Women in Combat and the Undoing of Civilization

Our civilization just took a gigantic leap backward yesterday, though I’m wondering if anyone will notice. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter removed final obstacles restricting women from serving in combat units in the United States military. The decision was made three years ago by then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and now the three year period for studying the move has come to an end. The Washington Post Reports:

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Thursday that he is opening all jobs in combat units to women, a landmark decision that ends a three-year period of research with a number of firsts for female service members and bitter debate at times about how women should be integrated.

The decision opens the military’s most elite units to women who can meet the rigorous requirements for the positions for the first time, including in the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and other Special Operations Units. It also opens the Marine Corps infantry, a battle-hardened force that many service officials had openly advocated keeping closed to female service members.

“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said. “This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before.”

I understand that we are living in times of tremendous social change. Americans have by and large cast aside the “quaint” view that men and women are different and that they ought to have roles and responsibilities that correspond to those differences. So for many people, I’m sure this news merely appears as the next stage of progress toward equality in our society. I have a different view.

Are the fortunes of women in our country really enhanced by sending them to be ground up in the discipline of a combat unit and possibly to be killed or maimed in war? Is there a father in America who would under any circumstance risk having his daughter shot or killed in battle? Is there a single husband in this country who thinks it okay for his wife to risk being captured by our enemies? To risk becoming a prisoner of war? Is this the kind of people we want to be? Perhaps this is the kind of people we already are. I would sooner cut off my arm than allow such a thing with my own wife and daughters. Why would I ever support allowing someone else’s to do the same? Why would anyone?

In 2013, Ryan Smith wrote in The Wall Street Journal about the reality that awaits women in combat. Smith illustrates the problem by describing his own experience as a Marine during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Readers should be warned that what you are about to read is not for the faint of heart. But I think it is important for people to consider the reality of what will be required of female infantrymen.

Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war…

We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face…

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

What kind of a society puts its women on the front lines to risk what only men should be called on to risk? In countries ravaged by war, we consider it a tragedy when the battle comes to the backyards of women and children. Why would we thrust our own wives and daughters into that horror? My own instinct is to keep them as far from it as possible.

Perhaps some people believe that women ought to be able to volunteer for whatever job they are qualified to do. But what if the draft were reinstituted? Under the right conditions, the draft would be a very real possibility, and that specter of a draft is really clarifying. It’s one thing for women to volunteer for combat service. It’s an entirely different matter for them to be drafted into it. I have a hard time believing that the women of America would want to be forced into such conditions. Any man that would countenance for one second his 18-year old daughter being pressed into this kind of service is abdicating his responsibility. Are we really going to be the kind of people who press our wives and daughters and mothers to fight in combat?

Men and women are different. The roles that each of them play during wartime ought to correspond to those differences. I have a feeling that more people feel the same way as I do than are willing to admit it. We live in an egalitarian age that can hardly tolerate the “quaint” notion that men and women are different. So very few are willing to speak up. But on this one, reality is staring us in the face.

The welfare of our mothers, wives and daughters is a test of our nation’s character. How willing are we as people to pretend that there are no differences between men and women? It is one thing to stand and applaud as Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner receives an ESPY award. But how many people would be willing to continue the gender charade when their daughters are carried off to war?

John Piper answers this well:

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.

Everyone in America ought to be scandalized by this news. But in a culture that is doing its level-best to obscure the differences between men and women, I’m wondering if it will even register on anyone’s conscience. To the extent that it doesn’t, we reveal just how far gone we are as a people. This is a sad day.

23 Responses to Women in Combat and the Undoing of Civilization

  1. Ian Shaw December 4, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Standards of strength will have to be reduced and that will cause an increase of fatalities.

    The feminist movement has chosen to ignore one physiological fact. Typically speaking and for 90%+ of the time, men’s bodies are built differently than women’s. Physiologically created differently when it comes to muscle mass. What will the groups that are pushing this do when reports come in and they are sending women to slaughter?

    ““There will be no exceptions,” Carter said. “This means that, as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before.”

    The standards will be forced to change. I guarantee it.

    • buddyglass December 5, 2015 at 1:29 am #

      “Standards of strength will have to be reduced…”

      No, they won’t. They may in fact eventually be reduced, but allowing women into these roles does not force that to be the case.

  2. Johnny Mason December 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Set aside the moral argument for a moment, and think about the physical requirements that go into combat. Most people have no idea what military training and combat are like, and the physical demands placed on the body.

    “So why do men and women perform so differently in combat-related tasks? First, physiologically and psychologically, women and men are significantly different. Men are not simply bigger women with different plumbing. Men’s blood carries 10 to 12 percent more oxygen per liter than does a women’s; and men’s VO2 max, a measure of the top rate of oxygen consumption, is 40 to 60 percent greater than that of women. An average fit man will weigh about 23 percent more, have 50 percent more muscle mass, and carry 10 percent less body fat than an average fit woman. Pound for pound, men have thicker skulls, bigger, stronger necks, hearts that are 17 percent larger, and bones that are both bigger and denser. Despite being much heavier, men’s vertical leap is nearly 50 percent greater than that of women.”

