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Thread: Women in Military Service & Combat (not just USA)

  1. #61
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    My CO once told us, in sort of a pep speech, "I expect you all to act like men, not girls. We're the infantry, we are one of the last jobs that is all men. We function effectively because we dont have all the drama and problems caused by working with women."

    I cant remember what he said word for word but thats pretty much the jist of it. Working with females in a military environment (like 80% males) probably causes more problems than anything else in the military. no im not being sexist thats just the truth.
    Last edited by neowolfe; 09-28-2007 at 03:36 PM.

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    Default Non-military woman butts in

    There were a lot of interesting thoughts on this subject that were all over the spectrum.

    First, aside from Hester, you would be surprised how many women have been in fire fights and have medals that you never hear of. I think there are two issues here:

    1) The military does not promote it because they want to avoid having to keep defending the subject of women in "near combat" roles.
    2) If you want equality, you don't necessarily promote one over the other. You make them like the other. Like the men who are quietly going about their jobs without fanfare who do plenty of things every day that would be noteworthy. But the media attention is very distracting. Much better to treat it like an every day thing.

    since I am someone that is interested in the subject, I actually look for it and know of several women that have CABs and silver stars.

    I think that the military is going about it the right way in terms of slowly integrating forces through different field operations. There are plenty of units in both Afghanistan and Iraq doing CMOC or CAP that have at least one or more women attached. women are doing "convoy security" or actually driving a truck in hostile territory. The Army corps of engineers have women doing much and so do several of the civilian elements attached to PRTs in these theaters.

    To me its the "quiet, quiet" approach. One day, you're going to wake up and find this discussion moot and you won't even know when it happened.

    I always liken it to the struggle of integrating blacks and other minorities in the military. Except, of course, some of that occurred during much more turbulent times so its history is a little more intense. Still, you can bet that there was plenty of discussions in the open and within barracks. Plus bad behavior. but that is how we work things out until we are satisfied its resolved. At least until the next issue.

    In regards to the abilities of women or what issues they cause in a unit, what its really about it "personalities" and "character". I have worked in female dominated offices (health care is full of women) and ones that were relatively integrated. I've also worked in offices and situations where I was the only woman.

    Women in a group can be equally "off color" as men. In the "female dominated" office, I had two men who worked there and had to routinely tell the women to "tone it down" because they would be talking about subjects that are not appropriate for mixed company.

    I've worked with "integrated" offices where there is always at least one guy and one girl that don't know how to behave themselves in "mixed" company.

    And, in the male dominated area, there is always at least one guy that forgets his manners. I actually was hit on - I mean, hand on the leg, making remarks about body parts, asking what I was doing later, and he was married - by a brand new salesman that I had only met two hours previously at a "working dinner"; the rest of the men in the group all stopped talking when I picked up his hand and stuck it back on the arm of the chair. That guy was gone in two days because my boss, a man, told him that was wrong and chose to set the tone.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that, yes, the military actually reflects male/female relationships and working issues outside. While it may not be "deployment", you understand that people spend a lot of time together, sometimes more than with their family, in the work place. In my experience, I actually flew around with a team that was all men and me, staying at hotels, long working hours, eating together, going to "fun" times, etc.

    While no one was shooting at us and death was not eminent, it certainly was "living in each others pockets". none of these men made on-toward advances or attempted anything inappropriate. Neither did I freak out when they told jokes that were slightly off color. On the other hand, if things were getting out of line, I would signal that through either word or I would simply make my excuses and leave their company. It usually worked to pull everyone back in line.

    The issue here is, as one said, who sets the tone? Leadership sets the tone and so do the people. I have mentored young professional women. My advise to them is that, if they say nothing to the person that is making them uncomfortable, then they have missed the opportunity to set the tone. In my experience, most people are receptive to "gentle rebukes" that let them know where other people's lines are.

    Men or women have a responsibility, not just to behave appropriately, but to signal their own comfort levels. Any woman that has made it through boot camp and received a few stripes or bars ought to be comfortable enough to set it. Failure to do so is partly their responsibility. That is why most offices have a policy where they ask the "complainant" what action they took before making a formal complaint. Some think that is making women a victim "again", but I don't see it. This policy helps to re-enforce that part of the responsibility for the tone of the office is up to the people that work there. I would say that goes for a military unit.

