Wanted: Your Opinion on Inclusion of Women in Combat Arms Units.

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Wanted: Your Opinion on Inclusion of Women in Combat Arms Units.

 This post is an effort to solicit the opinions of Legionnaires and veterans:   Should the combat arms branches be opened to women if they can pass the same physical, mental and aptitude tests required of their male counterparts?

 We would also like your comments on the subject.  That being said, sending me an email or leaving a comment that says something like “Women need to be taken out of the military entirely” isn’t likely to aid the cause any; that ship has sailed.  Likewise, comments like: “Women are just as good as men” doesn’t add to our knowledge.  What we are looking for are well-reasoned comments on the efficacy of allowing women to serve in the combat arms branches that they have traditionally been barred from serving in.  We want everyone’s opinion, but are particularly looking for the opinion of those who have served at “the tip of the spear.”

For purposes of this discussion, let us assume that there is a standard, and any female inclusion in Combat Arms units would be based on that standard, without alteration, now or in the future (unless to make it tougher).  So, comments like “A woman couldn’t drag a man from a firefight” aren’t particularly useful.  I’m guessing there are some jacked up females out there that are way stronger than some of the guys I had, while there are some guys out there that would seriously struggle dragging me to safety.  If the standard is the same for all genders, that should answer that concern.

Anyway, you can take the poll, but what I would really like is some cogent arguments in the comments section.  If you feel uncomfortable leaving a comment there, please feel free to send me your comments via email at mothax@legion.org

The survey has been closed. Thank you to those who participated.

Posted in the burner | 371 comments
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I guess you could count me among the vehemently opposed. The combat infantry Marine/Soldier does not need anything else to distract him from the mission. As a previous respondent so articulately put it
"War is hell, combat is even worse". Even if a woman is physically his equal, I guarantee that is not what the Marine in the hole next to her is thinking. Enough of this PC. Whatever happened to a rational, thought provoking, unemotional thought process. I also agree with your request to hear from the men at the "tip of the spear" . What better source of "real" information. Semper Fi !!

Women who join the military, who prove themselves capable by standards set in training, and who choose to serve in combat, knowing the risks involved, should not be denied the right to serve.

No Comment

I do not believe women should be allowed in combat arms untis because they do not have the physical strength to endure the requirements, which can mean carrying a 70lb+ pack and all accompanied gear for 10 or 15 miles per day. My personal experience with women, which was in the Marine Corps, was that I never saw a women finish a forced march with full pack, no matter what the distance. Changing the rules will only result in the lowering of the standards for men, which lowers the overall standards needed to be the best fighting force in the world. There may be a few women that could meet the standard, but the percentage would be so low (1 or 2 percent) that I do not believe it is worth the cost to allow them to serve in these units.

I agree with Ray Nelson, exactly!

I we are going to remove the restriction on women in combat then we must also remove that restriction from the Selective Service Act.
Support the proposed 'Selective Service Gender Equality Act' which would require all persons age 18 to 25 regardless of gender to register for the selective service.


To put women in combat unit stems from selfish thinking. The kind of thinking of those women who think they are better than men, and of those men who think women should do thngs for them. These are the femanists and the chauvinist. Men go to wars to protect the women and children back home.
Just think of two pro football teams competing with half of the other team being females. You think the Chicago Bears owner would send his team to the Super Bowl with half females playing against all males New York Jets? I don's think so. Which is more important to win? God bless the United States.

Women are trained now a days to fire the M-16 why not train them to use all the weapons that the military has to offer. Some women can shoot better and straighter than men. I was in the military at a time when women were there to "free a man to fight". We could only hold a mos that was non-combat related. That type of thinking caused more hate and discontent for women than the military realized. Even though I am a woman, I have always hated the females who used the excuse "I can't because I am a woman". Check history, women have been in combat arms positions however they were not recognized for their position.

About time. From Joan D'Arc to Abigail Adams to Queen Isabella, women have led, served and died for their country. In our own American history we have Molly Pitcher and Deborah Sampson. The US military should not be a justification for outdated chauvinism and prejudice.

