Thursday, May 17, 2012

Women Infantry (Equal Opportunity Body Bags)

So the Huffington Post is reporting that a Senator whose probably never served a day in her life, is trying to get Females into the Infantry.  It goes on to state that Medic and Tank Mechanic were opened up to women.  Now as I've know a lot of female Tank Mechanics, and Medics, this is extremely misleading.  To be absolutely clear there ARE female medics (a lot of them) and tank mechanics.  They are not in infantry or mech battalions, for the sole reason that it can cause problems.   It goes on to say that there's a LOT of support, civil rights blah blah blah.  Even the poll at the bottom is pretty slanted, it kinda makes you sound like a sexist if you disagree with this bill.  My question is this, has no one bothered to educate these congress critters, that Combat is NOT Politically Correct? 

So let me debunk a few things right now.  Women still don't "serve on the front lines".  There are no lines and that might confuse some people, but the Front, or the pointy end of the spear is not now, nor ever where women are intentionally placed.  Have women engaged in combat?  Yes.  Some quite successfully, but ask yourself this, what role were they playing?  Were they kicking in doors, and doing urban assaults like say the Battle of Najaf?  No, they were ambushed, and responded to contact, or more likely in fixed emplacements, guard towers and the like.  If we were to make a College Course for that, it would be Army Stuff 201.  Its not the really basic stuff like how to salute and march in formation, but its pretty darn close.  Infantry by comparison would be 400-masters level.  Special Forces would be a Doctorate.  When we talk about the "front lines" to be clear we are talking about the people that actively seek out the enemy.  Support units (which is all females are allowed to serve in) do not do that.  Even MP units do not seek out the enemy.  They might do route clearance, but they're looking for very specific things (IEDs, VBIEDs, and EFPs), not armed Jihadis to engage.

There has even been the argument made that some females were killed while attached to the Ranger Regiment, and if they were with the Rangers then. . .  Again this is misleading.  If you had never served you might think that they were Rangers.  They're not.  They were Specialists (not the rank) who were attached to preform a specific function (female contact team).  There are times when SF, SEALs and Rangers will take specialists along for a mission, say EOD, or Translators, or any number of specialties that might be needed on a specific mission.  It is understood that these specialists, who are experts in their field, will not be experts in the TTPs (Tactics Techniques and Procedures) of said unit, and thus will be kept away from the actual fighting, or protected, until their specialty is needed.  There is actually increased risk to the unit when such specialists are brought along, because often their specialty is Mission Essential and thus the specialist must be protected at all costs.  If the Rangers came under fire, these females would have been at the CCP (Casualty Collection Point) or the safest possible point.  Had the Rangers been on a mission to assault an objective, they would have done so, and only after the objective was secured would the specialits be brought in.  Again it can be misleading if you haven't lived the life. 

Believe it or not Female infantry was tried by the Israelis, not because of equality or diversity or any of that, but because at the time they were desperate for shooters.  You know what they found?  It doesn't work.  There are a number of reasons.  The most obvious is the physical reasons, but there were also less obvious ones.  For instance, there were a number of what one might call "battlefield pregnancies".  Believe it or not when you're fighting for your life you tend to want to have sex like a mad lust bunny.  There were also unit cohesion problems, and like it or not, males tried hard to "protect" the females, often taking inappropriate risks to prevent the females from injury or death.  The social dynamic could also be an issue.  In a small group with only so many choices, the young males would compete and even get into brawls to obtain the female's attention or affections.  If said hook-ups didn't last, well. . . civilians know that sex in the workplace can lead to problems, in combat units those problems can be magnified, doubly so because there's no "quitting" to get away.  Lastly if/when the female did get injured or killed, it would harm unit morale far more than if the male counterpart died.   

So here we are.  After ten years of war where females appear to be "on the front lines" we have truly boneheaded political moves, to try to make appearances a reality.  But unlike the politically sanctioned world politicians tend to want to view things in reality, combat does not care about greater opportunity for women.  It doesn't care about race or creed or sex.  In the real world, there is only one question that you must ask: Can you hack it?  Combat is as real as it gets.  You won't hear the bullet that gets you.  Your buddy will, though.  A sharp CRACK and a wet SMACK and down you go.  What got you killed is up for debate.  Were you not moving quick enough to cover, or were you taking too long to shoot at a target?  Doesn't really matter anything you do in combat can and will get you killed.  That is why senior NCOs, most especially in Combat Arms are anal retentive.  Small things add up, and usually the addition leads to more body bags.  In training they will drill till perfection, because in combat you get no do overs.  Every mistake, or failure to take full advantage of the enemy's mistakes will mean more lives lost (on both sides ironically enough).    

What Irks me about this proposed measure, and the CSA's mild agreement with it (to the point he is considering sending women to Ranger School) is that no one ever stopped to ask if this would make us more capable as a force.  No one bothered to say "we're doing this because of manning shortfalls" or "we have this new fangled weapons system that will eliminate the physical disparity".  They even acknowledged the disparity when trying to design the new APFT.  This is being done purely for political reasons.  Politicians making Political decisions when it comes to war is has and always will be a bad idea.  You fight to win, and anything else is a waste of life, money, time, and even good will.  Don't believe me?  Then I have two words for you: Johnson, Vietnam. 


Anonymous said...

Excellent writing. I am female and I totally agree with you about women in combat.

MarkT said...

Good article. I served in the U.S. Army Infantry and completely agree with you. I also have a relative who is airborne qualified and served comms with SOF and she completely agrees also. Only a fricken politician could come up with crap like women serving in combat units. If a politician wants to get involved in military matters then I suggest sending them to the field with the troops!

Anonymous said...

As a female who was out "on the front line", I was attached to a Calvery unit when deployed in April 2003, and did see combat, I totally agree with you! While on patrol or driving through a town, my guys were always worried where I was and if I was protected. When I was injured, they all rushed to me before getting to the other injured. As the medic who was on patrol, I was unable to help anyone but myself (I had my femoral artery hit). Talk about feeling like you failed as a Battle Buddy!

WEaVERREViEW said...

I just heard about this on the news yesterday. I'm glad you've written this post. You make excellent points. I am a woman and I cannot believe this is being considered.

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