Last Updated 25 Mar 2017

Why Women Should Not Be Assigned to Combat Positions

Category Military, Torture, Women
Words 1220 (5 pages)
Views 13
Throughout history, women have played a role in the defense of their nations. In 1429, Joan of Arc successfully led the French Army into battle against the English at age 17. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I traveled to Tilbury, Essex to fight beside her Army during the Spanish raid. And in 1788 at the Battle of Monmouth, Mary Ludwig Hayes, also known as “Molly Pitcher”, took over her husband’s cannon position and continued to engage the enemy after he had fallen in battle.

While these are extraordinary accomplishments made by these most admirable women, should this level of close combat be expected, or possibly even required of women in the military? Many will argue that the ban on women in combat is a discrimination issue, and that it creates a structural barrier that can hurt their chances of promotion or advancement. The Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services actually found that “women serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a positive impact on mission accomplishment.

But these women were not assigned to an actual combat position in a unit that has a primary mission of direct ground combat engagement of the enemy. They were either assigned to a combat support unit that was engaged by the enemy, or they were attached to the combat arms unit. There is a vast difference, and this essay will explore why placing women in direct combat roles in the military would have a negative impact on combat readiness. All male units in the field experience bonding that enhances readiness and cohesion.

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When women are introduced, men stop relating to each other and begin trying to attract the women. This puts them in direct competition with each other and becomes a severe distraction from the mission at hand. Morale cannot be maintained if accusations of harassment are a threat, and Commanders are unable to keep the males focused on the mission when they are at war with each other over a female unit member. “Helen of Sparta was perhaps the most inspired character in all literature, ancient or modern. A whole war, one which lasted for ten years, was fought over her” (Bell, 1991, p. ).

King David of Israel ordered Uriah the Hittite into battle to fight in order to commit adultery with Uriah’s wife in his absence. He would even wage war against another nation in order to eliminate any competition for his women. But a relationship with a supervisor or a co-worker is detrimental to teamwork and fairness in the workplace. A lack of trust or possible resentment toward another soldier can possibly result in poor judgment in the heat of battle when someone decides they are mad at the man that got the girl.

Disrespect among the ranks, mistreatment of fellow unit members, and destruction of professional reputations will surely affect the career progression of everyone involved. And what happens to the effectiveness of the unit when a female combat soldier gets pregnant? Naval ships at war must return to shore because of the pregnancy of female sailors, thus hindering the combat mission. Infantry units must evacuate the female soldier out of the war zone and reassign her to a support position back in the States. The disruption to combat readiness is extreme and can be costly. Chivalry is not dead.

The basic, instinctual nature of males is to protect females. This is true of any species of animal. Parents raise their sons to protect women, and to ensure their safety because they are less capable of protecting themselves. While this may not be true of all women, it is certainly true of all men. In the New York Times article, Female POW is Abused, Kindling Debate, by Ellaine Sciolino, Army Major Rhonda Cornum was interviewed regarding her captivity during the Persian Gulf War. She said "Everyone's made such a big deal about this indecent assault," she said, in her first interview since the war. But the only thing that makes it indecent is that it was nonconsensual. I asked myself, 'Is it going to prevent me from getting out of here? Is there a risk of death attached to it? Is it permanently disabling? Is it permanently disfiguring? Lastly, is it excruciating? ' If it doesn't fit one of those five categories, then it isn't important. " But the male soldier that was with her had a different opinion.

The 22-year-old specialist from Fort Rucker whom Iraqis slapped and beat during interrogations said he had not changed his opinion that omen should not be in combat, despite what he described as Major Cornum's stoicism. "I worried about her all the time," he said, "and being a P. O. W. and going through the torture, the pain, you shouldn't also have to worry about what's happening to the female soldier all the time. " While the women may be able to endure such atrocities that come with war, the men are not psychologically prepared to deal with listening to the screams of their women being raped, sodomized, and tortured by the enemy. Then there is the moral question behind women in combat units.

The question isn’t necessarily whether a woman can do it, but whether she should do it. Assigning them into these positions would “require training men and women to regard the brutalization of women, and a woman’s brutalization of others, as normal and acceptable” (Kirkwood, 2003, p. 1). According to Vietnam War hero Ron Ray, “Women should only be used in combat if national security depends on it. ” This means that all of our men have been killed or captured, and the only possibility of survival is left with the women and children.

Even then it should be a last resort. There is something unsavory in the mouths of society in turning a woman into the kind of person that is capable of performing such heinous actions that are required in close ground combat against another human being, while being expected to nurture our children once she returns from such brutal actions. Women by nature are the nurturing gender. What will this do to our society of civilized humans if we turn our women into barbaric warriors? Women certainly play a significant role in today’s armed forces.

On a grand scale they have been instrumental in improving the readiness of their organizations, better enabling them to perform on the asymmetrical battlefield. But placing them into close ground combat positions will not improve the readiness or performance of the armed forces. The presence of women in combat units creates sexual tension that eventually puts one man against another in direct competition for her, thus affecting morale and cohesion. As prisoners of war, women will put their male counterparts at risk because a man’s instinct is to protect the woman rather than complete his mission and overcome the enemy.

As a civilized society, it is morally wrong to place a woman into a position where she could be brutalized, or where she would have to brutalize another. They simply are not emotionally or psychologically equipped to do that, and nor should they be. But in the quest for equality of the sexes, placing women in combat units isn’t the answer. It should still remain more important to maintain military tradition and combat effectiveness than it is for social experimentation.

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