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  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Palestinian Women March Into Combat Zone

    Moderator's Note

    Ten SWJ Blog entries and two small threads have been merged in today, hence this non-USA thread from 2006 appearing first. There is a second parallel thread on 'Women in Conflict', which maybe worth checking:

    3 November Associated Press - Palestinian Women March Into Combat Zone by Yakub Ralwah.

    Hundreds of Palestinian women in robes and head scarves streamed into a Gaza combat zone Friday to help free gunmen besieged by Israeli troops at a mosque. Two women who came under fire were killed and at least 10 wounded, but some gunmen managed to escape.

    The women, many with ties to the Islamic militant group Hamas, left their homes after daybreak in response to appeals on the local Hamas radio station or telephone calls from friends and relatives. By nightfall, they were celebrated as heroes, an unusual role in a deeply conservative society that tends to keep women on the sidelines. Until Friday, battling Israeli troops had been men's business in Gaza...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-05-2016 at 01:07 PM. Reason: Add Mods Note

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    I think they should become aware that entering into a combat zone on the side of the enemy is a hostile act and should be treated accordingly. No different than playing dead on the battlefield is also a hostile act. Sorry if that sounds cruel but these people only understand strength. They are not Westerners and don't play by our own rules but take advantage of them, which is the fallacy of counterinsurgency tactics. They have their own version of handling things and that includes using human shields. I hate to be the one to state this but things are going to escalate in the Middle East until we start seeing massive casualties and suffering comparable only to the times during World War II. Germany and Japan kept up the "total war" strategy and determination until they had to be burned to the ground and started up again from the rubble. Ironically, they are basically our allies today.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I think this is just another example of how we need to start exploiting non-lethal weapons technologies.

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    I've wondered for years why the Palestinians have not done this sort of thing before. Hundreds of unarmed, determined women are a very powerful force in a world shaped by television. If I remember correctly, public demonstrations by women had a great effect in Chile years ago.

    I am not qualified to comment of the precise legality of this specific event. I do know if future IDF movements are confronted by streets blocked by masses of women, they will have a very big problem, military and PR.

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    Default Agree 100%

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I've wondered for years why the Palestinians have not done this sort of thing before. Hundreds of unarmed, determined women are a very powerful force in a world shaped by television. If I remember correctly, public demonstrations by women had a great effect in Chile years ago.

    I am not qualified to comment of the precise legality of this specific event. I do know if future IDF movements are confronted by streets blocked by masses of women, they will have a very big problem, military and PR.
    Moreover, add using children to the fray...

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Missed opportunity

    Missed opportunity. If they had used non-lethal weapons and captured them. They could have exploited the fact that the chickensh** men would not come out and fight, but sent their women to do it. Plus they could have used it as an opportunity to turn them to their side by" killing them with kindness."

    I say we need to exploit these types of situations as we are going to see more of them if we don't develop and effective counter measure.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Missed opportunity. If they had used non-lethal weapons and captured them. They could have exploited the fact that the chickensh** men would not come out and fight, but sent their women to do it. Plus they could have used it as an opportunity to turn them to their side by" killing them with kindness."

    I say we need to exploit these types of situations as we are going to see more of them if we don't develop and effective counter measure.
    I would totally agree. I think the trick would be to use not only non-lethal weaponry, but weapons that do not "look" bad on a TV screen. For example, tasers can be spun as "dangerous" - maybe tranquilizer dart guns would be better <wry grin>.

    On the PR exloitation, at truly "evil" way of exploiting this specific situation would have been to tranquilize the women, capture the men, and mount posters of the men with a caption reading something like "This man lets women fight for him", with poster of the women reading "The TRUE heros of Gaza".

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Missed opportunity. If they had used non-lethal weapons and captured them. They could have exploited the fact that the chickensh** men would not come out and fight, but sent their women to do it. Plus they could have used it as an opportunity to turn them to their side by" killing them with kindness."

