March 2013: A Line in the Sand
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne
WOMEN IN COMBAT
Frank Dunne, Jr.
I know what you’re thinking. When that Dunne guy heard of the military’s plans to put women in front-line combat he was probably jumping for joy shouting, “Let’s send Courtney! Let’s send Courtney!” But you would be wrong.
This is a really bad idea, and don’t throw some poll that says most Americans favor it in my face. Most Americans don’t want Obamacare, but we got that rammed down our throats anyway didn’t we? Most Americans never served and have no clue how this will hurt military strength and effectiveness. We should be more concerned with a poll that says 17 percent of male Marines would leave the service if this happens.
See? The guys who know what they’re talking about want no part of this.
We’ve been fighting wars for thousands of years, and for thousands of years men have done the fighting. There’s a good reason for that. Men are generally bigger, stronger, more aggressive, and more predisposed to violence and brutality than women. That’s what the military needs, because its mission to defend the nation’s safety and security boils down to killing people and blowing stuff up, and its effectiveness at doing so will be reduced with women on the front lines.
Physical standards to serve in combat that measure things like how much a soldier can lift and carry and for how long are presently set at a level that servicewomen don’t meet. Those standards would have to be lowered if we are to allow women into combat roles. What if a male soldier weighing 200 pounds plus the weight of his body armor, helmet and other gear goes down wounded and the only one there to drag him out of danger is a 110-pound female who can’t get it done? The odds of two dead vs. one wounded just went up. Extrapolate those odds across the whole company, regiment, division and so on, and you’ve got a weaker, less effective military force.
What do you think that will do to recruiting? Once everybody knows that the odds of becoming a casualty are so high, who’s going to volunteer? The next step is to reinstate the draft, which would be a disaster. A conscripted soldier is far less effective than a volunteer who chose to be there, who answered a call and is willing to take the risk. With which one would you rather share a foxhole?
In our pregame discussion, Courtney offered that there are women in her gym class who could whoop her brother’s butt, and he served in the army. That may or may not be true, but it doesn’t matter. It’s anecdotal, and physical fitness as most of us regular folks know it doesn’t prepare one for combat. I might like to meet Courtney’s friend though…
She also argued that if a woman is willing to take the risk, she has the right to do so.
She does not. We need to get this idea out of our heads that just because we want to do something it’s automatically a civil right. Putting the lives of fellow soldiers, as well as the nation’s safety and security, at risk just to satisfy a handful of women’s desires is bad policy.
Cleveland Plain Dealer’s deputy editorial page editor Kevin Obrien asked, “Would we have wanted American women shivering at Bastogne? Would we have wanted them fighting from house to house in Fallujah or dragged through the streets of Mogadishu?” Doesn’t sound like such a good idea anymore, does it? Why is it that we don’t let women play pro football, and men and women compete separately in everything from track & field to archery in the Olympics, but suddenly we don’t recognize the differences between men and women when it comes to combat?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Remember where this is coming from, the idiot-in-chief and his merry band of nitwits in the White House. This is the same guy who said he wouldn’t let his son (if he had one) play football because it’s too dangerous, but he’s apparently quite all right with sending your daughters to their deaths in combat. Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t vote for the S.O.B.
This past weekend, I was getting a pedicure. From my comfy chair and across the bubbles I spotted the rack of nail polish on the far wall. Wait a minute I thought, is that green nail polish? Green! Really? How sassy. I can remember a time when wearing red nail polish was as bold as one dare go.
Times change. People change. The world changes.
Case in point, on January 24, U.S. military leaders lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “Women have become an ‘integral part’ of the military and have already demonstrated their willingness to fight during the wars of the last decade. It’s clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission of defending the nation.”
The change will open hundreds of thousands of front line positions and potentially elite commando jobs (that typically require front line experience) to women. My gosh! The nerve of women. First they want the right to vote. Then they want to work. Then they want the right to choose. Next they ask for equal pay. And now, they want to further serve their country? How dare they? Imagine the gall of these women suggesting that there be equality on all fronts? Right?
According to Panetta, “Women, who already make up 15 percent of the force, have increasingly found themselves in the ‘reality of combat’ during Iraq and Afghanistan.” He said not everyone can meet the qualifications to be a combat soldier but that everyone is entitled the opportunity. Bravo Leon. I mean, Sir, Mr. Panetta.
“They’re serving in a growing number of critical roles on and off the battlefield,” Panetta said of women. “They have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission.”
Wake up people. It’s 2013; women are a vital part of every mission. I don’t know who goes to battle in your household, but I’m the badass in my family. (I recently went head-to-head with our insurance agent.)
Now, I am hardly an expert on warfare or the military. But, what I do consider myself an expert at is seeking out idiocy and closed minds. And, it is perhaps the closed minds that have me most upset. I watched a discussion unfold on a social media site, and my blood began to boil. First because of the ignorance of the man posting about “women’s roles,” and second because his wife agreed with him. I’m shocked she had the time to get on the computer what, with all of the cooking and housework she must have been handling. And barefoot nonetheless.
Focus, Courtney. Focus.
The ban that blocked women from the front lines was first made a formal policy, based on the unwillingness to have women soldiers “exposed to direct fire from the enemy, direct engagement with enemy troops, or the risk of capture.” The difference between now and then is that concept of “front lines” is diminished.
A post on the Constitution Center blog, a daily analysis on current events viewed through the lens of the United States Constitution, (I’ve heard a lot of hubbub lately about the second amendment, so I imagine the Constitution is still considered fair and balanced, right?) the day of the announcement notes that, “Anywhere in a country where there are hostile insurgent forces, using roadside bombs, for example, there is no longer what military experts call ‘the linear battlefield’ made up of ‘forward’ and ‘rear’ positions. And, of course, the realty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been that women are quite often among the casualties, despite the formal ban on their serving in combat units. More than 800 women have been wounded in those two conflicts, and 144 have been killed.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Jon Soltz, who served two Army tours in Iraq and is the chairman of the veterans group VoteVets.org, acknowledged that a combat job may not be one every woman is interested in pursuing, but, “some of them are, and when you’re looking for the best of the best, you cast a wide net. There are women who can meet these standards, and they have a right to compete.”
Bottom line: if a woman can meet the physical and emotional standards necessary to serve in a combat position and wants to put her life on the line to protect her country and fellow citizens, why in the hell would we stop her? There are plenty of badass women out there who could kick the crap out of a man. (Come to a Saturday class at Cross Fit 843 and you’ll see what I’m talking about.) Heck, I am pretty sure I could kick the crap out of at least one man. Frank, interested in volunteering?
Maybe that is that the real issue—the fear of a man being outshined by a woman. Again.