During my time in service to the U.S. Army as an infantryman, I was twice deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My first tour was a 15-month deployment where my battalion single handedly controlled Sadr City in Baghdad for several days, a time General Odierno called “some of the toughest fighting” he had witnessed in Iraq. I am far from being the most qualified soldier to write on this subject, however, I would argue I’m significantly more qualified than the daily talking heads on television that cover it.
When the government deliberates about “allowing women to serve in combat,” the most relevant issue is military occupational specialties (MOS), as female soldiers already serve in combat areas. While the United States Marine Corps defines only infantry roles as combat arms, the Army has no less than 26 positions that fall under the designation.
Among those are demanding jobs is the Air Defense Battle Management System Operator position. Primarily an IT position, the job involves managing computers and complex networks that both males and females can do alike with no strenuous physical effort.
In fact, much of modern warfare boils down to soldiers controlling weapons via computers. Even direct combat jobs such as an M1 Armor Crewman simply don’t require physical prowess. There is no reason, outside of blatant sexism, why a woman would be unable to sit in a 62-ton vehicle and push buttons.
When most Americans think of warfare and the fighting that ensues, they think of the infantry. In the infantry there are gradations: regular infantrymen, who are required to bear some pretty physical loads. Twelve to eighteen hour foot patrols wearing 80-100 pounds of gear in 100 degree plus weather, while clearing multi story houses and buildings is a standard day for foot soldiers. Then there are Rangers, Special Forces, Navy Seals, and Marine Force Recon. These are the elite of infantry-like functions and occupations that go out to make direct contact with the enemy. Make no mistake, these are grueling jobs that should only be performed by the most highly qualified and dangerous people the United States Military has to offer.
With all that said, if a woman can meet the exact same standard as the men serving in these elite units, what’s to stop her from serving? These advanced schools could simply eliminate the differences between physical fitness standards for men and women and create one uniform standard for our warfighters. Whomever has the intestinal fortitude to raise their hand and meet that standard should be allowed to do so, regardless of gender.
The only other argument that could honestly be presented against a fully qualified woman serving as an infantry soldier or any other type of special operations warrior is unit cohesion and mission effectiveness. Some say, “Women are a distraction.” That may be true. It’s certainly a new dynamic that’s never been tested before.
However, the duty that soldiers honor comes first— before gender or the debate about it. To call upon servicemen and women to be more disciplined is just part of their jobs; a soldier must be flexible and able to adapt to dynamic situations. If anything, it will train our soldiers to think more critically.
Having a more sophisticated, thoughtful, and disciplined warfighter is a benefit, not a drawback. In short, there’s nothing uniquely feminine that should prevent women who are capable of meeting the same standard as men from serving alongside them on the battlefield. And, as a modern military force, we should certainly be capable of adapting and overcoming any issues that arise from allowing fully qualified women to serve on the front lines.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.