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US law change for female combat troops.

(70 Posts)
CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Thu 24-Jan-13 18:32:08


What are people's thoughts on this?

How do MNers feel about women in frontline combat?

It's not something I would want to do but I don't see why women who want to try should be stopped.

monsterchild Thu 24-Jan-13 20:17:42

i would think with modern tech and lightweight materials the armed forces could seriously reduce any equipment weight issues.

And its my understanding that women have been flying fighter jets and other aircraft for a while now.

The numbers pf women sexually assaulted in the US military is horrifying. Its been in the news a lot over here. And while the military has generally been at the forefront of integration, it really highlights how women are perceived to be some how less than men that the perpetrators get off so easily.

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 20:18:24

I didn't know about the russians using female troops, seems strange though, didn't they have the view that women were a spoil of war?

meditrina Thu 24-Jan-13 20:19:46

Channel 4 did an investigation in 2010 on rape and UK Armed Forces. In the two years before that, there were 76 complaints of rape. The conviction rate was 2.6%.

There was no comment on whether the victims were male or female.

deleted203 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:23:04

The problem that the British Army have in having female front line troops is that male soldiers are more likely to risk death to save an injured female comrade instead of fighting on. They are also concerned about the fact that captured female troops are almost certainly likely to be raped and abused by hostile forces. Added to which only a few female troops have the physical strength necessary to clear battlefield obstacles, storm trenches and bayonet enemy soldiers to death - particularly in view of the extremely heavy loads infantry troops are now expected to carry. The key issue for many army commanders is the potential impact of having both men and women in small units. In a battlefield situation team cohesion is vital, and failure can have potentially far reaching and grave effects. So whilst I would agree that women have every right to equal careers with men, it seems clear to me that certain areas are not physically suitable for women. I have absolutely no problem with women in the army - but I would not agree with women on the frontline as I think there would be the potential to compromise the safety of the men. Perhaps I should add that I have a degree in military history and come from an army family, so I'm not completely unbiased, I suppose.

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:23:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

meditrina Thu 24-Jan-13 20:26:30

The British Army does put women onto the front line. So the risks of fraternisation, or following capture etc are already being managed.

But they are not badged infanteers.

Mitchy1nge Thu 24-Jan-13 20:28:44

short article by Danish army officer the problem with women in combat

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 20:35:31

I have heard the argument about soldiers being more likely to try and save a female soldier, but I wonder how we know that to be true with so few women having been in those positions in our armies, and two in a military situation where a woman has proven herself enough to be in the army in the first place will she still be seen as "damsel in distress" and if she is seen that way should she be held back by someone elses misguided ideas? Is that not victim blaming?

As for being raped by other soldiers if she is a hostage, I think it is patronizing for the government to decide that she shouldn't be let out because other people are rapists. The woman has enough understanding of risks, let her be the one to decide where she goes the way men who also get tortured do. We wouldn't tell our daughters to not go out at night because they could be raped.

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 20:41:25

Also when women are 500 percent of the combat force won't these idea die out? That women need extra help or can't do the same job as men? If we just accept them for what they are the views will never change

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 20:50:29

That should be 50% obviously, I haven't learned math from the Xfactor.

LtEveDallas Thu 24-Jan-13 20:51:14

Apologies FeministeFatale, I assumed you were talking about the British Army, and I shouldn't of - I tend to forget this is a very international site! My username is a book character BTW smile

kim147 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:56:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 20:57:02

No problem,

I am blush as I did not know the character, and was a bit concerned at first by your name and that you might be in the armed forces! grin

LtEveDallas Thu 24-Jan-13 20:59:03

I am smile

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 21:00:29

Yes kim I thought that was a good point too.

Dragonwoman Thu 24-Jan-13 21:12:33

Well all the main objections to women serving on the front line seem surmountable to me. The most common ones are

1) Women are not physically capable of the heavy load carrying & hand to hand combat.

When we survey physical characteristics such as strength, we find that men in general are stronger than women. However, there is an overlap & some women are stronger than a lot of men & some men physically weaker than a lot of women. If a job needs superior physical strength or endurance, surely it is sensible to test these attributes, rather than the sex of the person. If a woman is strong enough, then why exclude her? Also a man who is not strong enough should be excluded. Using this criteria you would probably still find the vast majority of inclusions would be men, but exclusion would be based on ability rather than sex.

2) Women are likely to be raped & abused if captured.

I am sure this happens to male captives also.

3) A male soldier is more likely to risk himself to aid a fallen female comrade

With the strong bond that exists between fellow soldiers it is likely that a soldier would be equally distressed by the fall of a male comrade.

In modern warfare in any case you cannot avoid the front line in any role. With suicide bombers, guerrila tactics and long range missiles, any deployment can become front line.