I have a close family member who is in Afghanistan in a front line unit. He previously did a tour in Iraq.
While there his job was Team Ldr for a four vehicle/12man PSD element that constantly went thru hot areas. His gunner had suffered a concussion from an IED that wrecked their humvee. The replacement hum. had a 50 in the turret. With no one else available the Plt Ldr assigned the only person available - a 5'4",
120 lb female - allegedly fully qualified physically (to female standards) and on the weapon. They got a new mission and were about to leave when my family member asked her to get up in the turret and charge the weapon. She was not tall enough to properly sight the weapon, and she was not strong enough to 'crank' the 50. My family member politely refused to leave on the mission and endanger the lives of them all. He was supported by his Chain. Without the 50 the Team was susceptible to all kinds of danger that other weapons were not large enough to be effective against. One of the principle reasons for her being assigned that day was to get her 'promotion' points. Pure horses**t.

Asking whether women should serve in combat arms units is irrelevant--they already do and with distinction. Where they do, they must perform to Army, Marine, and Special Ops standards or they wouldn't be there. Like any other warfighter, they succeed or fail based upon competency. If there are examples of egregious conduct by their NCOs or Officers, then that's a UCMJ issue and should be dealt with as such.

As an Air Force vet, I have to admire our F-15E and A-10 female pilots. There are numerous photos on the net of A-10s brought back by female pilots, which testify to their piloting skills and the quality of their training. They weren't trained as female warfighters--they were trained as warriors, like their male counterparts.

It's time to get past this issue and on to others much more important, like pay, benefits, family support, and providing superior equipment to get the job done.

Check Six!

What combat arms units do they serve in?  None are in the infantry, the 75th Rangers, the Special Forces etc.  They serve in combat support and combat service support, but I know of no Combat Arms units they serve in.

(Unless you mean attached.)

I think you are referring to combat occupational skills, like Pilots etc.  But "Combat Arms" are specifically ground based maneuver elements, and there are no women in those.

There is a lot of difference in flying a plane and humping a ruck as an infantryman.

Sorry, Mike, but flying a airplane is much different than hauling a fully loaded pack for 10 or 15 miles, or having to run across an open field under fire, or dragging my 220lb body after I have been wounded. Some units may be acceptable for women, but not postions where they are going to have to withstand the vigors of what the average ground pounders have to endure. I support all our people in uniform, but as a Marine I would not accept less than those capable of performing the same task as my other Marines, and the majority of the Women Marines did not meet that standard. The percentage that could was so small that it would not be worth changing the rule for that few. My fear is that the physical standards would be dumbed down so more females could meet the standards, which has happened even in the Acadamies.

Women are the mothers of the world, nations have been made from women. As I see it God made man to be stronger than women in order to hunt protect and feed and take care of the females of his nature in order to procreat and have chemistry. We don't want or like our women on the front line. It may happen but its not whats wanted. (sometimes women can .....)

No, women should not serve in combat. The situation is too intense and distraction of mixed genders would be too dangerous. There are plenty of support positions needing soldiers and having them filled by woman would free up men for the combat positions.

I served in ww 2 combat infantry . Present day conditions are different Have them adequately trained , no matter where deployed both male and female are targets. There is little respect for human life by our enemie There are more female pilots assigned by the armed services, There still is a need for medical personnel of both sexes.Present personnel are volunteer s, What about if a draft were nescessary ?

In additon to my comment, I would add that I served as an Infantry Officer in Korea (two different unitys, CIB, Purple Heart) and Signal Corps Senior NCO in Vietn Nam, (25th Div, 125th Sigtnal Bn). No, women do not belong in Rifle Squads or Tank crews or Artillery Gun crews.

ABSOLUTELY NOT! I served in Nam. Spooky gunships. We had a female intel officer in Thailand who was GREAT! She was doing a critical job VERY well. But I would never take her into combat in my plane. Neither would any of the other pilots. And this current PC CRAP with different standards for men and women for PT and other requirements is PURE B S !!!

