  >Agreed, but for centuries blacks were believed to be mentally less capable than whites.

                  “On every study, using every single IQ test I know of, there is about 1 SD separating blacks (as a group) from whites (as a group) and whites from asians. This is not disputed by anyone serious. On the other hand, the US military has an ASVAB with a GT test which is just an IQ test, and GT score cutoffs. The military has not had noticeable difficulty finding enough black recruits who can meet the GT cutoff for most jobs, and while an aircraft mechanic with an IQ of 115 is probably going to be better at his job than one with an IQ of 100, the second one can do the job adequately. There has not been (so far) a strong push to get the 80% rule enforced in MI, SOF, etc. This will probably change in the future-there have been sporadic noises to that effect.”

                  Okay, and during WW2 at least one American general thought blacks weren’t smart enough to be tank crewmen. That was untrue, and it took integration to show it was untrue. In this case, we have many people who automatically assume that either all females are incapable, or that the handful who are capable aren’t worth the havoc sure to result from integration. The first premise is demonstrably false, the second is a supposition that doesn’t stand simply because you insist it must be true.

                  >Unsure. Transsexuals aren’t a monolithic block any more than females are.

                  “Well, I’m pretty sure that’s the next step. The military being what it is, I’m sure they’ll do as good a job screening transsexuals for other mental problems as they did with Manning, the Kill Team, those dudes from the Black Hearts, etc. Since we went there, have you seen the research on mental illness rates and life expectancy in the homosexual and transsexual world?”

                  I’m not arguing that transsexuals should be allowed in the military. I’m saying I don’t know enough about the topic. Again, my principle is about the individual’s capabilities, not about a class of people.

                  >My underlying principle is, “Americans who are willing and able to serve should be allowed to serve.”

                  “My underlying principle is, ‘a military exists to bring force to bear in the national interest, and not as a mechanism for individual self-actualization.’ That’s where we differ, I guess.”

                  And here’s where you’ve deliberately created a statement I never made (in other words, lied). What have I written that even suggests I believe the army exists to serve the individual? My entire argument was that Mary could be a good infantryman because of how she is, not that the infantry had to change for her.

                  >The fact that I’ve written about this does not in any way prove, or even suggest, the entire US is more interested in social justice than winning.

                  “Casual observation suggests to me the US government is more interested in social justice than winning.”

                  Your casual observation is noted. Now actually produce evidence to support your fantastic claim.

                  >Raising issues of fairness does not equal “we deserve to lose”. The choice isn’t “status quo or defeat”.

                  “Nope-status quo is also defeat, just a slower one. The choice is between slower and faster defeat, in the service of fairness, equality, avoidance of civilian casualties and the rest of the post-Protestant bouquet of values.”

                  Again, produce evidence to support your contention that our concern with basic fairness equals impending defeat.

                  Reply
                • October 15, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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                  B….I agree with your extensive remarks.

                  You do realize that your rebuttals to Hernandez’s liberalism is no different than urinating into the wind. Besides, this entire argument against Hernandez’s POV is moot. The usurper-in-chief has given by executive fiat, Hernandez’s dream of females assuming the role of male.

                  Reply
                  • October 16, 2014 at 7:50 am
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                    “Hernandez’s liberalism”? LOL! Thanks, I needed that. 🙂

                    Reply
          • October 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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            Chris,

            “Would 500 US infantrywomen mean we’re no longer interested in winning….?

            I know this is difficult for you to wrap your millenial mind around, but the answer to your question is a resounding YES.

            Reply
            • October 16, 2014 at 9:11 am
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              Please show evidence for your claim.

              Reply
  • October 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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    Question for everyone let’s say in five years you had enough women in various infantry units to make up a couple of platoons of ‘women only’.

    Would you ever deployed them, 100% female infantry platoon, to a place like Fallujah?

    Reply
    • October 14, 2014 at 2:03 pm
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      Good question. A few others have told me we should start with all-female units, just like we used to have all-black units. Eventually those units proved themselves and were integrated. Maybe that’s the way to go.

      As far as deploying to a fight like Fallujah, I don’t think that’s a question of gender as much as a question of proficiency. Are there all-male platoons you wouldn’t want to deploy to Fallujah? Or does an all-male unit automatically qualify as combat-ready?

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      • October 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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        I don’t put gender and race together there are obviously no physical differences between white males and black males or Hispanic males or Asian males like the pronounced physical strength differences between males and females in general.

