The most powerful essay on women in combat yet

I have posted a great deal on women in combat over the last week. By far, the most powerful thing I’ve read yet is something I just discovered tonight. The essay is written by a female Marine who has desired to join the infantry but who nevertheless opposes women in combat. She writes under the pseudonym “Sentry,” and you really must read her entire essay. Here’s just a piece of it:

This country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

This really is a must-read. Read it here.

18 Responses to The most powerful essay on women in combat yet

  1. coramdude January 28, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Denny, do you not finding it troubling that so much of the arguments against women in combat, including this one you link to are based on pragmatic arguments? Shouldn’t we oppose this because it’s wrong for women to fight, because men are to protect women? If there were a group of women with the size and strength of Goliath, it would still be wrong to send them into battle. The church does not defend Jesus not because it would do a miserable job of it, but because Jesus defends the church.

    • Denny Burk January 28, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Agreed, and I have made the moral case in my previous posts. But the moral case isn’t neatly separate from the pragmatic on (see 1 Pet. 3:7).

      • buddyglass January 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

        How would you apply the ‘moral case’ to women who volunteer and meet the (existing) physical requirements, supposing they could be integrated without degrading effectiveness (which is a pragmatic concern)?

        The moral case seems to be, “We (men) should never force our women to fight; we should fight in their stead.” That argues against forcing women to take combat roles and/or against conscripting them into even non-combat roles. What I’m not seeing is how it argues in favor of a categorical ban on women serving in these roles.

        To be sure there’s a pragmatic case to be made on that front, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

        • coramdude January 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

          I am not just opposed to forcing women into combat, but opposed to allowing them into combat, on moral not pragmatic grounds. If a woman volunteers to to go down with the Titanic you don’t get in the lifeboat, you put her in it.

          • buddyglass January 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

            Huh. Couple questions:

            How do you circumscribe this sort of paternalism? That is to say what are its limits? Are there situations where you’d respect a woman’s choice even when you consider it to be to her detriment? Are there others (like this one) in which you’d bring the full power of the state to bear to prevent her doing herself harm?

            I’d be interested to hear you elaborate on this, since it’s so incredibly far removed from my view of how women should be treated and, honestly, how I’d want to be treated if I were a woman. Don’t you find it just a little bit patronizing?

            • coramdude January 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

              It’s likely we are rather too far apart to come together in a combox. What you consider patronizing paternalism is in my judgment biblical wisdom. We’d have to dig down rather deep to find common ground to build from. So I won’t be able to elaborate.

          • Suzanne McCarthy January 29, 2013 at 1:06 am #

            Coramdude,

            Officers stood over men and threatened to shoot them if they did not allow wonpmen and children first. Don’t perptrate the fantasy that most men volunteered to allow women and children first. Personally as an older woman, I would want a young man to be in the lifeboat instead of me, and I don’t think there is a verse in the bible that would contradict that. Let’s be real here.

            • coramdude January 29, 2013 at 7:14 am #

              Suzanne, I didn’t say anything about what happened. I said what I would do. And were I a young man and you there, you would get on the lifeboat, not me, notwithstanding your desire, and officers with guns or not. Were it today I’d insist even more strongly as I am troubled living in an insane world where what I am arguing here should not be seen as common sense. We live in an age of sexual insanity, murdering our own children and sending our daughters off to die.

              • buddyglass January 29, 2013 at 11:13 am #

                Harassing (in the legal sense) women whose decisions you disagree with should not be “common sense”.

              • Suzanne McCarthy January 30, 2013 at 3:48 am #

                You have no idea! I have my own young adult children and I would not allow my male children to die in my stead. You would not have that kind of authority over me. This is appalling. I also know how I feel about having a son in the armed forces, not great.

                Your insinuation that you would coerce an outcome on me is unpleasant. Who are ,you and who gives you this right? Common sense is on the side of allowing a person who may have a very limited lifespan left to live, to die for the sake of her son, who may be the father of very young children. Please allow a woman this courtesy!

              • Scott McDonald February 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

                Yes women in the Bible counseled, strategised and fought in war and were memorialised for it. See Deborah or Jael for example.

