Not Many Women in The Military Want Combat Infantry Jobs

Ken 2013/08/08 19:07:44

By Pauline Jelinek
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — If or when the Pentagon lets women become infantry troops — the country's front-line warfighters — how many women will want to?

The answer is probably not many.
Interviews with a dozen female soldiers and Marines showed little interest in the toughest fighting jobs. They believe they'd be unable to do them, even as the Defense Department inches toward changing its rules to allow women in direct ground combat jobs. [It isn't really "inching", it is moving in giant steps with no consideration for the consequences.]
In fact, the Marines asked women last year to go through its tough infantry officer training to see how they would fare. Only two volunteered and both failed to complete the fall course. None has volunteered for the next course this month. The failure rate for men is roughly 25 percent.
For the record, plenty of men don't want to be in the infantry either, though technically could be assigned there involuntarily, if needed. That's rarely known to happen.
"The job I want to do in the military does not include combat arms," Army Sgt. Cherry Sweat said of infantry, armor and artillery occupations. She installed communications equipment in 2008 in Iraq but doesn't feel mentally or physically prepared for fighting missions.
"I enjoy supporting the soldiers," said Sweat, stationed in South Carolina. "The choice to join combat arms should be a personal decision, not a required one."
Added Marine Gunnery Sgt. Shanese L. Campbell, who had administrative duties during her service in Iraq: "I actually love my job. ... I've been doing it for 15 years, so I don't plan on changing my job skills."
She's an administrative officer at Twentynine Palms in California, serving in a once all-male tank battalion as part of a Marine Corps experiment to study how opening more jobs to women might work.
A West Point graduate working in the Pentagon estimates she's known thousands of women over her 20-year army career and said there's no groundswell of interest in combat jobs among female colleagues she knows.
She asked to remain anonymous because in the military's warrior culture, it's a sensitive issue to be seen as not wanting to fight, she said. But her observations echoed research of the 1990s, another time of big change in the military, when interviews with more than 900 Army women found that most didn't want fighting jobs and many felt the issue was being pushed by "feminists" not representing the majority, said RAND Corporation sociologist Laura Miller.
Much has happened for women since then in American society and the military. Foremost in the military is perhaps that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars changed the face of combat and highlighted the need for women to play new roles.
Women already can be assigned to some combat arms jobs such as operating the Patriot missile system or field artillery radar, but offensive front-line fighting jobs will be the hardest nut to crack. Many believe women eventually could be in the infantry, but the Pentagon for years has been moving slowly on that front.
In April 1993, the Pentagon directed the opening of combat aviation occupations and warship assignments to females; the Navy and Air Force responded by opening thousands of jobs. Neither of those steps put women in the most lethal occupations such as infantry or tank units. Policy barred them not only from specific jobs but also from doing traditional jobs in smaller units closest to the front.
That arrangement came apart in Iraq and Afghanistan, where battle lines were jagged and insurgents could be anywhere. Some women in support jobs, including logistics officers bringing supply convoys to troops, found themselves in firefights or targeted by roadside bombs. Women were sent on patrol with men to search and get information from local women whose culture didn't allow male soldiers to do so.
Developments over the past decade have been a main argument from those wanting more openings for women. So has the issue of equal opportunity and the fact that combat service gives troops an advantage for promotions, the lack of it leaving women disadvantaged in trying to move to the higher ranks.
"If there are women able to meet the required standard, then why not let them fight if they so desire?" said Maj. Elizabeth L. Alexander. Since 2002, she's served in Pakistan once and Iraq three times in supply and maintenance jobs and is now with the 3rd Army in South Carolina.
More than 200,000 U.S. women have served in the wars, 12 percent of the Americans sent. Of some 6,600 Americans killed, 152 were women; 84 of them were killed by enemy action and 68 in nonhostile circumstances such as accidents, illness and suicide.
In February, the department altered rules to reflect realities of the decade, opening some new jobs and officially allowing women into many jobs they were already doing, but in units closer to the fighting. The new policy still bans women from being infantry soldiers, Special Operations commandos, and others in direct combat, but opened some 14,000 previously male-only positions, mostly in the Army, such as artillery mechanic and rocket launcher crew member. More than 230,000 positions remain closed to women, who are 15 percent of the 1.4 million in all branches.
Hundreds of female soldiers began moving into once all-male battalions, taking jobs they already had trained for, such as in personnel, intelligence, signal corps, medicine and chaplaincy. Forty-five women Marines similarly went to battalions as part of a large research effort to gauge how women might do.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been studying reports from the services to update him on progress with the newly opened positions, what's being done to pursue gender-neutral physical standards and what barriers remain and whether more positions can be opened.
Panetta could announce the next step in the coming weeks, which might mean anything from further openings to simply further study.
"Yes, there may be a small number of women who are interested," said Katy Otto, spokeswoman for the Service Women's Action Network, an equal opportunity advocacy group. "But does that mean they should be barred from entry?"
Lory Manning of Women's Research and Education Institute said female interest could be greater than expected.
"I think they'll be surprised by the number that will come forward," said the 25-year Navy veteran who retired in the 1990s. She said the Navy faced a similar question then: Did women want to go to sea?
"If you asked someone in 1985 about going to sea, she would have been thinking: 'Girls don't do that and so I don't want to do that,'" Manning said. "But when push came to shove, they did it, they loved it." [There's a major difference between being at sea on a modern warship with toilet facilities and showers and three hot meals a day and being in combat with an infantry unit.]
Changing the rules for a potential future draft would be a difficult proposition.
The Supreme Court has ruled that because the Selective Service Act is aimed at creating a list of men who could be drafted for combat — and women are not in combat jobs — American women aren't required to register upon turning 18 as all males are. If combat jobs open to women, Congress would have to decide what to do about that law.
Associated Press writers Julie Watson in San Diego, Susanne M. Schafer in Columbia, S.C., Rob Gillies in Toronto and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Comment: Few women who are actually in the military and who know what combat entails want the billets opened to them, yet "feminists" on the outside are pushing and the politically correct administration in Washington is also pushing, inexorably, for placing females in combat positions.
Add Photos & Videos

