Senate Women in Combat: Discussion Take Two

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

  1. DT421 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2003
    star 5
    Free college, job skills, leadership skills, etc... can be very enticing. However, when it comes time to "pay the government back", or go into a hazardous deployment, some balk. "Oh, they were serious about that part?"

    There are many non-deployable units in the U.S. military. And in that situation course, by all means, knock yourself out and have a family. Even in deployable units, go ahead and have a family. Now, I can't speak for the other branches of U.S. service, but I know that in the Marine Corps, a unit will generally receive a "Warning Order" that they will deploy about 6 months to a year from the "go" date. As that time draws nearer, the date gets roughly narrowed down to a certain month, then week, then day, etc... It's always in flux, but the date of departure is usually fairly close to the original Warning Order.

    My long-winded point is, is that you are given plenty of time to be ready and prepared for deployment. This should be the time to take measures to make sure you do not get pregnant. You can still have kids and have a career and still be deployable. This particular career choice and having a family just requires a little more thought in planning because you took an oath to be able to perform your duty.

    The saying I remember from my time in was "If you aren't deployable, you aren't employable." :p
    Juliet316 and Souderwan like this.
  2. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    My father was a Coast Guard officer and it was understood that at least one six-month-long icebreaker was part of the job. And then there were the month-long drug raids in the Gulf. His job was fairly specialized, he was a Congressional liaison almost the entire time he was on active duty, but the requirement was still understood.

    I can't see too many women "using" pregnancy to get out of deployment and I also can't see that working. Seems like it might just resort in a delay for standard maternity leave but not a cancellation.
  3. s65horsey Otter-loving Former EUC Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 24, 2006
    star 7
    I go back and forth on this topic. At first I thought this was fabulous news and excitedly brought it up to my sister-in-law who was a Captain in the Army, deployed to Iraq and got out of the army to start a family. She was exemplary in her physical fitness tests and was in a Finance unit when she deployed. She has a few issues with this news:

    1. Women have a period. Sometimes it isn't regular (especially when you are training hard fitness-wise for something. How easy would it be for them to remove gear and put in a tampon? For that matter what if you're out on a mission and you weren't expecting to be gone but you're pinned down. How easy it is to get your hands on something usable?

    2. In the Army (at least as of 5 years ago when my SIL was in) women are required to shower every three days. I assume they are intending to change this rule and my brother (who is also army) said that because of regs one of the females was attempting to save drinking water out in the field to be able to rinse herself off and her commanding officer had to order her to drink it.

    3. Soldiers from other countries do not respect women the way we do here. Not sure how long into her deployment it was (she won't talk about it) but a soldier from a different country tried to rape her while she was using the bathroom. Her soldiers then escorted her everywhere.

    I guess if a woman wants to knowingly put herself into a situation like this that's fine, but there are some biological differences between women and men that could make it more difficult for a woman to get stuck somewhere on the front line.
  4. SoloKnight Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2003
    star 4
    As to your first point, I imagine just as most women who want to go combat wouldn't get pregnant to get out of deployment, most women who want to go combat would take birth control that would enable them to skip their period (a lot already do this during Basic.)

    To your second, what kind of crazy rule is that? Did the guys have to shower every three days too? Because sweaty guys smell way worse than sweaty girls. Also, #14 on this list shows how one Marine battalion worked out a showering system. (I admit, I have no idea how practical that system would be in other situations.)

    To your third, sadly I am less worried about soldiers from other countries raping our female troops as I am men from their own units. I think that is a huge problem and one that needs to be seriously addressed.
  5. Souderwan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    I meant to respond to this earlier and just plain forgot. Nowadays, the flabbiness and doughy dispositions are largely spread across officer and enlisted ranks alike. :p

    On a serious note, we have plenty of people in superb physical condition, and a small number of people at the other end of the spectrum. Most are in decent to good shape with the norm being much better than the average American (which admittedly isn't saying much). Generally, officers are held to a higher standard with physical fitness than enlisted. In general, an officer failing a PFA will have a much tougher time advancing than an enlisted. Even not looking good in your uniform can hurt you. I have personal experience[ with that one.

