Casey says Army is considering putting women in combat units

Based on recent events and current trends, based on the apparent total collapse and disappearance of any social or political force in the country that will stand effectively against it, it is a fair assumption that this will happen.

The site reports:

Army Mulls Women in Combat Arms Units

The Army is studying whether to open combat arms units to female Soldiers, the Army’s top officer said Jan. 6.

“We’re looking at revising the policy,” Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told a breakfast gathering of the Association of the U.S. Army in Arlington, Va. “We’ve had some work going on for a while, and that’ll double back up to the secretary, I would think, in the next couple of months.”

Women are currently barred from infantry, armor and Special Forces branches, Casey said. He did not say whether the Army is considering opening up all three areas to women, but he did say the study looked at the possibility of women in infantry.

It is unclear which Army office is studying the issue. The Army did not respond to follow-up questions by post time.

While female Soldiers have engaged in combat, they have done so as members of combat support units—transportation, maintenance and military police—not infantry. This was highlighted early in the invasion of Iraq when a convoy of the 507th Maintenance Battalion came under attack.

Three of those wounded and taken prisoner by Iraqi forces were women: Pfcs. Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa, and Spc. Shoshona Johnson. Piestewa died of her wounds while a prisoner; Lynch was rescued in a controversial, reportedly staged-for-the-camera mission; and Johnson was subsequently rescued along with other members of her unit.

Since then, women have increasingly worked with infantry units on patrols—even during nighttime operations to capture suspected insurgents—in the event the operations require dealings with female civilians and detainees.

The frequency with which non-infantry Soldiers—both men and women—came under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired the Army in 2005 to create the Combat Action Badge. Unlike the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, which may only be awarded to Soldiers with an infantry military occupation specialty code, the CAB may be awarded to any Soldier who engages or is attacked by the enemy.

Whatever decision the Army makes on the issue, Casey—who is due to retire in April—said it will happen under the next chief of staff. During a press conference outlining the 2012 DoD budget, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he had nominated Gen. Martin Dempsey to be Casey’s relief.

“When I get the recommendations back from the team [studying it], I’ll take a look at it, but right now I wouldn’t want to venture a guess and put my successor in a box,” Casey said.

- end of initial entry -

Lydia McGrew writes:

Is it not presently formally illegal for women to serve in combat roles such as Casey is describing? I do not have time to research this but believe that the army cannot simply “change the policy” on its own. One of the things I recall that Clinton did (similar to instituting DADT) was to blur further the line (already blurred deliberately by the Carter administration) between combat and non-combat roles, always pushing the envelope on interpreting and applying the law. (And, as usual, later Republican Presidents never un-did these Democrat President moves.) But I believe there is still a law on the books against what Casey is discussing. Readers can perhaps confirm or disconfirm this impression.

LA replies:

I think this is true. The basic rules governing military organization, operation, and personnel are instituted by the Congress. At the same time, these policies are always worked out through consultation between Congress, the DoD, and the military. If the Army is now studying the idea of changing the policy, as Casey says it is, we can assume that the Executive Department and the Congress will be involved as well.

Given the make-up of the new House, I suppose that the proposed policy change will be stopped. But given how we were told that the repeal of the homosexual prohibition would be stopped, I have no confidence in such a prediction. At present, I put no credit in any statement regarding conservatives’/Republicans’ supposed will or ability to stop any leftist action. Which is not to say that Republicans will not succeed in stopping many leftist actions. It is to say that I have no confidence in their doing so.

Max P. writes:

I think it will take another mauling like we received early on in Korea to stop this social experimentation of our armed forces. Reading the article you linked is disturbing because they seem to be basing this decision on what has been going on in Iraq for the past few years and not on an actual war. Here are two quotes that stand out:

“Since then, women have increasingly worked with infantry units on patrols—even during nighttime operations to capture suspected insurgents—in the event the operations require dealings with female civilians and detainees.”

“The frequency with which non-infantry Soldiers—both men and women—came under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired the Army in 2005 to create the Combat Action Badge.”

Iraq has not been a war in the traditional sense since May 2003. Outside of Fallujah in November 2004, and a few other battles, it has been a policing operation. Infantrymen and others are patrolling in Humvees like cops. This is not to make light of the inherent danger, and too many have been killed and maimed. But riding on a six hour patrol and returning to a base with real showers and food is not exactly like spending four weeks straight on a frigid hillside in Korea dodging communists artillery and repelling frontal assaults of highly trained troops.

As Cheney infamously said, “you go to war with the army you have.” The problem is if our leaders base their decision to allow women into the infantry on what has essentially been a police action, we will be stuck with that army even if someday we actually fight a conventional force like we did in Korea and to some extent Vietnam. Then we will really be in trouble.

When considering women in the Combat Arms, let’s first give credit to women who have proven themselves in certain situations to be good fighters. During World War II Russian (Soviet) women distinguished themselves in both air and ground units. The USSR had women fighter aces and snipers. Many women served among the partisan forces. However, despite the contribution of these women, the USSR did not maintain women in combat positions during the Cold War. Why?