Any women wanting front line service would probably be a small self-selecting group with high strength, stamina and resiliance anyway. I do not see why they could not try for qualification

LtEveDallas Thu 24-Jan-13 21:20:55

^Any women wanting front line service would probably be a small self-selecting group with high strength, stamina and resiliance anyway. I do not see why they could not try for qualification

I would agree with that. IME those women are few and far between, but they do exist and should be given the same opportunities as the men.

feministefatale Thu 24-Jan-13 21:21:32

Any women wanting front line service would probably be a small self-selecting group with high strength, stamina and resiliance anyway. I do not see why they could not try for qualification


Mitchy1nge Thu 24-Jan-13 21:31:12

but the US has had women in combat/on the frontline during the period of the ban, are they there unofficially? Especially aerial combat, eg that pilot who was shot down and survived (minus some limbs).

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Thu 24-Jan-13 22:13:19

Great post Dragonwoman.

From what I understand female soldiers are in all kinds of roles which most of us would describe as front line, including flying fighter jets, helicopter gun ships, medical services and bomb disposal. It is just infantry and artillery positions that are forbidden.

mathanxiety Fri 25-Jan-13 04:27:19

Very ironic that an army would be concerned about female soldiers being raped by enemy forces in light of the horrible rape numbers far from the noise of battle, with perpetrators being officers and comrades.
Or maybe it isn't ironic and the fear is that the property of one army would fall into the hands of another?

MrsClown Fri 25-Jan-13 12:37:08

I was in the RAF. I joined in 1977 (I am very old!!!!).

The fact that women were not allowed on the front lines was often used to reiterate our inequality in the services. The men were paid more money than me as they called it the X Factor side of pay. I married a guy who was also in the RAF. I was incredibly sporty and was in quite a few teams. I worked out regularly and did exercises with the RAF boxing team to keep fit, as did many of my female colleagues. My ex husband totally agreed that I was much fitter and stronger than he has his physical fitness was much lower than mine.

I hope that one day the British Government will see the same sense as the US.

Dragon - great point re the bond between fellow soldiers whether they be male or female. That is so true. If things change now in 50 years some of the comments on here would be laughed at. Women can make their own decision about whether they want to join the services and fight in wars, just as men have been doing for years.

If we are saying that women being in combat risk may risk the lives of men then read what Violet Szabo did for the men she was fighting with during WW2. There were male survivors who were grateful to have Violet fighting their corner, literally. IMHO it is like disregarding what women like her (there were many others) did during the war. My grandma used to say to me 'Dont let them be written out of history, remember them as well as the men'.

I may not have a degree in the Military. Im not from an RAF family - I was actually in it. I digress, but it really used to annoy me when the wives and families of the men used to talk like they were a servicewoman!

LtEveDallas Fri 25-Jan-13 14:02:07

I think there is a lot more to it than "just" physical fitness/strength and the "bonding" issue.

sweeping generalisations alert based on own personal experience

Strength is a major one - the average Infantry Soldier carries around 35Kg of issued eqpt into battle, that's not including helmet, weapon, body armour and the personal items he finds useful. He could be carrying 50 Kgs and be expected to fight - that's a whole person! I am surrounded by soldiers and there are many males who struggle, and very few women (myself included) that would cope with that.

The main (most common) weapon for an infanteer is the Rifle 5.56, weighing about 4Kg, but different members of the same section carry different weapons - some a lot heavier - and the ammunition to go along with it. Plus the signaller would have the radio, the section medic the medical supplies and so on.

Women are also barred from the Armoured Corps, same issues, but with the added problem of Tanks. The driver of our most commonly used Armd Veh sits with his head in between the gunners legs - and its a tight fit. I don't know many women that would be willing to have their cheeks pressed against some blokes penis for hours on end - or days on end. Tanks go into 'lockdown' whereby no-one is allowed in or out, sometimes for days. The guys pee into plastic bottles and shite in bags - again, not many women I know would be comfortable with that - and what about periods - OK, you could fill yourself with hormones to make sure they didn't come - but should you have to?

Kit - "Webbing" is not designed well for women. It cuts directly across your breasts and sits on your hips. It's bad enough wearing it on exercise for a couple of weeks when you have plenty of time 'off' where you dont have to wear it - not going to happen in a war scenario.

Personally I think the British Army has the balance right. Women can go (and do go) to Front Line units and use their skills to their best advantage. Those that can, do. Those that can't, don't - and crucially aren't forced to do so. If the rules changed I believe less women would join or stay in the Army, not more.

deleted203 Fri 25-Jan-13 14:08:26

Thank you, LtEve. That is demonstrating admirably the point I was trying to make, with great examples. I absolutely agree that women should have equal rights to careers but was trying to say that there are certain situations where your gender DOES actually impact on you. The Infantry is one of them, and certainly the Tank Corps.

MrsClown Fri 25-Jan-13 14:56:02

The kit not being designed for women is the same old same old I used to get, along with the toilet situation. How can we have moved on so little over the years? By the way, as I was in the forces I didnt mind peeing in bottles etc when on exercises - it was part of the 'fun'. Oh and the old period argument has been brought up again and again and again.

Of course there are women who wouldnt be able to stand it, there are also plenty of men who wouldnt.

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