Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Women in Combat Arms

I've been sitting at home the last few weeks with little more to do than workout, read, clean, and play video games. So entirely too much of my attention has been turned toward facebook. I'm not proud of it, but it is what it is. The recent hub-ub on facebook is all about women going into combat arms. While I've never been in combat arms or even the military, I'm still going to chime in on this. Because it's my blog and I'll do what I want on my blog. You don't have to read it.

Firstly, a huge majority of the complaints about this on facebook have been coming from my male military friends saying how the dynamics of their units will have to change. They won't be able to be as harsh, vulgar, and crude as they're used to for fear of SHARP (basically sexual harassment) complaints. I have one thing to say to that. GET OVER IT. The decision has already been made and just like every other stupid rule the military has come up with, you're just going to have to make the best of it. You have had the privilege of working in what is likely the ONLY job (or genre of jobs) in the United States where you don't have to worry about offending a thin skinned female. Everyone else in recent history has had to deal with that. And you know what? I am genuinely sorry. I've had the privilege of observing some of you in your unnatural, womanless environment and I think it's absolutely hilarious. Of course, my sense of humor is completely off-color and is 100% of the reason I have a first-class ticket to hell when I die, and I'm not even the infantry type. Most of the women who want to go into combat arms have something to prove. These aren't the women who joined the military because they want to marry a man in uniform, they're probably the women who like watching things explode, curse at least as much as you do, and are probably not going to bitch and moan much more than you when they have to go without a shower while they're in the field. They won't even be able to sign up for combat arms MOSs until January (if the timeline doesn't change), then they have to either reclass or go to basic and AIT, or OSUT, depending on the job. So realistically, you have until at least March or April to get your head around this. Honestly though, I can imagine how much that's going to change the dynamics of your units and for those of you hard nosing this, it's going to suck. But this is the real world, and the real world has to deal with women... Unless you live in a Muslim community that actively practices Pashtunwali and Namus. And from what I know, exactly zero of you are all about that.

The second huge complaint I'm seeing is how women are scientifically not as physically capable as most men. I've also seen a photo floating around of a small unit doing a ruck march where two of the men are carrying a woman's rucks for her. There's two problems here. First, the attrition rate for someone actually going through SFAS and SFQC to become a Green Beret is said to be about 95%. That means most MEN aren't capable of doing this job. Hell, even if a man makes it through all the physical challenges, they can still not be selected because the instructors have determined they wouldn't be a good fit for the unit. If a woman is held to the same standard as the men in these courses, and is determined to be a good fit for the unit, then I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to serve in those roles. And if you've had your head in anywhere that's not the sand you might realize that women have been serving in "support" roles with SF and SOF units for several years. And that's not including the women who where a part of Delta long before the Cultural Support Teams began. If you don't believe me, read Ashley's War by Gayle Lemmon.

Now to address the photo. Whoever the hell thinks it's ok to have anyone carry anyone else's ruck during any form of training is wrong. Someone suggested the woman in the photo may have been on profile. It's my civilian opinion, that if you're on profile (meaning you have a medical note preventing you from doing a portion of the training), you shouldn't be doing the training to begin with. And if you're not on profile, don't be a bitch and carry your own ruck. And men, honestly, if there's someone in your unit, male or female, who will fail if they have to carry their own ruck, LET THEM FAIL. No one wants someone on their team who isn't capable of pulling their own weight and doing their job. We are currently at war and anyone who can't or won't pass the tests is a liability on the battlefield and may get you killed. I know that with the shape I'm in right now I wouldn't be able to even think about holding a ranger pace with a ruck on. Hell, I probably couldn't even do it without one. 98% of the SF, SOF, Infantry, Scouts, and other combat arms men I've met are total beasts. But that means that if I were ever going to try it, I would make sure I could do it and then some before I went.

Now that I've had a word with the men of combat arms, I'd like to have a word with the women. I'm certain a large majority of the women who want to go into combat arms are going to take this next piece as a no-brainer, but I'm going to say it anyway. The military is a man's world. Combat arms is even more of a man's world. Now I'm not saying to let go of serious sexual harassment complaints, and there is no world in which a woman should not report a rape; but if you walk into a combat arms unit and can't take a little rape joke, you seriously need to reconsider the dynamic of the unit you're considering joining. Vulgar, inappropriate and even rape jokes are a pretty regular thing tossed around in these kinds of unit and if you can't laugh at them, get up and leave the room. Filing a complaint because of a joke and ruining the career of one of your teammates is not the way to go. The women who will be going into combat arms in the next year or two are going to be considered pioneers and will set the standard for all other women who follow. Women in the military today already know, or should know (especially new Lieutenants), they have to prove themselves. In support jobs where your job doesn't get any more physical than morning PT, it's probably ok if you don't make above a 270 on the PT test. But if you're going into combat arms where the average PT score is a 281, do not give anyone the satisfaction of being able to say you're the reason the average is 281 instead of 282. Beat the average. You have something to prove and an example to set. So do it.

And anyone who is of the mindset that women should serve in combat arms but shouldn't have to sign up for the draft can excuse themselves from any sort of argument about equality. We are currently an all-volunteer military and likely will be for the very distant future, but with tensions between Turkey and Russia being what they are, who knows? It's my personal opinion that women should have had to sign up for the draft before they were allowed into combat arms. But I don't make the rules.