        As for combat ready we would have to assume we’re making an apples to apples comparison that all the soldiers in my example would be classified as combat ready. Would you go to war with an all female platoon on your flank?

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        • October 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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          That depends. Are they well-trained? Are they disciplined? Are they motivated? I don’t think gender is the final question. When I was training for Iraq we had tankers (including me) and artillery guys learning infantry tactics and organization. Plenty of platoons just weren’t good at it. I’d take a good female platoon over a bad male platoon any day of the week.

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      • October 16, 2014 at 12:05 am
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        Chris…why did I know you would use the race argument to sustain your failng argument for gender equality ? The debate here is about capability, combat arms capability. Not racial arguments.

        Your reliance on arguing race only verifies your inability to refute centuries of male warriors vs the obama world of socialist equality. Let the War Department ban males from the military. Totally. Men can then assume the former role of women in American society. What a utopia you could then enjoy. But remember Chris….no men in the military. No female reliance on men to carry the burden for female, for gender equality.

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        • October 16, 2014 at 9:23 am
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          How did you know I’d use a race argument? I don’t know, probably the same way I knew you’d throw Obama and socialism into the argument.

          It’s a nuanced argument, so I’ll lay it out again. Blacks were segregated for several reasons, one of which was a belief that they were incapable of being good soldiers (see Patton’s quote above, about blacks not being able to think fast enough for armor). Integration was one means of proving that assumption false. Likewise, females are assumed by many to be inherently physically incapable of serving in the infantry. Allowing those who prove themselves (like Mary) to serve will prove that assumption false.

          That’s the only equivalency I made between segregation of blacks and segregation of females.

          As far as the rest of your rant, blah blah utopia Obama New World Order socialist equality.

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  • October 14, 2014 at 9:18 am
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    I just want to say, I’m not against women in the Infantry per se, exactly as that. I’m against what you said up there about how the government looks at it. People will put political correctness ahead of combat effectiveness. She states that all the stuff we’re worried about are things that the Danish military got over in (about) 20 years (from what I took away from that), and I see things like that sticking around for much longer in the American military. I am pretty sure there are lots of women out there (at least numerically) who would make the cut psychologically and physically, I’m also just as positive that Congress would cowtow to those who whine because they can’t.

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    • October 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm
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      Good point, and I agree that what you just described is the real worry.

      Reply
  • October 14, 2014 at 3:44 am
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    The real reason people like Mary don’t get the opportunity in the USA is because they intimidate men (specifically me). It’s one thing to get beat by a dude, but every time a woman has kicked my ass at something, it hurt my feelings.

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  • October 14, 2014 at 3:19 am
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    the real problem here is not the problem – but the way you perceive the problem.

    It seems like many of the “anti women” commenters feel the this female entrance on male land is a threat to their manhood – rather than a gift to the dynamics in developing the military services and the society in general.

    It’s the same arguments which were brought forward when women earned the right to vote. Again – men feeling threatned on their manhood.

    Standards are standards – and thats the way it’s gonna be – so if women can live up to those standards given – then it’s hard to see why not females should serve in the infantry.

    It’s 2014 – not 1914…

    Great article

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    • October 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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      Reno….seems that you and others conjure up the present year as argument for females in combat arms. WTF is so good about the year 2014 in FUSA ? One third of American adults out of work. Inflation sky-high. Our national debt no less than 17 TRILLION dollars. College level students who can’t spell their own middle names. Bastard children being brought into America without the benefit of the family unit. More Americans on public assistance and food stamps than ever before. FUSA no longer sovereign as we can’t even make American flags. The Chicoms and Pakistanis do that for us. American imperialism in more than 100 countries. Fighting an ever expanding war for 13+ years. American military killed, maimed and forever scarred for no good reasons. FUSA importing everything we consume from mostly Red China. And a constitutionally illegal occupant of the West Wing masquerading as a legitimate POTUS. Yet you and some of the other Einsteins here argue “….it’s 2014”. So what ? Give me 1954 or 1964 or 1974 or 1984 or 1994. Give me what once was America where a family was a family. Where a father was a father and a MAN. Give me back an America where Dad could work a job earning family-sustaining wages, a house and a late-model car. Mom performed her role of taking care of the family, not the 240 Bravo.

      It’s 2014. America is the Former United States of America. We’re in the crapper. And “women’s equality”, burning their bras, and letting homosexuals dictate every aspect of American life has given us this paradise we still call America. It’s 2014. So what ?

