Combat effectiveness or promotional equality
DONALD MYERS, A Mind ofThe Associated Press reported Tuesday that four females filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat. They claim that not being allowed to serve in the combat arms reduces their chances of being promoted.
Published: December 1, 2012
Published: December 1, 2012
The article goes on the report the number of females who have been killed or wounded during the past several years and the fact that the "front lines" are not defined as they were in the past. There are many things in war today that are not the same as they were in the past.
In World War II, it was total war and targets were looked at only so far as they contributed to the war effort of the enemy. Destroying their morale and willingness to continue to fight was fair game and they were attacked.
During the Korean War and later in Vietnam, Rules of Engagement were introduced in an effort to reduce casualties on civilians. Those rules now place significant restrictions on our troops. Now we are seriously looking at making the waging of war an equal opportunity for promotion by permitting women to serve in the combat arms.
At the same time, we are trying to make war clean and sterile where no innocent people are hurt. I hate to break the news, but war is nasty, unpredictable, and dirty. Sadly, we have fewer people in our political area who fully appreciate this. Too many seem to think that we can fight and play by rules more applicable to a sport than war.
I recall being in combat in Vietnam on an occasion when a bunch of us talked about the best place to go to war. We had been in several firefights and at this particular time we were in a calm period. We were trying to determine the ideal place to fight a war.
We had already been in the jungle and mountains and said that we did not want to fight in the mountains, the jungle, the desert, or the cold weather, but when we thought about where wars had been fought and where we were currently fighting it was obvious that there was no great place to fight. Look at Afghanistan today as a great example of where no one wants to fight. It is hot in the summer and unbelievably cold in the winter.
The terrain is mountainous and there a few roads worth talking about. Consider parts of the United States. We don't have jungles, but mountainous terrain is found throughout the nation along with swamps in the south, deserts in the west, and cold weather in the north.
There are some who honestly believe that war today is dramatically different than in the past. In some respects, that is true, but there are significant areas where it has changed little from ancient times. There are areas in combat where vehicles are nearly worthless and Afghanistan is a good example. Have you noticed the packs that some of the troops carry? Troops move on foot and as a result, they carry their needs on their backs. In Vietnam, I was an absolute dictator about what the troops carried.
I wanted the load to be as light as possible so the amount of ammo, water, food and other equipment was dictated. We were probably the lightest battalion in the war and we were cold and hungry at times, but we were effective and very successful. Even then, we still had a heavy load to carry as we covered miles a day over extended periods of time. In the jungle, our clothes literally rotted off of us. Go to any military journal and you will read about the necessity of reducing the weight carried by the troops, but few leaders pay attention.
A great example of combat from the past and what it entails is the retrograde fight of the First Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir in Nov- Dec 1950 against overwhelming Chinese divisions in 30 below zero temperatures in the mountains.
Infantry units had to clear the mountains on the flanks in order for the main body to pass. One battalion had to move cross country for miles in an effort to relieve a company at Toktung Pass – a critical piece of terrain defended by a company of Marines.
No matter what advocated say, there is a significant difference between males and females as far as size and strength are concerned. There are exceptions, but the average male Marine is 5 foot 9 inches and weighs about 160. The average female is about 5'4"" and weighs about 120.
Upper body strength is significantly different. The Navy has been trying to maintain a 25 percent level of manning by females on its ships and as a result, it recruits 40 percent females because twice as many females attrite as males. Even then, it can not maintain the 25 percent. I suspect that the same will apply in the infantry if we continue to push for equality rather than combat effectiveness. We have a military to defend the country not to provide equal opportunity for promotion.