All Marine Message (ALMAR) 012/12 announces the "Assignment of Women to Ground Combat Units." In addition to the below excerpt, there are portions of the ALMAR on other exploration to be done at entry-level training and steps to allow volunteer females to attend the Infantry Officers Course and Infantry Training Battalion before primary MOS training. NY Times also ran a story on this today. (ALMARs are published in all capitals in case the teletype machine makes a comeback and I don't have time to retype in normal case!)
The idea of women being in comabt units has been a topic that has been debated in the past. During WWII Russia used women in combat, but they were in an all female unit and it has been documented that great results were achieved by this. Israel used women in combat allowed women to serve in comabt units during its first war then put a ban on them serving in the military until 2001.
The notion that women are weaker, slower, and not as smart as some men serving in the military has been thrown out the window numerous times. When we talk about women serving in comabt units along side men we need to address the morale issue. For one I do not want my wife or sister serving in an Infantry or any other Combat Arms unit with men who do not or may not have the same maturity or mindset as I do when it comes to this topic. First we would worry about the security of the female Soldier and how she would be treated, if she would be seen as an experiment by her malke counterparts. I along with others would also worry about her beiing sexually harassed or assualted and this would be a detrement to unit morale. Also it is the male protector inside us all that would feel more for her on the battlefield, and try to protect her from getting harm and lose focus, and no one wants to see a female Soldier in either part of the Armed Forces dead or injured on the battlefield. Seeing images like this on the news would cause more outcry than it would from seeing male Soldiers in the same situation.
I am a former Artillery Officer and we do have females in arty units but they are most in MLRS (Mutiliple Launch Rocket Systems) units and are not in towed or mech arty units. Altough the Army does have some females in Combat Arms units and Combat Support units it will be a long time before we see them in Infantry or Armor units, and it will be an even longer time when we will see them on the front lines of combat fighting alonside their male counterparts in an all out engagement.
Since 9/11 and the emergence of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we have seen an increase in women being in combat, and also women dying as a result of it. The debate is not whether we see women as capable as being in combat units the debate should be are we ready for the consequences when they are allowed in combat units. Morale, saftey, and attitudes are the factors that we should look into before just simply saying it is time for this to happen. Just ask yourself this question, "how would you feel if your wife or daughter were in that unit?"
The views expressed in the blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government
I think the "controversy" about the role of women in combat is both political and cultural, and not really based on any evidence that the participation of women in combat undermines military readiness or effectiveness. History is full of examples that illustrate that women can physically and mentally withstand the rigors of conflict; from Boudica and Joan of Arc to female Soviet snipers and women-led protests and revolts in the French and Russian revolutions. There is a large body of evidence that links female emancipation with conflict resolution and enhanced organizational performance. If the presence of women in US military units is detrimental to unit's combat readiness, then it is not because women are incapable of enduring the hardship of war, but because of institutional animosity in the military's culture and organization.