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

  1. #21
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Standard NYT smear piece. "If you are a female in the Army, you will be raped or harassed. The men all want to rape or harass you." Blah, blah blah. Certainly, rape and harassment do happen but to read this article you would think that it is only a matter of time before any woman who dares to join the great big misogynist frat party that is the military is raped and/or harassed. Now, in order to maintain the pretense that this was balanced report the author did throw in this paragraph on page six of the sixteen page article

    There were women, it should be noted, who spoke of feeling at ease among the men in their platoons, who said their male peers treated them respectfully. Anecdotally, this seemed most common among reserve and medical units, where the sex ratios tended to be more even. Several women credited their commanders for establishing and enforcing a more egalitarian climate, where sexual remarks were not tolerated.
    I worked with females early in my career before a reclassed to combat arms and my current wife serve a little over three years before leaving the Army as a Sergeant (one of the best I have seen in my career by the way). I have seen how it works. This article seems to imply that most often commanders will ignore harassment or even rape. That is so patently untrue that it is laughable. Most commanders I have known are so paranoid about even the possible appearance of impropriety that they will crush anything that even looks wrong. I have seen some downright draconian policies enacted to prevent this sort of thing. I once saw a young soldier get his butt chewed because he used the word "chick" to refer to a female and a female soldier who was neither being talked to or about said she was offended. This is not "tailhook". This is just the NYT trying to stir up trouble again, the same as yesterday and the day before and probably tomorrow as well.

    SFC W

  2. #22
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    It is a small war issue when Al-Jezzera features it on their English language website. I can't imagine ANYONE making sexual advances at Al-J's star witness, Janis Karpinski.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    ...This article seems to imply that most often commanders will ignore harassment or even rape. That is so patently untrue that it is laughable. Most commanders I have known are so paranoid about even the possible appearance of impropriety that they will crush anything that even looks wrong. I have seen some downright draconian policies enacted to prevent this sort of thing....
    Very true. The most outrageous example of this that I have experience of was at a Corps-level MI Bn when a SSG was given a Company Grade Art 15 because he did not intervene when a male SPC was making off-color comments to a female SPC who both were in his PLT. The incident occurred off-duty, in a civilian nightclub, and he was not with them - they were on a "date" together, and he just happened to be sitting at a table across from them at the time. The command simply assumed he could hear what was going on, and asserted that he failed in his responsibility to immediately stop the SPC from making such remarks. The male SPC received a Field Grade.

  4. #24
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    DoD 2004 study on the issue here.

  5. #25
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    It is a small war issue when Al-Jezzera features it on their English language website. I can't imagine ANYONE making sexual advances at Al-J's star witness, Janis Karpinski.
    I'd say it's more of a media management/IW/IO-type issue for Small Wars. In other words, how do you counter the story?
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I'd say it's more of a media management/IW/IO-type issue for Small Wars. In other words, how do you counter the story?
    How about having a credible source that is not affiliated with the Army, do an article on integration of the sexes in a combat environment?

    I don't buy into the pile that the NYT puts forward - every female at risk for rape. But I do agree that putting a few females in a platoon is a recipe for trouble. I think it translates into a discipline issue at that point.

  7. #27
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default women are veterans too!

    Dusty,
    Although I somewhat disagree with using a source outside of the Army channels (starts to sound like we're in a scandal cover-up and worse, who knows what it means to be a woman in the Army, better than the Army ?), there are indeed several good pages on female veterans that cover those bases where doubt exists.

    Such as: http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/

    There's more than enough opinion out there and I think we could use a female's perspective herein. Do we have any ?

    In my 23 years, I never saw such Bravo Sierra. Where did our discipline go ?

    Regards, Stan

  8. #28
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Something I Used to Mull Over...

    ... when I ran the Urban Operations Journal webpage and it has carried over to here. Both sites attracted / attract serious students and practitioners of urban operations and small wars. So... how come our site visitor demographics and SWC membership are overwhelmingly male? Food for thought or maybe ammunition for a food fight...

  9. #29
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    Default Cultural roles

    Women are not interested in warfighting for the most part, these are foolish ventures that would never happen if women were in charge, at least that is the world according to my wife.

    Are women less competitive than men? Are they more interested in getting along than dominating? If true, does this translate into a problem solving methodology focused on co-opting rather than fighting? I haven't a clue, and of course if any us understood the psychology of a woman, we would a book on it and retire rich. Part of the beauty is the mystery.

    In all seriousness I think women played an important role in Vietnam (on the other side), and in other conflicts in a variety of roles, but I'm not aware of any women who are or have been noted strategic military thinkers, are you guys?
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 03-20-2007 at 12:42 PM.