    However, those that don't accept direction or correction of inappropriate behaviors are discipline issues, inside or outside of the military. In the office, it can be just as detrimental to the work atmosphere and accomplishing goals if you are distracted with internal "relations" issues. However, the office has been integrated and so have many work situations that are long hours, difficult and even labor intensive simply by not accepting that the problem is the integration, but individuals.

    I think that is the appropriate tone for the military to set. It doesn't take power points, it takes people who are willing to accept their responsibilities, up and down the chain of command.

    Three women I can think of in the military who have done what is barely covered in the media even for men are Sgt Hester, SSgt O'Hara and a Sgt whose last name escapes me but her first name, Lauren, sticks with me (she is army, received the CAB and a silver star for combat). Each of these were either MPs or convoy security. I can't remember their names, but five women have bronze starts for their actions under fire (they were medics). however, all of the women have eschewed most of the publicity because, as Hester said, it would be detrimental, not helpful. They are like the rest. That is the tone they are setting.

    When the shooting starts, by the way, I don't think that there is a lot of time to be worrying about the "women" in the unit and their protection. As far as I can tell, it winds up at the age old situation that all male units always talk about: when the stuff hits the fan, you're worried about living, dying, protecting everyone and going home to tell about it.

    I will make a final point. I am a big history buff. Reading diaries of women pioneers, they would probably find some of the arguments about women's roles and capabilities amusing. They worked in the fields, fought fires, staved off threats with fire arms and did many other things, sometimes without a man, that would make some combat situations seem like a day at the park. all this angst is really not about women, its about culture. Since we reverted back to largely urban dwelling people, we have also reverted to some stereotypical categorization of gender roles.

    All discussed on the academic side, far away from reality. Somewhere, as I type this, a female officer is taking down a criminal. Right down the street, a woman is finishing her twelve hour shift at the Ford plant, welding car parts. Somewhere in Afghanistan, a woman captain is leading a patrol (I know, I read about it). Somewhere in Iraq, a woman is standing guard at the gate of a camp with her rifle while, down the road, another "mans" the .50 pulling convoy security.

    And, yeah, somewhere over there, some chuckle head is making an off color comment to a female soldier who is either putting him in his place or is thinking that's the third time and she's not sure whether to report him or kick him in the 'nads.

    yet, somehow, the army goes rolling along, combat patrols happen and the world has not fallen apart.

    Go figure.
    Kat-Missouri

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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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    Quote Originally Posted by neowolfe View Post
    My CO once told us, in sort of a pep speech, "I expect you all to act like men, not girls. We're the infantry, we are one of the last jobs that is all men. We function effectively because we dont have all the drama and problems caused by working with women."

    I cant remember what he said word for word but thats pretty much the jist of it. Working with females in a military environment (like 80% males) probably causes more problems than anything else in the military. no im not being sexist thats just the truth.

    And some of the firefighters I've worked with would agree with you. I, however, consider that the men were the ones causing the drama and problems....

    Maggie

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    You've pretty much summed it up, kehenry1. Thank you.

    Maggie

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I wish I could recall their call-signs at least, but I do recall their actions. One was a KW pilot and another a MP platoon leader. They seemed to always be out when there was a fire-fight going on. Their element always seemed to be first to respond and reinforce the unit in contact. Cool and measured, their reports provided clarity and direction to the situation. I also remember a soldier who happened to be female in one of the EOD units. You might see this young lady in any number of careers - she was not how many would stereo-type females who join the military. You could tell she was extremely proud of being in what was in my opinion one of the most demanding jobs in combat, and you could tell her male peers had a great deal of confidence in her. These are just a few of the roles I watched soldiers whose gender was female take on that put them in harm's way and may have required them to take a life - all of these soldiers were up to it and reflected the very professional demeanor we hold up in our best. You'd see them in turret of an 1114/1151, see them on the ground helping to secure an area, conducting interviews and assisting mostly male patrols with cordon & search/knock operations, conducting combat camera interviews - there simply was no place (I did not say job) or like location, I recall where I saw a task to do where I had not seen a female soldier operating in some complimentary fashion at some time while there- although the jobs/MOSs may have been different, the requirements at the physical location and environment were the same.

    The role of women in combat has changed with OIF, just as how we think about the battlefield has changed. I've seen them perform as equals, and in some cases better then their male counterparts on a battlefield where courage, confidence and intelligence trump how much we can put in our rucksack. Its not a matter in my opinion of needing them in times where we have growing personnel requirements - these women are simply some of the best human beings who could be serving with us, and to have them serve on the battlefield where those qualities are always in need puts us at an advantage.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 10-09-2007 at 10:59 AM.

