From time to time my readers encourage me to write my thoughts on various subjects. In lieu of doing that, I am forwarding comments I received from a former veteran regarding the role of women in combat. Based upon my personal military experiences during world war II, I believe that some of his arguments deserve consideration. It is easy to dismiss them as the product of male chauvinism or sexism. However, they represent one man’s sincere opinions about exposing women to the degradation, filth, and intense physical demands of battle. Even though you might disagree with his views, read his comments with an open mind and decide for yourself.
WOMEN IN COMBAT IS A BAD IDEA!
One thing I have never been accused of is being chauvinistic. On the contrary, I have always gone in the opposite direction, allowing that women are superior to men in most respects…they are usually smarter, wiser, stronger emotionally (sometimes physically) and wilier in a way, as well as being more compassionate. All my life I have gone out of my way to deal with women on an equal basis in business and personally. But when I observed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, proclaim this week that women are no longer banned from participating in direct combat, I thought it was a terrible idea!
In my distant past, I saw combat up close in the Korean War. In those days, there were almost no females in the armed services….now they constitute about 17% of all forces. Even the Marines, the most elitist and male-oriented branch, have a fair number of women in the ranks and as officers. Imagine how superior those women are to breach that gender gap! Let me be clear: there is no question about the courage, skill, determination, of women in combat. Only one salient point is the basis for my argument: women are less physically capable in performing herculean tasks of strength…that is a fact. Sure, there are individual women who can compete successfully with any man in certain tasks. And the armed forces say that they will not diminish the physical requirements for service, although I am skeptical of that claim. But there is another point which has not been raised to my knowledge in this discussion…the capture of women in combat is always a real possibility. And their treatment by enemy forces is far more draconian than that perpetuated upon male captives. Rape is an ugly word and reprehensible deed…but a reality in this cruel world of war. Measure their survival rates against that of men in captivity and it will diminish markedly.
I stand for the equalization of women’s roles in our armed forces. Yes, they can and should fly our planes, maintain our supply lines, operate our vehicles and do almost every other task out there. And have equal chance for advancement and rise in rank. I would gladly serve under a capable women officer any time. (Having often worked for women in my early career, I know of what I speak.) But I recall with grim anguish the memory of that bitter combat in that forgotten war, in cold and mud, despair and death. The overwhelming closeness in fighting of a small unit…the ugliness of the intimate life. And I cannot imagine what it would have been like if women were part of our unit. We men have been brought up to instinctfully care for and look out for women in our ken, and it would have been difficult, nay impossible, to do so in those close quarters of combat. Defecation is an ugly reality in such circumstances, and it isn’t pretty. Think of the average 18-19 year old female soldier, probably of a minority group, thrown into a combat situation. I read somewhere that young men are fueled with testosterone in combat situations, a hormone lacking in females. Women biologically don’t have the upper body strength of men….that’s a fact. (Despite the front-page story yesterday in the New York Times of a female army sergeant of 130 pounds who dragged a 220 pound wounded man to safety.) I have read all those stories about women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with valor and courage. Yes, they were all in supply-and- support groups….and can and did pick up a gun when attacked and shoot with the best of men. And often die doing so. But what I am addressing is the thousands upon thousands of young (very young!) women who now will be admitted to that cruelest of combat’s stresses. Would I want my daughter or neighbor’s girl to face that. Not in your life. Frankly, I don’t want any kids of either gender to ever have to face life’s cruelest, toughest task….the killing of another person legally before they kill you. Combat in the military has a specific meaning…the seeking out of an enemy and annihilating him before he kills you. It’s vicious and dirty and ugly and terrible…and I don’t want to think of any woman being asked to do it….even if they are foolhardily eager to do so. And if they are captured and subjected to unholy tortures, it is a shattering thought. Look at the torture scenes in that great film, Zero Dark Thirty, to see what I mean. And the sequence when the Navy Seals go after Bin Laden…no women were included in that force for a very specific reason. What this new rule proposes is not a movie or a video game, it is a radical change to a way of life, a change which is alien to all common sense and reason. Women, I love you with all my heart…I just don’t want you fighting and dying beside me in a war.