Women in combat roles

What’s y’alls opinion on women in combat roles? I’m not meaning avaiation roles, such as fixed and rotary winged combat personnel, but in ‘line’ roles such as the Army’s 11(X) MOS, US Marine Corps 0300, or my own former AFSC (Air Force technical rating) 1T0(X)6.

I, personally, do not wish to see females in these type roles ( 11(X) and 0300 are infantry specalties, whereas my own is Pararescue.) Its not that I feel that women are less capable, or unable to match the physical rigors of combat. Indeed, when I was in the training pipeline, after indoc, a large number (around 30%) of my instructors were female. And it’s not a matter of ‘those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach’ either. I would gladly have taken SMSgt Tressa Weeks, one of my SERE instructors or SSgt Janet Mullins, one of my military freefall (HALO) instructors, alongside me than many of my fellow trainees.

The reason I feel against it is that if captured, female personnel could be used (or abused) in ways that men couldn’t. For some reason, call me old fashioned, I don’t believe that many men would suffer or receive sexual abuse at the hands of a captor, or that public outcry would be as loud as if a female was killed by a captor. I also believe that it would be safe to say that the Geneva protocols (those specifically pertaining to the protection of prisoners from public curiosity and public endangerment) would be bent if not outright broken by most of the USA’s enemies in a time of war. Hell, look at how the male servicemen captured by the Iraqi’s were paraded around. And in the end, they were treated rather civally. I have thoughts about SSgt. William “Bill” Clevland, of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), who was killed in Mogadishu on 3 October 1996. Specifically, about how the worthless animals who seem to occupy that ‘city’ had no problems dragging, mutalating, and otherwise defaming the body of one of our servicemen. In the hands of such worthless sub-humans (I’m not demeaning all Somalis, nor just Somalis, so much as I am disgusted by the barbaric way that they treated a dead man, and anyone who does so earns nothing but my contempt. Hell, even the Iraqi’s didn’t do things like that), how would a dead female infantryman, PJ, Ranger, Delta Operator, Combat Weatherman, etc etc be handled? Or worse, if one of our female soldiers were captured by animals like that?

Anyway, I await the flames and arguement that are sure to follow.

For example?

Women traditionally seem to get raped more than men do in war - though I think that’s more of a civilian thing - but the reality of it is there’s nothing you can really do to a woman you can’t do to a man.

See http://www.pbs.org/ttc/archives/erbe_articles/erbegirlpower.html

Jessica Lynch didn’t get enough attention for you? (I know, I know, she lived and was perhaps not in danger when she was ‘saved.’ But I think it would have gotten plenty of attention if she’d been killed.)

It’s a volunteer force. Women know the risks. If they choose to accept them, let them.

This is akin to saying Jews should not have served in the air force in the European theatre of WWII because they would have been subjected to worse treatment than non-Jewish POWs. It’s indisputably true - even more so than women vs. men, in that particular case - but should Jews have been barred from volunteering for combat operations? Of course not.

I actually wrote a paper for a college English class on this topic once, taking the side that women shouldn’t be in combat roles. I’m not sure I’d defend the position so vociferously now, though I can see the logic behind it. During studies under Bush Sr.'s Administration when the decision was made to allow women into most non-ground combat roles, they found that one of the big issues was the effect that male protectiveness of women had. Rape and sexual assault on female POWs was perceived far more traumatically by men than it was by the women who faced the actual abuse.

I know that if I was captured and tortured by enemies with no regard for the Geneva convention, it honestly wouldn’t matter to me if I were raped or if I was merely tortured like my fellow male soilders. Torture and degredation is torture and degredation. Rape isn’t particularly more scary than, say, being electrocuted.

That, and men can and are raped in these situations. When you are playing power games, somehow exact orfices stop mattering so much.

Yep, that’s about it really. If they can do the job then they should be allowed to choose to do it.

If society can’t deal with it then society will need to change. Equal rights means equal rights AFAIC.

In principle I have no problem with women in combat roles.

I do see two practical difficulties – pregnancy and reduction of standards.

Quite a few women serving in the Middle East have gotten pregnant, which disqualifies them as soldiers. We have seen a number of areas where physical requirements for certain jobs were reduced to let more women qualify.

In principle, these problems could be dealt with so as not to reduce our military effectiveness, but in practice, they might not be.

