Women in Combat

Women in Combat

James Norman Mattis is the 26th and current United States Secretary of Defense and a former United States Marine Corps general. Mattis says there are too few women in the infantry ranks to provide enough data on how it’s going.

“There are a few stalwart young ladies who are charging into this, but they are too few. Clearly, the jury is out on it, but what we’re trying to do is give it every opportunity to succeed if it can.”

The Department of Defense ban was removed in 2013, allowing women to serve in combat.

The Center for Military Readiness, an organization that seeks to limit women’s participation in the military, stated that “Female soldiers are, on average, shorter and smaller than men, with 45-50% less upper body strength and 25-30% less aerobic capacity, which is essential for endurance”.

Proponents of allowing female soldiers in active combat argue that by not incorporating women into battle, the government is treating women as second-class citizens and not equals of men.

Let us review these arguments in detail.

Most armed forces jobs are equally open to both the genders. However, tasks like infiltrating enemy territory to gather intel or air dropping behind enemy lines for combat purposes are activities which are kept miles away from the reach of female soldiers. This indicates that even when integration is available, it is discriminatory, which defeats the purpose. If women are in direct combat, due to less physical efficiency, the goal of a mission can be impacted negatively. Nonetheless, Modern warfare is no longer about brute strength. There surely are women who have more stamina than men, and enhanced training can further improve their abilities. It is proven that men and women possess equal technical expertise and decision-making skills. Instead of restricting women to a specific role, proper training and calibration can be introduced to improve their capabilities.

Deployability is mandatory when a need arises. Male soldiers are available and willing to leave their families behind. A pregnant female soldier cannot be deployed and is a liability. However, we are no longer in the dark ages when a pregnancy could not be planned. If a female willingly joins an army, she is likely to ensure that she does proper family planning to be available for her duties when the call comes.

We are rapidly moving towards a generation which demands equality for all.  At the same time, several institutions are used to follow a culture which cannot be changed overnight. Men who enlist and active military personnel are in the habit of maintaining traditional gender roles. Men may either act foolishly to protect their female counterparts or breed resentment due to a hyper-masculine military subculture. But, if we are aware of a problem with a specific culture, we must take the necessary steps to change it. Cultures have changed throughout history. Almost every male-dominated profession is now gender neutral with both men and women equally contributing to the same set of roles and responsibilities.

If taken hostage by an enemy force, both men and women can be subjected to similar kind of torture, rape, and abuse, but jihadi misogynist forces will be more inclined to abuse women, prisoners. However, that is a risk which women have faced since centuries when the first foreign invader came knocking at the gates. Women have survived terrible atrocities, and rape should not be used as an excuse to discriminate. It is also possible that jihadi women might open to female soldiers and a diplomatic dialogue ensues, which can never be the case with a male soldier.

Men and women get the same entry-level opportunities yet due to a difference in the severity of tasks performed along with a distinction in physical and mental attributes; women can be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to career advancement. This will further widen an already visible gap of sexism. That is why exposing women to the same level of risks is needed so that they can learn and grow.

What do you think? Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?

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