    Actually, on a 688, we usually have a treadmill in the Engineroom (more space) and there will be at least two bikes and a rowing machine. The torpedo room will usually house the free weights, which are usually compact weight systems similar to the bowflex selectech system (those are damned awesome). Everything is, of course, strapped down and what-have-you. Even so, there is nothing quite like trying to row during angles! :p

    ---

    On the subject of women trying to get out of deployments, I think @Mr44 said it pretty well. Of course there are some who have and will continue to find creative (and not-so-creative) ways to get out of deployments. Those people who are, indeed, often the same people who drain any unit of resources and require a lot of leadership attention, come in male and female varieties. They also represent a fairly small fraction of the total population and can often be managed. The hard part is on the crew who has to suck it up for that person. From their perspective, a huge injustice is being done and the mooch is getting a good deal. But in fact, that is rarely the case.

    --

    You may have missed this whole discussion earlier in the thread, but it is being seriously addressed. We're certainly not where we should be with respect to protecting our personnel from each other, but it has the attention of the military leadership at every level.
    Last edited by Souderwan, Jan 29, 2013
  6. Valairy Scot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Well, women "accidentally on purpose" getting pregnant to avoid deployments, etc. is not really any different than men "accidentally on purpose" getting hurt for the same reason, so in the end, that is probably not a valid point. Faking an excuse is the bad, not the means of the faking.

    As to periods - I dunno about that one; never using BC for any reason and having to deal with it on week long backpacks was a real ***** so dealing with it for long periods out in the field is definitely an issue I'd worry about. But there are means to avoid such nowadays...

    As for rape. I don't mean to be offensive or naive here, but is being captured/raped any worse than being captured/tortured? As a society we think so but isn't trauma, well, trauma?

    As to specific combat-ready troops, I would think women wanting to be in those positions (and qualified to be there) probably are less likely to seek excuses to avoid combat than perhaps in support units (same goes for guys).

    As a civilian female, I think there should be minimum standards that pertain to the actual position that all men and women have to meet (not artificially high limits), that any malingerers that can be identified as such are treated equally regardless of the reason - in other words, hold women to a standard just as men are.
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    For #1, the support services in the Western militaries are extremely efficient. Things like tampons would be delivered by mobile PX, even to the most remote FOB's. They might not have a regular schedule, but they are certainly reliable enough, and well stocked enough to take care of with a little planning. I think the idea that some female infantry soldier would worry about a period while under fire is not realistic. Ask any "trigger puller" and all have stories about relieving themselves when on a mission or during an extended firefight. It's not like if you have to urinate and you're attacked, you get a time out to go to the bathroom. You take care of business while shooting back. If you can do this behind a wall-great. If you do it while "buttoned up"-that's what happens too. I can't see something like a tampon being any different for a female soldier, the few times it would even come up.

    For #2, I don't know of any regulation that provides for this. Your sister in law might be referring to some local training order, or other garrison training requirement such as during basic training or ROTC classes or something. But Army-wide the only thing that covers this is the field manual for sanitation, which (paraphrasing as I don't keep these things) says something along the lines that "soldiers should be provided a shower every week to reduce the chance of disease, dependent on the mission." If you're something like a Cav Scout or on other forward deployed mission, the best you may get is a wipe down with baby wipes- a bath popularly named after the world's oldest profession. Even with the FM, Field Manuals only offer guidance and direction, not orders. But there is certainly no regulation that separates male and female, or otherwise makes female troops different in this regard that I'm aware of.

    For #3, I don't want to question something like this at all, so I'll just leave this alone. But trying to rape a US Army Captain would not be ignored from the standpoint of the UCMJ. Foreign soldiers aren't just allowed to walk around US facilities unless they are part of the mission and/or have prior clearance, so that foreign soldier would be accountable for his actions. A captain doesn't really have the pull to require non-mission essential escorts just for safety reasons, and it's kind of sexist in itself that other soldiers escort a US Army Captain just so the Captain wouldn't be raped. Not that I'm doubting the story, but as you said, your SIL doesn't talk about it. It sounds like a very personal anecdote, which probably doesn't represent a larger example.

