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Feyisayo Anjorin

Freelance Director, Afro-Carribean Media Group

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Women in combat?

President Truman's signing of the Women's Armed Services Act gave women permanent status in the army; and President Johnson (in 1967) made it possible for women to advance to top positions.
The issue is not whether women should be soldiers, but whether they should be allowed in combat.

Our society strives for gender equality; qualified women are as brave and effective as their male counterparts and since combat experience is neccessary for advancement, it is discriminatory to exclude women officers. And not forgetting the fact that many women want to serve their country in combat; and if they qualify, it would be unfair to exclude them.

Now, consider men who would work with the women; the natural chivalry and the tendency to protect may cause distraction in battle. Women POWs are in greater danger of being raped; threats or violence against female POWs could become a weapon in the hands of enemy forces, wearing down the resistance of male POWs.

Some believe that most women may not be able to carry the heavy backpack and weapons; and that lowering standards to accomodate more women would diminish the effectiveness of the army.

What do you think?

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  • Dec 10 2012: If it is necessary to send people into combat, then the first priority should be the effectiveness of the combat units.

    Some women in the armed forces consider this an issue of equal opportunity, and it is. IMO, that consideration must be secondary to combat effectiveness. Equal opportunity affects the careers of individuals. A less effective combat unit means needless deaths. So, first, the standards must not be lowered. Second, the effectiveness of mixed sex combat teams needs to be tested in actual combat situations. If mixed sex combat teams are less effective, for any reasons, then they should be banned.

    I have heard stories that Israel has had problems with women in the military. I do not know if these stories are true, but I suspect that their military would gladly share the truth of the matter with the military leadership of their allies.

    In the end, this is about military effectiveness, and the military leaders should be making this decision, not Congress.

    The issue about POWs should not be an issue. Our military should work on the assumption that POWs will tell everything they know, and they should be flexible enough to deal with that situation. The means for prying information from people is far more sophisticated today than when the rules for POWs (name, rank and serial number) were written. Rape is heinous, but if an enemy allows POWs to be raped, those POWs have much worse to fear.
    • Dec 10 2012: I'm also of the opinion that effectiveness is the most important consideration. The frontlines is not the right place to experinment on the abilities of women.
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      Dec 10 2012: barry, Isreal's problem wasn't with the women do being capable it was that the muslim men who surrendered saw that they were surrendering to women they resumed the fight.

      That is a point I wish to pursue. There is a time and place for everything. If I was in command of a unit I would select the best person for the job .... however, as stated above there are tacticle considerations that must be evaluated. If you knew the fight would end today ... or assign women to the front and it will last for two more weeks .... which is the right decision.

      When I was in the service there were women that could do my job with no problem .. I learned from them.

      This is a military decision and further a commanders decision based on the situation and the most effective means of engagement. Most of the women in the service I knew understood that.

      Women assigned to the unit is one thing but any non-waiverable orders verge on stupidity and put all unit members in harms way.
      • Dec 12 2012: So if you were fighting agaisnt white supremacists you would remove all black soldiers from your unti and if you were fighting against Islamists you would remove the Jews from your unit? Are you really going to let the enemy dictate who can and cannot serve in your unit? If so, what's the point of fighting the war in the first place (you've already handed them victory)?

        @below

        It doesn't matter who does the selecting, you seem to advocate that military commanders be given enough leeway to discriminate against soldiers based on the wishes of the enemy, that's why it's a valid question to ask what you would do if you were a commander.

        I sure hope most commanders understand that a tactical victory is pointless when you've given in to the demands of the enemy (of course the enemies surrenders easily when they've already accomplished what they were fighting for, the reasons for the war in the first place, a good commander would recognize that and know he lost the war even though he won the battle).
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          Dec 12 2012: You have taken this outside of where I suggested. It should be the on site commander who makes decisions of who he places where. The example given was when Jewish women told muslim men who were surrendering to give up their weapons and come forward ... this was a problem. It was never suggested that I would remove anyone for any reason. I simply suggested that commanders could assess a situation far better than a politician. Each has a job to do and we should let them do what their training has prepared them for.

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