    I say we need to exploit these types of situations as we are going to see more of them if we don't develop and effective counter measure.
    Sounds like a good idea. But you have to use these types of tactics over and over again. The result of which would be constant bad press. Classifying them has hostile combatants and acting accordingly would only give one good incident of bad press and the enemy would have to decide if they are determined enough to keep it up. Is there anything in the Geneva Convention that states these women were anything other than providing support and protection for the enemy on the battlefield. Next, they are going to be wearing Red Crescent arm bands? There is no "powder-puff" solution. These women were hostile and endangering the Israeli troops. You cannot and will not win against combatants by respecting "their" values. The Israelis waited too long to act accordingly and the result was some of these morons in the mosque escaped. We constantly try to over evaluate these extremists and put them and their tactics up on a pedestal. In reality, they're morons and we come up with all sorts of ideas to protect them. That doesn't make any sense. The more martyrs we create the more water-downed the meaning of a martyr becomes for them. How's that for a tactic? It would be like awarding everyone KIA the Medal of Honor.

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    Default News alert – very off topic.

    Note this high profile article, the lead story in the NY Times Sunday Magazine insert. As you know, the NYT is the lead ship in the US media convoy. It sets the agenda for the major newsmagazines and network news, so we can expect to see many more follow-up stories in the next few months. This could be another Tailhook.

    The Women's War
    New York Times
    March 18, 2007
    Prints out at 28 pages.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/ma...ne&oref=slogin


    Here is the article which I beleive ignited this discussion.

    The private war of women soldiers
    By Helen Benedict
    Salon
    March 7, 2007

    “Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," says one woman. "It was for the guys on my own side."”

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...tml?source=rss

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabius Maximus View Post
    Note this high profile article, the lead story in the NY Times Sunday Magazine insert. As you know, the NYT is the lead ship in the US media convoy. It sets the agenda for the major newsmagazines and network news, so we can expect to see many more follow-up stories in the next few months. This could be another Tailhook.

    The Women's War
    New York Times
    March 18, 2007
    Prints out at 28 pages.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/ma...ne&oref=slogin


    Here is the article which I beleive ignited this discussion.

    The private war of women soldiers
    By Helen Benedict
    Salon
    March 7, 2007

    “Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," says one woman. "It was for the guys on my own side."”

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...tml?source=rss
    So far off topic, in fact, that it probably needs it's own thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK
    So far off topic, in fact, that it probably needs it's own thread.
    Agreed. And here it is.

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    Default Is it a Small Wars topic?

    This is definitely an important topic for our nation, because any mishavior in the ranks will have an effect on the nation's will.

    I support equal rights and opportunity, but I also accept the fact that women are women and men are men, and the differences are considerable (far beyond mating mechanics). This creates the friction in values, because most of us support it, but then again we know there are differences, so how do you support it in practice, and not just in principle?

    Based on observation of reality (not the way we want it to be) I think placing a woman by herself in a squad or platoon of men is simply asking for trouble unless you have outstanding leadership at that level. It may make a good photo opportunity for those inclined to show how well the system works, most of us know there are serious underlying troubles. Will time solve this like it did for racial integration? I education over time will have some positive effect, but it won't erase the male/female attraction aspect and the subsequent eroding effect this will have on good order and discipline in the ranks.

    We have or had problems with sexual harrassment in our military academies, which are generally composed of average intelligence with decent moral values (it is a value focused institution), so what do we expect to have in our enlisted ranks when we are now recruiting more category four soldiers and soldiers with criminal records, who obviously have interest in values? Most of us try to live a good life, and feel bad when we make a mistake (our darker nature prevails at certain times), but a criminal simply doesn't care, and if you put him in a war zone where he thinks he can get away with anything because there are limited safety mechanisms in place what do you expect? There has also been an increase on male on male rape, so what does that indicate?

    Part of the problem is the historical biological conflict between the sexes, but the other part is that we're slowly lowering the quality of our recruits and we're begining to feel the effect.

    Women bring a lot to the fight in select career fields (to include military policing), but it will always be a tough fit with numerous rough edges. I wonder if the European Armies have done a better job at integration than we have, or if they have the same challenges?

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Kind of makes me glad I chose infantry.