Women should not be allowed in combat units, however they should be allowed in administrative , supply and other support units............................not in the geographic area of combat. We need the Selective Service back so every American helps shoulder the responsibility of Americas freedom. Women should also be included in the Selective Service but only for support organizations.

the key words are EVERYONE, unfortunately, only poor Americans fight the wars.The rich and powerfuls' sons don't get drafted let alone those who run to Canada. The Germans have it going on. EVERYONE serves the Country. If you are yellow, physically unable, or a religious objectionist, then you serve as a volunteer fireman, ambulance attendant or some other public servant for a year and half. That would never fly here in the US. 30-40 years ago, maybe, but not in this ate up political correct, touchy feely horse crap of a society we have now. The US headed to the crapper on a rocket sled.

So long as we continue raising an army that is all volunteer, there can be no restriction on how anybody is deployed. It's simple, potential soldiers of either gender can easily avoid putting themselves at risk or serving with those with whom they feel are a risk by not enlisting. If they were drafted then that choice would have been removed thus making this issue relevant.

Women can have a role in combat arms, however, I disagree with women being assigned to an infantry outfit. One is they have additional hygiene needs than men, and it is difficult enough for men to maintain decent hygiene standards.
I also feel the natural instinct of males to protect females would put our soldiers in additional jeapordy.
However, I believe women could serve in artillery or tank units that are more adaptable to a woman's hygiene needs.
I also read in one of the comments that women would become pregnant so they would be sent home, and possibly prostituting themselves.
I just feel women would present a distractions to infantry soldiers in the field, and God knows that soldiers do not need distractions when in the field, just the Dear John letters soldiers recieved caused issues. What would happen if there were romantic issues with a woman and man in an infantry situation.
I believe we are asking for trouble, and most important I do not believe the public will support having women in combat, what happens if captured and tortured by the enemy (including rape by multiple men)?
Do we really want to deal with that, and how will citizens deal with the death of women in combat.

I find no compelling military reason to have women incorporated into combat units. There is no lack in recruitment, there is no lack of Combat Infantry or Special Forces volunteers, there is no logistical reason to do it. The reasons put forth by those who support it are based on emotional decisions forced on us by non-military external organizations who push for "fairness" rather than preparedness. If the military pushes for women in combat units, then all women should be subject to the Selective Service and register when they are 18 just like I had to. I think that's fair.

They want to save money and use the troops they have rather than hiring more.

Some women would do a fantastic job, that's no doubt, BUT overall from my 21 years of service/experience, to include in Combat Zones, I don't think it's a good idea. They WILL cost extra lives & pain, to include the lack of military focus! Here's another thing that is normally kept out of the news when this subject has made the news. MOST women in the military agree with our system and don't want this to change! They do not think they should allow them to be in Combat Units! Can we PLEASE leave out the ridiculous notion of TOTAL equality, political climate, political "correctness" AND sensitivities out of the DA_ _ military?!!!!! If you don't you ARE inviting problems, we have enough problems in our country which seems to be going downwards slowly through the years, lets not let that happen to our military, which with out it, there would NOT be a United States of America!!!!!!

Our military is being torn apart from the inside out. Multiple deployments to war (3,4 & 5) times to date, the highest suicide rate, families torn apart and we have started yet another war in Lybia so where do you think the troops will come from, the D*R*A*F*T is where so ask yourself this: Do you want your Wife, Daughter, Grand Daughter to be drafted as a COMBAT war fighter?
Signed: Drcrypto

Women, if they can maintain the same standards as men, should be able to work the same jobs as men. For those of you thinking that cohabitating could be an issue and affect moral, Don't forget about don't ask, don't tell being repealed. Looks like we're all in the same boat now.... I also recall that in recent history, many personnel of another color were relegated to primary support rolls too, for no apparantly good reason.

I love them all, but not at myside in combat, where bullets are the norm and I cuss up a blue streak, nor in my two man foxhole Some onther time and place, if you don't mind. WWII w/ a CIB & two ph's

Its simple, I weigh 225 plus punds with gear on. Would a woman be able to pick me up off the ground if i get wounded and throw me over her shoulder and cary me to the nearest cover? I don't think so.
Adding additional pressure such as "he stole my girlfriend" drama to my already overloaded combat units does not make sense to me..

Sure, we all know some of our military women are seeing enemy contact, small arms, IED's or the accasional enemy ambush but It is not Kinetic warfare..

