The Right Tack on Women in Combat

by Dave Schuler on January 25, 2013

I think that Ralph Peters has it right on the recent move by the Department of Defense to open combat jobs to women applicants:

Our military is not going to collapse because more combat-related jobs will be opened to women. I’ve heard instant griping from old vets and talk-show pundits since this story broke, but the fact is that the gals with guns are already in the fight to a far greater extent than yesteryear’s rules foresaw. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision largely recognizes existing reality.

Anyway, it’s going to happen, like it or not.

So those of us who care about our military and its combat effectiveness need to stop wailing and start working to make sure the admission of women to more combat-focused military specialties is done right.

He also notes, appropriately, that resisting the pressure to reduce fitness requirements to allow more women to qualify will be difficult but caving in would be harmful—our soldiers aren’t fit enough as it is.

I think there’s another issue that will need to be handled carefully: pregnancy. Doing so will run headlong into the the absolutist predispositions of reproductive rights activists. If pregnancy is treated as a breach of discipline, it denies those women’s rights. If it is not, it denies their male squadmates’ rights.

In Israel which has allowed women to fill combat roles for some time only about 3% of the soldiers in such roles are women and I would be surprised if we exceeded that. 3% is unlikely to reduce readiness but I doubt it will increase the number of women qualified for the pool of general officers, drawn overwhelmingly from combat jobs, either.

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jan January 25, 2013 at 9:52 am

Ralph Peters is one of my favorite military, no-nonsense, knowledgable columnists. He’s made good points in that article. However, yesterday this commentary, in the WSJ, caught my attention, posing additional situations that merit consideration: The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat.

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