U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey signed orders today at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia that will lift a ban on women in combat positions within the U.S. military, January 24, 2013. The U.S. Army and the Marine Corps will present plans to open most combat occupations to women by May 15, 2013.
Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war. Women will have the opportunity to do combat duty now that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is planning to lift the ban on women serving in ground combat units.
The new combat roles will open up more than 230,000 combat jobs to females in the face of budget cuts where veterans male and female are experiencing the phasing out of their military service jobs as they return home from combat, with fewer job offers in the military being touted at least in the media. See, Unemployment for Young Vets: 30%, and Rising - BusinessWeek and Military Spending: A Poor Job Creator.
Men don't feel comfortable urinating and defecating in the back of a truck during combat in front of the opposite gender
Now that the military is lifting its former ban on women in combat, you have two visions of what combat duty will be for women. One side sees women as pilots dropping bombs or other weapons in an impersonal contact situation with people, not hand-to-hand combat with whoever the enemy of the future might be. Firing rockets and missiles that land hundreds or thousands of miles away is different from ground combat under fire. Which jobs in the midst of combat will the women be assigned (or request)?
The big picture that some people visualize views women commandeering large ships and pushing buttons that send missiles thousands of miles across some sea in a faraway place. Men, on the other hand, may be picturing the familiar reality of Marines so tightly packed in the back of a truck that they may have to sit on the next soldier's lap, riding for 48-hours fully clothed and armed in the intense heat of the day, covered in body sores, and suffering with dysentery, which is common on combat duty. There are little bags in that truck one for urinating and one to attach by one's back side for defecating, and the soldiers relieve themselves only a few inches from the next person's face.
The memory of the troops having to urinate and defecate in special bags, with no way to leave the truck to relieve themselves, then arriving at a post where they all strip down naked, get their mud-crusted rubber boots over their combat boots and other clothing burned, and being power-hosed down standing there naked together, isn't something a military person would want someone of the opposite gender to see. Men wonder how the females next to them will handle combat duty. Or will females be given special jobs and unique pay on the front line? The combat jobs have not yet been assigned as far as which jobs will be given to women in combat.
It's the thought of being seen in unhygienic situations that makes some military people wonder what would happen in co-ed combat close-ups such as that 'memory' broadcasted this morning from a caller on the Dennis Prager radio show in Sacramento. The post-traumatic stress after combat may affect men and women in different ways, with women having to come home to their small children or getting pregnant in the military, having different issues of hygiene each month, or having to develop their upper body strength to pass tests. But the image of women in combat to some people not in the military are seeing women behind computers pushing buttons or computing, designing, thinking, flying planes, or controlling equipment on ships.
Think of women as Navy seals in training, for example, of the rigorous physical training as compared to training for piloting planes and dropping weapons from 30,000 feet in the air or checking their reaction times to see how fast they can react to instrument readings in planes. Check out the January 24, 2013 Los Angeles Times article by David S. Cloud and Tony Perry , "Military to lift ban on women in combat - latimes.com."
Congress has a mixed reaction
The reaction in Congress, which will review the move first, is mixed. But it is a historic decision. Women serving in the Army and Marines may soon be assigned for the first time to combat roles in infantry, armor and field artillery battalions, companies, platoons and squads. Different people are going to take opposite sides. On one hand, the women in combat probably will suffer higher casualties, since wars always seem to be coming up every few years. On the other hand veterans groups applauded the move as long overdue and in line with other sweeping changes in America.
You have two sides to the opinion on change. One side says change is good. After all, without change, people would still be practicing slavery because if it remained legal and if people turned to ancient scriptures mentioning slavery, they'd use the excuse that some rules should never change.
It's true that some moral attitudes should never change, such as knowing right from wrong and putting yourself in the other person's shoes (empathy, compassion, and love). And some attitudes need changing such as enslaving civilizations because they had fewer contacts with the world outside their continent than your civilization. Society appears to be divided into those who favor changes and those who say, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Are there some rules that should never change?
Many people prefer to imitate successful giants who have succeeded in the past, to keep on doing what's working well in the present as compared to looking to change the future as quickly as possible based on what's not working well enough. And there are those who say, look to the future because any change is good.
Well, maybe not in certain fields such as dumping photo-realistic art portraits and nature scenes for dropping balls of paint on canvas and calling it abstract modern. The question is which attitudes need changing? Technology certainly moves toward change toward smaller, lighter weight components and devices that take up less space in a room, such as the paperless office. So it boils down to is change good when it comes to women in combat?
Women in the military may welcome the change. If you look at media statistics, you find that in most professions, when women start entering that particular profession in equal amounts (or larger) the men start dropping out. You see it in medical school where more than half the classes are now filled with women.
The good change is that the ethnic and gender quotas for medical school are gone. A medical student no longer needs to change religion and name to get admitted to medical school. But when you look at the medical profession in certain categories where you have more control over the hours you work such as in dermatology, radiology, pediatrics, and a few other fields, women are increasing in number as men in those specialties decline.
The big picture is men are declining in medical specialties where there is a chance for flexible work time such as dermatology. And women are increasing in number in those specialties so women can work part time if they wish to when raising their small children. Another example where when women entered the field and increasing numbers of men dropped out or never entered the profession is in training to be reform cantors and rabbis.
