Position Paper- Women In Combat Arms Positions

In The Military” Essay, Research Paper

Position Essay

“Who Should Serve?”

There are growing feelings in the United States that, as women are having more rights given to them that were previously restricted, women should be given everything that is offered to men. This is becoming very true in the military, where much sentiment is that women should be given the opportunity to serve in combat arms positions. Women are currently allowed to serve in combat support positions, such as military intelligence and air support positions, but they are not allowed to serve in positions such as infantry, armor, or field artillery. Many believe that it is time to open these positions to women soldiers and allow them to serve in the front lines of combat. Although women are currently allowed to serve in combat support positions in the military, women should not be able to serve in combat arms positions, because women do not have physical capacity to serve in these positions, would have trouble dealing with the emotional restraint involved in war, and could cause a decline in the morale of their unit.

Those that oppose my idea of continuing to bar women from combat positions feel that it is sexist and politically incorrect. Some feel that limiting women to support positions is insulting to women, and that it is damaging to the relationships between men and women in the military. Furthermore, many believe that women should be given an equal chance to prove themselves alongside men. These people point out that some women may be able to stand up to the rigors that are required in combat arms positions; therefore, these women should be given the opportunity to serve in the military in these positions. The opposition also points out that the military has become more driven toward teamwork, and that a woman who is capable of being committed to such a design would be able to serve in any position in the military if she willing. Some counterparts also point out that many men may also be emotionally unstable in the rigors of warfare, so keeping women out of combat positions for this reason is discriminating against women. Overall, many feel that it is crippling to the idea of equality to not allow women to serve in any position that they chose to in the military, and that women should be given the opportunity to prove themselves able to do the job.

Women should not be allowed to serve in combat arms positions because many of them are not physically able to perform well in this capacity. It is a known fact that, as a group, men are stronger than women. One of the primary reasons that women are barred from combat arms positions is because their physical strength is inferior to that of men- and rightfully so. Combat arms positions requires great physical strength and endurance to perform a multitude of physical tasks, including marching while carrying weapons and heavy gear, hours of physical training, and lifting “dead” comrades during training exercises. Of course a combat arms soldier’s duties are endless, and most of them require much strength and endurance. According to the February 1999 edition of Reader’s Digest, a US Navy study revealed that women possess half of the lifting power of men. This report also says that women scoring in the top seven percent torso strength among women scored in the bottom seven percent when compared to men (142). The torso is where most men in combat positions gather their strength to perform their tasks, and women rank in the lowest percentile of those that are men that are currently available to serve in combat positions. Therefore, deciding to allow them to fill these jobs would not only damage to quality of the military but could also potentially injure female soldiers. Women are just not fit enough to serve in combat arms positions.

My husband is an infantryman in the United States Army, and he has witnessed much of the practice of the women currently serving in the military. While on a training exercise in California, he was exposed to women mechanics working alongside his unit. When one woman did not want to bother pushing her tools around the motor pool on a cart, she turned to another female mechanic and said that she would a male mechanic perform the task for her. This woman was apparently too lazy to do the job she was supposed to do, so she subsided and had her male co-worker do the job for her. This is not an isolated incident. In the same edition of Reader’s Digest I quoted from in the above paragraph, an Apache helicopter pilot said that a female crew chief simply refused to carry her tools. Also, female peacekeepers in Bosnia, when it came down to physical work (digging and reinforcing bunkers), watched from the sidelines as many of the men did the bulk of the work (141). It is evident that most the female workforce in the military has problems with the physical demands to the jobs they are allowed to fill now, and allowing them to serve in jobs that require even more physical demand would be a huge error in the judgment of our government.

An additional reason that women should continue to be barred from serving in combat arms positions is that they would have trouble dealing with the emotional restraint involved in war. Even though it is often “politically incorrect” to make such an assertion, women are not emotionally able to “turn off” the way that men are- especially during war. It is often assumed that those serving in combat arms positions will see the front lines of the war zone. The current combat positions that women are allowed to serve in the military are combat support units, which rarely see any heavy areas of a war zone and almost never see the front lines. Many women break down emotionally serving in combat support units, and to put women in positions that would expose them to more of the disheartening assimilation’s of war would be damaging to the military and to women in general. I know that when I see pictures of war on my television screen I mentally break down and start to cry pools of tears, and I am not even viewing these images first-hand. From a psychological point of view, men are better able to turn off in situations of war than women are; therefore, men are better mentally fit to serve in war and women may not be able to handle the mental strain of serving directly in combat.

My father served in the Vietnam War for two and half years, and much of the mental strain of the war remains with him today. However, from listening to his yarns about his experiences, he was able to mentally tune out his situation while he was serving during the war. He said that the jungles of Vietnam and Korea became his home, and that through the “brotherhood” that was formed between him and the members of his platoon, he was able to put the distressing images of the war on the back burner of his mind. It was not until America lost the war that my father became distressed from his experiences in Vietnam. If the average woman were exposed to the carnage that my father experienced on a daily basis in Vietnam, they would not be able to function as part of her unit as a male member would. The natural instincts of a woman are to nurture and to protect one from the bloodshed that is created during war. A man is more inclined to fight and to battle; therefore, men are more able to fight in a war and to maintain mental stability while doing so.

Finally, women should not be able to serve in combat arms positions because the presence of women would damage the morale of these units, and further obstruct the objectives of these units. Combat arms units are expected to function as a family because they must work together to fight in a war and must protect one another’s lives. These units live together, work together for many hours, and train together during many different training exercises a year in order to form strong bonds and chemistry. If women were allowed to join combat arms units, they would hinder the ability for a unit to form this bond because they would compromise the chemistry of these units. These units often joke around with one another and function similarly to a high school football team, and adding women to the mix of this group would alter the way that the men act around each other and cause much tension. Also, the women that would serve in these units- through no fault of their own- would be subject to much discrimination and harassment by their male co-workers. This tension would cause many problems during wartime, and would ultimately hinder our country’s ability to effectively fight in a war. One can then conclude that women should not be allowed to serve in combat arms positions because they would hinder a unit’s ability to function as a cohesive group, and compromise our country’s ability to defend ourselves against our “enemies”.

Many may think that it is no big deal to allow women the opportunity to prove they worthy to serve in a combat arms position. However, when one sees how much physical strength, mental strength, and unit cohesiveness is required to fight in a war then they may conclude that allowing women to serve in these positions would severely hurt our country’s ability to fight effectively in a war. I myself once thought it would be no big deal to allow women to serve in these positions, but after doing research I changed my mind. Women should be given the opportunities to fulfill their dreams if they are able. However, women should be held at the same level as men, and no concessions should be made to enable them to make the standard. Women should not be allowed to serve in combat positions, because the overwhelming majority of women will not be able to improve the system as it is now- and may even damage it.


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