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    The role of women in combat has changed with OIF, just as how we think about the battlefield has changed. I've seen them perform as equals, and in some cases better then their male counterparts on a battlefield where courage, confidence and intelligence trump how much we can put in our rucksack. Its not a matter in my opinion of needing them in times where we have growing personnel requirements - these women are simply some of the best human beings who could be serving with us, and to have them serve on the battlefield where those qualities are always in need puts us at an advantage.

    Best Regards, Rob
    My daughter is 25; when I was her age women had just been admitted to the service academies and this was NOT what I was hearing then, I have at times wondered if things had changed at all for my daughter's future. My son is 29, when he was 18 he was accepted into the Officer's Candidate pool for the Naval Academy. While he did not ultimately get an appointment he did spend a weekend at the Academy during the application process. I watched as the female naval officers there shook the hands of female candidates--but not the male candidates. I hope your sentiments and those of kehenry1 are becoming the norm, not the exception.

    Maggie

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    Default Cold and Clammy...The Navy Shake ?

    Hi Maggie !
    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie View Post
    My daughter is 25; when I was her age women had just been admitted to the service academies and this was NOT what I was hearing then, I have at times wondered if things had changed at all for my daughter's future. My son is 29, when he was 18 he was accepted into the Officer's Candidate pool for the Naval Academy. While he did not ultimately get an appointment he did spend a weekend at the Academy during the application process. I watched as the female naval officers there shook the hands of female candidates--but not the male candidates. I hope your sentiments and those of kehenry1 are becoming the norm, not the exception.

    Maggie
    All I have to go on is my 23 years in the Army, and we never had problems shaking hands with collegues, male or female. That was some time ago, but I haven't noticed any serious changes.

    Oddly enough, there's some Navy folklore regarding males and females shaking hands (the old man was Navy til death....that's why I went Army ):

    Shake Hands With Women - According to old Naval etiquette, a man should never extend his hand to a woman first. A smile and a nod will do. If she wants to shake, a gentleman takes her hand as if to kiss it and shakes it by holding it (not gripping it).
    Hmmm, I kinda like that just a smigin

    Honestly, I have no idea what happened at the Naval Academy. Perhaps just graduates separating themselves from the pledges, male or female.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think there are other differences, not so much genetic as Marc stated, but cultural, based on the circles we grew up in (male activities versus female activities). You see a merging of the two gradually, with more and more female sports teams, etc., but it will take a long time to make a significant change.
    It does take time, and it's only been 50-60 years since the first changes such as access to univerities and careers really opened up, not to mention access to power such as elected offices and boardrooms (yes, there were a few women before that but they were exceptions rather than indication of a norm). Even sports. When I was in high school that school fielded no women's sport teams and in fact girls were allowed only one year of gym, our faciliies were mostly dedicated to the boys and their teams. I've noticed that the few female strategists offered as examples have been queens--who had access to the power to use that talent. How many women in the past had that power? Cultural is right--and those are often based on gut reactions of 'what's fitting' which doesn't change at the stroke of a pen.

    While I was somewhat joking in a previous post, having sat in on a few planning sessions for different crisises, I have noted that the female officers frequently had a different perspective of the problem, which most of us found useful. I don't think it is genetic, but social, but none the less useful.
    It may or may not be genetic, there do seem to be some differences if one looks at broad generalities between the sexes, it certainly can be cultural. However, different does not automatically mean there needs to be a value judgement applied to either perspective. As you found, different perspectives are useful no matter where they come from.

    Women have been involved in conflicts for hundreds of years, and I guess if I looked hard enough perhaps I could find some strategic approaches implemented by women if I look at some of the queens of old Europe? I do concur that the ability to develop strategy has nothing to do with time in combat.
    I don't think time or nationality is the factor here, it's who gets the recognition from history and why. You mention queens of Europe here--it's certainly true that women have always been involved in conflicts but it's the women with acess to power and recorded by history that we know. The lack of female mention could then reasonably be considered simply a reflection of the cultural norms of the time and not taken as evidence that there were none.

