Analysis Of Women In The Military Essay

, Research Paper

Women have been compared to the frailty and beauty of ripe

apricots in modern poetry; the reference could be construed as sexual.

However, in spite of their frailty and beauty, women have served in

combat positions in one capacity or another since the beginning of the

United States, long before the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps

in 1901. Many women willingly entered the pits of battle, disguised

as men and using male names in past wars. With growing numbers of

women in the military and their roles in Desert Storm, the Persian

Gulf War, Somalia, and Bosnia, there is increasing interest regarding

their full integration and future role in combat. There are still US

military women who strive to be allowed to serve their country in

other capacities during war time since the first deployment of women

on combat ships in 1995.

Most people have trust in their armed services to protect and

uphold the ideals in which their country was founded. Allowing women

to enter the armed forces represented the ideal that everyone should

have equal opportunities to pursue happiness. Within this silver

lining there is the contention by some that in letting women serve,

especially in a direct combat role, we are defeating the primary

purpose of the military: to protect our mother country. This view

could be considered to fall in unison with the ancient double standard

that women are the weaker gender. But what is combat specifically?

Combat is about being exhausted, hungry, and living in the mud for

long periods without access to clean water for drinking or bathing.

It?s about long periods of boredom interrupted by violent interludes

of jolting fear, mingled with the agonizing cries of wounded, and the

piercing sound of artillery. It?s about the flesh burning stench from

napalm or watching as fellow comrades gasp a last breath. It?s about

extreme discomfort and random degrees of emotion coursing through your

being with no way out. Women in military specialties that are closer

to the action would result in the likelihood of their becoming

casualties just like men. Does this relevant factor elude those who

want to be in combat? During Desert Storm five women were killed by

hostile action, while two were held captive.

Some women in the military maintain that service in combat

means more promotions for them; thereby attracting more women to the

service. Has combat been reduced to an opportunity? Does this

contingency sound similar to the propaganda and glorification of war

arranged to intrigue the naive into conflict? Surveys claim that some

military women do not think of war as such. A 1992 survey concerning

differences among Army personnel found that only 12 percent of Army

enlisted women would volunteer for combat arms if it were at all

possible. Critics claim physical standards for combat training are at

risk and will be compromised if women are allowed into combat

positions. Physical standards are critically important in such

occupations as the infantry and in special operations units. There is

contention regarding the disruption of the military?s mission when

female troops allowed in combat

become pregnant. It is thought by some, the relationships that would

inevitably develop would induce new and greater risk for men who acted

differently in combat toward females than they do toward males.

Homosexuality in the military offers additional biased credence to

this theory.

But the most damaging instance is thought to be the

devastating impact on the morale, team cohesion, and fighting spirit

within the armed forces. Combat is known to be a team activity which

regiments soldiers. Some women may indeed be as physically and

mentally capable as men to perform combat duties, but what matters

more in combat is not so much individual ability as teamwork. It is

presumed the presence of women in combat would disrupt the basic

teamwork that makes a difference between victory and defeat or life

and death on the battlefield.

And finally, there is the rising of the old argument that

female soldiers will be taken prisoner and sexually abused by enemy

forces. Major Rhonda Cornum who was taken prisoner by Iraqi forces

after her helicopter was shot down over Iraq during the Persian Gulf

War denied any abuse initially, however she later admitted that she

was ?violated manually vaginally and rectally.? How many men taken

prisoner denied any abuse when they were subjected to sexual

violations? Under any conditions, in our society males are reluctant

to admit or volunteer information of this type of abuse when they are

the victim. Further, from the experience in Desert Storm, sexual

abuse of female captives will undoubtedly be used to extort

information from male prisoners. History has proven that despite the

Geneva Convention, varying degrees of mistreatment is always practiced

to extort information.

The role of women in the military will continue to be a topic

of discussion whether the issue is combat, family, or homosexuality.

The acceptance of women in the armed forces has been evolving from a

role of freeing men for combat to equality in all facets of military

life. Today, women are undergoing training as combat pilots and crew

members for aircraft carriers and other fighting ships. This change

is in response to demands for the potential of career advancement and

equal opportunities for women who are qualified and truly want to

serve in dangerous combat jobs. When a female soldier may choose

whether or not she goes into combat, this creates a reversed meaning

for the old term double standard; There is no option for the male


Desert Storm commander General Norman Schwarzkopf testified to

Congress, ?Decisions on what roles women should play in war must be

based on military standards, not women?s rights.? Applying the

individuals make the team analogy of critics, let me suggest the

military standard should not center on anyone?s rights or obligation,

but instead on the individual in all instances. Perhaps then war would

be called off like other events that lack participation.


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