    “Women soldiers are challenged by some field combat duties — carrying five-gallon cans of fuel and water, changing armor vehicle track and heavy truck tires, carrying 100-plus-pound loads of ammunition and fighting gear on extended dismounted operations, carrying stretchers of wounded soldiers, and the brute labor required to dig in fighting positions,”

    “Blows to the head or other concussive events that a man can shrug off will stun or render a woman unconscious, reducing her unit’s chances of survival, especially in hand-to-hand combat.”

    “One Army study focusing on Operation Iraqi Freedom found women are almost twice as likely to suffer from non-combat related disease and injuries and are twice as likely to be medevac’d out of the theater of operations. Historical non-deployment rates for women are three to four times than that of men. Women suffer many times the rate of stress fractures and ACL injuries. All of this hurts combat readiness and increases costs. That we will still be able to defeat vastly inferior opponents is beside the point — more of our soldiers will die and our combat units will be less capable.”

    That last sentence is the kicker. More of our soldiers will die if you put women in combat.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420826/women-in-combat-military-effectiveness-deadly-pentagon

  3. Christiane Smith December 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    ” Is there a father in America who would under any circumstance risk having his daughter shot or killed in battle? ”

    my brother called me the night he received some paperwork that his daughter had made him and my sister-in-law the recipients of a special insurance policy in case anything happened to my niece in Iraq . . .

    I remember my brother was weeping

    Linds returned safely after a year’s duty, served for a while in our homeland, and then deployed to Afghanistan . . .

    I would say no one wants to lose a father OR A SON in a warzone . . . but today we learn that the young wife who took part in the massacre in California had pledged allegiance to ISIS on her facebook . . . is there now any place that is not a warzone, DENNY ?

    my brother is very proud of Linds, as we all are . . . she was a trauma nurse (Navy) and had helped to save many lives, and had prayed with some who didn’t make it . . . her ‘scars’ are emotional and deep, and she endures them patiently and honorably

  4. Kent McDonald December 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    Thank you Denny for an insightful take on this issue. Many who have never served in the Armed Forces have an unrealistic view of the reality of service. Admittedly, my service was almost 50 years ago during the Vietnam era, but military needs are enduring. PTSD is no respecter of persons. Male, Female, the horrors of war are debilitating. The real truth is there is NO NEED for females in combat. The only reason it is being considered is political in nature. Political or social equality should not even be part of the equation. So our women should have an equal right to be dismembered and maimed and suffer the PTSD because….why again? What is the point? War is Hell. We should not be so eager to push our daughters into hell. I am not denigrating the service our patriotic women have sacrificed to our nation in the military. But there is simply no military goal or tactic in the advancement of war that requires women to be involved. We will live to see the day we regret this decision.

    • buddyglass December 5, 2015 at 1:31 am #

      “The real truth is there is NO NEED for females in combat.”

      There’s also no need for female lawyers. That doesn’t justify prohibiting women from becoming lawyers.

  5. Ian Shaw December 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    My question is this….are women on a waiting list for combat missions? Are recruiting offices lined with women who want to be SEALS? I don’t see women lining up to become a ‘frog-man’.

    Or is this just propaganda from interest groups that under the guise of “equality”, want to open this door when there is no demand? These interest groups are opening the doors for women to get murdered. Plain and simple.

  6. Chris Ryan December 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    My sister joined the Army at 18. She spent some 20 years in service, eventually meeting her husband in the Army and raising a small litter of Army brats. She was activated for the 1st Gulf War. Our family, including our very evangelical pastor father, is extremely proud of her service. And she’s not ‘uncivilized’ in the slightest. I promise you she uses a fork with all her MREs, I mean meals 🙂 And she makes 1 heck of a sweet potato pie 😀 Her name is Gina. Though she’s retired from the Army the Lord has blessed her with a beautiful ministry.

    If it were up to Jesus we wouldn’t have any wars at all so I don’t see how “wimpiness” comes into this. I also don’t see all that many Bible ordained restrictions placed on women. Most of these restrictions come from men. So if women like my sister want to serve their country in combat all I can say is God bless them, and God bless all of you.

    • Kim D December 5, 2015 at 11:08 am #

      Thanks for sharing Chris. My daughter would like to be in special forces some day. She just turned 18. Is this what my husband and I wanted for our baby girl? Absolutely not. But she is her own person and has to find her own purpose in her life. If she wants to spend her life risking it for others and ends up sacrificing her life to save others I will be proud of her. Devestated, but proud. Just as proud as I would be if she changed her mind and wanted to be a stay at home mom. This is not an issue of forcing women into combat roles. It is about not prohibiting the ones who are able and volunteering to do it. They should have to meet every requirement physically that the men have. But if they can meet those requirements they should have the same opportunity. These are brave women who are willing to give all and they should be celebrated. They know what they are asking to be a part of and don’t expect to have it be some romanticized version of combat. The men on here who are ok with it are not wimps. They just have come to terms with the fact that you shouldn’t be able to dictate what another adult can or can’t do with their career just based on gender.

