Women in Combat - My Final Answer!
Barbara A. Wilson, Captain USAF (Ret)**
The issue of women in combat has been analyzed, legislated, dissected, argued, debated, prattled, and eschewed so often that this dead horse is beyond the glue factory.
Arguments by young and old, knowledgeable and ignorant, fill books, columns, and sound bites. Word jousting - with worn out barbs like upper body strength, feminization , social experiment and a gentler military - has created an indigestible alphabet soup for the media, stirred by harpies and seasoned by banshees.
The one song that nobody sings is this.
"Being an infantryman, a firefighter, a police officer, a submariner, or a jet pilot, does not bolster one's manhood if women can do it too!" (To paraphrase an excellent quote by the Women in the Fire Service).
This falsely perceived threat to male self-image is the key to the whole enchilada about women in combat roles.
It has more to do with masculinism, or perhaps even emasculation, than it ever will with feminism, social experimentation, gender norming or physical strength differences.
Men, and even some flibberdigibbet women, didn't want women doctors.
Over ten thousand women doctors practice medicine now.
Men, and some intimidated women, didn't want women dentists.
Over twenty five thousand women practice dentistry now.
Women can't be veterinarians harped the naysayers.
Over eighteen thousand women veterinarians practice now.
Men didn't want their manhood threatened by women police officers, women firefighters and women medics.
Thousands of women are fighting fires and are effective law enforcement officers, as are female emergency medical technicians and para medics.
These women see blood, death, crime, raging fires, casualties, and even gunfire.
Yet military women are still denied the opportunity to qualify for combat roles in the modern forces.
The harpies hawk that they "can't carry a back pack". Tell them to stand outside a super market and watch a young mother carrying groceries in one arm and a four year old in the other.
The banshees scream "running ability". Tell them to watch Mia Hamm, Brandy Chastain or Julie Foudy on the soccer field.
The harpies hawk " physical endurance". Tell them to watch Lisa Leslie or Becky Hammons in a WNBA game.
The banshees scream "motherhood and pregnancy".
Tell them to ask the thousands of military mothers who serve without griping and have the best day care in the country.
The armed forces draw their members from our modern society - it follows that the make up of the services must reflect that society from which they are drawn. This is not a social experiment - it's the reality of the times.
Putting those women who choose to apply and qualify into combat roles will not render the men "hors de combat". It will not render them impotent and it will not emasculate the modern military.
The answer to the "men only want to protect women" spiel is in a great quote by Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient - "You men are not our protectors... If you were, who would there be to protect us from?"
As Lt General Claudia Kennedy has said "It's not your father's war."
With a few possible exceptions there is no "front line" anymore and it's not unrealistic to think that the next front line could even be the internet or the intranet. It will be with sophisticated equipment easily operated by male or female personnel or completely unmanned. See UAV below.
These would-be experts - many of whom have never marched a step in any uniform; many of whom have never fired a gun, or been fired upon - are doing the greatest disservice imaginable to the women of our country. It is time for these pusillanimous pundits to stop spreading their pond scum and focus their misguided energy on real issues like crime, drugs, gun control, porno and domestic violence. Talking pot shots at military women is no longer in vogue - it's gauche - and the ultimate hypocrisy.
As Colonel Rhonda Cornum has said - "The qualities that are most important in all military jobs - things like integrity, moral courage, and determination - have nothing to do with gender."
I repeat - The design of the military of the 21st Century is not for a corps of blackguards and thugs led by Atilla the Hun. It is for a sleek, intelligent, synergetic group of highly motivated and skillfully trained troops. To advocate excluding our young women from this aspect of our nation's future is tantamount to sedition.
Would those pontificating pundits change this motto to:
"Be All You Can Be - Unless You're a Woman" ??
Just a quick example - the military now has UAVs - for those of you whose mind set is still in WWII it is "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle". The RQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle system. It is a Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Force commander. The Predator can be employed in moderate risk areas, minimizing the risk to human life. Examples include areas where enemy air defenses have not been fully suppressed, open ocean environments, and biological or chemical contaminated environments.
There is also The Global Hawk optimized for low-to-moderate threat, long endurance reconnaissance missions where range, endurance and persistent coverage are paramount. The vehicle, with its 116- foot wingspan and 44-foot length, carries both synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical and infrared sensors. The Global Hawk system will be able to survey, in one day, an area equivalent to the state of Illinois (40,000 square nautical miles), while providing imagery with a three-foot resolution. Alternatively, the system can provide more detailed spot images of one-foot resolution, if needed. For a typical mission, the Global Hawk system can fly to a target area 3,000 nautical miles away, and stay airborne for 24 hours collecting data before returning. It flies at altitudes up to 65,000 feet.
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