Are We As a Nation Prepared for Women in Combat?
This past week two women, First Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, and Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, successfully completed the rigorous Army Ranger School and received the coveted black and gold Ranger tab in Friday’s graduation ceremony, standing alongside 94 male soldiers. These women have proven they are mentally and physically as strong as their male counterparts and should be acknowledged for this historical achievement.
As one of his last acts as Secretary of Defense, in 2013 Leon Panetta announced he would lift the ban on women serving in combat roles, potentially opening up over 200,000 “front-line” jobs to military women. The liberal media and feminists were elated by the news that women had finally broken through this barrier long denied to them. The decision represented a major step towards achieving equal treatment of women in all segments of society. The fact that two women have successfully made it through Army Ranger School takes us another step closer to the reality of one day seeing women serving in combat roles.
Has the full impact of women in combat been considered not only by the military, but by the media and the collective conscience of the country?
Speaking with several men currently serving or having retired after a career in service to this country, there appears to be a consensus among them that women serving on the front lines could have negative repercussions not only in the military community but also for the general populace.
A recent soldier returning from Iraq expressed his concern and related an incident where his unit came under enemy fire. Several women became hysterical and the males had to calm them down. This distraction could have resulted in casualties, although fortunately for them it did not. The psychology of the male response when confronted with such a situation must be acknowledged and cannot be denied. It is the natural inclination of men to protect women. It is the way they are wired and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to train it out of them. In a protracted combat situation, will everyone on the team be able to perform the duties they have been trained to do? A well trained team acts as a singular force in battle and everyone must depend on the capability, strength, and skill of their teammates. If a woman were injured would the other soldiers’ attention be momentarily diverted, resulting in needless casualties?
A potential scenario which has not been brought up in the media must be considered. Those who have been in combat situations have expressed concern, since they are very aware of what happens to women who get captured by the enemy…are we prepared for that possibility? How would the media at home react to a captured female soldier being tortured, raped, and killed? What if her beaten, dismembered, and burned body was dragged through the streets and then hung from a bridge like the Blackwater Contractors in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004? What if she was beheaded on a video released for the world to see?
A valid complaint from our service women is that because they are not allowed to serve in combat they do not enjoy the same opportunities for advancement or increased pay as their male counterparts, but many women in the military today essentially serve on the front line. They perform counter-insurgency operations in addition to convoy escort missions. There have been one hundred forty-four women who have died in combat and non-combat related incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely their concerns can be resolved without requiring their service at the front lines.
If America goes forward with assigning women to combat roles we must be assured that women trained for combat will be held to the same high standards and requirements as their male counterparts, as were these two female Army Rangers.
As for the media, there must be an understanding that when there are casualties, they will not be reported as “x” number of males and “x” number of females. They are soldiers, Marines, airmen or sailors. There must be no differentiation. To do otherwise would be hypocritical and antithetical to the equality of treatment they have fought so hard to achieve.