Women in Combat … one step closer

Photo by Lance Cpl. Clifton D. Sams

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, a commission established to study diversity among military leaders, today recommended the Pentagon remove the combat exclusion policy and allow women to serve in ground combat units.

This is one of 20 recommendations contained in its report, “From Representation to Inclusion:  Diversity Leadership for the 21st Century Military.” (PDF)



About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.


  1. Eric Stratton III on

    This whole thing is pure PC!

    As for combat MOS, No, they cannot and should not and here is why:

    In the end, women do not belong in ground combat, they are more of a liability than an asset, this is always ignored when it is discussed in the Media, in Congress or on here. Below is some good info for you that I have cut and pasted from my previous answers on the same topic.

    From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces dated November 15, 1992, it states in part:

    The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength.

    An Army study done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

    Further, the Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony including:
    – women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.
    – in terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

    After a study was conducted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, one expert testified that:
    – using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, the upper quintile (top 20%) of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile (bottom 20%) of men.
    – only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.
    – on the push-up test, only 7% of women can meet a score of 60, while 78% of men exceed it.
    – adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70% of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only 3% would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge.

    Also, recent studies indicate women are more at risk to getting PTSD, as documented from Iraq and Afghanistan, women who were never in direct combat but whose camps were shelled were more likely to develop PTSD than there male counter-parts. You can also look up the US Navy SPARTAN study, women were asked to complete a lot of the Damage Control Tasks that are mandatory on a ship. They performed in a rather terrible manner at the start. The women were then put on a 6 month weight training program and asked to do the test again. A lot of the test are obsolete since the P-250 pump is no longer in use but the one that will never go out is the two man litter carry up and down the ladder on a ship. None of the women passed getting the wounded man up the ladder and <2% passed going down ( a lot easier I might add). What did the Navy do in regard to this result? They changed the standard to a four man litter carry. Ever been on a ship? Good luck with 4 people fitting on that ladder! lol!
    The myth that they are currently egaged in combat drives me up a wall a bit, riding in a HUMMER after the target is cleared is not going head to head. Don't ignore the truth because it does not fit your premise, I have no doubt that women can be just as brave as a man but it does me no good when she cannot get me back to my helo, hummer or foxhole because she is to weak. It does me no good when she cannot hump the same weight I can for as long as I can because she is physically unable to do so. It does me no good when she is injured more easily than a man, etc..etc…do not look at this as a right, you need to look at this as a National Security Issue, do you really want the weakest person doing that job? Do not fall for the myth that if we have the same standards for all that it will be ok then, the standards will be dropped so low that someone in a wheel chair could pass them due to politics, look at the SPARTAN Study! lol! They would rather risk peoples lives than hold a standard and stick there necks out and risk there careers! (They being the Officer Corps). If you are honest in your assessment, you would say that while women may be ok to be pilots, they have no place in areas of ground combat and/or even on ships in many instances due to physical differences, a different hard wiring (being more and more proven every year) and common sense. Women and Men are not social constructs to interchange and war is not meant for a social science lab.

  2. Having only scanned the report as opposed to reading it in detail I cannot help but notice some absurd inconsistencies in the summary alone. The report claims to redefine “Diversity” as
    all the different characteristics and attributes of individuals that are consistent with DoD core values, integral to overall readiness and mission accomplishment, and reflective of the nation we serve
    The entire summary however focuses on the most simplistic but easily measured method of determining “Diversity” and that of course is skin color/ethnic background and gender. Apparently when the writers developed this definition, the only characteristics and attributes that are consistent with DoD core values are that of gender,ethnicity and race. As an example, the Review of Eligibility Requirements, the Improve Recruiting and Outreach, and the Eliminate Barriers to Career Advancement sections focus solely on increasing ethnic minorities and female representation within the military and specifically in leadership positions. I find this very approach appalling because the entire report is based on two false presumptions:

    1. This approach is of itself sexist and racist in that is supposes that all people of a given ethnic background or gender are the same thereby allowing the DoD to measure “diversity” solely by gender, skin color and ethnic background. The individual values, upbringing and behavior are assumed to be in total conformance with the stereotypical perceptions of that group. It has been long argued that it is this very mindset that assumes that a given person can be known simply by their gender, color of their skin or ethnicity is inconsistent with American Values not just Military Values. I am in agreement with such an argument. Ethnic groups and genders are simply not homogeneous and should not be assumed to be in order to measure the level of “diversity”.
    2. The reports attempt to achieve “diversity” is not consistent with the same value that it repeatedly refers to and that is of the concept of Equal Opportunity. This report indicates that Equal Opportunity is not sufficient by itself. Instead we must find ways as an organization to achieve “Equal Results.” Now given that results are measured by race, gender and ethnicity only, what can we truly expect to see in terms of actual Equal Opportunity? The whole report is based on the assumption that “institutional barriers” are to blame for shortcoming in its definition of “diversity”. While there are some clear barriers to females in terms of assignments and specialty skills, I see no such barrier (and challenge anyone to provide actually evidence of this fantastic conspiracy) to any ethnic or racial group and to assume as much is at best foolish and at worst catastrophic to the military. When “Equal Results” are sought (which according to the recommendations should be enforced), what is going to happen to the concept of “Equal Opportunity” or “Equal Treatment” for that matter? The only way to achieve these results is to institute a system of affirmative action in order to achieve “demographic accountability” which is of course little more than making opportunities and treatment unequal in the name of achieving some fabricated noble goal.