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    Default women in combat arms

    Since 2002—when we acquired the larger, Victoria-class submarines that allowed for adequate berthing—the last restrictions on women in combat roles were lifted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

    It is true that there are relatively few women serving in combat arms (about 2% of the total), due to the physical requirements, retention issues, and a degree of self-selection. But they are there, and they do fight and die with bravery and honour, like the guys.

    There are, of course, some guys in the combat arms who continue to grouse about the effect of women on combat cohesion and performance, and those retrograde attitudes have contributed to retention problems. However, the question is essentially settled and closed both within the Armed Forces/DND and within society as a whole. No significant politician of any stripe in any party raises the issue.

    I did my (brief) reserve service in a mixed gender unit, and I can honestly say I can't remember the issue of women in the military came up once. This may have been due, on reflection, to the most competent, efficient, and at times frankly terrifying NCO in the unit being a woman! (I also had a grandmother who served as an officer in the Free Dutch forces during WWII, who was also quite formidable.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Hi Maggie !

    All I have to go on is my 23 years in the Army, and we never had problems shaking hands with collegues, male or female. That was some time ago, but I haven't noticed any serious changes.
    Hiya! My dad was a very young and very proud sailor in WWII, but he was disappointed too Two of us did Civil Air Patrol instead of Sea Scouts and a third joined the AF!


    Honestly, I have no idea what happened at the Naval Academy. Perhaps just graduates separating themselves from the pledges, male or female.
    No, unfortunately. These were officers manning (so to speak) the check-in line where the applicants were picking up their papers before heading out with their midshipman hosts for the weekend. Such distinctions either way irritate me no end and only the thought of how my son would disown me if I made a scene kept me from saying something The male officers behind the table shook everyone's hand, the females only the female candidates.

    Btw--at one time women were considered bad luck aboard a ship at all, never mind what how one is supposed to shake hands (or not)...

    Maggie

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    Default It's different in an infantry battalion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Since 2002—when we acquired the larger, Victoria-class submarines that allowed for adequate berthing—the last restrictions on women in combat roles were lifted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

    It is true that there are relatively few women serving in combat arms (about 2% of the total), due to the physical requirements, retention issues, and a degree of self-selection. But they are there, and they do fight and die with bravery and honour, like the guys.

    There are, of course, some guys in the combat arms who continue to grouse about the effect of women on combat cohesion and performance, and those retrograde attitudes have contributed to retention problems. However, the question is essentially settled and closed both within the Armed Forces/DND and within society as a whole. No significant politician of any stripe in any party raises the issue.

    I did my (brief) reserve service in a mixed gender unit, and I can honestly say I can't remember the issue of women in the military came up once. This may have been due, on reflection, to the most competent, efficient, and at times frankly terrifying NCO in the unit being a woman! (I also had a grandmother who served as an officer in the Free Dutch forces during WWII, who was also quite formidable.)
    I think it was around '91 when the first women were permitted to go into the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. I think the introduction of women into the Combat Arms in general, and the Infantry in particular, could and should have been done a lot differently. As one of the generals who was in charge of the CF's own study and planning group on the matter said, the Army could (theoretically) have had a few hundred women in battalions across the Corps if the Human Rights Commission and the courts hadn't directly intervened themselves and simply impposed it on the Military. The swift result of course was a few women in a few battalions who while, having passed the same standards of their male counterparts (theoretically at least, in my battalion all the females were given red medical chits, in effect an exemption, because they could't pass the battle fitness tests), those standards had been dropped considerably.

    The old standard, for example, had been the 2x10: a 10-mile forced march ith full kit performed in under two hours followed immediately by a live shoot on a 300m range (Falling Plates), followed the next day by a 10-kilometre (little over 6 mile) jog (with webbing, helmet, rifle, etc.) in 1 hour, 6 minutes, and I think an assault course.

    The new standard that both men and women came under had been a 13.2-km (8-mile) route march with full kit in 2 hours, 26 minutes, and a 3.2-km (2 mile) "forced march" in 22 minutes with webbing, helmet, rifle, etc. I've been out for some years now, but this year a friend of mine who is in a abattalion told me that the 2x10 was back.

    The net result was a shoddy introduction both for the women entering the infantry, and the infantrymen who were receving them, and it tended to poison the units so affected. Aside from a fair bit of minor (so far as I know) sexual harassment, there was no rape or assaults. But there was was a serious break-down in discipline, as officers (and some NCOs) were pretty sensitive about something going wrong, and for any number of reasons. I saw at least one young women, with an entire rifle company present, talk back to and swear at an NCO, a chargeable offence and somethign that would have had a man doing the hatless dance in front of the CO.

