There has been quite the uproar about the recent decision to open up combat jobs for women including infantry and special operations. We have even debated the subject once already on this site in an earlier post but I thought it might be convenient if I could list some of the bigger reasons why it is a bad idea for women to be allowed into ground combat. First, let me say that I do recognize that women are already in combat and to some degree this new ruling only recognizes this new reality. My real problem with this new ruling is that it will allow women into the infantry where I think their presence and the army’s long track record of accommodating women will combine to compromise America’s military readiness.
First, I don’t care anyway you slice it but women are physically weaker than men, period. No matter how hard some people might try to convince you otherwise the facts are they are weaker.
Second, even though some “miracles of nature” are out there and a very few could probably pass infantry AIT (advanced individual training) this by no means is a guarantee that they will go on to a successful career in the infantry. This is because of the brutal nature of life in the infantry which will go on to wear down people over time. Constant road marching and patrolling beat the body down over time even in a training environment. Throw in combat into the mix and the stress on the body takes a giant leap.
Third, women already suffer from significantly higher injury rates than men. Approximately twice as many women as men get injured now in basic training, but they haven’t even started training to be in the infantry yet. Those numbers come out of the already relaxed basic training environments of Ft. Jackson. Not the home of the Infantry at Ft. Benning. How much worse will the injury rates be once they start training to become infantry?
Fourth, in the first gulf war (I can’t give you statistics on the latest wars since the military conveniently decided to not track them this time around) women in the army were 3x more likely to fail to deploy as men when their units were ordered overseas. Its bad enough when support units go to combat undermanned but should we really penalize infantry units with women who are less likely to answer the bell?
Fifth, the US Army already has an abysmal record of over 30 yrs. of weakening standards so women can pass. For example, women have a different PT standard than men that is significantly lower than what men are required to do. Training is often weakened to accommodate women which compromises male military readiness. An example of this is combatives training. Because women are being trained to literally fight against men they are trained with male sparring partners and are being hurt so often that the army is looking for ways to tone down the training.
Lastly, in an era of shrinking defense budgets when every dollar counts do we really want to pour finite resources into training people for a job that they are just not as well equipped to handle? I think not.