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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    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.

    I became a volunteer firefighter in 1977, the county involved had just hired the first professional firefighter in the US the year before. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this kind of behaviour does indeed "poison" the atmosphere and is entirely the wrong way to go about it.

    I still have no clear answer as to why the women went "squirrely" after no more than 3 days in the bush.
    In what way? Did they collapse physically?

    Maggie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    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.
    Oddly enough I had noticed this with the female volunteers coming in after me. Most of them opted for EMS after finishing the obligatory basic instruction in firefighting--and couldn't understand why I was willing (if not exactly eager ) to get so dirty and sweaty and stay in the firefighting! At this point I wonder whether it has to do with cultural factors rather than factors supposedly inherent in males and females. The US has a high standard of living--how many people, male or female, actually do their own hunting, butchering, or even something as simple as taking care of those who are very messily ill on a routine basis? My dad and his brothers hunted regularly, I watched him dress his kill sometimes and while it's not something I do it's not something I find gross and beyond the pale. I suspect my kids would though, simply because they've never seen it. I'm not so sure it's got a whole lot to do with "emotional sensitivity" (sorry, hot button for me!) as it is familiarity BEFORE joining the service with a "close to the ground" style of living as a norm.

    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.
    Yah. Believe it. I have a lot of (sort of) funny stories about that....

    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...
    No, these types of jobs are not. My worry is that the opportunity not be closed to those who can and will do the job simply on the basis of gender and expections thereof.


    Maggie

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    Default Maybe you can offer some insight here, Maggie.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie View Post
    I became a volunteer firefighter in 1977, the county involved had just hired the first professional firefighter in the US the year before. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this kind of behaviour does indeed "poison" the atmosphere and is entirely the wrong way to go about it.



    In what way? Did they collapse physically?

    Maggie
    So true on the first point Maggie; there may be a place for political "influence" when it comes to various issues within the military, including gender ones. But is has to be limited and the civilians have to let the military work it out themselves, otherwise everyone loses, as well as any opportunities or benefits that may have arisen out of a measured, properly though-out and executed introduction of women to men in the infantry.

    While there are a tiny proportion of women in Canadian infantry battalions, and the formal issue of gender integration is settled, I think the damage is done there, and many of the men, in their heart of hearts, will never really accept the women (even if on the surface it appears that they do). This leads to an unseen split within units between those men who are confortable with the women, and those who are not (and all the worse when the latter are discrete about it). I'm sure that I don't need to tell you about this. And I blame both the civilans masters and the military leadership for this. It didn't have to be this way. And I have to admit because of that experience I can't really bring myself to accept women in the infantry without real reservations.

    As to the women going "squirrely", what I observed was that the women became disorientated, often dizzy, and simply couldn't keep up on the march. This "squirrely" condition invariably occurred within 3 days. I have never been able to identify an efficient cause for this; like I said in a previous post, for a while I thought that they were just slackers, but the last one to always join them was no slacker.

    She was a good gal, and a lot of the lads felt comfortable with her because she was focused on the job at hand and did it well; the incident I witnessed where an NCO (who I took did not accept the women) gave her a hard time occurred during a run. She kept falling out of formation and the guys would try to carry her kit for her so she could stay with us (she was well liked), but the NCO wouldn't let us and just watched her as she fell out and we had to leave her behind (a truck was following some distance behind us and it picked her up).

    Anyways, back to the matter at hand, I don't know what the reason for the "squirreliness" was, but the women were clearly somewhat out of it and had been unable to keep up with the men in the field, and subsequently sent back to MIR. Disorientation and dizziness were the main things that I noticed. Touch of hypothermia maybe?

  4. #84
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default All true...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie View Post
    Oddly enough I had noticed this with the female volunteers coming in after me. Most of them opted for EMS after finishing the obligatory basic instruction in firefighting--and couldn't understand why I was willing (if not exactly eager ) to get so dirty and sweaty and stay in the firefighting! At this point I wonder whether it has to do with cultural factors rather than factors supposedly inherent in males and females. The US has a high standard of living--how many people, male or female, actually do their own hunting, butchering, or even something as simple as taking care of those who are very messily ill on a routine basis? My dad and his brothers hunted regularly, I watched him dress his kill sometimes and while it's not something I do it's not something I find gross and beyond the pale. I suspect my kids would though, simply because they've never seen it. I'm not so sure it's got a whole lot to do with "emotional sensitivity" (sorry, hot button for me!) as it is familiarity BEFORE joining the service with a "close to the ground" style of living as a norm.
    . . .
    No, these types of jobs are not. My worry is that the opportunity not be closed to those who can and will do the job simply on the basis of gender and expections thereof.