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      • October 16, 2014 at 7:47 am
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        Funny. I don’t know what part of “FUSA” you live in, but where I live women aren’t burning their bras and homosexuals aren’t “dictating every aspect of American life”. And “we can’t even make American flags”? That’s another funny. I didn’t realize American flag-making was now banned in “FUSA”.

        I think you may have gotten lost on your way to an Alex Jones web site.

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    • October 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm
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      Can you compare Danish/Israeli/Canadian standards to our own? We need an apples-to-apples comparison here before we even consider efficacy.

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  • October 14, 2014 at 1:57 am
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    Ive been an advocate against women in the infantry strictly on the premise of tradition…And the argument of relieving themselves on the move while on patrol..which was proven in this writing to be easily rectifiable with a simple extra piece of equipment. I will not say i have been completely flipped on the issue, if only for the reason of the degradation of standards in the U.S Army altogether. As well as my lack of faith that this change will be implemented reasonably by the powers that be. That being said, I would have gladly served alongside women such as “Mary” while being held to a single standard. That standard, by the way, was pretty easy to achieve in 2007, and by the quality of more recent boots, its getting easier. Its not far off from the standards that “Mary” herself achieved in the Danish Service as mentioned in your writing. I particularly enjoyed your statement on equality of opportunity as opposed to equality, extremely well put. This was a great read, objective and well researched. It definitely shed a much needed perspective on the issue.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 11:45 pm
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    This is a great article but there is constant reference to 2 Armies that are renowned for what? That’s right, nothing. America has the greatest military in the world… Why are we trying to change things? I recall the US having to go to both France and Denmark and save their ass because their military wasn’t cutting it. America’s problem is it’s constant need to please EVERYONE…. If females want to be barrel chested freedom fighters, then let them got through the same process and standards…. But! Don’t do it to please anyone, don’t do it becaue “Denmark does it and it works for them”, and for the love of God don’t do it because bitch ass France does it!

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    • October 14, 2014 at 7:31 am
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      If you think the French military is “bitch ass” then you haven’t been paying attention. France contributed troops to our war in Afghanistan, led the fight against jihadists in Africa and is currently contributing to the fight against ISIS. I’ve written about the French Army here on BBC, based on my experiences serving alongside French troops in Afghanistan.

      I’ve never worked with the Danes, but the Danish Army has served honorably and well in Afghanistan.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 8:57 pm
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    Mary is a bad biotch. Political correctness kills and Prohibition is still and will always be bullshit. Good Article.

    This post reminds me of The Damn Few episode from RangerUp where they discuss women in the infantry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HmT5jqy-iE

    You guys are thesaurus fiends!

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  • October 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm
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    The only way this will work in the U.S. military is if females get put into the shitbag platoon that gets guard duty and or very low risk missions…. We couldn’t leave the wire without a 2(On paper, CO made it 3) day minimum supply of food, water, etc… This article is irrelevant. The brilliant minds in the pentagon need to take note from that Israeli study.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm
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    The differences between Danish and American cultures impact inter-gender behavior and military doctrine in ways that might be difficult, but not impossible, to replicate. Cohabitation, sex and female acceptance are problem areas that are theoretically solved by pen stroke: males and females live together, deal with it, don’t do anything illegal; have all the sex you want with each other, just use protection; don’t think of women as different, they’re just another soldier capable of doing the job. In reality, it’s not that simple and there will be problems, but I don’t think any of these are insurmountable obstacles.

    Military doctrine will probably be more difficult. Everything from the size of our militaries, to the way we deploy, our standards and our training are different enough that it’s no longer an apples to apples comparison. Due to the national security strategies of Denmark and the U.S., we require differently manned forces and fill those positions differently (all-volunteer vs. mixed volunteer and conscription). The sizes dictate how we deploy to meet a threat: who we send and for how long. Because of that, differing standards have been deemed capable of getting the job done. Training is different to meet those standards.

    Denmark’s success at integrating females into the infantry merits reviewing their process to see if it will work for us and if we can account for cultural differences. Are their methods capable of building our forces up to our standards, with enough bodies to properly deploy units to the fight? If so, let’s adopt that training. If not, let’s see what will work.

    I personally think American training methods will have to be the biggest thing we change to succeed here. With less than half of female Marines able to do 3 pull-ups at the end of boot camp and less than half of those undergoing SOI graduating, it seems that America is not as good at training females as the Danish. The American military needs to figure out the specifics of what we expect our troops to be able to do in combat and then develop the training (tactical, strength, endurance, etc.) to accomplish that – for both sexes. That may mean different lengths or methods for each, but it’s clearly possible.