The major problem I see for women in front line combat positions is that in many cases the men in those same units seem to take a higher percentage of casualties than all male units (I’m basing this on things I read years ago about the Israeli army and the Soviet army during WWII, both of which were mixed…I don’t have any cite for it, and it could be, admittedly, pure BS). There were a lot of reasons for those higher percentages of casualties among the men of those mixed units, but the long and the short of it (from what I remember) was that the men were trying to ‘protect’ those women when in combat situations…or show off in some cases. I think that through training (many of those mixed units from Israel and USSR were thrown together due to war, not trained together like on the US armed forces of today) some of that attitude will be lessened, sort of like when our units first became racially mixed.

That said, I would have to agree with the posters that state that our armed forces are all volunteer. Anyone who is a citizen, reguardless of race, sex, religious preference, etc, should be allowed to volunteer, and if they are physically and mentally capable (a key caviot), should be allowed to participate in the armed forces in any role they want to and can do. Its their right to do what they feel they must as citizens of this country. No one has the right to decide for someone else what risks they can and can’t take for themselves…

But thats just my opinion…I could be wrong.


All of us American men had to sign our Selective Service Cards on or before our 18th birthdays whether we liked it or not. If women want to be equal and be take the same front line combat roles that men do, then make it law they have to be eligible for the draft as well. Until then, I say screw em; they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

Why the inflammatory remark? No poster here said that women shouldn’t have to register with the Selective Service.

Just because women aren’t eligible for the draft (yet) doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ‘be take the same front line combat roles that men do’, as you so eloquently put it.

I thought about that for a long time before, years ago, I decided my position on whether or not women who are capable of meeting the exact same standards as men should be allowed into combat, and then I came to the conclusion that there is no reason whatsoever except for social attitude why rape would be worse than any other kind of torture.

Personally, and this is just my opinion so take it for what you will, I’d rather be raped than caned on the feet to the point that I could never walk again.

A soldier is a soldier, male or female, and all human life is valuable. To say that it is worse to mistreat a female soldier than it is a male soldier, or to desecrate the body of a woman vs. a man is to place the lives, bodies and torture of men at a lower value. It’s an attitude I cannot understand and hope to see changed. Please understand that I don’t think this means women should be lowered in value; I believe that all human beings have the same worth.

I went and filled one out and signed it, even though I was told it would be thrown away. I considered it the least I could do to point out the fact that equal protection under the law ought to involve equal responsibility under the law.

So, can I be in combat in your war?

The story of a female combat pilot in Iraq.


Posted by Violet, quoting of an article:

"Nor were there recriminations when two U.S. female soldiers were taken prisoner by the Iraqis----even though one was sexually molested. "

I’m sorry, but I fall backwards: where on earth comes the information from that one of these prisoners was “sexually molested”?
I received no information whatsoever about that. What is the source?
And on the OP I would like to ask the following:

Do you find the display of Iraqy prisoners and dead soldiers on TV and in newspapers equally repulsive? Because that was done even before the Iraqis made a show of the US prisoners.


I don’t object if the standards to qualify for whatever position assumed are the same, i.e., not lowered to accommodate women.
Without fudging, and without throwing in standards that don’t relate to the job at hand.

If the standards to qualify remain the same, and those standards involve strength and speed, fewer women will qualify, but those who do will be able to do the job. It’s really important that they do it with the same efficacy as men, whatever it is. Because of a lot of cultural conditioning, many women will be reluctant to, for instance, kill–of course, so will men.

And there is too something that can be done to women but not to men: pregnancy. People have mentioned it as a problem in military women stationed abroad, when pregnant they can no longer be soldiers. I don’t think that’s necessarily true although it does change women in ways they have no way to predict beforehand. It’s also a threat. Men can be raped as well as women but men are never going to get pregnant as a result.

Wars are so last century anyway.

WHen I was at SERE School, women were the “beat bitches”. Everything that anyone did would result in a woman getting punished, often severely, and often right in front of the men. I have no doubt that that scenario is realistic.

I have no problem with women in combat roles, as long as they can EXACTLY fulfill the same requirements as men. If a woman goes to become a Pararescuejumper, for instance, she had better be able to carry my fat ass to the helicopter. Otherwise, she’s worthless in that position.

Do you think that with proper training to treat a woman being beaten no differently than a man being beaten, this tactic would eventually prove ineffective and be abandoned?

Strangely, I feel the same way about firefighters. Can’t lug my 170 lb ass? I don’t want you coming into my burning house. :slight_smile:

No, I don’t think that tactic will ever really be ineffective. Men being protective of women is both societal and instinctive. I was taught to be deferential to women a long time ago.

I just don’t see how that can be changed, not anytime soon anyway.