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    That is going to be a continuing issue we are going to have to deal with since women continue to push the Military to become an equal opportunity employer. Women are petitioning to be allowed to join the Infantry and other combat arms mos's. I do not disagree that women can play a very important role in our ranks. There are plenty of mos's that they perform well at. What must be determined is should we change the rules for the exceptions. I believe strongly in standards and don't believe the standard should ever be compromised. If a female can perform to the standard should she be allowed to join the ranks of the combat mos's? Should matters such as sexual assault be taken into consideration? I have faith in the soldiers, and given the proper leadership it will be able to be accomplished. I do not personally like the idea but I see it becoming inevitable.
    Last edited by Jeremy Carver; 03-22-2007 at 05:45 AM.

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    Default Women and IO / Influence

    Maximus,

    Great question and something I would like to hear thoughts on from Council members. In recent years I’ve heard a whole range of opinions on what target group an IO / influence campaign should focus on. Several OIF operators I talked to were adamant that women (at least in Iraq) should be the number one priority.

    Any thoughts?

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    Default How can women fit in?

    Maximus et al--

    great thoughts! I've got some random input to several of the posts; no particular order:

    Women in combat arms roles: I am a firm believer that the standards in the military should be based on the job; if the job requires accomplishing tasks x, y, and z to a certain level, then EVERYONE regardless of age or gender needs to be able to perform those tasks to that level. It's the next part of the question that gets hairy; if women can accomplish those tasks, should they be permitted to serve in those units? Honestly, I don't know how I feel about that. Some ideas would be voluntary mixed units--that is, identify a group of individuals who ELECT to work in a mixed-gender unit.

    Where I struggle, though, is with the fact that most of the men in these kinds of units could probably be classified as alpha males, and the ingrained tendency to protect those weaker could, potentially, be an issue. You'll notice a lot of "coulds" and "mights"--because I don't know. I've never been in combat, so I don't know how a squad mate might react if he has a female in his unit who comes under fire. I do know that women have been successful in standoff combat roles (like fighter pilots, etc.) but that's an entirely different area.

    That being said, I think we in the military could learn a great deal from NGOs and IOs--my particular experience is with Christian missionaries, who are tremendously effective in certain sensitive countries because the husband is a teacher and the wife is a nurse or a doctor. And this gets to the point that Maximus made--it's the women who, to a large degree, influence the future. If Afghan and Iraqi women can be influenced to view us in a positive light, they may, in turn, exert that influence (whether overtly or covertly) on their children.

    This does not remove the requirement to influence the underlying reasons for discontent; however, as we are all very well aware, perception is often 9/10ths of reality and (this might belong in another area) I don't believe we are waging a tremendously effective information campaign.

    I guess my final thought would be that creating a blended security/CA type unit that was either predominantly female or had several female members (all with proper training and education) could be tremendously beneficial. But this leads to another question that I think goes along with this--is there a role for older people? How about a similar effort to recruit a civilian over-50 unit to go over and function as an elder corps?

    That last part may be way out in left field. What do you all think?

    Regards,

    Bridget

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    How about a Joan of Allah Brigade? The Palestinians have a female that is on the news alot that represents their views, I can not remember here name but she made a big splash when she appeared. An educated,well spoken female instead of a blood thirsty terrorist.

    Not to long ago myself and Bill Moore had a thread about this very subject, it involved the incident where Palestinian women charged some Israelis and they let some prisoners go instead of shooting them. I have always thought that we had nothing to loose by involving the Iraqi women in the fight. I don't know about the culture and maybe there is a valid reason not to do it, but if we can it would be worth a try.

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    Bridget, good points, all. Oddly enough, I've been a member of the ILARNG Linguist company, and worked with the Homewood CA guys, and the Linguist Company is female-dominated and the CA guys are all male. I could never figure out why that is.

    There are other dynamics as well to the male/female combat arms thing. I'm a combat arms guy who is now force-branched into a non-combat MOS. I was an extremely effective leader in a combat arms unit, using a very personal and charismatic style. By the end of my first two commands, we, as a unit, "had a love thang going on." This "band of brothers" dynamic is extremely effective in combat arms, and I had effectively developed the skills to make it happen.