    Maggie
    I'm pretty sure it's cultural. There are a lot of guys, mostly urban raised, who hate field living more than they dislike actual combat. It, as we seem to agree, is a phenomenon that not everyone adapts to. I used 'emotional sensitivity' only as shorthand and there are as many guys who lack a desire to get dirty as they are females. My perception is that the females are culturally inclined to express or show that discontent to a greater extent than most guys are. In any event, no slam intended.

    That current trend in males her age (~30) causes my Daughter to refuse to date anyone who has more beauty care products than she does -- and she's a minimalist.

    My oldest Grandaughter was a West Coast firefighter, got married, moved East with a serving husband who was about to go off on deployment and decided she'd go as well. She enlisted and is a Medic in Iraq now. Lot of work, long hours and she apparently tolerates the living conditions about twice as well as most of her contemporaries, male or female. Some adapt, some don't -- and that is true of almost any human endeavor.

    Then tendency of the guys to come down excessively on females has to be watched really closely. Unfortunately, sometimes those who should be watching participate and they ought to be caught and required to spend a week in a female prison.

    That might give most of 'em a whole new outlook on who's tough enough...

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    The closer you are to death, the tighter the bonds get amongst the living and with raging young male hormones at play it simply is not a good mix to have a few women in with grunts in a combat zone, even the rare few that can handle the fatigue/heavy humping requirements and there are bathroom issues in the bush as well that would need to be addressed. This impacts unit cohesion and mission focus and said needs trump PC/politics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    The closer you are to death, the tighter the bonds get amongst the living and with raging young male hormones at play it simply is not a good mix to have a few women in with grunts in a combat zone, even the rare few that can handle the fatigue/heavy humping requirements and there are bathroom issues in the bush as well that would need to be addressed. This impacts unit cohesion and mission focus and said needs trump PC/politics.
    That's something that just can't be ignored, or avoided without serious consequences. Good point, and kind of the elephant in the room.

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    SSI, 24 Jan 08: Women in Combat Compendium
    This compendium resulted from a request by Colonel Michele Putko for sponsorship of a “Women in Combat Study” as a multistudent elective alternative. Dr. Douglas Johnson agreed to sponsor the project on the condition that the perspectives of male officers who had commanded units with women in them be specifically included, as their views might provide a different evaluation of performance. As the editing of the original papers extended into the following student year, Colonel Mark Lindon’s paper filled an obvious gap, that of documenting the progressive change in public opinion. It has, therefore, been included.

    The topic of Women in Combat has been one of great emotion, but uncertain factual content until recently. The rules created to deal with the fact that women want to serve in the armed forces have ranged from silly to serious, but the factual bases have changed and the plea of all the contributors is to review the entire issue with objectivity and attention to the facts as they exist. These facts are: Women comprise approximately 15 percent of the U.S. Army today; as of this writing (September 2007), 70 Army women (including three Department of the Army Civilian women) have been killed and a significantly larger number wounded; [icasualties.org/oif/Female.aspx] the American public is vaguely aware of this state of affairs and has raised no outcry. The nature of the current battlefield makes it impossible to apply strictly the existing rules for excluding women from combat without serious reduction in combat capabilities, degrading the professional development and thus status of women, and producing a potentially serious reduction in overall readiness. The sections that follow are edited extracts of U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Class of 2006 (except as noted) Personal Experience Monographs, Strategy Research Papers, or Directed Study: Writing Option papers. These papers are available in full through the USAWC Library Reference or Interlibrary Loan Section. The editors included major portions of several papers in order to emphasize the context within which these observations were made. The reader should take away two major points--the nature of combat for the U.S. Army has changed, and the existing rules governing the employment of women do not fit this new situation; and there is not the slightest doubt that women can perform their assigned duties in the combat zone, including engaging in combat actions essential to their personal and unit’s self-defense, with skill and valor equal to their male comrades. From the Survey, the reader should note continuing ambivalence about assignment to direct combat units, but strong support for revising the existing employment rules. No attempt has been made to examine Post-Traumatic Stress in women combat veterans, pregnancy rates, or any of the host of other gender-related issues. These officers asked simply, “Did the women do their jobs?”.....

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    AP, 10 Mar 08: Woman Earns Silver Star in Afghanistan
    A 19-year-old Army medic from Texas is set to become the first woman in Afghanistan -- and only the second female Soldier since World War II -- to receive the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor.

    Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow Soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said.

    After the explosion, which wounded five Soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through enemy gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away....

