Women in Combat: The Debate Continues

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In recent weeks there has been a rash of news on the subject of women in combat, with a range of actions from several units of the U.S. military and a range of opinions from women. Not surprisingly, the units of the military were those whose fighters engaged in the most dangerous missions or had to pass the most challenging physical tests. The Navy SEALs agreed to admit women if they could pass the tough tests, though noting that very few women so far had passed those tests. Though two women had recently completed the daunting Army Ranger School, a former female captain and airborne soldier–someone who had actually served–identified a long list of obstacles to having women serve in the infantry. Although there was an overall requirement for all military units to accept women by January 1, 2016, there were provisions for exceptions on a unit-by-unit basis. Not surprisingly, given their history and ethos, the Marines have been the most outspoken objectors to this, though there have been complaints about the research they did to support their views. (It is amusing that the title of this article was a play on “A Few Good Men”, a movie whose cast included actress Demi Moore, who also starred in “G.I. Jane”, a movie specifically showing a woman going through the same grueling and demeaning tests that the elite males had to complete.)

Although there has been a recent spate of developments, and news about them, regarding women’s serving in particularly dangerous or difficult military combat roles, the issue has been around for a considerable time. In March 1999 a book authored by Rosemarie Skaine, “Women at War: Gender Issue of Americans in Combat”, dealt with many of them 15 years ago.

Decline in Qualified Military Enlistee Volumes Puts Further Pressure on Taking Care of Returning Veterans

Tattoos and Ear Gauges

The armed forces have long been a default choice for young adults who aren’t prepared for, or cannot choose, a different occupation. One of the more unusual enlistees, author Tom Robbins, explains his reasoning in his new autobiography, Tibetan Peach Pie: “Why? – one might fairly ask. Well, for precisely the same reason the 90 percent of all enlistees join the military, which is to say, I was at a point in my life when I didn’t know what else to do.” Unfortunately, the number of qualified enlistees continues to decline because so many (71%) of the 34 million 17-24-year-olds in the U.S. don’t meet the basic standards of education, fitness (many are very obese), and absence of visible tattoos, according to The Wall Street Journal. The tattoo requirement is because not only do these youths have to be able to fight but also they have to look good in uniform. This seems like a frivolous requirement when put into the perspective of their fellow soldiers who have been physically injured or mentally traumatized in actual combat. And with the increasing number of injured/traumatized vets not being properly cared for these days, and thus not willing or able to re-enlist, the U.S. military is going to be hard-pressed to defend our country.