    Lastly, thanks to Mr. Hernandez for writing this and providing a balanced view on the subject; and to “Mary” for sharing her thoughts and story – she sounds like a hell of good soldier.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm
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    One would think, with all the vast R&D budgets and evaluations the military can do if it bothers to lobby for the budgets, they’d be able to find something that women are better at than men. Does their flexibility make them better at fitting into tight spots and therefore better exploratory divers? Do their higher EQ’s make them better at differentiating civilian from enemy combatant quickly? Maybe males shouldn’t be bombers and gunners and it should be an all female job. (I’m not saying those are the answers, just questions that need answering). This whole let’s put women into this position that we’ve highly tailored towards sex segregation because equality! is nonsense. If Mary can pass infantry training, I have a sneaking suspicion she could pass other tests that almost no man could.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm
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    Tell me how you’ll guarantee that the politicians won’t force the standards to be lowered. Tell me why we should follow the lead of anything another military does; last I checked Denmark wasn’t on the top of military powers in the last hundred years. I beg you, please put your wonder woman against any half decent 0311 fireteam leader in the Marine Corps. How much actual combat was she in? The whole “close with and destroy” part. Doubtful it was very much…

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    • October 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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      1) There is no guarantee that politicians won’t jack with the program to make points and gain voters. As I noted, that’s a valid concern.

      2) Denmark’s military record has nothing to do with this debate. The point isn’t “All Danish women can be infantry”. The point was about individual capabilities.

      3) This also wasn’t a competition between Mary and an 0311 fireteam leader. I know plenty of male soldiers and knew plenty of male Marines who couldn’t outperform an 0311 fireteam leader. But those males could still join the infantry if they chose.

      4) Do you have to be in a lot of actual combat before you’re awarded the infantry MOS? No. Do you have to be in any at all? No. A male going infantry simply has to graduate boot camp and graduate infantry school, and he gets the MOS. Yet in this case we have a female who graduated boot camp, graduated infantry school, deployed to Afghanistan twice and was in combat, and she’s not worthy of the infantry title because she wasn’t in enough combat to meet your personal requirements?

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  • October 13, 2014 at 6:14 pm
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    All being said, if their able, let them. Great article. While the Danish Army is used to having integrated units the US the honor of a woman foremost. You can say my dads fucked up but don’t even go there about my mom. Have the Danes had female POWs? That is my only concern, not can they do it, not can they take a life if needed, not if they are willing to go in harms way for another soldier. Men are naturally protective of women, the Danes may be used to it; I cringe at the thought of a female caught in no mans land and how many men are going to attempt to pull her back all at once. A female POW is worth more to the enemy than a male (based on our growing up with girls and getting the rules on how to treat one). Do our soldiers have the dicipline to hold fast and use known methods that work rather rushing headlong into disaster. We have indecision about shooting a woman, even with an AK or IED strap on. I’ve no doubt we will get there. Time will tell, they put their pants on same as me, equal is equal.

    Scott Murphy

    Ret Army, LRRP

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  • Pingback:Females in the Infantry? Er…Yes, actually. | Guns Ammo and Tactical Gear Blog

  • October 13, 2014 at 5:52 pm
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    I am an Infantry Staff Sergeant with 11 years served so far. I have deployed to Baghdad twice, Mosul once and Panjwai once. I have no issues with opening the Infantry to women. I have served with plenty of male Soldiers who should never have been in the Army much less the Infantry. As long as all the standards were maintained, letting women volunteer would only increase my drawing pool for capable Soldiers to train and deploy with. Yes there are differences, the same differences I have seen in every male I’ve ever served with. Stop being arrogant and realize that males aren’t better, just different.

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    • October 15, 2014 at 10:56 pm
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      Here, let’s make the argument simple. Ban males from combat arms. Let females do it all. It is a simple concept.

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      • October 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm
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        That causes problems, like entire empires to crumble and scares the living crap out of anyone who fights them. We’re trying to keep war a bit more civilized now!