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    Default My experiance was positive

    The Female MP's in the MP company attached to my infantry company in Iraq did an excellent job under fire, returning fire, and living inside the wire. Camp Kalsu was nothing but a bombed radar station when we arrived with few generators and no plumbing. The females did not develop "feminine or Hygene" problems and remained fit to serve for the entire year, there were zero accounts of sexual assault or harrassmnt, and they performed very efectivly under fire. They earned my respect.
    I am a counselor at the VA and talking with other GWOT combat vets, the women in forward deployed units that spent more time outside the wire had far fewer sexual harrasment or discipline problems then women in FOB units and the worse rates by far seemed to have come from Doha and Arifjan in Kuwait. Unfortunetly I have no studies or numbers to back this up, so take it for what it is worth
    Reed

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I've found, in my career, that the majority of female "duds" are present primarily because they've been catered to because of their gender.

    Good female soldiers are good soldiers. Bad female soldiers tend to get a pass from superiors, because the superior is afraid to discipline the female soldier, and have the wrath of God visited upon him/her-self via the EO chain. As to whether females infantrymen can hack it, physically, I think it would take a special female soldier to do the job. As far as unit dynamics are concerned, female soldiers bring a unique challenge, but it isn't all bad. Female soldiers and leaders tend to have a unique view on things that can be good for a unit.

    Just like with any soldier, it's a matter of leadership.

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    Hasn't anyone on this website heard of COL Heidi V Brown?
    She is 100% Army and proud of it.
    Might want to check her out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilabeth View Post
    Hasn't anyone on this website heard of COL Heidi V Brown?
    She is 100% Army and proud of it.
    Might want to check her out!
    I googled her.

    OK, so she's an ADA COL. A great American. And? Lots of women have achieved lots more. I'm sure they're all 100% army and proud of it to.

    Would be nice to see an intro posted on you and some more on why you think her career in particular brings something new to the discussion. As it is, I'm confused. No one here would stipulate that there have not been successful, extremely competent females who have achieved high rank.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 07-28-2008 at 05:27 AM.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Here's something funny
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BuoZGTMykI

    The tragic: She made lieutenant later.


    Personnel should be selected for the job, it's that simple.
    If someone fails or hasn't the qualities anyway - why employ him or her in an unsuitable position?

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    Oooh, that brought back some bad memories of some similar events a long time ago on this side of the pond. Including one of a certain female who sort of freaked out on a range and sprayed live rounds on full auto right over the heads of many of the other soldiers on said range. I was ten or fifteen feet from her... Yeah, individuals like this one, male, female, Cousin It, or whatever, should either be thoroughly sorted out or separated from the service. But made an officer? [Shake head.]

    My main worry is what standards are the males held to. Can they cross that assault course macht schnell with rifle and in full webbing, and be fit enough to go straight into a fight? I sure hope the Bundeswehr hasn't found itself caught in the jaws of a top-down, imposed political imperative/policy requirement here. I've seen how that works out.

    And BW TV sure wasn't pulling any punches with this one. But it would probably have been better for BW TV not to feature those who should be culled, even if only in jest. Causes those who are capable and competent - male, female, whatever - to be pre-judged by others as being of the sort apparently featured here.

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    Default Following Cavguy's lead,

    I googled COL Brown - Now, I know I'm old because that sentence meant something quite different back in the day.

    Anyway, the first Google hit was this:

    http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/firsts5.html

    Lots of talent there. Four of six also are African-American. Not statistical proof of anything, but it supports Cavguy's bottom line.

    I suspect the 24 other pages in that website have a lot more to offer.

    My wife would say "right on - all the way".

  16. #96
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Default What's wrong with women in the military

    Case in point: My former Battalion Commander was an African-American Female, and is the "poster-child" of what is wrong with the status quo with women in the military.

    She is a double-minority, and it is my opinion that the only reason she is still in the military, an O-5 and a Battalion Commander, is because of the color of the skin and her plumbing.

    She has a long and undistinguished history of failure in each and every leadership position she has held. It's a relatively small world, and I've had the opportunity to speak with several of her former subordinates who verify this. She is actively driving her current command into the ground, and they have consolidated the equivalent of another battalion under her due to reorg for her to destroy.

    She is unable to qualify on her personal weapon. Her excuse is that the Army hasn't trained her properly, so she refuses to take efforts to train herself. "It's not my job to train myself, the Army needs to train me on my weapon" is what she has repeated told her subordinates, in public.

    She has also repeatedly spoken in public and to her direct subordinates about how she's really not responsible for failures in her Battalion, "it's all on the Brigade Commander" is her response.

