The Right Opinion

Obama Ignores Deadly Risks to Women in Combat

Gender radicalism's attack on the military claims another victory.

By Arnold Ahlert · Jan. 24, 2013

It didn't take long for the Obama administration to advance a pernicious piece of its promised radical agenda. Two days after the president laid out his far-left vision during the inauguration, senior defense officials announced that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will lift the military's ban on women serving in combat. The move overturns a 1994 provision that prohibited them from being assigned to ground combat units. Panetta has given the various service branches until 2016 to come up with exemptions, and/or make any arguments about what roles should still reman closed to women. Thus, another bit of gender radicalism has been shoved down the nation's throat through executive fiat – and this one is sure to have deadly consequences.

It is precisely those deadly consequences – especially for servicewomen – that are irrelevant to feminists and their enablers, who have long pushed the idea that men and women are essentially interchangeable. Nothing could be further from the truth, and combat is where those differences could produce deadly results. Ground combat is arguably the most physically grueling activity in which one can be engaged, and despite what the feminists would like Americans to believe about equality, science says otherwise: men have almost twice the upper-body strength as women.

This is a critically relevant consideration. According to a 2009 article in National Defense Magazine, a soldier on a three-day mission in Afghanistan carries approximately 130 pounds of gear, and efforts to lighten that load have not succeeded. This is primarily due to the reality that the essentials of food, water, and ammunition cannot be replaced with lighter items. Other equipment, such as sensors, tripods, cold weather clothing, boots, sleeping bags, flashlights, and protective eyewear, have all been made lighter. But the fact remains that the average soldier is expected to carry enormous amounts of weight, simply to better ensure his chances for survival. Furthermore, a soldier must carry that weight even during periods of intense fighting. The overwhelming majority of women are not capable of meeting such standards.

What is the Pentagon likely to do? In New York City, when most female applicants to the Fire Department were unable to meet the strength requirements, feminists filed a successful lawsuit, altering the standards so that a number of otherwise unqualified women could pass the test. Thus it is likely the Pentagon will pursue a similar strategy of “gender-norming” for the entire service that is already part of the Army Physical Fitness Test. That test requires proficiency in push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. For sit-ups both genders have the same requirements. For push-ups and the run, the grading scale for women is easier.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, illuminates the folly of pursuing such double standards. “Revised 'warrior training' programs sound impressive, but gender-normed standards emasculate the concept by assuring 'success' for average female trainees,” she wrote in 2005, when the Army began a surreptitious program of putting women in smaller, direct ground-combat units. Donnelly then added the critically proper perspective to the mix. “Soldiers know that there is no gender-norming on the battlefield,” she explains.

There is also nothing that will eliminate the natural differences between men and women that play out in a number of other ways. Few things are more important for enduring the rigors of combat than morale and combat unit cohesion. It is ludicrous to believe that mixed units will be immune to the potentially de-stabilizing effects of sexual attraction. And as night follows day, sexual attraction leads to pregnancy. In 2009, Major General Anthony Cucolo, running military operations in Northern Iraq, was forced to deal with the serious downside of that reality. As a result, he initiated a policy under which troops who got pregnant – and the men who got them pregnant – faced a court martial and  possible jail time. Cucolo issued the directive because he was losing too many women with critical skills. “I've got a mission to do, I'm given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them,” he contended.

Yet consensual sex is only part of the problem. A military report released in January 2012 revealed a stunning 64 percent increase in violent sex crimes within the U.S. Army since 2006. The most frequent sex crimes for 2011 included “rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy.” The report further noted that while only 14 percent of the Army is comprised of women, they represent 95 percent of all sex crime victims.

It stretches the bounds of credulity to believe that sexual tension, regardless of the legitimate or illegitimate motivation behind it, would be lessened under front line, life-threatening combat conditions. Nor is it inconceivable to think that close personal relationships of a sexual nature would make some soldiers take the kind of unnecessary risks to save a lover that might not only endanger themselves, but their entire unit.