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  • October 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm
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    Maybe the Danes are better men. Or maybe they are all homos. Or maybe they don’t really fight, I don’t know. The Israelis have a vaunted coed Army and yet the ladies don’t fight. I didn’t notice a single woman combatant casualty (I might have missed it) during Cast Lead. So they tried it and it didn’t work. Making room for the one macho lesbian out of a hundred who can hack it is disruptive and dangerous. It’s not my Marine Corps that is claiming sexual assaults are epidemic, it’s the modern Corps, and all the other services which are. Our society can’t manage an office environment without sexual conflict it’s stupid and distracting to try to do so in a combat unit. I’m sure Mary is super nice and macho and has a disease resistant cooter. For my money, she has a pretty nice ass too.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm
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      Russ you sound like an ass. Macho lesbian. Really. Nice neanderthal thinking from a Marine. No not all women will pass and most won’t even try but there are some if the passed the minimum requirements then yeah they will be damn good soldiers.

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      • October 13, 2014 at 6:18 pm
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        Yeah, I’m an ass. It gets really shitty in the barracks sometimes. There are assholes everywhere. Guys you hate. Pricks who’s only purpose in life is to screw with people. It’s a hard life even in peace time where dudes kill themselves for stupid crap like getting dumped by Suzy or something they just made up in their heads. Even if women were just like men it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to mix them together. It’s no different than putting a raging queer in the barracks; it creates more problems. Have you ever met any Marines? I’m pretty mellow by comparison.

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        • October 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm
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          I agree with the Devil Dog.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm
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    Reminds me of one of one of my female friends who was a cop for a number of years. She was never bothered by the profanity, sexist jokes, “inappropriate” behavior, etc. that comes in a macho, male dominated job. The biggest thing that made her angry was the male cops who would check themselves whenever she was around and act differently to try and make sure they didn’t say or do anything that might offend her (and consequently get them in trouble). She felt like it was a constant reminder that, no matter how many foot chases, arrests, and fights she’d been in, she was still seen as an outsider. Her squad treated her like one of their own and would stick up and vouch for her, but she was always pissed that they had to.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm
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    Hi,

    Thanks for trying to open American’s mind, through a well written article, on the subject of women in combat.

    I am french and former Commando de Marine (83 to 87). I had the opportunity to work alongside the opposite sex, within the French Navy, but only for office, medical or canteen situations… We dont have a problem working together period. Do we flirt, make innuendos and from time to time have sex ? yes, we do when it is appropriate… Do we abuse it ? No.

    I also worked with combat ready females from other corps of the French Military and foreign troops… They were very few of them. But they were as ready and as efficient as any trained soldiers on the field. Do we play big brother when it comes to strangers and field operations ? No more or no less than the guy in front of you or the one in the back. If they can pass the physical and mental aspect of combat ready courses then they have the right and we have the duty to let them express that choice.

    It is time for the boys to accept “equality in opportunities” and for the gals to stop dreaming “being equal with men” (no sexism in this comment just 2 different physiologic built)

    Cheers all 🙂

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  • October 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm
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    This:

    “The Marine Corps hasn’t lowered its standards, and so far not a single female has passed the difficult infantry officer course. A handful of females have passed the enlisted infantry school, reportedly without being given any breaks. That’s how I, and Mary, believe it should be. The standards are the standards, and stay as they are.”

    If a person can pass the standard, they should be allowed to serve; regardless of if they have a penis or a vagina. Great read.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm
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    What also works here is a smaller, more laid-back, egalitarian Danish culture. The US Army, which is a giant bureaucracy and way more politically sensitive to what it thinks higher (the Pentagon, Congress, CNN) “wants”, could NOT try an experiment like this without fucking it up.

    Every Army is a mirror of the culture that birthed it, and American culture’s just not there.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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      Now that being said, dear God, someone get a big sample of her DNA for when we get human cloning going.

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      • October 13, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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        Dude there is no need for cloning, they fall out of the sky. You just have to stamp your feet and wish for one to appear!

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    • October 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm
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      Amen Dan. We are way to PC. see earlier reply about liberals

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  • October 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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    “I’m an American. I don’t believe in equality, I believe in equality of opportunity.”

    Eloquently and succinctly stated. That right there is the argument, neatly distilled. Thanks for the article.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    The key take-aways from this are as follows:

    The standard is the standard, lowering the standard for diversity gets people killed.

    The soldier is not a unicorn, she is not unique.

    The proof is in the pudding, she conducted multiple successful combat tours in Helmand (not with the Swedes in the safer north).