When women entered the profession, applications of males to become cantors and rabbis in schools focusing on reform rabbi and cantor preparation declined, according to the Dennis Prager radio broadcast. See, "Liberal Judaism Becoming Female Ghetto - The Spearhead." On the other hand, applications for training to become orthodox rabbis and cantors increased. The orthodox sector only allows males to train to become rabbis and cantors. The reform and conservative movements accept females.
Sociologists look at what happens when large numbers of females enter any given profession formerly closed to women. The applications for males entering the particular occupation decline. The issue could be about pay equality issues or could be about men wanting to be in occupations open only to males. You can look at what happens when more males enter nursing, formerly mostly women. The pay scales rose. See, "A New Obstacle For Professional Women: The Glass Escalator."
Men entering female-dominated professions tend to be promoted at faster rates. There may be less than 5% of all nurses who are male. But when professions become more male, wages tend to go up. Will similar issues that these arise in the military as more women enter combat duty jobs? And if the women don't stay in the military until retirement, what will they be prepared to work at as far as job skills and experience when they return to the civilian sector to look for jobs or raise families and try to find income at the same time?
In other fields as more women enter the occupation, more men drop out or decline to even enter those fields. Instead of the pay increasing for women, the men may tend to avoid the specialty, and it becomes another female-dominated occupation with pay issues because the women are entering fields where the hours are more flexible. Men tend to enter fields where they can work long hours whether they have a family at home or not.
The military is a male-centric society
A lot of men in the military don't like change. On the other hand, the Navy does have women high up in the ranks. For example, there's retired Navy Rear Adm. Veronica "Ronne" Froman, the first woman to command Navy Region Southwest in San Diego. Women who have come up the ranks in the military, including the Navy may think of women as the last minority in the Navy. It is almost as if you have conservatives fighting women rising up the ranks in the military and entering combat roles.
And in the opposite corner you have people who are not conservative saying women are capable in warfare. It's the job that counts. Women want to use their brains in combat to solve problems. Conservative women who have been brought up with different values not always focused that all change is good argue that women are not as capable in warfare as men.
Women may argue that maybe there wouldn't be so much warfare in the first place if women's intuition and brains were in charge of solving the problem before it gets to the combat stage where the stages are divided between the enemy and the ally. The point is women who are happy about being able to compete in combat want an equal opportunity to help fellow soldiers in direct ground combat. The nurturing side of women comes out in combat, their ability to help the next soldier using smarts. If they don't have that equal opportunity, their still second class citizens in their workplace.
Women want an equal opportunity to survive or help fellow soldiers survive in direct ground combat
Women may not genetically have inherited upper body strength, but they do have agility and brains to survive if given the training on how to survive under fire in harsh conditions. Women can improve their strength. You do have women who lift weights and work out in the gym. And some women do have the genes to develop athletic ability. After all, you have women running marathons and bench pressing weights as well as doing body building outside of military life. With men, there's still the problem of male obesity in the military. It's a matter of agility training along with training in solving the problems and helping other soldiers to survive. You do have doctors, medics, and nurses in the military in that role now.
The Army and the Marines have long resisted putting women in combat units based on the lack of upper body strength and agility. Can training help? Or would women be put in the role of pushing buttons on bombs, flying planes, and directing ships? The result of the removal of the ban means that Panetta will direct the chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines to develop plans for integrating women into combat units by 2016. The result will be that each branch of the military will have to provide initial blueprints by spring 2013. There will be some positions closed to women. What women want to know is which jobs will be open and which will be closed.
Women need to remember that they must pass the physical fitness requirements and other standards for combat jobs. The important point to remember is that the standards will be gender-neutral. You're not going to have some type of lowering of standards to bring more women into combat jobs. The result may be more men will drop out. Or the result may be that all jobs will be open. Females in ground combat may work if the females choose to be there and live up to the responsibility required.
The big issue is whether females can carry a male soldier in battle on their back to rescue him from harm's way. Or will it take two or more females to carry a wounded soldier back to safety? A soldier in combat may have to carry half their weight on their backs. You're not going to find a 105-pound female formerly trained in weight lifting or body building trying to lift a 200-pound male alone to drag him to safety if he's wounded and unresponsive.
Also, there's going to be relationships forming between some males and females, and some pregnancies resulting which may take the female out of the service job and render her dependent on male income if she has to leave her military career for any health reason. The possibilities will arise as will the post-traumatic stress disorder issue that now plagues so many returning male veterans who can't find work in the civilian world.
Many people may think the decision to move women into combat increases combat effectiveness but is done for political purposes
Women may choose to enter the Air Force and the Navy to work in combat. Women know neither service is heavily involved in ground combat. Women pilots have flown in combat since 1993, and women in the Navy can rise up in ranks. You don't find women in the Air Force or Navy on the ground in hand-to-hand combat with enemy forces. They may be miles away from the person on the ground ready to take them on in combat.
You have women working as pilots. But even the Air Force bars females from serving in certain ground assignments, including combat air controllers, who are assigned to ground units to call in air strikes, or so-called para-rescue specialists, who slip behind enemy lines to help find downed pilots, according to the Los Angeles Times article.
As far as statistics, about 241,000 women are on active duty in the armed forces, out of 1.6 million Americans in uniform. Since 2000, about 61 female service members were killed in action in Iraq and 23 have died in Afghanistan. Women may consider combat where there are no front lines and fighting is more like going from house to house. In those situations, women and men are in the same type of danger from snipers, traps, and bombs. It's a small move from women on the front lines as drivers, medics, and mechanics. Now the individual females will have to prove they can do the job. Rosie, the riveter is back on the job in new ways.
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