The reason the Soviets used women during the war was that they were desperate. They suffered early devastating losses. The use of women was a sign of weakness not strength. Additionally the war took place in the living room of the USSR. This is significant. If you ever listen to the U.S. military describe themselves, you will inevitably hear the term expeditionary. Thus you have probably heard of the American Expeditionary Forces of World War I, or the British Expeditionary Forces of World War II. Expeditionary forces TRAVEL, and thus have to carry a lot of equipment with them. This is a major reason why women, or weak men, should not serve in combat arms units.

In a typical light infantry squad you will have nine men. Among those nine men will be carried (5) M-16 type rifles, (2) M-16 type rifles with grenade launchers and (2) light machine guns. Those men will have to carry their weapons, water, food and other gear that totals anywhere from 70 to 100 pounds. Additionally, it is typical for a medium machine gun crew (two men) or a light mortar crew (two men) to be attached to the squad for added firepower. When this happens, each member of the squad is required to carry extra ammunition for those crew served weapons. In the case of the medium machine gun, a 100 round box of ammunition weighs around six pounds. So each man from the original squad can expect an additional six to 12 pounds of weight in his pack.

Now when a member of the squad gets injured and is removed for treatment, his load remains. The remaining men must redistribute the injured man’s ammunition and squad critical equipment among themselves. Therefore, it is not only women who would present a problem, but also weaker men or malingerers. Keep in mind the reason for such heavy loads is that we are an expeditionary force. If a war were fought on U.S. soil, then irregular forces could cache weapons and food around the countryside and perform hit and run attacks. The need to carry the extreme weight would not be as critical. But when you travel overseas, the soldiers are expected to carry two to three days worth of supplies with them. Thus the heavy physical requirement needed of the combat arms soldier.

My position on the weight issue is confirmed by a female reporter who was embedded with the 101st in May 2003. This reporter could not keep up with the troops during the actual war phase of Iraqi Freedom and had to let the soldiers carry her personal equipment. Based on excerpts from her story, it is scary to think this could happen if women are allowed to serve in the infantry.

“All my resolve failed. I handed the battery to the young man—who already was lugging a much heavier load than I was, including a fully loaded M-4 assault weapon that he would be expected to use in case of an attack.”

“The decision nagged at me for days. Not only had I not been able to pull my own weight, I also had potentially put that young soldier at risk. What if he had not been able to aim his weapon effectively had we been ambushed in that wooded expanse of territory approaching Najaf? What if he had fallen on the rough terrain and misfired his weapon, injuring someone?” …

“I’m not qualified to say that no woman could do that job, but I suspect that it would be a rare one who could. I had run a marathon not long before the war and worked out almost every day. I grew up on an Iowa farm where manual labor was part of the bargain. But I had been bested by a car battery, and when I handed my load to that soldier, I admitted that I never could have cut it in the Infantry.”

Remember, I am only discussing the requirement of the combat arms soldier to be a pack horse. I haven’t discussed the hygienic conditions and month long intervals between proper showers, or the emotional state required of an infantrymen about to enter combat. Would we really want our women to be subjected to that?

The other big concern I would have is that the addition of women would water down the training. Colonel David Hackworh, one of the most decorated men in Army history, wrote a column about 10 years ago called “The March of the Porcelain Soldiers.” Coming from an experienced combat veteran like Hackworth, this is an interesting account of modern coeducational training in the non-combat arms sections of the Army. At places like Ft. Jackson, women and men are now trained in the same cycles. Let’s us pray this won’t happen in the future at Fort Benning where our infantry is trained. See this.

After reading Hackworth’s accounts, it is little surprise that the 507th Maintenance Company performed as it did. This was the unit with Jessica Lynch that got ambushed early in the war. It is these sorts of support troops who undergo co-ed training at places like Ft. Jackson. Remember all the stories of Lynch fighting the Iraqis that turned out to be false? I don’t blame her for this, but the folks who pushed that story are the ones who are going to push to have women in the infantry.

For those who might compare the ban on women in combat arms to the segregation of blacks, keep in mind blacks served in combat in segregated units prior to integration. For example, the Tuskeegee Airman flew combat missions in WWII. There were black cavalrymen and infantrymen who fought in segregated units and earned good combat records. Thus, if women think they can serve as infantrymen, let them first prove it in all female infantry battalions. Let them deploy as all female units and we can judge their operational record. If after a couple of wars they have proven themselves the equal of men, then allowing them to integrate into the combat arms might make sense. But it would be unwise to proceed without such a track record, or by basing that decision on operations in Iraq which more resemble a police operation than a combat one.

Finally, for those who say we have a manpower shortage and need women, then why are we about to cut 27,000 Soldiers and 20,000 Marines from the force? See this.

LA replies:

Your arguments are all sound, but, let’s be frank, irrelevant to the thinking of the current military regime. The regime bases its decisions not on maintaining and improving fighting effectiveness, but on advancing equality and inclusion. That’s what happened with the repeal of the homosexuality prohibition. The effect of including homosexuals on fighting effectiveness was not even a factor in the decision; the only factors in the decision were, how could this policy be instituted without disruption in the ranks? Therefore it is a fair guess that the same factors will be brought into play with regard to the question of women in combat. I hope women in combat is stopped. But I have no confidence that it will be stopped. I think anything is possible now.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 08, 2011 01:00 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):