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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why not put women in combat units?

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Wednesday issued an order allowing women to serve alongside men in combat units in the United States military (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

In an earlier post today, I reported that Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Israeli men would not serve in IDF units with women.

I have never been a combat soldier. I understand from accounts I read of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 that some of the issues presented in this article were resolved by having soldiers ingest pills that shielded them from the need to relieve themselves for extended periods of time. Still, one has to wonder why anyone would want to put young men and women in this situation, and why so many Israelis think Haredim are being so unreasonable for not wanting their men to serve alongside women in combat units. The writer is a former Marine who is now a lawyer. His description is fairly graphic.
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.
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.
Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
 Read the whole thing

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2 Comments:

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I was an IDF infantry soldier, compulsory service and reserve, from Aug. 80 to Feb. 89. There is no doubt in my mind that women do not belong on prolonged ground combat operations because of physiological limitations. This study supports that contention: http://www.israeldefense.com/?ArticleID=544&CategoryID=411

The moment we say that by reasonable expectation women have to carry less, stand less, and run less than men - we must conclude that they should not serve in the same rigorous environments. I think the only reason that the IDF has moved in this direction with caution, and the US with less caution, is in response to political and social policy pressures.

 
At 2:47 AM, Blogger Himalaya said...

We have come to the place in contemporary social philosophy where the only way to oppose women in combat is to allow and encourage it. If, as some people believe, women cannot operate successfully as combat soldiers, the loudest, most convincing proof must come from empirical evidence -- at least in the US, which does not choose to reconcile itself itself with Torah.

 

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