Sort By
  • Most Raves
  • Least Raves
  • Oldest
  • Newest

  • Bocephus 2013/08/27 21:21:50
  • Kane Fernau 2013/08/09 15:41:00
    Kane Fernau
    We have the most vicious women in the world
  • BubbaHoTep 2013/08/08 19:55:50
    "what's being done to pursue gender-neutral physical standards"

    Read: Lowering the physical standards so most women can meet them while claiming they are doing so for a different reason.
  • Ken BubbaHoTep 2013/08/08 23:07:28
    You are right, that is exactly what "gender neutral" means.
  • ArisBoch 2013/08/08 19:35:32
    Funny to watch, how the Americans stay behind in th removing of nonsensical discrimination in the military. Bet they would've argued against blacks in the military back in those days.
  • BubbaHoTep ArisBoch 2013/08/08 20:04:36
    No matter how many people fight against it, use ridiculous arguments, act like they are for breaking down discrimination while pushing this view...you can't argue against genetics. The nonsense is people like you acting as if there is no physical differences between men and women.

    You want to prove you're sincere in your views? Start advocating no more gender seperation in sports. Start with the Olympics. No restrictions on genders, and no division. What do you think would happen. Would there be any female winners in competition sports? Can you tell me why that is without blowing your argument out of the water? This wouldn't be fair though, would it?

    You advocate this nonsense in a field where lives are on the line, but I doubt you would in the sports world.
  • Ken BubbaHoTep 2013/08/08 23:12:22
    Good points.
  • ArisBoch BubbaHoTep 2013/08/09 04:50:49
    Please don't change the subject.
  • BubbaHoTep ArisBoch 2013/08/09 12:49:16
    Practicing the 5 D's? Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge! It's easier to do that than defend your position with an actual thought out answer, huh.

    The subject was not changed. A comparison was made of activities that involve real world applications of strength and endurance. In one case loss of life can be directly related to ability to perform physical actions. In the other case you get to stand on a podium if you do good enough. The comparison shows the willful ignorance of those who hold the view that the only reason for not allowing female troops in certain jobs in the military is due to some sort of discrimination.