  10. #30
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I'm particularly fond of Dr. Mary Habeck, and Dr. Jacqueline K. (I forget her name) who wrote the "Long War" paper seems to have some firm opinions on military strategy, but other than that, I don't know of many.

  11. #31
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Davis. That's the name of Dr. Jacqueline K.

    I beg to differ that women are natural compromisers. I think if women ruled the world, the first conflict post-nuclear age would've resulted in a general nuclear exchange. IMO, women do not have the natural "break-points" in a disagreement that men do. They are also completely and utterly incapable of enduring honest feedback in social terms.

  12. #32
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    Default Women as strategic thinkers

    I honestly did not go searching for this thread--it just happened to be at the top of the list!

    As a female officer in the Air Force, I will be the first to admit that my experiences are miles away from an enlisted female in the Army, so I won't even add to that debate. What I did want to comment on is the idea of women as strategic (and I think "military" is implied) thinkers.

    All cliches aside, I believe part of the reason that there are so few women who are known as strategic thinkers has more to do with time than anything else. It's only been, what, about 40 years that women have even started to be accepted in military ranks? And as all of you well know, it takes time, experience,and education to grow strategic thinkers.

    Some may argue that only those who experience direct combat action qualify to bill themselves as strategic thinkers; however, I think with a little thought we can all identify great writers/historians who fall closer to the category of armchair quarterbacks.

    Those are just my thoughts--I'm certainly glad I found this web page! Just as a side note, I found the site while preparing for the Strategic Art lesson I have to teach next week at the staff college where I'm an instructor.

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

    r/Bridget

  13. #33
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Thanks for "stopping in". We hope you will read through the site more thoroughly and make as many posts as you like.... We are also trying to get our minds around "how the Air Force can be more involved" in COIN, in a meaningful fashion.

  14. #34
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Bridget,

    Welcome to the SWC!

    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    All cliches aside, I believe part of the reason that there are so few women who are known as strategic thinkers has more to do with time than anything else. It's only been, what, about 40 years that women have even started to be accepted in military ranks? And as all of you well know, it takes time, experience,and education to grow strategic thinkers.
    I suspect that that is certainly a part of it. I keep thinking about Elizabeth I who had a pretty good Grand Strategic vision, and certainly enough time has passed in the corporate world to see a number of women reaching CEO status and being very good strategic thinkers. I know that's not "military", but it is an indicator against the genetic difference argument which is at the root of a lot of the "women can't do X" arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    Those are just my thoughts--I'm certainly glad I found this web page! Just as a side note, I found the site while preparing for the Strategic Art lesson I have to teach next week at the staff college where I'm an instructor.
    Pardon my ignorance, but what is "Strategic Art"? I'm an Anthropologist, not in the military, and trying to parse that phrase is giving me some very weird visions (mass produced copies of the Mona Lisa dropping on Taliban bunkers, etc. ).

    Marc
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  15. #35
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    I think we can safely rule out Bodicus and Hillary as strategic military thinkers. That's a start on the short list anyway. Regarding the gist of the Originator's post, my hunch is that sexual harassment and assault are no more prevalent in the military than they are in the civilian sector. At least the Military doesn't have a need for domestic violence shelters. I would propose that said domestic violence shelters in the civilian sector are filled to capacity with waiting lists. Any CO can confine a man to Post on-the-spot and throw his a** in the brig if that man so much as sets foot off post if DV issues are at play. I would take issue with the Originator's assertion that, "..the NYT is the lead ship in the US media convoy. It sets the agenda..." The Gray Lady has some gaping credibility wounds that are far from healed.

  16. #36
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Women and War

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Women are not interested in warfighting for the most part, these are foolish ventures that would never happen if women were in charge, at least that is the world according to my wife.

    Are women less competitive than men? Are they more interested in getting along than dominating? If true, does this translate into a problem solving methodology focused on co-opting rather than fighting? I haven't a clue, and of course if any us understood the psychology of a woman, we would a book on it and retire rich. Part of the beauty is the mystery.

    In all seriousness I think women played an important role in Vietnam (on the other side), and in other conflicts in a variety of roles, but I'm not aware of any women who are or have been noted strategic military thinkers, are you guys?
    I believe that if you look at the British queens of note--Elzabeth and Victoria--there you will find strategists of the first order. Interestingly enough some of the inner circle of the Rwandan Patriotic Front as rebels and later victors were women; they played key roles in aligning the RPF's agenda to build greater support. That became especially important after genocide when there was a fundamental shift forward for womens' roles in Rwandan society based on pure necessity.

