Women in the Infantry?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by SVG, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. SVG

    SVG USMA Cadet

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    So as years go by, innovations are always coming in regards to women in the military and equality seems that it shall some day come. Women are entering the infantry as medics, now, women are fighting their way onto submarines, etc, etc... but what about as regular infantrymen? What are the reasons for the restrictions, anyways?

    I mean I know the regular:
    Infantrymen are too rowdy and can't control themselves around a lady (which is the men's problem, not the women's)

    Women are not physically strong enough (They have to work harder, but everyone knows that every woman is capable of being as physically fit as every man, take it from someone that pumps iron every day and outruns most of the cross country team!)

    Pregnant (This can happen in any brach of the armed services. Women carry babies, it is a known fact. Solution: Be loyal to your partner back home while deployed and abstain! People CAN control themselves, and if they can't, then hell what are they doing in the US army anyways.)

    They are a distraction (Again, that's the men's problem, not the women's)

    So, if someone would please enlighten me on to why this is so, I would be honoured to hear a true, good to heart reason. In my humble opinion, if a women is the best man for the job, then they should have it. I am in no way saying that women should be drafted or anything, or even that all women are fit for the job, because that is obviously not so. But all men aren't fit for the job every. I say standards should not be lowered, but if a woman is fitting of them, and she wants it, what is it that prohibits her from doing so?
     
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Well- actually Women are not medics in infantry units- and they are not walking the hills with Infantry companies despite the popular reporting to the contrary- nor are they in special forces units.
    However, from my perspective-different from the Elaine Donnelly's of the world- the only good reason for exclusion is physical. Flat out- light infantry units are pure physical exercises. The average load that a grunt will carry is staggering to a medium to large size physically fit man and I don't believe that the numbers bear out your comment that there is a significant pool of women out there who are physically comparable to the vast majority of somewhat physically conditioned men. While Women may pump iron, not many do in either absolute terms or as a % of the female population. Further while there is an exception to everything- the numbers suggest that there are not more than a relative handful of women who after training meet the baseline male physical fitness requirements. There is a reason that the USMC for example does gender norming of their physical fitness standards especially for upper body strength. Women don't do pullups because the amount of physical training required to get a women to the bare minimum is prohibitive. VMI changed this last year to a Gender normed PT standard after 10 years because they discovered over the years that very few women could get to the bare minimum requirement for pullups for men- even after fairly intensive training. But if you need intense physical training to get to the bare minimum you are spending an awful lot of time not training on what you are actually supposed to do under those physical conditions. So- it seems pretty clear to me that a statistically insignificant number of women would meet the physical requirements necessary to perform the functions that are required of a light infantry unit without an extraordinary training effort. To be honest I don't think that's even arguable- there are no Collegiate or Professional female football players- women don't compete against men in Lacrosse or Basketball or hockey just because while I am sure there are women out there who are at the very top of their phsical conditioning- who play those sports- but relative to the men at the same level- they are just not physically competitive. (And given the amount of money involved in professional sports- there is tremendous incentive to break that barrier- if it could be done it would have been.) So if it is true in highly physical contact sports-in the Army/Marine Corps world of the light infantry I think that it is equally true.

    In virtually every facet of military operations, technology has reduced the need for brute strength and certainly it has reduced the absolute requirement for the number of foot soldiers relative to other branches. But where the need exists- it is still pretty darn primitive and strength has a big premium.

    Should the Army make exceptions for what is a statistically insignificant portion of the population? What would the Army gain trying to pull in the couple of % that would meet the requirements vs what would it cost to amke that change? And once you have made that change- how likely is it that the very fact that it would be a relatively insignificant % of the population be acceptable? Or would that then be a factor in changing the standard? Given how things work- I believe it likely there would be a lot of external and even some internal pressure to lower that physical standard to increase the % of "qualified" females. Frankly though I think this is mostly a civilian question as most Army women and men who I 've talked with recognize this (and to be clear- my wife is an O6 in the Army - is 6' tall and a Rugby player and skier- if ever there was someone who would be the candidate for this kind of thing it's her- but she is pretty physically unique and doesn't see this as realistic either.)


    It's my opinion- it isn't gospel.
     