    This entire report was written under the two listed false presumptions and their recommendations reflect as much. It is sad that the DoD has been reduced to such ridiculous propaganda generated from unsubstantiated assumptions

  3. I am so glad I never joined the military… My drill instructor could have been some black ebonics-speaking woman! Yey! Diversity!!!

    Ever since “DIEversity” was introduced after WWII, the US has LOST EVERY WAR it has started with the exception of Grenada and Panama. Diversity creates weakness and disunity! End rampant non-white immigration!

  4. Katherine Rogers on

    Even if only ONE woman passes the standard should she be excluded BECAUSE she is a woman? Stop trying to use the military as a male test of manhood.

    The ability to enage in combat ONLY proves…the ability to engage in combat. MANY males come back from combat and can not function in society as an ADULT MEN, hold a job, support a wife and children, keep a roof over his head and that of his family, and keep himself out of trouble with the legal authorities. They feel bewildered because they THINK they have passed a “manhood” test and yet are failing out of life as an adult man. Its not an initiation into manhood. The military has made the error for YEARS of attempting to TELL young males that it is DURING training. Its false. Children are capable of killing others. Combat qualification does NOT prove you’re a MAN.

    Is the image that you as a male will go off and do …heroic deeds…and some pretty young female will be waiting at home? It pops THAT bubble if the soldier NEXT to you is a woman.

    (There is side note here as to why I ask for equal opportunity but speak of men supporting women financially. If YOU get her pregnant guys…step up as adults and take responsibility. )

    If ANYONE passes the PFT, what right has anyone ELSE to exclude that soldier.

    Dont lower the standard to help any ONE group have a higher pass rate. Its an insult to women who DID aerobic sports, weight lifting, and martial arts DURING high school when others are allowed a pass at a lower standard to include those of their own gender.

    Those women that DO pass the same standard as for males are NOT given any different status than those that pass the lower standard.

    Too many are geting injured from sports related injuries during their military career. It is not optimal to take couch sitting, potato chip eating, video game players and put them into strong physical activity at the level of the mlitary. Do not put girls in PE classes playing leisure activities such as badmitton then send them to basic. Ligaments and tendons need to be conditioned for years to stand up to that stress.

    Make passing the standards for the PFT part of the requirement for high school graduation. Set lower standards to pass earlier grades of school so that students train through out school. Even if accademically prepared, those students that have allowed themselves to become out of shape need to MAKE the time to regain their health. Students that fail may be given a certificate of attendance and /or accademic achievement if they earn the latter.

    Students in the US are given a “free” education. It costs the taxpayer so isnt in fact free, but the STUDENT isnt required to pay tuition. REQUIRE students to pass a physical standard to pass to the next grade with the standard for the 12 grade equaling that of the male standard in Basic. Why should the state pay for students to spend years becoming physically unfit?
    We as a country need to be strong and fit, if nothing else, as a deterrant against foreign agressors. We need a country where even your little sister could take out the average soldier from THEIR side. Do you WANT a country where the women arent trained to protect themselves and their country? Would a foreign invader be more or less likely to come here if the KNEW even if ALL the men were away and the women are NOT helpless? What if the women were trained in some serious combat skills. I would prefer where the response is …oh no dont attack the US… even the little high school girls would kill you. Dont mess with the US.
    You do the country NO favors if you keep any ONE group weak. If there is a problem with females passing the standards go into the high schools and remediate the problem. Look online at the athletics events for women. Women CAN be trained to meet the standards. It may take longer than the usual time allotted for basic training IF the average mentality is that girls should sit and look pretty and not train. Girls can NOT spend 4 years of high school with athletic funds going towards male football and baseball. Move the focus in high school to individual fitness. There ARE no additional funds for sports teams paid for by the taxpayer as LONG as the majority of the students graduating can NOT pass a PFT.

    It can be argued that even then it is wrong to take money from ANY other taxpayer so that YOUR son or daughter can play on a sports team. The taxpayer gains no benifit from your child getting that privledge. If you want teamwork and leadership training use military style training exercises to that at the same time students are preparing to defend their country. No one would stop anyone from ADDITIONALLY paying for THEIR OWN child to be on a sports team out of their OWN family money.

    Some WOULD not pass the PFT even if it is required for a full diploma. Do NOT lower the standard so that MORE students may get a full high school diploma. Set one national standard for graduation of high school to match the needs of the military and let all who will attempt to pass the physical and mental tests.

    If women pass the SAME standard as for males, it is no ones right to stop them from doing their job for their country.

  5. [Comment edited]

    Having integrated combat units is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Other than the fact that 80% of women are completely incapable of passing even the minimum requirement that we expect from male soldiers they are a combat liability.

    The Israelis tried using women in combat units. Because the women were not effective combat soldiers the men in the unit disregarded the operational objective and focused on protecting the women.

    Say it’s sexist all you want, it’s not how you win battles.

    The second compelling reason to me is the high potential pregnancies will cause a unit to become combat ineffective. This phenomenon first presented itself in the Gulf War. US Navy ships had to be sent back to Norfolk because half the women on board got knocked up and thus the ship was no longer combat ready. A waste of taxpayer dollars and more importantly a national security issue.

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