Senate Women in Combat: Discussion Take Two

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Juliet316, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Souderwan, your comments on PT standards are pretty much spot on. In my experience physical fitness is not seen as something that will make it easier to do your job, but rather an indicator of the inherent quality of the person. Someone who excels on the Army PFT is "high speed," while someone who fails it is a lazy dirtbag, even if they're equally good at their jobs. I don't want to end the sex-based grading scale, because there are huge numbers of excellent female soldiers who cannot hope to pass male PT standards. Lowering the male standards would also be bad.

    Your idea about a separate PT test might work. The army already has a "combat APFT" AFAIK, that's used in some units.
    Souderwan likes this.
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    No we don't have a "combat APFT"; it was developed but never implemented and finally cancelled.
  3. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Oh, that makes more sense. I remember the implementation date coming and going last year.
  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    Yeah. They were going to revise everything (which makes sense as the APFT doesn't really indicate how well you'll do in combat regardless of whether you're a man or woman) but of course it got cancelled.
  5. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    On a slightly related note, the Submarine force has recently opened up fast attack submarines to females as well. Women will only be able to serve on the new Virginia class submarines, but all the older 688's are being phased out so by the mid 2030's, there will be no submarine in the fleet that doesn't have at least one female on board. And with the new submarine designs, there really isn't any reason we can't integrate females into the enlisted ranks, so I expect that is coming in the near term too!
  6. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Just out of curiosity, how do you stay fit on a submarine? Is there room for a small gym or treadmill?
  7. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2008
    star 5
    I think a lot of the negativity towards women on the front lines comes from the basic fact that nobody upon nobody in the military wants to be witness to a woman dying horribly in a combat situation. Thousands of years of a male-driven soldiery has made us as a race rather immune to male casualties.


    I don't think there's anything inherently sexist or chauvinist about opposition to women on the front.....just that it's going against such a longstanding tradition among every professional military on the face of the earth, that it's become quite taboo.
  8. Obi-Zahn Kenobi Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 1999
    star 7
    Again . . .

    Of course it's sexism. Our society's sexism teaches us that a woman's life is far more valuable than a man's life.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  9. GenAntilles Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2007
    star 4
    Yeah but the only way that will change is after years and years of having women horribly killed and butchered on the battlefield and have women sent home in wave after wave of coffins. After that happens we'll be as desensitized to it as we are towards men.

    Though to be honest I don't count that as an 'advancement' in humanity, male or female.
    Valairy Scot likes this.
  10. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

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    Jul 20, 2008
    star 5
  11. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I can't speak for now, but if you ever go and read the wonderful Patrick O'Brien novels, it seems the enlisted men were in great shape from all that work, and the officers flabby and doughy, like Russell Crowe when he played Jack Aubrey.

    ....

    From what I understand there's a few ergs or bikes on boats but obviously not a treadmill (too much space). Maybe free weights, but the risk of dropping them is the same as one of the treadmill issues - generating noise as you run.

    EDIT: Oh, goody! I didn't see the patronising paternalism from our conservative friends here. How wonderful. :)
    Last edited by Ender_Sai, Jan 28, 2013
  12. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    Physical fitness isn't as big a deal career-wise in the Navy as it is in the Army, from what I understand.
  13. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    As big a deal? Probably not. But it is a big deal nontheless. A single PFA failure can end your career--this is especially true for officers and senior enlisted. And 3 failures in a 4 yr period results in administrative discharge.
    Last edited by Souderwan, Jan 29, 2013
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  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Two side issues here.

    1) It was my experience that upper officers, ie "the brass" were waaaay more conservative than the enlisted ranks, which as a whole, are pretty conservative. I'd say overall, the most conservative subgroup in the military are NCO's (Sgts and such for those not familiar). Once you make the decision to become a small unit leader within the military, and re-enlist at least once or twice (before indefinite enlistment kicks in) you pretty much have signed on to the mindset required. But what hasn't been mentioned is that officer's careers are dependent on embodying the orders given from the leadership above. Certainly the lower enlisted ranks, and to some degree, NCO's can grouse and complain about any orders given, as long as they carry them out. But as the ones who represent the authority of the orders themselves, officers can't complain about the orders even if they personally don't agree with them. Officers who clash with the policy makers-such as (historical)Patton, MacArthur, and (current) Wesley Clark, Stanley McChrystal, etc... all see the cost of the criticism paid with their careers.

    2)What also hasn't been discussed about the various military physical tests is that they are not only based on 1) gender, but 2) they are based on relative effort given by the participant. For example, in the Army PT test, you have a score a minimum of the 60% percentile based on gender and age. It's a baseline. So you could look at it as that out of the tens of thousands of test samples taken from the general population, Army personnel have to score in the upper 40%. (or better than 60% of the population) to pass. But that's just the minimum. Most units require internal standards which relate to promotion and the previously mentioned separation between the "slugs" and the "high speeds." I've always seen the overall score looked at more than what the specific events represent. A woman soldier who scores a 240 on the APFT would be looked at as a rock star, while a woman soldier who scored a 180 would be a "minimum Mary," which is no different than how any male soldier would be looked at, despite the differences in the individual events.

    However, as has also been mentioned, there is precedent to tighten the minimum standard for certain specialties. As Souderwan mentioned for some aspects of the Navy, in the Army, it used to be that there was a single standard to pass Airborne School, which is the gateway to other Special Operations (which have their own courses and standards) . Anyone wishing to graduate from Airborne School had to pass the PT test at the most restrictive category for their gender. This has been in place for decades. No reason why it couldn't be carried over to at least making it a requirement to pass the skill schools, if needed.
  15. DT421 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2003
    star 5
    I was in the Marine Corps for eight years and my thought about women in combat is basically this - As long as anyone could pull their weight, do their job and even physically carry/pull my wounded rear end out of a bad situation, I didn't care who was serving next to me (Regardless of gender or sexual orientation).