There is another reality that feminists and their enablers fail to acknowledge. As it currently stands, there is little appetite demonstrated by women themselves for serving in combat units. Army Research Institute (ARI) surveys taken from 1993-2001 revealed that the majority of military women were strongly opposed to combat assignments – so much so that the ARI dropped the question from its survey the following year. Less than a month ago, a Huffington Post article regarding interviews with “a dozen female soldiers and Marines" revealed that they had "little interest in the toughest fighting jobs,” contending “they'd be unable to do them.” When the Marines asked women to go through their infantry training course last year, only two women volunteered. Both of them failed to get through it. No one volunteered for the next one. Army Sgt. Cherry Sweat, who did a tour in Iraq installing communications equipment, reveals a sentiment that most military women apparently share. “The job I want to do in the military does not include combat arms,” she said. “I enjoy supporting the soldiers. The choice to join combat arms should be a personal decision, not a required one,” she added.

Lory Manning of Women's Research and Education Institute thinks women's interest in assuming combat roles will be higher than anticipated. “If you asked someone in 1985 about going to sea, she would have been thinking: Girls don't do that and so I don't want to do that,'” Manning contended. “But when push came to shove, they did it, they loved it." That is a ridiculous comparison. Going to sea is hardly the same as front-line combat. Moreover, when "push comes to shove,” it is highly doubtful that there is more than a microscopic number of soldiers who “love” being in the mortal danger that combat engenders.

Unfortunately, such realities are no match for those who champion diversity. Putting women in combat units “reflects the reality of 21st century military operations," said Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), in announcing his support for the program. No doubt he and others see it as the next logical step following last year's announcement, opening 14,000 combat-related positions to female soldiers. At that time, the Pentagon still insisted on keeping women out of direct combat roles, even as they noted they were committed to lifting such barriers eventually. At the time, they claimed that making such sweeping changes would be difficult in time of war. Another factor was the lifting of the "don't ask, don't tell” policy allowing gays to serve openly. Allowing women to serve on the front lines at the same time was considered one big social change too many.

No longer. The new policy expands the number of military jobs available to women from last year's 14,000 to more than 230,000 positions. Part of the impetus for the change may have been two lawsuits filed last year challenging the combat ban, but according to a senior military official familiar with the discussions by the Joint Chiefs, the ultimate conclusion was that this is the time to “maximize women's service in the military.”

Writing for the Washington Post three days ago, Elaine Donnelly reiterated her position that putting women in combat is a terrible idea, presciently noting that “even the if the results of the Marines' research do not support unrealistic theories of feminists who consider land combat to be just another career opportunity, administration officials might press their egalitarian agenda anyway.” She further noted that the “Pentagon-endorsed Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC) has called for an end to women's land combat exemptions, based on a new definition of 'diversity.'”

That egalitarian agenda, like so many other progressive agendas, may produce an unintended consequence. The 1981 Rostker v. Goldberg Supreme Court case exempted women from being part of the nation's Selective Service System. America no longer drafts civilians into the military, but as Donnelly notes, the elimination of such combat exemptions will involve civilian women registering with Selective Service. She then makes a recommendation, not only anathema to the Obama administration, but one that only three days later was ultimately ignored. “Congress, which represents the American people, should not be shut out of this decision-making process,” she wrote. If the draft is re-instated, one wonders how the American public will take to having their daughters every bit as vulnerable as their sons to forcible conscription. A rising tide of Islamist terror in the Middle East and now in Africa could provide the answer.

Once again, elections have consequences. Barack Obama has made it clear that part of his progressive agenda includes forcing gender radicalism down America's throat, absent any input from Congress. Once, the United States military was all about projecting lethal power around the globe to protect America's interests. Now, it is all about promoting diversity, inclusion and equality of outcome, irrespective of military readiness and cohesion. For progressives, who have elevated political correctness above all else – national security included – such radical egalitarianism is cause for celebration. For Donnelly and countless other Americans, it is anything but. “No one's injured son should have to die on the streets of a future Fallujah because the only soldier near enough to carry him to safety was a five-foot-two 110-pound woman,” she contends.

Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.


fred in oregon said:

there are a couple ways to look at this stupid idea. 1--if the progressive liberal women die in combat, they will not pro-create another progressive liberal.
hum--i do not remember the other way to look at this stupid idea.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Bruce R Pierce in Owensboro, Ky replied:

As appealing as that seems it will also get good soldiers doing their job killed also. It's just not worth the lets all be one big happy family attitude when not just the lives of soldiers are put in more danger, when the mission fails more lives are put in danger.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Bruce R Pierce in Owensboro, Ky said:

As a 21+ year veteran that was a Scout this is a bad idea not just for the women it puts in danger but for the men also. You were right to bring up the gender values Americans hold, while out on patrol everyone, all three to five of you, are expected to not just carry your own weight but pull it also. While on patrol one of the most stressful jobs is the "point man" so important is his job he is not even expected to navigate and is rotated frequently to keep him alert. Throwing into the mix that the team leader has to put a female up there adds more stress to an already stressful situation. Let’s talk about extended operations she will be required to not only carry more weight than her fellow soldiers there is also the possibility she leaves a trail of where she has been even jeopardizing the patrol even more, yes even smoking is forbidden while on patrol for that reason. Since I brought up her monthly cycle I also want to point out patrolling is not your camping trip where all the personal hygiene gear is available or would even be used if it was, while out and about you want to smell as much like your surroundings as possible, it does not take much to imagine the health risks even if the expected contact does not happen. I also understand firsthand the problem of "mixing" combat arms soldiers with non-combat arms soldiers especially females. I spent two years in an Aviation Battalion and I spend a lot of time looking for my men usually to find them "hitting" on one of the female crew chiefs. Last but not least I remember the civilian outrage at seeing male soldiers stripped and drug through the streets after being beaten to death, do we as a society really want to subject ourselves to watching that horror done to woman?

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 8:22 AM

LMatula in Hilton, NY replied:

"Last but not least I remember the civilian outrage at seeing male soldiers stripped and drug through the streets after being beaten to death, do we as a society really want to subject ourselves to watching that horror done to woman?"

Of course not. They'll need to be Gang-Raped First! Then, whatever is left can be dragged through the streets... IF she wasn't sold into slavery.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 2:43 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

All part of sissifying the military. I saw a 50 lb. box the other day that was prominently stenciled "two man lift". I thought to myself, if one man was unable to lift 50 lbs, what are they doing in the military. In 2016, will it read "four person lift"? Girly men, no leadership, and now putting those not capable to endure combat in harms way. Mac is correct, Chairman Obamao is destroying everything, including our ability to field a supperior fighting force.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Dioneikes in Colorado replied:

WJM ... the liberal women, such as Sandra Fluke, SHOULD be put on the front lines. They wanted equality, now they'll get it. They'll be all in favor of it until they start filling body bags with female corpses from combat. Then they'll want out of that REAL fast.

As a 20 year veteran of the Navy who served on combat ships, I know that it is no place for the females. But they seem to think they're up for the task. I've watched them fail miserably on the last ship I was on. I watched about 30 of them get out of going on deployment by getting knocked up, and most of 'em weren't married either. So that became a gapped billet (because it wasn't a planned personnel loss) so that some male sailor had to pick up their share of the workload as well as his own. Talk about a kick in the teeth! Needless to say I am against what is happening, but since they whined about it, now they are going to get it. It's called "be careful what you wish for."

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Alex in NJ said:

Why don't we ease into this and have the women play in the Army/Navy football games, and see how well they fare against a 300 lb male who can bench press well over his weight.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Bruce R Pierce in Owensboro, Ky replied:

QUIET, you want them to ruin the game of Football more than it already is?

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM

MIResident in Michigan replied:

My last jump I had over 125 lbs of equipment, plus a weapon and snow shoes on each leg. I'd like to see one of those liberal feminist folks walk out the back of a 130 like that, let alone stand up.

That doesn't even address the hygiene aspect of most combat arms positions - going weeks w/o showers, and the 'french' bath only works for so long.