    Fast-forward to my third command, a mixed-gender transportation unit. We were scheduled to deploy to Iraq in a few months, so I started initiating the bonding techniques that I had depended on for the first two commands, and "not good" things started to happen. First, I am naturally and comfortably an "alpha", plus I was an authority figure. This combination, combined with the incipient mobilization (I believe) caused the younger females to react in ways that made me extremely uncomfortable.

    I discussed this with my XO, who was female, (and working on her Psychology doctorate) who concurred as to the things that made me uneasy and we agreed that I should shut down the "charisma machine" tuit suite. The net result, was that I felt like I was operating blind-folded and fettered.

    Dominant males, in positions of authority and especially during stressfull situations have a certain attraction to females under that authority. This can lead to stress to both the leader and the led, as well as situations that are corrosive to good order and discipline.

    Luckily, I was hired away from that location in my civilian job, and my XO took those guys to "the box." It was then that I realized what a liability I was to that organization. (And quite possibly to the Army) I've developed an entire leadership tool-box that is not useful in a mixed gender unit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    Maximus et al--
    Where I struggle, though, is with the fact that most of the men in these kinds of units could probably be classified as alpha males, and the ingrained tendency to protect those weaker could, potentially, be an issue. You'll notice a lot of "coulds" and "mights"--because I don't know. I've never been in combat, so I don't know how a squad mate might react if he has a female in his unit who comes under fire. I do know that women have been successful in standoff combat roles (like fighter pilots, etc.) but that's an entirely different area.
    I was a volunteer firefighter for 14 years. This was a definite problem and infuriated me no end. The attitude had nothing to do with ability, the men I usually ran with were the ones doing the training too and they knew I could do the job. They simply could not seem to back off and LET me do it at times. It led to a catch-22 situation: They were worried about having a woman on the team not because she was incapable of doing the job but because she was a distraction--and not because of what she did or didn't do but because of THEIR OWN reaction to a woman on the job. It left me wondering exactly what I was supposed to do....

    Maggie

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    Default Women at War

    Kings of War posted a piece titled, "Women at War" from a NY Times op-ed. The gist of it...
    The U.S. ground combat exclusion policy is outdated. Women from many countries have shown themselves to be valuable contributors in our wars – from conventional warfare to countering insurgencies. At least twelve countries around the globe allow women to serve on the front lines. Why are the U.S. and the UK behind the times? Or, should our role remain limited on the battlefield?
    I posted a couple responses, but then quickly saw where the comment section was going, so I called it a day. The gist of my responses...

    In response to the article...
    The author takes a theater-specific, mission-specific anecdote and turns it into justification for a sweeping policy change. Among other issues that I have with this piece, I have a problem with the leading question that, at least twelve countries around the globe allow women to serve on the front lines. Why are the U.S. and the UK behind the times? That’s like asking, “some high school baseball team has a girl playing left field, so why doesn’t the Boston Red Sox start recruiting women softball players?”

    The US military, in terms of its degree of lethality and the manner in which it is used, is very difficult to compare to any other military. Even if one could find some close matches, American culture is unique and the role of women in the the US military is as much a function of the way in which we use our forces as it is a function of the attitudes of our society about the role of women in combat. If our infantry units did little more than set up base camps in safe areas, like many other western military units, then our society might have a different opinion of combat and, by extension, the role of women in combat. If we were continually threatened – or at least perceived that we were – with existential threats, like the Israelis, then we might demand more of all of our citizens, including women. But neither of those are the case for the US.

    I hope that policy makers will look at the example given and recognize how narrow this set of circumstances is, and that those policy makers will be hesitant to consider it as a justification for making sweeping policy changes.
    And then my response to a commenter who wanted to know the justification for opposing the policy change.
    I don’t think the burden of persuasion in this case is on the party “opposing change.” I think the burden of persuasion is on the party proposing the change. Why is the current policy inadequate? We’ve been given a theater-specific, mission-specific anecdote and the story includes a summary of how we adapted to make the FET possible within the construct of our current personnel regulations. So why the need for a change? It seems that changing the policy would be a broad, long-term alteration for a very specific, short-term use.
    Am I making any sense here or am I smoking crack?

    I was particularly struck by commenters who assumed that our policy should be guided by equal opportunity.

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