    She repeatedly exhibits a lack of knowledge about how chain of command works, and is, frankly, a "dud". I have never met a male or caucasian officer who is this bad, who got promoted and had B.C., though some shot for close.

    But she gets good OERs and has a decent shot at O-6.

    On the other hand, I know several females between the ranks of E-1 and O-6 who have their stuff wired tight. Somebody, somewhere didn't do their duty vis-a-vis the aforementioned B.C.. And I suspect her gender and/or race influenced her continued promotion.

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    120mm, it's not limited to women. LTG Sanchez (ret) on his post retirement book tour, apologia stomp sounds just like your old Bn CDR; "Higher didn't back me up, my subordinates are incompetent and untrained, we failed, but I did nothing wrong". And much like your aquaintance, he had a reputation (according to several primary sources) for systematically destroying morale and cohesion in his commands.

    In my experience, women average a little more competent than men as leaders. I've seen a higher percentage of toxic commanders with the XY than the XX, but generally the guys get weeded out faster. The exceptions I've observed are as political as the gender issue ("we can't fire him, he went to [fill in the prestigious commissioning source]", or "he's a [pilot, ranger, high-speed course graduate], we need to give him another chance").

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I agree. The problem isn't the commissioning source/ethnic background/gender, it's the lack of solid leadership, doing the right thing by either developing that individual, holding them accountable, and when necessary, seeing they are booted out of the Army.

    So, are you still around Leavenworth?

    And I personally really resent the Sanchez and others' comment about the competence level of his subordinates. During the train-up, his guys sucked, but by the time the war kicked off and after, they had weeded out the "duds" and had some pretty competent individuals working for him. Who lacked direction from him, obtw....
    Last edited by 120mm; 07-30-2008 at 05:15 AM.

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    Default Personality

    I think there is a lot more "personality" at play here than "gender" necessarily. But "gender" is more immediately discernable, and therefore becomes a proxy for having a multitude of personality traits ascribed to someone until they are later confirmed/denied.

    An example would be the B.C. described above. Definitely a personality issue, and likely would not cut it in the combat arms.

    But I've have a variety of women serve with tank battalions - as medics, S1 personnel, 77F's, etc - and mesh with the team just fine. It was their personality that allowed them to blend in. Someone above mentioned the wife dropping an f-bomb in front of the Marines, and suddenly everyone calmed down. That's a personality that can blend in with the Marines.

    Unfortunately, there's no good, objective way to quantify the 'personality' issue such that it could be used as an acceptable discriminator for integrating women more closely into the combat arms, or for placing certain men into mixed-gender situations. Without that objective measure, we're back to arguing about XX vs XY and spinning our wheels.

  20. #100
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    I think there is a lot more "personality" at play here than "gender" necessarily. But "gender" is more immediately discernable, and therefore becomes a proxy for having a multitude of personality traits ascribed to someone until they are later confirmed/denied.

    An example would be the B.C. described above. Definitely a personality issue, and likely would not cut it in the combat arms.

    But I've have a variety of women serve with tank battalions - as medics, S1 personnel, 77F's, etc - and mesh with the team just fine. It was their personality that allowed them to blend in. Someone above mentioned the wife dropping an f-bomb in front of the Marines, and suddenly everyone calmed down. That's a personality that can blend in with the Marines.

    Unfortunately, there's no good, objective way to quantify the 'personality' issue such that it could be used as an acceptable discriminator for integrating women more closely into the combat arms, or for placing certain men into mixed-gender situations. Without that objective measure, we're back to arguing about XX vs XY and spinning our wheels.
    I think you're missing my point: The problem isn't that this individual has problems, and to be sure, "personality" is part of the issue, it is that her basic incompetence has been given a pass because of her gender and/or the color of her skin.

    The typical army officer is extremely reluctant to "do the right thing" when confronted with a "dud" who happens to belong to a protected group. I guaran-freaking-tee you that being a member of that protected group gives them a potential lever to use against leaders who don't have their stuff wired extremely tight.

    Having said that, non-dud women and ethnic minorities have a disadvantage, in that they are often excluded from "good ole boy" activities. My best friend, and best man at my wedding, is a brilliant leader whose ethnic identity is African-American, and he got completely hosed over by the system as currently constituted, for example. But he's not the kind of guy who'd use his ethnic makeup to defend himself. I work with some female former officers who've experienced similar things.

    Really good leaders who DO have their stuff wired tight are able to get protected class duds out of the army. It just takes a little more work, in my experience.
    Last edited by 120mm; 08-01-2008 at 06:22 AM.

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