Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein, Getty Images
As long as there's been war, there's been women serving the war effort. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are no different.
Following yesterday’s shock announcement from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, women find themselves on the front lines now. Women pilot planes, helicopters and fuel and food vehicles. Women defend caravans. Women pull wounded soldiers out of combat as medics. Women search potential female enemies shrouded from head toe -- hiding a suicide vest -- as military police.
Women die doing these things. They put themselves in harm’s way every day in the military and they deserve respect -- more respect than they get, frankly.
How is this different than fighting in combat or being a Navy Seal or a member of the Army Special Forces?
Men fighting as invading forces do some things not suited to mixed genders. This may be a politically incorrect view, but read what Marine Ryan Smith shared with The Wall Street Journal yesterday about his time in combat:
I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
Many marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.
Now, imagine a woman, potentially a pregnant woman, in this situation. Yes, it's possible. It's happened.
Winning wars means lots of gory, disgusting things. As much as I appreciate Robert Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers, which idealistically portrayed free sexual relations with fierce combat, the reality of integrated infantry troops won't be so utopian.
Why? Well, there's biology. Men have twice the upper body strength as women. Would you feel comfortable fighting alongside someone who couldn't carry you to safety should you be wounded? Will the military be expected to change standards for women so that it's "fair"? They shouldn't be.
Men have a sex drive that is contained during combat through strict discipline. Yes, women would be a distraction. Yes, sexual assault is already a problem in the military.
I don't want women in combat in any organized way. I want America to win in combat situations with the best, most efficient, least complicated, most cost-effective, fiercest warriors. They need to be cohesive killing machines. The less variables that interfere with that mission, the better.
Special housing? Separate travel arrangements? Different sized gear? Looser physical requirements? No, no, no and no.
Winning wars, the military's purpose, trumps the desire for gender parity on the front lines.