    I was 5’ 6” and 124 lbs when I reported to Harmony Church to earn my cord. Since then I have been a LRRP, LRS, red team member, did over a decade on loan to the DEA doing counter narcotic work and completed 3 combat tours. I earned my CIB @ CJSOTF-A in 02. I also graduated from patruljekursus the “pre-training course similar to Ranger school” and jeageraspirantkursus shementioned. I had not heard the Danes had any women go thru, but more power to them, Jaegers are always shorthanded. There are years that no one graduates because all candidates failed the standards. All this and I am about as far from the tatted up, steroid taking, MMA looking stereotype as you can imagine

    I am neither politically correct nor am I wrapped up in dogma, just being practical. There are men who can’t do the job and women who can, gender is a secondary consideration. “Mary” met the standard, did the job and earned the title of Infantrymen.

    CSM (ret) J.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    One of the problems in America is we have the sue happy, point fingers, lay blame approach to everything. What will happen if we send an infantry platoon into a combat situation and two or three females get killed. I honestly don’t think America is ready to cope with the reality of bringing home females in body bags. And yes, I realize it has happened, but when you put them on the front line and they are killed, the questions will be asked What were they doing there? The parents will not be happy, Congress will not be happy.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm
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      what front line??

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  • October 13, 2014 at 11:29 am
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    As a retired infantryman, I am glad to read about Mary’s experience in the infantry. I have to agree that some men should never be an infantryman and some should. I agree with Mary that the standard should be the same for both genders. Lowering the standard only hurts the unit. I spent many patrols in Iraq with women MPs beside my infantry squad and have had some great experiences with them. It’s time to leave the sexist and politically correct thoughts out of the decision making process and open our minds to a new thought.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 11:28 am
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    Great read. Thank you. I for one, was never a great runner (average at best) but at 230lbs. I was stronger than most and never failed “tape”. I qualified expert on the m4 and many other systems and as far as “toughness” goes, let’s just say I’m not volunteering to ever give birth. I know plenty of females can out run me, and shoot better than me. I would have no problem. I personally believe that I would adopt a “big brother” mentality for good or for bad. And would definitely pay more attention to how others treated her. Again, for good or for bad. In my opinion, I don’t question a women toughness (be it physical or mental) especially if she makes standard. I think problems would arise mostly in garrison if she out trains/performs “joe” and gets rewarded with schools or promotions. 2cents.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm
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      Bobby don’t go all reality based. Hurt feelings and wishful thinking is the order of the day! Embrace your irrational side and start packing for the crazy trip down fallacy lane!

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    • October 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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      …you talk to members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees?

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    • October 17, 2014 at 10:37 am
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      I doubt if Bobby has ever served in the military, but I just happen to be a U.S. Marine and I can tell you I’ve worked with many Marines that are women and would have no problem out performing many males that are serving or have served in infantry positions in the U.S. armed forces

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      • October 17, 2014 at 11:01 am
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        Of course you ‘must’ be a Marine you’ve chosen such an original screen name to show us that very fact. I’ve always seen Jarhead as one word not two but each to his own I guess.

        I’m curious are you implying that civilians can’t have an opinion on military matters? Do you not agree with our current form of Constitutional oversight and civilian chain of command of the armed forces?

        But you’re right I haven’t served but I have played two sports, baseball & hockey at a very high level, NCAA, and on many occasions used the training facilities at the same time as our female ‘sport counterparts’ used (for space efficiency we used the same equipment did many of the same things regarding sports specific training techniques) and from that experience the best female athlete in those sports did not come close to being able to compete with the weakest man on either team I played on.

        And of course this did not include the football players who took size, speed and strength to ANOTHER level all together.

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        • October 26, 2014 at 11:46 am
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          But if that female athlete was armed with a well-built weapon, she could kill every man in the room and claim whatever victory she wants. We are marching straight to a remote controlled militery as soon as technically possible. What difference does it make if the finger on the button is a female or male. And hauling weight will not be an issue, just the ability to stay alert and follow orders. which is a skill noticeably lacking in our Airforce nuclear missile silos.Women are the victims of war as well, so they have every right to join the fight.

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          • October 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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            Are the men in the room unarmed?

            The timeline for replacing ground troops with robots of some kind is minimum 20+ years at least.

            Of course we’re are not talking about ‘fingers on buttons’ I have no issues with females operating Reapers out of Creech.

            I would like a fellow soldier to be able to throw my wounded 6’3″ 240lbs body over her shoulder and carry me to safety.