Think of it this way. You have been kicken in metal doors clearing houses all week your pissed off tired and scared. You now find yourself stacked on an insurgents front door with four other Marines and its go time. But at the front and back of your CO-ED stack there is a 125 pound hard charging woman who...
1. Cannot kick in ANY door let alone 200 pund metal gate.
2. Cannot carry the 90lb door breaching kit that every good infantry man can and will at some point on his deployement.
3. Cannot carry your 200lb rear out of that house if and when the @#&! hits the fan.
4. If she is the unlucky one who gets hit that day "yells in a way that instantly make me think of my mother, sister, or wife. Therefore clouding my judgement in that critical moment.

CPL Hernandez
You're right on, No one else said it any better.

I am a female soldier and a mother of a female soldier, I am opposed to women serving in combat arms units; not only because the majority of females do not have the same physical abilities as most men; but also because of the distractions. My daughter is currently stationed in a Striker Brigade. As far as PT goes, Again, female bodies are built different than male bodies. You only have to take an Anatomy and Physiology class to see the science. The standards need to be different than males. There are some exceptions, but not by a majority.

Thank YOU "Another Female" for your post at 1623! It confirms part of my comment I posted a little earlier! By the way THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND TO YOUR MOTHER THANK YOU ALSO!!!!


As soon as they are in, standards will be lowered to accommodate

Well said. Lower the standards, lower the results. Same happened here at Bragg with the Q course.

Great question, John!

I am a female Officer and love my country. I love being in the middle of things and in order to move up in my career, it would be much easier with a working knowledge of operational decision making. I was originally scheduled to be the BDE Surgeon of an infantry BCT, but they figured out that I was female and moved me to a logistics unit. John, logistics is really important. I understand that. It is also really, REALLY boring. There is nothing about the position of infantry BCT surgeon that I was unable to do - except the part about having a Y chromosome. I generally score around 280-290 on the MALE scale on the APFT, achieve passing scores on the Male 17-21 standard, and can outrun more than half of my present unit. All I'm asking is for a chance. Let me succeed or fail on my own merits. Don't just pat me on the head and tell me to go shuffle papers or roll bandages like a good girl. If I can do the job, let me do it. If I can't (and there are many jobs that I know I could not do), then I will happily go do something else.

As to why I would want a job like that, the answers are exactly the same as why a male would want that job.

As having had first hand knowledge of this, I believe that I can speak honestly and frankly about your post. I am retired military, and one of my last platoon leaders was assigned to me because the Colonel, my Commander and ISG knew that I would give 2LT X a fair shake. I had my doubts at first, but like you seem to be , she was truly squared away, unfortunately for the both of you, and the military as whole you both were/are the exception to the rule. Five percenters or less would be my guess. I wonder if you would have the same thoughts if you had been promoted already? The comment about in order to move up in my career leads me to believe your interest in this has more to do with your career and not females across the board. Does a 18 year old, 100 pound female really belong in an Infantry squad? Think of the dorm room antics of college. An officer is one thing, lower enlisted kids are another, logistically it is a nightmare and I saw this first hand in Saudi and later in Korea. To do this for the sake of political correctness is a terrible mistake.

if you think a pft is an indication on the physical requirements of the average grunt your sadly mistaken....the pft is a joke to the average infantryman...they did this experiement in the 80's attached a full company of wm's with b co 1/8 to go to the field with us...the wm's made it about 2 to 3 miles and dropped out . They were even carrying reduced weight...even the most physically fit wm dropped out...they all had to be trucked...using resources....and they even used up our drinking water washing their hair...causing a ch53 to haul a water bull to get the guys some drinking water. So high score on a pft means nothing at all......iam all for females being in the infantry..BUT i firmly beleive that if they cant hack it as a man....no favors...no corners should be cut just to make it look good on paper.....infantry is a grueling life...i cant understand why in the hell women would want to do it in the first place. an x marine grunt ...seems like all the people who think this is a good idea have never served 1 damn day as a fleet infantry foot soldier...otherwise they would have an instant attitude adjustment.

Did you even read my comment? I said that a woman should only be allowed in a position if she can perform it as well as a man.

