Defense & National Security

Failing culture puts women in combat

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is right about one of the reasons women should not serve in combat, but such commonsense may come too late to keep our daughters from being forced into battle.  

Last week Mr. Santorum said women should not serve in combat because men might be distracted from their mission by their “natural instinct” to protect women.  He referred to camaraderie of men in combat and said the presence of women was “not in the best interest of men, women or the mission.”

His comments were prompted by the Pentagon’s announcement changing its ground combat exclusion policy to assign women to front line support jobs, like medics and radio operators.   This is the latest in a multi-decade campaign of incremental changes that could compel the Supreme Court to require women to be included in a future draft. 

We got to this point because feminists insisted, our leaders caved and our culture became so indifferent to violence against women that three-fourths now support the idea of women in direct combat.  

Let’s cut to the chase and deal with the real issue.  Feminists and their spineless male supporters won’t be satisfied until women are serving in every ground combat role, including infantry and Special Forces.  Why is that a bad idea, what are the consequences for our security, and why will this lead to our daughters being involuntarily drafted into combat?

First, it is a bad idea because direct ground combat is the most physically demanding task known to mankind.  The average male has twice the upper body strength and a quarter more endurance than the average female which explains why men are best suited for ground combat roles.   When it comes to ground combat, brawn matters and the weak don’t survive.

Recall television images of our infantry on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan or patrolling villages in Iraq. Those troops carry a full 60-80 pound combat load for hours at a time often in extreme heat, day after day.  That grueling routine is interrupted by periods of intense violence that require quick Herculean effort.  Few women can perform to that standard. 

Assigning women who are physically weaker to ground combat units will degrade unit performance and further burden the exhausted men.  Unfortunately, given recent history, the politically correct Pentagon, if ordered to prepare a pathway for female ground combatants, will gender-norm combat physical standards to accommodate women and then declare “equal effort” as the same as “equal results.”   

Second, men are more aggressive than women, a critical skill for warriors.  History teaches us that virtually all warriors across time have been men due to a combination of mental and physical aptitudes.

In World War II the battle hardened Russians experimented with all female infantry units but soon discovered that these units would not fight, but ran from the battlefield.  Other nations like Canada have a few women in combat units.

In 1989, Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal repealed women’s combat exemptions promoting equal access over combat readiness.  That military spent $500,000 to recruit 249 women for a field test but attracted only 26.  One woman passed the infantry test to become Canada’s first female combat soldier. 

The sports world exposes gender differences.  Certainly professional women in sports are in exemplary physical condition, but there are few if any sports where women are capable of defeating men on even a semi-consistent basis.  The all women’s Lingerie Football League champion team will never qualify for the Super Bowl.

There is also the matter that men commit most of the violent crime (7 times more likely than women to commit murder), an immoral plague on society.  But when that aptitude for aggressive violence is properly guided as in the military it can serve an important purpose. 

It doesn’t matter whether men are aggressive because of nature or nurture.  That is their condition and one the military needs for its warrior class. 

Third, all-male cohesive teams make the best fighting units.  Mixing women in those units can polarize the team making it ineffective.

Two factors are at play in mixed sex units.  There is the aspect that men are hardwired to protect women (Santorum’s view) and the matter of sexual attraction.  Both matter when building cohesive teams because favoritism and attraction enters the picture.  And yes, even the most homely woman gets sexual attention in austere settings. 

Further, our troops don’t leave their libidos at home.  Some soldiers find a way to engage in sex even in austere combat zones and word of hanky-panky inevitably gets out to damage morale. 

There is evidence a lot of sex takes place on the job.  Over the past few years hundreds of young women have been evacuated from combat zones and off warships at sea due to pregnancy.  Contraceptives are widely distributed by military health care providers in combat theaters as tacit acknowledgment that sex does take place and some commanders grudgingly accommodate the inevitable sexual liaisons by posting rules to keep relationships discrete.

Regrettably some sex is forced.  Last month the Pentagon announced violent sex crimes within the Army increased 64% since 2006 and women account for 95% of all sex crime victims.  The vast majority (97%) of those victims know their attackers but do not report the crimes because they do not believe the perpetrators will be prosecuted.

Mix the sexes in small units on the front lines and you invite cohesion problems. 

Finally, there is no evidence women are clamoring for ground combat assignments.   Opinion surveys done by the Army indicate the majority of military women are strongly opposed to combat assignments – especially if it means being forced into combat on an “equal” basis with men. Perhaps that response is why the Army no longer asks the question.   

Therefore, if military women lack physical strength, aggression, threaten unit cohesion, and express no desire for ground combat assignments, then who is pushing for women in combat?  Civilian feminists view ground combat a glass ceiling for women’s equal opportunity.  They could not care less about our fighting ability or the precedent this sets for future women. 

Feminists applaud the Pentagon’s decision assigning women to direct ground combat battalions albeit in “support” roles as one step closer to breaking their “glass ceiling.” And that goal can’t be too far off given Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s promise to “continue to open as many positions as possible to women.”  

Panetta’s policy shift and promise for more openings is the tipping point that will make women subject to the conscription.  The Selective Service System (the conscription mechanism) excludes women based on the 1981 Rostker v. Goldberg Supreme Court case which upheld the constitutionality of Pentagon’s combat exclusion for women based largely on the Pentagon’s women in combat policy.   That policy is now ripe for a legal challenge because it is Swiss cheese. 

There will come a day in the not so distant future when our all volunteer force can’t meet the nation’s security challenges.  The president will call for a draft that will include our daughters against their will.

At that time American parents should blame three parties: Congress which has the constitutional responsibility to set military personnel policy, President Obama for proposing the policy change, and military brass who knew better but lacked the courage to stand-up to their political masters.

Sign Up