    With women in the battalion, the strict discipline that had previously existed quickly evapourated, men (including married ones) fooled around with a couple of the women, and generally those men who may have been otherwise favourably disposed towards integration of the sexes, were turned off. I have to admit being one of those. Of course, there were those who would not have accepted women under any circumstances, and they quietly made their views known and felt (especially after the battalion's displine unravelled). I think that had the officers not been afraid of repercussions from above, the women would not have been treated with kid gloves, and the men would not have loss respect for the women, the officers, and the Army. A lot of guys left; after my Platoon Warrant left (2 tours in Northern Ireland, was in the SAS in the Falklands), I began considering leaving myself -3 months later I was gone.

    One other observation about women in the infantry, and I thought it was very strange, and this occurred ex after ex: none of the women in the battalion lasted for more than 3 days in the field before going "squirrely" and having to be sent to the infirmary for the rest of the ex; I had thought that maybe the women were just slackers, but the last one to invariably join them most definitely was not a slacker, and I saw at least one of the NCOs who would not accept women in the infantry give her a bit of a hard time once. I still have no clear answer as to why the women went "squirrely" after no more than 3 days in the bush.

    Generally speaking, I strongly suspect that women in the infantry is not a good idea, even if proper standards are enforced; and it is a disaster waiting to happen if they are trained to lowered standards (even if those are the same for the men, that just makes things even worse), especially when the officers (and NCOs) are afraid to enforce discipline out of fear of political retaliation from above.

    Interesting, perplexing topic.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 10-09-2007 at 04:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    I think that had the officers not been afraid of repercussions from above, the women would not have been treated with kid gloves, and the men would not have loss respect for the women, the officers, and the Army.
    This very much sounds like a battalion leadership problem to me--exacerbated, perhaps, by the way combat arms were opened up to women--but a leadership problem nonetheless.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I agree its a leadership issue. We often impose self-constraints where there do not need to be any. In any unit there needs to be a clear set of standards both for individual and collective tasks - passing a PT test is a standard, executing a battle drill correctly is a standard. Not enforcing those standards indicates a leadership failure, an is an abdication of responsibility to those we lead.

    After what I've seen I think many of the arguments I've heard in the past about women serving in line units don't add up. A real problem though could be leaders who won't maintain a standard, but that is a problem regardless. As for fraternization and sexual misconduct - well that is also a moral and ethical problem in addition to being a general leadership one - it has not stopped those problems from occurring on the FOBs or in settings where men and women are in hand grenade range. If we're worried about our grenadiers and SAW gunners getting it on in a firefight - well, we've got misplaced priorities.

    When I took command the first time, I told the company I had some non-negotiables: use or sell drugs and I would do everything I could to get you separated from the Army and punished to the max; steal from a soldier and I'd do everything I could to see the maximum UCMJ penalties imposed and you'd be transferred from the company; have an affair with another soldier's wife and I'd punish you to the full extent and see you separated from the Army.

    There are always going to be things we have to weigh out in cost - benefit both as an individual and as a leader. Sometimes leaders must explain both the consequences for individual actions in terms or responsibility and the impact on the unit.

    I simply want the best people available doing the the jobs that require the most responsibility and character in a person. Flatly, there are some females who are more capable on a number of levels then their male counterparts - this is as true in soldiering as in any other profession. It is the leader's responsibility to ensure the standards are maintained as prescribed by the higher command, by the service and by the UCMJ.

    I do not make military policy with regard to what jobs are open to women, however, I will say that if policy changed to reflect that women were suddenly allowed to serve in Infantry or Armor units I'd have no personal issues with it. The actions I saw in Iraq indicate to me that they have the potential to serve as well as their male peers in those roles - but the standards must be enforced by the leaders.

    For me, the physiological considerations are small potatoes compared to what some of these folks bring to the fight.

    Did not mean to rant, but want to be clear that actions on the ground are challenging many of the myths and preconceptions about who does what, or is capable of doing what. With only a small percentage of Americans willing to serve in uniform, I want the very best of that small percent where they matter most.

    Best regards, Rob

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    I believe you have to keep things in perspective:

    A. Current operations in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Afghanistan (where it is very much like mountain Ranger school with live rounds) constitute a certain operational environment.