    I would also offer that the "Dark Queen" of the genocide and leader of the hardline faction most likely to have decided to shoot down the Rwandan President's aircraft was his wife, Madame Agathe. The leader of the organized rape campaign built into the genocide (250,000 rapes reported) was Pauline Nyiramasuhuko , the first woman charged with genocide and using rape as a crime against humanity. She was the former Rwandan Minister of Family and Womens Affairs.

    She was not alone: women played an active role as scouts for the killers and sometimes did the killing. My ambassador's driver--a Tutsi--had his wife--A Hutu hardliner--go get the Presidential Guard to kill her husband and sons (because the Tutsis are patrilineal). Her husband and 2 boys escaped; she went into exile in Goma.

    best

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Reber View Post
    Dusty,
    Although I somewhat disagree with using a source outside of the Army channels (starts to sound like we're in a scandal cover-up and worse, who knows what it means to be a woman in the Army, better than the Army ?), there are indeed several good pages on female veterans that cover those bases where doubt exists.

    Stan,

    I see what you mean, but I was really aiming for the 'disinterested party', a business that would release the story for good or ill of the Army.
    I don't have statistics or studies on this subject, so I'm left to personal experiences.
    When I deployed into Afghanistan in DEC 01, we left the females in our platoon aboard ship. They weren't allowed ashore until a month or so later. As I haven't deployed to Iraq yet, I asked my SNCO about his experiences - if he ever saw females sexually harassed. He said no, but then added the caveat that if it was a National Guard unit, he would believe it, no problem.

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    Default Strategic Art

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but what is "Strategic Art"? I'm an Anthropologist, not in the military, and trying to parse that phrase is giving me some very weird visions (mass produced copies of the Mona Lisa dropping on Taliban bunkers, etc. ).
    Marc,

    that's a very good question, and I think highlights one of the issues confronting the military--we have a broad vocabulary that means almost nothing to other people. We sometimes confuse ourselves, as well! What I'm referring to is in conjunction with the three levels of war (strategic, operational, and tactical). For the purposes of the course I teach, strategic art refers to the art of strategy--looking at not only key strategic thinkers but at key documents such as the National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy, and the National Defense Strategy. The idea behind it relates to the time-honored argument between the art of war vs. the science of war; we try to get our students thinking at the higher levels (e.g. the boring stuff--tactical is fun because you get to blow stuff up!)

    How's that?

    Bridget

  19. #39
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    Default Can 't compare apples and oranges

    You can't compare sexual harassment and intimidation statistics between the civilian and military worlds. Obviously they are serious in both environments, but the effect in the military is much greater.

    I also think you underestimate the scale of the problem, but I'll leave it at that, because it is basically a social norm problem that we're faced with it, and a power point class on sexual harassment isn't going to create a paradigm shift in how people treat one another; however, as you eluded to the fear of punishment does create behavior change, and that is the advantage the military has. It will take time to change social norms, and we also want to make sure that we want to change them. There is a difference between equal opportunity and equal in ability across the spectrum. While the only differences I can readily identify that most will agree with is the physical differences. A man is "generally" stronger than a woman, which makes women vulnerable to abuse. 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.

    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.

    120mm, a nuclear war? O.K., I agree, my wife doesn't read this, but when she gets mad, I'm glad she doesn't have access to the little red button (lol).

    BPowell welcome, look forward to your insights. I don't agree with your comment on time though, that is strictly an American issue. 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.

  20. #40
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    that's a very good question, and I think highlights one of the issues confronting the military--we have a broad vocabulary that means almost nothing to other people. We sometimes confuse ourselves, as well!
    LOL. It happens inside every profession, we do exactly the same thing to the never ending complaints of our students .

    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    What I'm referring to is in conjunction with the three levels of war (strategic, operational, and tactical). For the purposes of the course I teach, strategic art refers to the art of strategy--looking at not only key strategic thinkers but at key documents such as the National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy, and the National Defense Strategy.
    Okay, that's clear. Do you also include other elements such as trade patterns, demographic shifts, financial systems, etc.?

    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    The idea behind it relates to the time-honored argument between the art of war vs. the science of war; we try to get our students thinking at the higher levels (e.g. the boring stuff--tactical is fun because you get to blow stuff up!)
    So a Zen paradox approach? Clausewitz vs. Musashi and William the Silent vs. Sun Tzu? That could be a lot of fun. Are you using David Kilcullen's Countering Global Insurgency piece? He does a really nice job of setting the levels up as fractally decomposable. I'm assigning it as a text for my next class in theory and methodology.

    Quote Originally Posted by BPowell View Post
    How's that?
    Excellent answer .

    Marc
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    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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