  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Not officially but when one ended up there because there were no men around to go on the mission, she earned a silver star and removal from her job.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/30/AR2008043003415.html
     
  4. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    no- you misunderstand- I absolutely don't deny that women are doing jobs under combat conditions, nor do I believe that there is a reason women should be kept out of combat related jobs because of the likelihood of Casualties. But the question from the OP was "should women be in Infantry units". That is a specific type of unit with a specific way of getting to and moving around the battlefield with only man portable equipment to perform their mission. The unit that the soldier you are referring to was serving with was a CAV unit- that is a vehicle mounted unit that dismounts for very small period of time or distances. The reasoning that I gave was in fact all about the physical requirements and issues associated with serving in a Light infantry unit at Company level operations. There is a pretty big difference between how those different type units operate. BTW my wife commanded a PRT in Paktika province where this soldier earned the Silver Star and two of her soldiers were killed by IEDs there. It is definitely bad guy country. But citing the the "women are under fire" argument is irrelevant- all combat units are not the same nor are their requirements.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  5. SVG

    SVG USMA Cadet

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    But, under what circumstances is it necessary to deny that small percentage the right? No disrespect, I understand certainly where you are coming from, which is why in my intro I stated that obviously it would be a small percentage, and that probably the vast majority of women would not be cut for it, but there are likely ones willing who are. How can you make this assumption that they can not handle it, if never given the opportunity? And the way I see it, the same would apply for special forces, etc. If one is able to meet the standards, then what reason would they have to be denied?
     
  6. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    SVG:

    I just read about a movie that might interest you, it's title ARMY OF ONE (2005) Its about 3 young people who join the army after 9/11. 2 males and 1 female one of the men becomes an alcoholic and contemplates suicide the other male deserts on goes back to his gang life in Chicago.
    The female finds a life she was born to and is quickly promoted to an elite position with the 82nd airborne and goes to Iraq. For the rest you will have to go see the movie.
    it was written and directed by SARAH GOODMAN of NYC.
    if you don't believe me google it. quite a coincidence don't you think:confused:
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I'm not going to "go there" in this discussion because as an AF pilot, I'm not really qualified to comment. I can only add my "small" experience.

    I have had two periods of "AF Appreciation" when I was involved in army infantry training: Airborne and Recondo/ALO. Airborne...eh, I was very fit and it was actually fun.

    Recondo/ALO...we're talking small unit tactics...I'm a big guy; weight lifter, etc., 6'2", 240lbs, meet all fitness requirements.

    But what the army required KICKED MY A**! I had never done that...those packs...yeah, 60-100lbs was typical!! And I carried the M60 because of my size and the fact I did well with it. Now...I don't know if the M243 SAW is lighter, but carrying that 23lb beast (with bipod, no ammo) was nasty with all the other gear I "humped."

    The MAIN things I learned about the army infantry? HUGELY physical, and SCARY!!! I mean, "big sky theory" in my jet...but on a modern battlefield?

    VERY SCARY!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  8. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    TPG:
    Tube launched Opticly sighted Wire link guided missile.

    Are those heavy anti armor elements still deployed organically? Back when I wore green and yes I was infantry (11H). We were taught how to harness carry that monster only so we could fully appreciate mounting it on a jeep. I can't see humping that thing a mile let alone twenty-five, but that was 20+ years ago maybe it's lighter now.
     
  9. SVG

    SVG USMA Cadet

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    Thank you for the responses.

    I see what you are saying, and I understand the economical factor does play a role. However, I believe the option should remain open. If they are not qualified, throw them out. If they cannot handle it, throw them out. The standards should remain the same, and I believe if a woman can qualify, she should be allowed to participate.

    Prohibiting anyone from trying merely because it is predicted that most of them cannot accomplish it is, for lack of a better term...odd. Women only started being permitted to USMA in 1980, and I am sure there were arguments such as these against it.

    I 100% respect your service and your opinions. But, that being said, I am against the notion of denying one the opportunity to attempt a difficult task merely because of physical anatomy. There are men not fit for the job, as there are women not fit for the job.

    And as for that movie, I have heard of the director by googling my name before (haha), but I never knew what the movie was about... that is a coincidence. :)
     
  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yep, I knew it was replaced; obviously I didn't know the correct nomenclature (M240 or M249)...