    Your attempt to duck the question is transparent. Tschüß.
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/09 15:47:38
    You are the one changing the subject, comparing allowing women to join combat units, which very few want to do, to desegregating a racially segregated military -- there is no comparison. And if I were from Germany, I wouldn't be pointing the finger at another nation's previous racial segregation - your Nazis did something that was infinitely worse..
  • ArisBoch Ken 2013/08/10 20:55:27 (edited)
    Ingenious, now you are descending into Godwin's Law territory. Way to go.
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/10 23:09:55
    I'm sure the truth hurts, and it must hurt a lot in your case.
  • ArisBoch Ken 2013/08/10 23:52:55
    Yes, they did far worse. So?
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/11 03:13:27
    That might make you a hypocrite, but not necessarily.

    You seem to have missed the entire point of the story. Our politicians and military leaders are falling all over themselves to open combat billets in the military for women, yet very, very few women actually serving in the military really want them. The entire scheme is something pushed by "feminists" who have never served a day in the military.

    There was a lengthy article by a USMC female Captain who had served two tours in Afghanistan, I believe in intelligence. While she wasn't assigned to a combat unit, she had to travel with them, hiking great distances and carrying the same "combat loads." She said that at the end of each deployment her body was on the verge of breaking down, and she was extremely fit and had been a college athlete. She said there was no way that she could have completed a third tour. Needless to say, having experienced exactly what was involved, she was against the move. I posted her article here on S.H. but don't have a link.
  • ArisBoch Ken 2013/08/11 11:54:28
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/11 18:44:58 (edited)
    What other armies have done what the U.S. army has done and subjected their female soldiers to the same battle conditions?

    A woman who has experienced combat conditions, a U.S. Marine, says that women aren't built to sustain combat and you say "fvck her"? Not a real argument against her logic and experience, and neither is your reference to "reactionary fools" -- who probably happen to be intelligent realists.

    The U.S. Marines sought volunteers among female officers for its officers combat training course, and only two volunteered out of the entire U.S. Marine Corps, lending more credence to the story I posted here:
    USA Today, Mar. 29, 2013
    "Two women have failed to complete the Marine Corps rigorous combat training course for officers, according to news reports Friday.

    "The officers washed out Thursday on the obstacle course at Quantico, Va., along with 12 male colleagues, NBC News reported, citing military officials. NPR said both women were lieutenants.

    "They were part of a class of 110 in the 10-week Infantry Officer Course, which is offered four times a year. Only 75% complete the course."
  • ArisBoch Ken 2013/08/11 20:51:50
    Well, at least they had the chance to try.
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/11 21:16:15
    Out of the entire United States Marine Corps two women volunteered and they failed to complete the course, and that's all you have to say?
  • ArisBoch Ken 2013/08/11 22:48:11
  • Ken ArisBoch 2013/08/08 23:11:31
    There is no equivalency between the two. Did you see the article by the female Marine Corps Captain who had served two tours in Afghanistan? She was an intelligence officer and had to travel with combat Marines, full pack, etc. She had also been an athlete in college and was in excellent condition, yet she said her body was breaking down from the repeated stress of the long marches carrying heavy loads, so that after he second tour she had all kinds of physical problems - she said she couldn't have done a third tour. The article appeared in the Navy Times. The story posted here appeared in the Military Times.
    BTW, this post isn't against women in combat, it simply says that very few of them want to volunteer for it.
  • Icono1 2013/08/08 19:23:45
    what is interesting is that most of the people pushing for this politically correct 'upgrade' have never been in combat. It is one thing to talk about 'fighting and killing' as a gender equality sport but it is an entirely different thing to do 'fighting and killing' as a survival necessity.

    Good luck to them, they will need it,
  • SK-pro impeachment 2013/08/08 19:19:54
    SK-pro impeachment
    Shows to go ya, this was all just more political bs speech to garnish votes from the sheeple!

See Votes by State

The map above displays the winning answer by region.

News & Politics

2016/02/12 03:47:03

Hot Questions on SodaHead
More Hot Questions

More Community More Originals