Gender Equality and The Military

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It’s official – women can now serve in all areas, in all jobs, in the Armed Forces. The ban has been lifted. So what does that actually mean for the men and women who serve in the military?

Since 2013, the military has opened the doors to allow women in combat jobs. However, it was Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who put the finishing touch on this process. Carter already knew, and acknowledged, that for many years U.S. women have fought, and sometimes died, during combat posts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter)
The uplifting of the ban means no matter what the job is – infantry, artillery, sniper – women in the military can be assigned to any of those roles. Even the elite and Special Forces teams, like Navy SEALS and Army Rangers, are open for any military woman to apply.
       (Military men and women compete against each other during mixed martial arts fights)
“As long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at a news conference in December 2015.

Former President Obama, a long advocate for gender equity, said:

“One of the qualities that makes America’s armed forces the best in the world is that we draw on the talents and skills of our people. When we desegregated our military, it became stronger. In recent years, we ended ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and allowed gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly — and it’s made our military stronger. Over recent decades, we’ve opened about 90 percent of military positions to women who time and again have proven that they, too, are qualified, ready and up to the task. In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our courageous women in uniform have served with honor, on the front lines — and some have given their very lives.”


Ranger Women

(Captain Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver)

In August 2015, the first women to ever pass the Army’s elite Ranger training were First Lt. Kristen Griest, who has since been promoted to Captain, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver. No special guidelines were instilled to make the grueling training, which included exhausting hikes, horrific weather, simulated combat patrols, sleepless nights, any easier for Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, and Griest, a military police platoon leader. Both women had to complete the course at the same standards as their male classmates.

The Army Ranger school is designed to build world class military leaders. The course usually has a high dropout rate.  By the end of the 62-day course, which started with 381 men and 19 women, only 94 men and two women completed all the necessary requirements to become Rangers.  What is even more amazing is the fact that Griest and the Haver, who both graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., beat out most of the men for the honor of becoming a Ranger.
“We felt like we were contributing as much as the men, and we felt that they felt that way, too,” Griest said.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “It’s clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission of defending the nation,” Panetta said. “Female service members have faced the reality of combat, proven their willingness to fight and, yes, to die to defend their fellow Americans.”

 
(Griest and Haver with their Ranger badges)

Stats According to the Defense Department date:

  • During a decade’s worth of conflict, more than about 300,000 women were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • More than 9,000 female troops have earned Combat Action Badges.
  • More than 800 female service members have been wounded and at least 161 have died from combat – and noncombat-related incidents.

Cons – The Naysayers

Despite military women’s involvement in combat, there are still haters and naysayers who believe women have no place beside male soldiers.

When the US Special Operations Command surveyed a number of men in the military, 85% stated they opposed women being in combat roles. One solider wrote, “It’s a slap in the face telling us that chicks can do our jobs.”

Here are some of the arguments against women serving in combat roles.
1) Women aren’t strong enough.
2) They are too emotional. With war comes death and many men think women would crack under the strain of combat. “Women are very protective,” a sergeant in the Army’s Special Forces wrote. “They nurture kids. Will a woman return fire and kill a child insurgent fighter?”
3) Menstrual Cycle and PMS are problems.
4) Male infantry soldiers shoot more accurately than women.
5) Men can carry more weight and move more quickly through some tactical maneuvers.
6) Women have higher injury rates than men.
7) Military men tend to take on the “protective” role to a female, which is counterproductive on the battlefield.
8) Women get pregnant. In an article from The Wall Street Journal it stated: “Female soldiers were evacuated at three times the rate of male soldiers – and that 74 per cent of them were evacuated for pregnancy-related issues.
9) They can’t endure the physical and physiological rigors of sustained combat operations.
10) Women serving alongside men in combat roles will hurt the units’ morale and cohesion.
11) Although men and women can become prisoners of war and are at risk of being raped and tortured, women prisoners are more liked to be sexually abused than men.
12) Men who go by society’s tradition of male/female roles may become resentful of having women in the unit, which could present a problem.
13) Higher number of sexual assaults and rapes of women by the males in their unit.

 

Here’s what the United States President, Donald Trump, said about sexual assault in the military.
“26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Trump goes on to say: The Generals and top military brass never wanted a mixer but were forced to do it by very dumb politicians who wanted to be politically C!”

In 2013, even before Trump became Commander-in-Chief, he stated why sexual assault in the military is out of control. He blamed it on “men and women serving together in the armed forces.”

Pros – The Believers

1) Women in combat situations have proven they are physically, mentally, and morally capable of handling pressure under stress.
2) To help reduce injuries for females they can do extra pre-training.
3) Take any women who is an athlete, especially Crossfit women, and they will out do most men physically.
4) Females have wonderful decision making skills, which is useful with the military’s high technology battlefield technical components.
5) Just like with other male dominated positions – firefighters, cops, construction workers – cultures evolve over time. The military will set into plan a way to successfully integrated women into combat units.
6) In the past two wars (Afghanistan, Iraq), females in the military have already been upfront and deeply involved with combat situations, so being in combat roles wouldn’t be such a big stretch.
7) In many circumstances women, who are usually great with communication, are more effective than men, e.g. deescalating a potentially dangerous situation. This skill comes in handy in situations between military units and people in foreign countries, especially during time of war.
8) The Armed Forces have noticed that with women there are fewer disciplinary problems than with males.
8) Being male does not necessary mean he will be a superior solider. Many men aren’t capable of dealing with the physical and mental stresses of military life.

Equality At What Cost?

After looking at the pros and cons of having women in “male-dominated” roles, people who are in the military and civilians, will always take one side or the other. Which do you choose? Should women be allowed to serve in any, and all, jobs in branches of the military?

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