    B. An operational environment like WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, or as above with the line units in the mountains in OEF is different.

    Women certainly have done well in both theaters. That does not change the physical demands of the Infantry in an environment like Korea, WWII, or again OEF depending on units.

    It is not simply a leadership or a culture issue. An infantry unit on a battlefield like Korea has to be able to do its job. That is not served by lesser standards for one part of the unit.

    Best

    Tom

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    Default Rex, You may be correct but I'm not at all sure it's

    that simple.

    Been my observation that about 25% of the males in Infantry units, peace or war -- possibly a slight rise in wartime in all volunteer units, larger rise in those with draftees -- don't really want to or need to be there. They are a tad too sensitive psychologically speaking to enjoy what they're doing. Most cope but they do not ever really adapt well. They also tend to sustain long term psychological damage at a higher rate than their more sociopathic peers.

    That percentage was slightly lower 60 years ago but has increased as our western society has gotten wealthier and more and better -- or, at least, more lengthily -- educated. It may even be slightly higher today but I think that serves as a broad average figure.

    My belief is that the females I have seen in the CS and CSS units in the US Army that routinely serve in a field environment at least double that percentage.

    I think I'm saying that the physical and psychological stresses of the Armed Forces in a field environment are inimical to the more sensitive among us and logically, combat exacerbates that. I have seen females of all ranks in a field environment that were ever bit as well adapted as many -- even most -- males and there is no question that women can sustain combat stress. I'm suggesting that where they sustain that stress has an impact that might be difficult to measure and that the percentage of females susceptible to ground combat stress is higher than is the not insignificant male number.

    There have been numerous examples of outstanding female aviators, in and out of combat. Most female naval types are as good as or better than their male counterparts. Same goes for those in the ground forces.

    That there have been and will be a number of female infantry-like fighters that are as tough as anyone is not questioned; nor is the fact that, so long as its voluntary, not that many females will opt for the infantry and those that do are likely to have a psychological profile that adapts to the role.

    That, IMO, does not address the desirability or utility of having them there not does it address the impacts on the nearby male creatures.

    The issue of field living -- and I mean in an austere environment, not on an FOB in an air conditioned trailer -- is not pleasant to contemplate for anyone, sex immaterial. Add to that the blood, sights, sounds and smells of close combat and you have an environment not attuned to emotional sensitivity, male or female. My perception -- and that's all it is -- is that a higher number of females are not attuned to it.

    I think the infantry combat environment assists in creating a "you're on trial here" mentality in Troops; they apply it to every male that serves and the females get closer scrutiny due to a lot of cultural baggage. Possibly also to a lot of genetic and gender baggage.

    Long way of saying what we all know; it's not a job for everyone -- and that, IMO, it's a lot more complex than a simple leadership issue...

    Lest I be accused of being opposed to females in service or even in the infantry, I'm not; have no problems at all with that. All for it in fact -- I just think it is not a simple question and I'm unsure we know nearly as much we think we do about the answers.

    And that also gives me a chance, yet again, to beat my 'psychological selection is necessary for a professional force today' drum...
    Last edited by Ken White; 10-09-2007 at 07:21 PM. Reason: Typo

  17. #77
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    Default I agree with you Tom but

    I'm not saying dumb the standards down - keep the standards the same - the minimum these days are pretty low on all accounts. If you want to do the job, meet the standard - whatever the standard is. If we say we need Infantry with higher GT scores, or better language proficiency at what point do those become standards? I think its an important question, not because its about gender, but because we are rethinking what we value most in those MOSs and leaders.

    Where do we strike the balance between "you either have to be smart or strong, so hand me my rucksack"? I'm not sure. What of emotional strength - the ability to endure harsh conditions and persevere? How do you measure some of those things?

    I agree with you about extending beyond leadership and culture, but I do believe its leadership that turns things around, makes positives out of negatives, mitigates risk while acknowledging it, and creates opportunities where non may have existed.

    When we're discussing what capabilities we need in this war where so many value judgments are required and where people are emphasized over technology, the questions are going to come up. Even if we said we were going to create more Maneuver Enhancement BDEs with lots of MPs (or anything else but BCTs) to meet the capabilities requirements we expect in the next decade or two, those formations will still be out there.

    Where are we willing to accept risk? Do we think we will ever be as logistically challenged as we were in WWII or Korea? How has good tech enabled us to improve the life of the Infantry? What are the values to be gained vs. the negatives?