Bad idea - even going against studies of military women.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM

JJ in WV said:

You want to really see the wailing start? Remember that institution known as the Selective Service? I suggest that the next step - before combat roles are finalized - would be to REQUIRE the registration of all females for selective service and have the same penalties in place for them as for the males if they do not. Anyone want to bet how long that would last? Does anyone want to bet how long it would take for a sex discrimination suit to hit if the draft restarted and only took men?

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri said:

Typical liberal thinking: Standard? We don`t need no stinking standards. We have liberal feelings.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Salty Marine in DC said:

Even though my son (3 OIF, 2 OEF) and daughter (2 OIF, and deploying to Kandahar this March) are both Marines, I am glad this decision was made after my time. The implementation is going to be rough, and the lessons learned will come at a very steep price for those involved (the women and their chain of command).

Still, my crystal ball says that we will ultimately look back on this moment and say it was a turning point in the American Way of War. The Napoleonic lines are over, trench warfare is over, force-on-force in deserts and jungles is almost over, counterinsurgency has been re-learned, and cyber has just begun. What these women are going to do is take us from our current attitudes of removing despots and "helping" nations assimilate democracy (you can't thrust it on them - they have to want it and take it) for over ten years per country, to a far more lethal place: the US will either ingore a country (deadly for them), or the US will annihilate all bad guys in it (deadly for them) if it is in our best interest. The women won't accept hit and run from an elusive enemy, or keep taking punches, or allowing the enemy to own the night because of some geek lawyer's rules of engagement. Women just don't work that way, and men don't stand around in a CP when females stare at them and expect leadership. Alpha males, even around or in charge of other alpha males (or lesser males) will allow the status quo even when things suck, but alpha males PERFORM when they are around alpha females, and alpha females also suck it up and make the hard decisions when they are around males. A brigade of alpha males and alpha females is going to kick serious butt. Stand by for a game change.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM

rippedchef in sc said:

sorry fellas I don't agree-put 'em all up there,open your own damn doors,give them all the level playing field they think they want-no girls or boys sports-just sports.Screw 'em all -I'm so tired of the man bashing,husband hating bullcrap- I see one more mealy-mouthed,weasely man too afraid to speak for fear of upsetting some estrogen laden turd,I think I'll puke on my keyboard.Let 'em walk right in-pee standing up-do it all.Just when they all are getting killed and captured about the 28th day every month-leave me and mine out of the discussion.The whole damn thing is idiotic

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri said:

You can bet your bippy that neither of Obama`s spawn will ever be in the military. This like everything else that living, breathing devil does is not gonna affect him or anyone else in DC. They`re all exempted from these rules and regulations.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM

karla r in Boulder City, NV said:

I am a woman who served in the AF 20 years, and witnessed the success of women admitted to the Academies, into pilot training, and into fighter pilot billets and the Thunderbirds. I reject the idea of women being excluded simply because of gender. That said, there are some military positions that have severe physical proficiency requirements. Some - not many- women can meet them. That is the bottom line; if you can meet the physical requirements to do the job, you should have the opportunity. If you can't, then you don't get the job. Women physiologically often can handle the g-forces of fighter jets better than men; ground combat, not so much. Bottom line: you must be able to physically perform the job. The inevitable compromises that will be made to "accommodate" women in combat, from lowered physical standards to attempts to impose privacy considerations into close combat conditions, WILL cost lives. Also: I have three sons, all of whom had to register for Selective Service. With this change, either get rid of the registration or require women to register as well. (PS- I can say from experience that women soldiers are well aware that if captured, they will likely be raped - as happened in the first Gulf War and probably since. Not much difference from the torture male soldiers have endured. Part of the risk you take on when you join. So if that is your concern, get over it.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 10:34 PM

JGT in Utah said:

It's seems a little strange that out of the blue the goverment states that women now can serve in the front lines in the Military. With all the talk of gun control. How else could you disarm Americans by sending in a squad of women. I don't know even in battle a man that will kill women. So will it be women golng house to house when Obama gets rid of the 2nd. Just thinking

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:40 PM