This is tough for most grunts, but just for a second, forget what you did in the military. Forget what you *think* a combat role is. Realize this: there are many other roles in combat arms units that are NOT like your job was and that don't require the brute physical strength that your job required. Got it that I couldn't do what you did. And I wouldn't want to. What I do want is to be allowed to compete for jobs *that I am capable of doing* on equal footing with others who are also capable of doing them (men). Rather than designating an entire unit male only, allow women to compete for jobs IF THEY ARE CAPABLE. Sounds like I would not be capable of your job. That is fine. But I am capable of the one that I wanted.

So you can pass a PT test and you're bored.....letting YOU succeed or fail on your own merit....may just cost the lives of those around you when the chips go down....if you are bored....try civilian work...and DO stay fit!!!!

I'm starting to believe that males get so emotional about the women in combat units thing that they cease to be able to read or think. Explain to me when or how a Brigade Surgeon being female is going to cost someone around them their life? It is not your doc's job, male or female, to fight next to you in a foxhole, carry heavy loads, or break down doors. It is their job to care for you, get you back in the fight, and to help your commander/staff with medical planning for missions and health maintenance. None of that depends on physical strength. It depends on skills that both genders possess. You can extend that out to most staff positions: both Officer and Enlisted, from the S1 to the paralegal and the Reenlistment NCO to the S6. Here's a tip: if any of those people are in hand-to-hand combat, things have gone so badly wrong that it doesn't matter what gender they are.

I am NOT saying that women as a rule should be in grunt roles. I agree that very few are physically capable and I know that I'm d**n sure not capable of your job. What I am saying is that blanket prohibitions against women BY UNIT are wrong. The prohibitions, if present, should be BY SPECIFIC JOB.

Equality yes, combat no! How upset would Americans be when MOTHER'S start coming home in body bags, missing body parts, or other conbat related problems. As a 24 year vet I have seen the damage that has been caused to the military families. Just ask any professional on the subject.

Would love to get a longer comment from your for inclusion in my final report if you want to make one.  Just email me if you'd like, I will sanitize all names, and email addys are not stored.

Combat units exist to kill the enemy. Any policy impacting those units needs to further that goal. If assigning women to a combat unit makes that unit a more capable, efficient unit, then drive on. If such a policy would tend to add unnecessary disruption, inconvenience, etc, then it should be avoided. I get that some women are already in harm's way. So are contractors and members of the Red Cross. That's no reason to deliberately weaken your force. I get that women are just as patriotic. So are the elderly, the disabled, and the overweight. Only our very best, strongest, and most capable need to be assigned in units likely to engage the enemy. Women can and do provide magnificent service in support functions. Honorable service is honorable, whether in a support function or in a direct combat role. In 29 years of military service, I've met maybe one female who I believed could transition into a combat arms unit and saw their end of the log. I'll also say add, in my opinion, 70% of male soldiers also shouldn't be assigned to a combat MOS. In combat, mistakes end up in a Medivac or a body bag. Combat is no arena for "almost good enough" and our combat forces should be one area exempt from the tinkering of politicians who have agendas other than military victory.

Jeff , well put

I say no there are many important jobs that need only a womans touch men were made to fight and women were made to comfort us

Definitely those "ladies" in the picture should be in combat. They don't even need weapons; their looks are enough to put the enemy on the run.

I am a 25-year combat veteran. This should not be a question of equity, but rather of effectiveness.

It's not a matter of women's willingness, their bravery or any of those issues. It really comes down to the question, “What is most useful to our military effectiveness?” And effectiveness on the battlefield boils down to: 1. will it improve our lethality, and 2. will it improve our survivability.

There's a reason there are no women in the NFL. Women are five inches shorter, on average. They have half the upper-body strength of men. They have a lower aerobic capacity. They have 37-percent less muscle mass. They have a lighter skeleton and are prone to more stress fractures.

Psychologically, they are not as equally geared toward aggression as men are. This is because of testosterone, and men have about 10 times as much compared to women.

Certainly there are clear exceptions, but as a rule – on average, these are the facts. If you put men and women on a continuum, you are simply going to have men bunched on one end and women bunched on the other.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.