    I do agree with the assessment that female troops are looked at differently by some foreign countries, but I can say with all confidence that the US military doesn't care. An officer is an officer is an officer, and if a female Colonel, for example, is deployed to Iraq, that Colonel has the same authority as any. The extent of the allowance given might be that the female soldier wear a head covering when in civilian dress out of respect to local custom, but that Colonel would most certainly wear the military cover when in uniform, because the authority is tied to the rank, not the person (or gender) Otherwise, sexist foreign soldiers don't get a choice if the military sends a female-they have to deal with it.
    Yoda_S and Souderwan like this.
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 8
    Does IDF deploy female conscripts to combat areas? I imagine they still see combat but would they intentionally frontline women soliders?
  9. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    They do, sort of. The caracal battalion is their mixed-gender battalion, and it guards the sinai. So important, but especially dangerous not so much.

    @Mr44: We had to safeguard our female medic when I was in a brigade personal security detachment if it was dark outside.
  10. Souderwan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    I agree with everything you said as a matter of principle. However, putting that into practice is inordinately difficult. And when it comes to malingering, it's remarkably difficult to prove. The best we can usually accomplish is to do a "line of duty investigation" that reports that whatever "injury" was sustained was not in the line of duty and so the military doesn't have to pay for it. Even then...frankly, I hate to admit it but most malingerers get away with it.
  11. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, I've been in ten years and seen one actual 'malingering' case successfully conducted. It's extremely difficult to prove to be kind.
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Was that by choice (by a more unwritten code of chivalry from an all male infantry unit at the time), or based on the security safeguards that applied to everyone? Without going into too much detail, I'm sure your unit was like all the others and had a standing GO that said that no personnel went out alone, be it male or female. Any soldier would use the buddy system outside the perimeter, assuming they could justify the reason and get authorization to leave the secure zone, regardless of gender. A male medic, as a non-combatant, should be provided a security escort just as much as a female one. There are belligerent forces who would be willing to capture and use for their own ends any individual soldiers, including the sexual degradation of either sex.

    But my example revolved more around rank and position. A medic would probably be a PFC or SPC. A Captain, as a commissioned officer, would have such command authority impacted by such an arrangement, especially if it wasn't something normally provided, and/or based completely on the sex of the officer, because the rank is gender neutral. (ie.. a male Captain walks around base unescorted, but a female Captain need additional protection)
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    It was more stringently enforced with her. I wandered around by myself all the time, FYI :p
  14. Juliet316 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 7
    Army Special Ops heliocopters possibly opening up for women.

    I think it's good that another combat barrier is on the verge of being broken.

    One point was made in the article about the possiblity of women being shot down and/or captured, but women pilots, even when not in direct combat have been shot down and taken as POWs since the first Gulf War. So I don't see how much different it would be if a woman was piloting a Special Ops mission vs. a guy flying one under the same conditions/risks.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  15. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Um, yeah. Women being shot down and captured is no worse than men being shot down or captured.

    The article mentioned that a picture of a captured female pilot would be harder on magazine readers than a picture of a captured male pilot. Sounds like a problem for the magazine readers, not the Army.

    And yes, women can fly just as well as men, since no aspect of learning to fly a helicopter involves the usage of one's penis.
    Juliet316 likes this.
  16. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 8
    yet nor does driving, and let's face it...

    This is all terribly common sense, though. A shot down pilot is bad, and pilot's not a gender specific word. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm not, I'm just not going to google her name) but wasn't a female one of the main instigators of the Abu Grahib torture? Did any find those images harder to digest as a result of her gender?
  17. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    England. She was one of the main participants, though it was her boyfriend or someone that is most commonly considered ringleader.