The Right Opinion

Women in Combat Spells Trouble

By Linda Chavez · Jan. 25, 2013

With little discussion or fanfare, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat that has been in effect for as long as there has been a U.S. military. Feminists and some women serving in the military are applauding the move as a victory for equal rights. They claim that justice requires nothing short of opening all positions to females, regardless of the consequences to combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, or military readiness, factors whose importance they minimize in any event.

What is perhaps most striking about Secretary Panetta's action is that it reverses the combat exclusion policy that was last reviewed thoroughly during the Clinton years – and which even Democrats embraced.

There is little question that there are a number of women who might make good combat soldiers, provided they could pass the same physical, endurance and strength tests with the same acceptable scores that current combat troops achieve. But whether a handful of exceptional women might succeed – or opt into infantry units for that matter – is not the relevant standard. The question is, would women's presence in combat situations enhance military effectiveness or compromise it?

One study of a brigade operating in Iraq in 2007 showed that women sustained more casualties than their male counterparts and suffered more illnesses. Female soldiers experienced three times the evacuation rate of male soldiers. And of those evacuated for medical reasons, a shocking 74 percent were for pregnancy-related issues.

The high rate of pregnancy among female soldiers is one of the best-kept secrets in the military. The various military branches are loath to publicize the figures regarding female soldiers becoming pregnant while deployed. However a study released just this week shows that military women have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy than the comparable general population – some 50 percent higher. And the unplanned pregnancy rate for deployed women was as high as it was for those serving stateside.

And, of course, many of the pregnancies among deployed females involved sexual activity between soldiers in the field – which brings up one of the chief objections to women serving in combat roles.

Feminist ideologues have pooh-poohed the notion that sexual attraction is a major problem when you put young men and women together in close quarters for long periods of time under the stress of combat situations. They act as if both males and females will resist temptation and if they don't that there will be no significant consequences anyway.

Funny, those same feminists seem to believe quite differently when it comes to putting other young men and women together under similar, if less life-threatening situations. Most college campuses these days take it for granted that students will have sex during their years on campus. Many schools provide condoms in the dorms, access to other forms of birth control, lectures on sexual activity (even classes for college credit whose subject matter is the study of sexual activity in various forms). It's just assumed, you put young people together and sex naturally follows.

But the consequences for love affairs gone wrong, rivalry among suitors or even the distraction that sex can provide from other duties are very different in a college setting than they are in the middle of battle.

Unit cohesion is a major factor in the success of any military objective. Inject sexual rivalry and tension into a small group of soldiers whose decisions mean life and death, and you are likely to get more of the latter.

Yes, men and women can bond in non-sexual ways, but sexual attraction is one of the most powerful human emotions. To ignore it and pretend that it can be overcome without great effort is foolhardy. And jealousy is nearly as powerful an emotion as love. What happens when a couple in a unit breaks up but must still work side-by-side, facing an enemy whose sole purpose is to kill them? And when pregnancies occur – as they inevitably will – what happens then? Do you allow a physically fit pregnant solider to risk not only her life but that of her unborn child, too?

It is unfortunate that the Obama administration acted unilaterally without putting this issue up for open and honest debate before Congress and the public. By acting unilaterally – no accident I'm sure, right after the president's re-inauguration – the administration has done a disservice to the American people and the finest military in the world.

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11 Comments

Bruce R Pierce in Owensboro, Ky said:

Lets keep in mind those added stressors that add distraction, distraction that will get people killed. Ok Joe yours and Janes turn to go to the Observation Post. Lets see what kind if distraction can two physically fit "Alpha type" young people can get into.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Brian in Newport News said:

"However a study released just this week shows that military women have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy than the comparable general population -- some 50 percent higher. And the unplanned pregnancy rate for deployed women was as high as it was for those serving stateside."

I can guarantee you that the majority of these "unplanned" pregnancies are, in fact, planned. It is a female's way to get out of such things as deployments or other unwanted duty assignments. Been in and around the Navy since 1985 and know whereof I speak.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:42 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

More of King Obamao directing policy in lew of Congress. If it is anti-American, expect it from this traitor.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

"the administration has done a disservice to the American people and the finest military in the world."
And this surprises anybody??

TERM LIMITS-IMPEACH-PROSECUTE-SOON

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Joe P. in Phoenix, AZ said:

Ms. Chavez,
You appear to have seen yesterday’s news about women in combat as you spent quite a few words on the sexual aspects of it. However, you left out a major component of the rationale behind the decision.

It seems NAACP sued DOD to “encourage” the military to put women in combat.

One of references NAACP used in its lawsuit was a PhD dissertation entitled “Military, Equal Rights, and Redefinition of Women.” The premise of the dissertation, written in 1980 by Eugenia Papas, was that, based on DOD studies and actuary statistics, there would not be enough men in case of national emergency and suggesting:

1. Including more women in the military and registration for military service of men and women aged 18 through 26 which would provide a pool of approximately 18 million personnel ready for call-up;

2. Assignments of women not only on supply ships but also on ships normally considered “combat” types. These assignments should be done on compatibility basis NOT on forced equal opportunity considerations;

3. Stress reduction training should be provided for both men and women prior to assignment of women in any “combat” positions; and

4. If possible, allow personnel to volunteer for “mixed” ships.

Please note that in 1980 when the Navy put women aboard supply ships, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was being considered by Congress, and there were various groups (including NAACP) “pushing” for women in combat roles.

There are often hidden reasons that seemingly illogical decisions are made at governmental levels.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Bruce R Pierce in Owensboro, Ky replied:

Any hidden reasons do not make illogical decisions any less dangerous or more logical.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

The average soldier will tell you that female soldiers getting pregnant usually winds up with someone else having to do their job because of morning sickness at first and then when she is out having the baby. If that occurs in a combat unit during a war it could be the difference between life or death. Just another example of trying to make military life like society in general. No civilian, other than law enforcement or fire-fighters, are ever put under the kind of stress that daily combat action entails. I suspect that most of those agreeing with Panetta have never been in combat so have no idea what its like. Periods of calm and then periods of sheer terror when you don't know if its your day to die or not.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

shoot in Michigan City In. said:

One needs to look at Isreal (not spelled right) they have a mixed Army but there soldiers are trained differantly, most American males in combat would probably be looking out for their women more and quite possibly more casualties would occur before I get flamed on what I say it happens in civillan life I know hurt or kill one of the women in my life and you can bet the law better get you before me and I am afraid it will end up like that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

What will happen when you combine PMS with PTS? Believe it, or not, I'm not joking!

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 7:07 AM

Victor O`Donnell in Dublin,Texas said:

As a 24 year Military Retiree I must tell you that your comments are right on target! The problem is that those WHO HAVE NOT, DO NOT and WILL NOT SERVE have no concept of conditions which only those of us who have SERVED readily understand!

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 2:40 PM

tdrag in South Carolina said:

"And when pregnancies occur -- as they inevitably will -- what happens then? Do you allow a physically fit pregnant solider to risk not only her life but that of her unborn child, too?" Don't worry Ms. Chavez, Planned Parenthood will be given a government contract to dispose of those "little soldiers". What concerns me is when you wake up one morning to a FOX News Alert with a Taliban video showing one of Americas daughters on her knees in front of a group of Jihadis who proceed to slit her throat for all to see. What will Mr. Panetta or the Idiot President have to say about that?

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 8:23 PM