  7. buddyglass December 5, 2015 at 1:26 am #

    “Americans have by and large cast aside the “quaint” view that men and women are different and that they ought to have roles and responsibilities that correspond to those differences.”

    No to the first part. Yes to the second part. That is, Americans have not, by and large, cast aside the view that men and women are different. They have, however, generally cast aside the view that because men and women are different at an aggregate level they should be forced into certain roles and responsibilities without respect to the individual.

    “Are the fortunes of women in our country really enhanced by sending them to be ground up in the discipline of a combat unit and possibly to be killed or maimed in war?”

    “No” if we’re talking about mandatory combat service. “Yes” if we’re talking about women being given the opportunity to voluntarily subject themselves to those risks in order to serve their country.

    “It’s one thing for women to volunteer for combat service. It’s an entirely different matter for them to be drafted into it. I have a hard time believing that the women of America would want to be forced into such conditions.”

    1. It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever have another draft. But even if we do,
    2. It’s highly unlikely that a randomly selected woman would qualify for combat duty. So even if your daughter gets drafted, she’s probably not going into combat because she won’t be able to meet the criteria. This also ignores the fact that,
    3. Nobody’s talking about drafting women. If we ever did reinstate the draft, most likely women would be excluded.

    “How willing are we as people to pretend that there are no differences between men and women?”

    Not very willing at all, which is why almost nobody pretends there are no differences.

    “What kind of a society puts its women on the front lines to risk what only men should be called on to risk?”

    Israel, for one.

    • Ian Shaw December 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

      Except Israel’s military, especially their special forces…are pretty BA.

  8. Sarah Shaw December 5, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    I hope everyone of you all have taken the oath to defend our country. The article speaks with no knowledge of the military whatsoever. There are women in our army stronger, faster and more mentally sound than men. This is happening because this is what our army is capable of doing. If only everyone of you knew that women are already in combat and defending your country. They just don’t have combat mos to their title.

  9. deb welch (@debwelch) December 5, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Denny, great article! I appreciate the WSJ reference and description of the deplorable conditions of real-life direct combat. That should serve as a wake up call to misguided egalitarians.

    I have written about this topic from the perspective of a Christian woman who previously served in the Army. I retired in 2008 after 23 years in the military and can say that the conditions for these changes have been in the works for years.
    http://solofide.blogspot.com/2015/08/my-perspective-women-in-combat.html

    What I think we need to do is get something on the books that permits women to claim “conscientious objector” status because of gender. Men can claim it on religious or philosophical grounds if they prove they are pacifist. Women should not have to claim to be pacifists to “opt out” of selective service – that would have to come before they were ever drafted.

    Just an idea.

  10. Scott Shaffer December 5, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    The hypocrisy of the left is stunning. Men are required to register for the draft and have no option to not serve in combat roles. I don’t recall hearing the left demanding this form of equal treatment.

    • buddyglass December 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      I haven’t asked them, but I very much suspect that the most outspoken liberal feminists I know would gladly welcome a measure requiring women to register for selective service. So you may be fighting a straw man on this one.

      There’s also the possibility that “the left” (which is not actually monolithic) understands, like most people do, that women are not (in general) well-suited to combat roles, which is why they haven’t pressed hard for them to be required to register.

      If women were eligible for the draft, we’d likely have to change the rules so as to avoid drafting both parents of a family w/ children.

  11. Diana Johnston December 5, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Awesome article, and so true. Thank you.

  12. Melissa De Bruin December 5, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Speaking as a woman, hearing news like this doesn’t make me feel more equal, it makes me feel scared and unprotected. In my marriage, it’s understood that it’s my husband’s job to protect me, not mine to protect him. It’s the natural order, and a woman’s physical and emotional stability speak to it. It’s undeniable, and the facts about how women stand up in military situations are telling. I recently read that women in the military have twice as many injuries as men. Why is everyone trying to make women into men? I love being a woman, and everything that entails, and what it doesn’t. The feminist movement has done a lot of harm for women, ironically.

  13. Curt Day December 5, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    A couple of points to consider. First, men and women do have differences, but they also share some abilities and responsibilities. We should note that not only have women served in combat before the US was conceived, they led forces into battle as well.

    Second, the understandable reservedness about sending females troops into battle is offset by the cavalier attitude of sending men into the same circumstances. As much as any father or husband should not smile on having his daughter or wife sent into combat, we need to ask what cause or war should allow us to feel pride in sending our men into the dire circumstances of battle. In some senses, there should be an equal reserve in sending any troops into battle. That reserve should move us to thoroughly investigate all conflicts where are troops are sent and to oppose the sending of our troops into battles in which what they must risk or do is not warranted.

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