    I just think we may want to consider it from all angles before we resign ourselves to maintaining things. If in light of all that the powers that be decide that its still true and that the benefits don't clearly out weigh the costs, or that culturally we just can't do such things, then that is the way it has to be - in fact that is where we're at right now in terms of policy. However, it may be time to consider all of the options and not just those regarding organizational, doctrinal and material options when it comes to thinking about the future.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I agree with you about extending beyond leadership and culture, but I do believe its leadership that turns things around, makes positives out of negatives, mitigates risk while acknowledging it, and creates opportunities where non may have existed.
    I think this was the point I was trying to make, only Rob has made it far more effectively. It must be the poet in his soul

    Tom--I agree, undoubtedly the stress of the field deployment, and even more so combat, complicates matters several fold. However, the absorption and discipline problems that Norfolk was describing took place in a (Canadian) Reserve infantry battalion (if I understood), consisting of volunteers and not subject to involuntary overseas deployment (well, not without a major national crisis!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    I think this was the point I was trying to make, only Rob has made it far more effectively. It must be the poet in his soul

    Tom--I agree, undoubtedly the stress of the field deployment, and even more so combat, complicates matters several fold. However, the absorption and discipline problems that Norfolk was describing took place in a (Canadian) Reserve infantry battalion (if I understood), consisting of volunteers and not subject to involuntary overseas deployment (well, not without a major national crisis!)
    You're quite correct, but bear in mind that a fair number of the infantrymen in the Regular Battalions going overseas to places like Afghanistan are actually Reservists, and a 90-day beat-up before going over to A-Stan isn't going to undue all the bad habits they've learned; for that matter, the Regulars themselves have only in the last few years really shed a lot of the mediocre (and sometimes poor) leadership (the Airborne Regiment anyone? some VanDoos running guns and engaging in sexual abuse of psychiatic patients in the Balkans?) and inadequate training that was going on for much of the 90's and even into the early years of this decade. The Army just brought back Battle Inoculation over the past couple years.

    If standards like the 2x10 followed immediately by a live shoot at targets up to 300m away (and allowing no rest between marches and shoots) to simulate going into contact are not conscientiously applied and enforced in both Regular and Reserve Units by leaders who know, and care about, what they're doing, and discipline fairly and firmly enforced, it will show on the battlefield. Again, I give you the Airborne Regiment in Somalia (and these problems were going on for over a decade before the whole thing exploded in everyone's face), and the problems with some Royale22eRegiment guys in Bosnia who were selling their 50-cals to the locals (who would promptly turn around and use them on our guys) and gettin' frisky with mental patients in a hospital that they had to take care of because no one else would.

    Incidently, a lot of those "Regular" Battalions in Yugo were up to half Reservists, including the one that fought the Croats in the Medak Pocket (and most of the line guys in that unit were Reservists, with a few Regulars, mostly NCOs). It's a good thing the Croats at that time were little more than a mob, unlike a couple years later. Imagine what a Regular Battalion brought up to strength with a large draft of Reservist volunteers from my and similar Battalions would have fared in A-Stan if 9/11 had occured in 1991, not 2001, when discipline and training was being restored by what amounted to the heroic efforts of those senior officers who had endured the pain of the 90's and were bound and determined when they got to the top that that wasn't going to happen again - like General Hillier.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 10-10-2007 at 02:33 AM.

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    Default At the risk of double-posting...

    The Regular Battalions were faced with much the same problems as the Reserve Battalions, as the 2x10 was officially dispensed with for infantry regardless of component. You may recall Rex, a young female infantry officer from the Royal22e in the mid-nineties, of whom pictures of her blindfolded, gagged, and tied to a tree while in SERE training were given by someone to the national media. The Infantry was accused of beastliness in general, and trying to subject women infantry candidates to standards that were dieliberately high in order to keep women out of the infantry (ie. the 2x10 et al).

    The result was that for most of the '90s, the Infantry School at Gagetown enforced only the 13.2km (8 mile) route march and the 3.2km (2 mile) "forced march" for Regular Force infantry officer trainees. In 2000 or so, even that standard was not enforced; in fact the infantry officer candidates were not formally tested at all on the BFT/CFT. Sad but true. As I said in a previous post, a friend of mine who is in my old battalion (4RCR) told me in the spring that the 2x10 is back. None too soon.

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