Women in Combat Roles? Is America Ready for What That Means?
With the recent directive that all job positions and units will be open for women, there is a firestorm of support and criticism. People supporting the decision claim that women have been in combat for many years. The LA Times published an Op-Ed titled, "Women in combat? They've already been serving on the front lines, with heroism". The piece stated:
An estimated 300,000 women in uniform have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Female service members have earned more than 10,000 combat action badges and Bronze Stars, respectively, and at least 12 Bronze Stars with a "V," according to data gathered by the organization Women in International Security.As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I served alongside women during my tour, despite the fact that I was serving in a combat unit. Our unit (Charlie Battery - 2/142nd Fires Brigade) - is a combat unit, and until this new directive, was not open to women. Women soldiers in support units on the front lines served side-by-side with male soldiers in combat units.
The rpolicy that many specialties were restricted to women was loosely due to the opinion that, in general, women are weaker and slower than men. That is a sexist generalization, but was an argument none the less. However, my opinion is based on another idea - America was not ready to see women being captured, tortured, raped, and killed. This was highlighted in the capture of Jessica Lynch in 2003.
Lynch and her unit were involved in an ambush and crashed when they got lost while on a support mission. Women were not in "Combat Roles", but on the front lines in their support. That did not protect her from becoming a Prisoner of War. She was raped and tortured repeatedly before her rescue. America heavily rallied behind her rescue. She wasn't the first military member to be captured and repeatedly raped and tortured, but she was a woman.
Some claim that the issue of women being eligible to enter ALL roles boils down to one thing; can they perform the job without changing the requirements? The analogy that you are only as strong as your weakest link has fatal consequences in the military and the missions of combat units. There is a reason I was never in Delta Force, a Navy SEAL, a Marine Corp anything... I could not meet the standards, and if they were lowered to accept me, it would have been a fatal mistake.
The other fact about women in combat is not related to anything regarding a woman's weakness, but rather the fact that men (who are worth a shit) have a biological instinct to protect them. That is a distraction in war and not in war. Regardless of whether a woman is as skilled in war as a man, or more capable, the need to shield and protect is very strong.
The recent news of the heroism of Shannon Johnson proves my point. During the assault of a terror attack in San Bernardino, California, Johnson shielded Denise Peraza from bullets. She said that he gave his own life to protect hers by using his body as a shield.
Women have heroically sacrificed for our country for as long as there has been war in America. The question isn't whether women can do the job, the question is this, "Is America ready to watch our military women die in combat?" Even worse though, "Are we ready to watch our women be tortured, raped, and beheaded at the hands of our enemies?"