            “Women are the victims of war…………” Children are the victims of war, the elderly and disabled are victims of war. What’s your point.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 10:44 am
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    Very good read, I’ve stated many times that bringing females into he infantry is bad juju for America. The problem, in this reader’s opinion, isn’t in whether or not a female can hack. I’ve never had an opinion on this issue as there are those who can and those Who can’t, seems simple enough. Mary has given as true to life proof as we can get to that one simple fact. MY problem is with you regular enlisted, infantry male as we know them today. They are some of the best guys on the planet, but some of the worst as well. The men in units were these first few women will be stationed Will be out for blood and do their best to make this fail. I served many roles in Iraq and my term as an enlisted Marines. From an engineer with an air wing support squadron to doing mine’s sweeps and patrols in Iraq. From a construction guy to an AAV crewcheif after my re-enlistment. I met females who could and couldn’t hack, but I met far more men who have issues working with women than women who couldn’t hack. These individuals are going to be the problem as they perpetuate the belief that all females are going to want concessions and special treatment instead of giving them the line and seeing if they can tote it. All in all our military is f***ed by liberal pantywaists that don’t know what our infantryman go through so they want it to be equal all around and many females in our armed forces, sadly, are the same. I hope one day a woman who has the grit and intestinal fortitude to make it through ITB or the IOS can served next male counterparts without being forced to let substandard practices and bigotry get in the way.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 10:39 am
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    We’ve had em in Canada, some bad, some good, some great…just like the guys. Get over it America! It’s 2014!

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    • October 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm
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      What’s your basic load? What are your Physical Fitness standards?

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  • October 13, 2014 at 10:14 am
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    First off great article. Well thought out and a fun read. We often hear rumblings of social welfare success in Denmark, Norway and other fantastic Nordic places. That argument of course fails under any scrutiny and this female death machine example is another one of these unicorn arguments. Although definitely in some type of shape (most likely endurance based) you can see her straining with her rifle and kit by her body posture in several of the hero shots posted here. I could go on for hours about the physiological differences that should preclude the evidently MASSIVE swell in females looking to join the Infantry. But one quick thing to point out, Olympians of the female persuasion still have LESS grip strength then a slovenly male. The average gamer will go from tub of shit to capable almost every time if given the proper training parameters. Carry kit well over 100 pounds and being able to FIGHT is doable, proven and a constant. Trying to become an all inclusive Army sounds fantastic, and if the females coming in are willing to start taking a solid regimen of Anavar and other delightful strength inducing cocktails then fantastic. Sign the waiver for potential lady part changes and the like and have at it. Until that comes this type of article is dangerous pandering, although entertaining.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 10:51 am
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      I don’t know what you were looking at, but the only photo that could show ‘evident strain’ is the photo of her with the guidon on a training hump. There are females who are just as capable as any man. Some are even more capable. My problem with you comment, sir, is that you are basing your judgement from a few pictures. I’ve seen women do,just fine on 10 or 12 mile humps while men fell out left and right. Is this always the case? No, it isn’t but it goes to show that spouting physiological differences is a thing of the past. I’d rather have a 120-110 lbs female who does her job and get from point a to b without help over a 140 male who doesn’t have the damn heart or discipline to make sure he can those things. No women do not ‘deserve’ a spot in the infantry, but they deserve the chance to try out and test their grit.

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      • October 13, 2014 at 10:58 am
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        These capable females are tested under what parameter’s? Math and English diction? We agree there. As I stated the average pud working at his desk 9 hours a day, had great physical grip strength then female Olympians. This is just a drop in the bucket physiologically speaking. On an open training environment a female athlete WILL not be as successful under load as a male of half the training time. It is apparent that those arguing for this lioness invasion think the Infantry and combat as just some average Job with average stakes. It’s not. What I am spouting is science, what your wishing for is fairness. Let’s fight to keep life fair in areas that wont put young men’s lives in danger.

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        • October 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm
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          Unicorns don’t exist. Mary does.

          If women can hack the training, they should be allowed in. If the training does not accurately reflect the realities of combat, then the fault is with the training and not with the people passing it.

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          • October 13, 2014 at 5:29 pm
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            Mary exists yes. Her capabilities are madly inflated. Strolling along on patrol looking tactical fab is certainly fun. Would you want her dragging your ass into cover? The facts are, the Army is doing just enough to get bodies into battle. They don’t care to have the best out of what they have, they want good enough to get the job done. Realistic standards for testing has been bench marked and proven, and then dumped because reality was an uncaring entity. Go ask the actuary statisticians about the last 3 years of stats on female upper body strength during CA selection. Let me give you a heads up, its fucking abysmal. The plan was to let everyone do Nasty nick, until they started to see real life abilities put out in view. I have flown a plane, once it was in the air. That hardly quals me a pilot.