    I'm all for women being in combat, but I do feel that the intentional pregnancy issue needs to be addressed, in regards to it. I went to Iraq in 2007 and right off the top of my head I can think of at least five instances where intentional pregnancies occurred just a couple months before our deployment within different units throughout the company. It isn't as simple as that female leaving an empty spot in the unit and the rest just picks up the slack. That spot has to be back-filled by another serviceman.

    That requires a whole mess of administrative nonsense and work to make happen, while taking valuable time away from properly preparing everyone else for the upcoming deployment.

    We ended up getting another Marine who had literally just returned from a year long tour three weeks prior to us heading back over there. He didn't get to spend much time with his family at all and ended up having to go right back over there for another year, while nothing at all happened to the female Marine that intentionally got pregnant.

    If women are going to be in combat specific units and on the lines, there needs to be better deterrents in place to prevent these type of situations from continually happening.
  16. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    During a declared war, soldiers need to "wear a patch" or whatever that somewhat long term BC is? While reasonable, it would raise a whole host of other issues, I am well aware and I don't think it could/would apply to all female soldiers. It would have to apply to units facing deployment...maybe. (I throw this out there as a woman to discuss, not to be outraged by or to blindly endorse.)
  17. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    Honestly, I think it's one of those "cost of doing business" things. Ships have to deal with this problem all the time too. A nuclear powered ship or submarine, for example, can't have pregnant females on board so as soon as a female gets pregnant, it creates an automatic manning deficit. Our surface navy has had to deal with this problem for years. Lots of proposals have been floated over the years from mandatory birth control to threats of disciplinary action.

    From a practical point of view, we can't exactly require women to submit to body-chemistry altering procedures and/or surgeries just to have a career in the military. Legally, I imagine it's questionable, but politically it's just a non-starter. Also, the truth is that there is really no way to prove that someone intentionally got pregnant for the express purpose of getting out of a deployment. The appropriate military code they'd be violating there is malingering (pretending to get sick or causing yourself to be sick to get out of duty) and I seriously doubt we're going to call getting pregnant malingering.

    So what ends up happening is that the leadership "knows" that it happened but is somewhat powerless to do anything about it. That said, getting pregnant to get out of a deployment is a pretty stupid plan in the long run. 6-months to a year traded for at least 18 yrs of responsibility isn't very good math. And that we put out in pre-deployment training.
  18. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Therein lies your problem? :p

    The pregnancy angle is a good one and I hadn't considered that. My first question is - why enlist if you're not prepared to do the obvious part of the job, i.e. combat? It just strikes me as an odd choice. My second is; are you more or less working off the assumption that in enlisting, the (female) solder has made the career choice and possibly will defer having children?

    That is, you assume they will focus on their career in most cases and therefore intentional pregnancies would be something a minority of women soldiers do?
  19. Sauntaero Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2003
    star 4
    Yes, and for every female "intentionally" getting pregnant, think of all the cases where they didn't.
  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    People trying to mooch the system. Doesn't happen too often, and males do it an awful lot too, but it does happen.
  21. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    That's kind of what I thought, Boba. It's nothing new; it's just a different way of mooching.

    Have you fought alongside women in any capacity, DB?
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Sure, we had a female interrogator with us on my third deployment. She did fine, and that was one where we rode helicopters and then walked the rest of the way. No trucks to get in when you're feeling blah.
  23. SoloKnight Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2003
    star 4
    Are there any rules regarding soldiers having sex with others in their unit?
  24. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    And I'm not following why it's so much more horrible for a woman to die in combat than a man.

    I'm against any war other than striking back at an enemy that has directly attacked us, therefore I'm against anyone dying in combat, but the idea that it's somehow worse for women to do so, is patronizing to the point of being insulting.
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Honestly though, the percentages aren't that large for those in the military who look at combat as being the primary part of their job. Maybe the semantic issue revolving around this concern here is that "combat" doesn't automatically interchange with "deployment." Deployments happen all the time. Well, ok, not all the time, but fairly regularly. From a 30 day deployment to the National Training Center, to a 180 day peacekeeping tour, all the way through a 12 month or longer unaccompanied tour to Korea or similar. That equals a lot of hypothetical pregnancies. As others have mentioned, any female soldier who intentionally gets pregnant to avoid a single deployment would still be listed on the available list once their maternity status was complete. So not only would they be sent on the next available deployment, but they would have to list someone on their family readiness sheet because they are now being deployed with a new infant back home.... And from the standpoint of Espirit de corps, it means you miss a rotation with those you serve with, and get deployed with a stranger unit. It is an extremely shortsighted way to avoid a single deployment, of which the costs far outweigh the benefits. For those troops who are so inclined, you don't have to get pregnant. There are plenty of gender neutral ways to "accidentally" fall off your roof and break your leg or whatnot.. The military has dealt with this issue for decades. So I guess I agree that it's an overall concern that is pretty small.

    Along with what E_S just said, I'd wager that this would be much, much less likely with any group from the upcoming "combat eligible" female soldiers. I just couldn't see any soldier, regardless of gender, graduating from infantry AIT, or basic and advanced armor school, maybe volunteering for Airborne or Air Assault training, or willingly spend the 2 months in sniper school, to then just willingly get pregnant (or fall off the roof) to avoid the real world application of all that training. It would be counter-productive in so many ways.
    Last edited by Mr44, Jan 29, 2013