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Should Women Be Barred from Combat Positions?

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Should Women be Barred from Combat Positions?

Women have served in the United Armed Forces since Molly Pitcher was loading cannons in the Battle of Monmouth during the American Revolutionary War. However, the issue of whether women should be assigned to combat roles in today's Military Force has been a point of contention for decades, as more women have enlisted and have been commissioned into the Armed Forces. More than 155,000 female troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Sadly, more than seventy of those women have died. While that is a small fraction of all American casualties, those deaths exceed the number of military women who died in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War combined (Browne, 2007). As is evidenced, women in warfare are not a hypothetical dispute anymore. Females now fly battle aircraft and serve on warships. The wars and conflicts in the Middle East today have proven women cannot escape combat. This occurs in spite of the strict rules of the Armed Forces, which dictate combat related duties are strictly for males. For many advocates, this phenomenon is considered progress toward a better, "gender neutral" Department of Defense. In the early 1990s, laws prohibiting women from serving in combat units were repealed, but since then, it has been U.S. military policy to restrict women from certain units and military occupations, most especially ground combat units. In the last few years, efforts have been underway to remove these restrictions. On October 1, 1994, Secretary of Defense Aspin approved a new assignment rule regarding women in combat roles. It states:

* Rule - Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground, as defined below.

* Definition - Direct ground combat is engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile force's personnel. Direct ground combat takes place well forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect (Ronen, 2012).

I believe military readiness should be the driving concern regarding assignment policies for women, and it is only when women do not pose a threat to combat readiness and/or effectiveness, should the United States Armed Forces experiment in combining males and females in combat units.

The belief that women in combat roles is an issue of women's progress is absurd. This issue is strictly one that women are not capable of / as effective in combat roles, as men have proven to be, because females are genetically and emotionally inferior in comparison to their male counterparts. Military leaders put their service members where they are most qualified and where the help is needed. It is not the military trying to strip women of their rights, it the military simply trying to do their job efficiently and effectively. In one Canadian experience, women were recruited for a 16-week infantry training course, which was identical to the men's course. The outcome was described as disappointing "high cost of recruiting women... yielded poor results." The disruptions to cohesion and high rates of attrition for females in labor-intensive specialties due to lower than average upper body strength and higher rates of stress fractures, are reasons women are not physically capable of doing what their brothers in arms do Combat Zones (Ronen, 2012). The report states "Of the 60 women recruited for the Canadian Infantry since last year, only one has successfully completed the 16-week training program and is serving in the infantry, according to Cmdr. Judith Harper" (Ronen, 2012). Another example of attempting to integrate females into the infantry, occurred when the United States Marine Corps opened its Infantry Officers Course to women. They planned to admit up to 100 women in a one-year experiment. Thus far, two female Marines have signed up and subsequently failed the training as neither were able to complete the grueling 13-week program (Burrelli, 2012). 26 of the 107 male Marines also did not finish the endurance test, which computes to a failure rate of 24.3% (Hlad, 2012). This is not even in the realm of the 100% failure rate of the two females who attempted the course. Women are not adequate physically to lead troops into combat zones.

Women in combat units will ruin unit cohesion. They will distract their male counterparts with romantic/sexual pursuits (from both sexes - male and female), instead of adding to military readiness and combat effectiveness. Sexual assault is already a significant problem in the military. The Pentagon estimates that there were 19,000 sexual assaults in The United States Armed Forces last year, although only 3,192 were officially reported (O'Toole, 2012). Allowing women in combat units will only raise those statistics. There is no shortage of men who want to serve in these positions, so why change it? Introducing women to combat occupations would bring



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