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            • October 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm
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              Yup you really should listen to Mark Twain. “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”

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              • October 14, 2014 at 11:38 am
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                Scott. What points did not please you? Fact’s may not be pleasant to read but for someone who quotes Twain, you certainly don’t understand what he stood for.

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              • October 15, 2014 at 10:43 pm
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                Hey Scott….typical millenial comment. Ridicule. No substance.

                Perhaps you should consider your use of the Twain quote reflects directly on you, yourself. Is it possible you can respond with a mature comment ? Or do you only have the ability to snipe and ridicule ?

                Myself, I agree with Victor. And in this venue I’ll refrain from making supportive argument against women in the military.

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          • October 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm
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            -Insert discussion about rucking as a physical fitness standard-

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        • October 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm
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          viktor……could you cite some sourxes, research, studies, etc. to back up your claims???

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          • October 14, 2014 at 11:36 am
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            Yes to start.

            A. Take a basic undergrad class in physiology

            B. Take graduate level class in hormone specific physiology

            C. Understand that the makeup of muscle tissue appears to be the same across the sex divide but the hormone affects are staggeringly different. I could site papers for hours, but you won’t really read them as I am sure this is political pandering for some more then an open debate.

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            • October 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm
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              You’re not offering any evidence, you’re making a claim and saying “look it up yourself.” If your point is that men are generally stronger than women, of course your point is valid and nobody is arguing otherwise. But that’s not the issue. There are males who lack the musculature to be infantry. They’re still allowed to try infantry school. There are males who can’t carry a 100 pound pack 50 miles. They’re still allowed to try infantry school. There are women who have already served as infantry in other nations’ armies. Yet they’re not allowed to try infantry school. Nobody is claiming females are physiologically equal to men; what Mary and I said is, “Some women are capable of being infantry. Let those few who are capable actually do it.”

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              • October 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm
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                No Chris. Lets not allow a “few” females disrupt combat arms. Lets put together an entire provisional infantry battalion of them and drop them in the hills of Afghanistan for 30 days. No male support. No compromising by having males do the heavy lifting of making the Mary types look good

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                • October 16, 2014 at 7:43 am
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                  Let’s not allow any soldiers of either gender to disrupt combat arms. My argument is that capable soldiers of either gender won’t cause a disruption. Not even during a 30-day operation in Afghanistan.

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                • October 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm
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                  You know, a fully female Infantry company (Morrigan’s Ravens) might not be a bad idea!

                  (of course, I wrote a short story on it a couple of years back so I’m biased)

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  • October 13, 2014 at 10:13 am
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    That was a long read fellas. But well worth it. Thank you Mary for your contribution. Being career military myself (Active duty/National Guard, non infantry, non officer) I can agree with pretty much everything in this article. Give women the chance and they will surprise us.

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    • October 13, 2014 at 10:34 am
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      I’m not sexist at all. However, being an infantryman is by far one of the hardest jobs in the army. I believe the only way a woman could make it in the infantry is if the standards are altered for them. Anyone in the infantry knows that we hold standards very high. So if this article is about women being equal then why do we have to lower the standards. The APFT standards have already been lowered for women. On another note, we read about soldiers doing dumb shit in the papers or hear it on the news all of the time. We don’t need more trouble for soldiers. Sexual harassment cases would sky rocket. All I’m saying is that too much would have to change for this to even remotely work.

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      • October 13, 2014 at 11:34 am
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        I thought Rakkasan was full of pussies already? Just a little joke from an old 1-502nd.

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      • October 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm
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        Nobody but idiot liberals campaign for change. Any woman that wants to be a grunt would disdain you for suggesting that you should lower the standards for them.

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  • October 13, 2014 at 8:53 am
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    I was happy when the CFT came out for the Marines, I hate the PFT as the only measure of fitness. I can see the validity of being able to determine how fit one’s self is, but with no objective way to measure it, the 115ib dude on double rats can be more fit than the 185ib dude based on score and the ability to move one’s bodyweight around, TOTALLY ignoring the fact that an M2 receiver weighs a certain amount, another Marine weighs a certain amount, and there isn’t always someone stronger to pull the heavy weight. Ideally they would incorporate functional tasks with the regular PFT so a balance is achieved, and conduct that test over a day or two.

    Reply

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