  2. buddyglass January 28, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Thoughts in no particular order:

    1. For every horrible thing it is uniquely possible to do to a woman there is some analogous abuse that can be perpetrated against a man. Whether or not our enemies would “go there” with respect to male soldiers is another question; perhaps they would not. But it’s not inconceivable that they would.

    2. One imagines Jewish soldiers would also be singled out for special abuse if captured by Islamist forces. Or, for that matter, Muslim soldiers fighting for the U.S. Do we bar them from combat duty on that basis when fighting an Islamist enemy?

    3. Lynch was the first. It’s no wonder the press went nuts, especially given the Pentagon decided to promote the story as a propaganda effort. After umpteen more Jessica Lynches female prisoners or war might begin to be viewed as “only” as newsworthy as males.

    4. Sentry says America isn’t ready for female prisoners of war and the types of abuses they’ll receive. If that’s the case, shouldn’t the Lynch episode have damaged public support for allowing women in combat ? Lynch wasn’t even technically in a combat role; she was a truck driver. But the polls suggest support for dropping the categorical ban is higher than ever.

    5. Sentry spends a lot of time listing the ways in which the ‘average woman’ is more physiologically limited than the ‘average man’ and pointing out that few women will actually meet the necessary physical requirements. Neither of those is a reason to support a categorical ban. They might be relevant if the military were trying to shoehorn ‘average’ women into these roles and/or meet a quota of female members, but it isn’t. If anything, the roles she describes are very likely to be among those for which the Army and Marines ask for (and are granted) an exclusion to female service.

  3. Justin Beadles January 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    1. The moral points have been made by others. I have nothing to add.
    2. Don’t pretend the physical standards will not be lowered. They will be, and lowering the standards in any military situation costs lives. It doesn’t just mean someone with lesser ability gets a job you were hoping for. It means someone with lesser ability is teamed with you and gets you killed.
    3. As a former Military Policeman who has been deployed, I can remember hoping to not have women assigned to my squad. This hope came not from a dislike of women, but from having observed them in training and believing their presence to be a liability. It’s not that the girls can’t obey or shoot straight. They can’t carry their share of the load and keep up. Oh, I’m sure there are a handful that can, but in six years of service, I never met one.
    4. If you have six guys and five girls in a squad, you automatically have only five people to redistribute the heavy loads (M-60, additional ammo, etc.) with. This makes for a more exhausted and frustrated force.
    5. Remember the people that are making the rules are not the ones carrying the ruck sacks and digging the fighting positions.

    • Akash Charles January 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      I am sure the country’s enemies are jumping with joy over lower standards

  4. AKash Charles January 29, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    what I find absurd is
    one day President Obama says we should be proud to send our wives to war
    next day he says If he had a son he would not let him play football-because of the physical risks!!!

    anyone see the contradiction?!!!

    or maybe he actually believes boys should not be tough and girls should!

  5. Lourie Salley February 1, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Sentry says everything every Infantry officer already knows. I appreciate her courage and candor. Semper fi!

  6. Lourie Salley February 1, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    One other comment. When I went through the Infantry Officers Course at Quantico, I scored 298 on a 300 possible Physical Fitness Test. We (Infantry Officers) were world class athletes. 30 years later, we all (those of us still alive) have bad knees, arthritis, hearing loss, etc. It is a hard way to live, and a good way to die. My oldest son is a Marine. (There are no “ex-Marines”. He was an 0311. (Rifleman). He is out now.. (Disability to the back). Do you think I would want my daughter or grand daughter to do this? Hell, NO! We serve to protect women…not place them in danger.

  7. rbrown February 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    As a female Naval Officer and evangelical, I understand the moral questions in discussion from the recent DOD policy change. However I would encourage you to get all the facts before coming to conclusions. There were other female POWs before Jessica Lynch. I had the honor of speaking with Maj Rhonda Cornum after her capitivity in 1991. I think you would find her insight different from your previous post. Also, is sending our women into combat much different than sending missionary women into high security areas to teach the gospel? Maybe you should ask Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry about their POW experience.

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