    It was fun to shoot...but NOT fun to carry!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  11. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Can I have your autograph :biggrin:
     
  12. NavIss58

    NavIss58 Member

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    SVG, I recently did some research on the vital role of women in society for an unrelated topic. Among the items I came across was some information (generalizations and paraphrases) regarding women's roles in the military.

    In short it was stated that "Contemporary debates cite the physical and mental differences of the genders and the traditional view of men as soldiers. Illustrating the deep rooted gender models, it is suggested that soldiers hold a fear that in the case of direct combat or discovery, their mission priority will shift to protecting the women. While men may be programmed to engage the enemy, it is not so easy to program them to neglect women".

    Just thought I'd add that to all the guns and ammo discussions.
     
  13. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    She answered that field of thought:

    Quote by SVG: "I mean I know the regular:
    Infantrymen are too rowdy and can't control themselves around a lady (which is the men's problem, not the women's)

    Women are not physically strong enough (They have to work harder, but everyone knows that every woman is capable of being as physically fit as every man, take it from someone that pumps iron every day and outruns most of the cross country team!)

    Pregnant (This can happen in any brach of the armed services. Women carry babies, it is a known fact. Solution: Be loyal to your partner back home while deployed and abstain! People CAN control themselves, and if they can't, then hell what are they doing in the US army anyways.)

    They are a distraction (Again, that's the men's problem, not the women's)
    "

    BTW, I didn't say I agreed with her...
     
  14. SVG

    SVG USMA Cadet

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    In all honesty, you could say the same for men forming bonds of friendship with eachother potentially compromising assignments and missions.

    It is a part of being human, and it is an aspect that discipline followed by rationale can overcome. Any instance of the mission VS the man is decided based on that, and I do not see why a truly disciplined soldier should have any difference.
     
  15. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    In all honestly, you can say anything.

    I wonder how many women are out there complaining that they are being discriminated against by not being in the infantry? I say let that 'hundredths of a percent' join and maintain the same exact same current standards. Let them apply to the Ranger school too! Who cares anyway, it's more important that a very small percentage of people be accommodated in America now.
     
  16. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    Maximus:

    You have it all wrong, there would be no time for Ranger training.
    SVG is going to be the first female infantry-person to be stationed aboard a nuclear submarine while training for the seals.:confused:
     
  17. caroline

    caroline Member

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    Wow, I had NEVER thought of it in these terms ... you can say what you will about a man forming tight bonds of friendship and wanting to protect his friend before himself, but the protection of a woman over himself COULD be viewed as an almost biological, not only behavioral response in a man. And reason to keep researching before these changes are made ... really interesting. Patience, grasshoppper, patience.:smile:
     
  18. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    I've thought about this response and I'd like to expand on it; in 1980 the USMA changed it's standards of admission, to allow women in, they lower physical standards.<period Now please don't interpret this as "Women should not be at the USMA" because that's not what I believe, I believe women belong and should be there. The point is: that pesky favoritism thing; and if the standards are lowed for women, what about some boy that scores a 36 on his ACT and is the Captain of the Chess team but, he can't do a pull up or run very fast? Should he be barred from the academy?
     
  19. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    I agree. The same women who say they shouldn't be barred from an institution because of their gender still accept the lower standards set upon them. By accepting these lower standards in physical fitness, they are accepting the reasons women aren't allowed into the most physically demanding units. If they begin competing on an even level, then those gender restrictions would go away due tot he even playing field.

    Now, as far as the genetics of men feeling more protective of women, that can be suppressed. According to that statement, men shouldn't be allowed to be doctors in the civilian world since they will treat female patients more favorably yet this is not the case. Male doctors take care of male and female patients and nobody has complained about preferential treatment.
     
  20. caroline

    caroline Member

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    I wasn't talking about the relative safety of a SA or doctor's office. I was thinking more in terms of what the OP had posted regarding infantry units on the battlefield engaged in combat with the enemy. Would someone be able to "suppress" a biologically conditioned response while being fired upon or while bombs were dropping out of the sky? I'm sorry, but I don't know the answer to that. Maybe one of the AD or RET members could tell us what was going through their minds at a time like that and if biologically conditioned responses could be "suppressed" or not during a battle. Thanks.
     

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