The quotation in this post’s title comes from Donna McAleer, author, West Point graduate, and former Army officer. Her piece on why the US military needs to allow women soldiers into combat roles is carried on Tom Ricks’ blog and is worth reading.

Quick statistic from McAleer that I didn’t know:

230,000 US women have engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

Women make up 15% of the US active duty force and 17% of active duty force officers, yet only 6% serve in senior leadership

McAleer’s point is that in the 360 degree, asymetric modern battlefield, women soldiers can’t help but find themselves outside the wire in combat situations, and so are fighting and dying alongside their male comrades. Abandoning the combat exclusion policy would recognize this fact and allow women soldiers to gain better entry into senior leadership, thus increasing the chances of getting the best minds around planning tables. A very convincing argument.

For the record, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands and Australia are among the militaries that now allow women into combat roles.

0 Responses

  1. Have to agree with you. No one is safely "in the rear with the gear" anymore and if the rear echelon types have to be effective combat troops too, then why not allow women into the infantry or armour?

    Although I think the low numbers in senior leadership are largely due to the fact that women have only been getting into these roles in the last few years, so it's going to take a couple of years for these female junior officers to gain the experience and move up to the senior ranks.

  2. @ James: I think McAleer's point is that unless the combat exclusion is lifted soon, it will be at least another generation before there are enough female officers to start breaking into senior leadership.

    @ Annibal: I have heard of Karl Marlantes and have wanted to read his novel Matterhorn for some time. I found a review of the book you mentioned here and I'm curious to read it as well:

    Perhaps Marlantes would disagree w McAleer but a lot of time and social change has gone by since Vietnam.

  3. There is a operational reason for the exclusion. As far as I'm aware, it has been shown to effect male soldiers, to the point of non-fitness for many, on the battlefield if a female is killed or injured (far more than a male counterpart). OPs over politics.

  4. My dad and my wife had many vigorous discussions on this point. I suppose I am grateful that I have not the basis or personal knowledge that my father gained in France , Holland and Germany and then in Korea. Some things we should accept as valid knowledge and not have to relearn ourselves. I should never be comfortable with the ladies in the F Ech.