Essay paper on Women In Combat

1. a. Most gender questions seem to be rather difficult to judge about from one concrete point of view. On the one hand all people were created to be equal in this world and on the other hand there is a great division of the whole humanity into men and women. The tradition that men are to hunt to bring food to their homes and to fight in order to defend their homes comes from ancient times. No wonder that it influenced the development of men-women relations in the world. Rather sophisticated matter is in this connection the problem of women in combat.

b. There are several definitions of the notion “combat”, which present interest in discussing this problem. The definitions, which are called official, can explain that “combat” doesn’t only mean some experience of people when they are shot or put at danger. Most definitions underline the violence and physical state of people, who fight, these people constantly experience danger and risk. The Department of Defense defines “combat mission” as “A task, together with the purpose, which clearly requires an individual unit, naval vessel or aircraft to individually or collectively seek out, reconnoiter and engage the enemy with the intent to suppress, neutralize, destroy or repeal that enemy.”(Saine, Rosemarie. Women at War: Gender Issues of Americans in Combat. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Co., 1999 pp. 15-17). The Army definition says: “Direct combat takes place while closing with enemy by fire, maneuver, or shock effect in order to destroy or capture, or while repelling assault by fire, close combat, or counterattack.” (Smith, Diana W. and Mowery, Debra L. Women in Combat: What Next? Newport, RI, 16 June 1992 pp. 13-39). The Air Force definition adds also that there is a great risk of being captured on the hostile territory. So judging from this definition we could come to the conclusion that this profession is really far from some civilian employees. It would not be so difficult to prove that women are able to work at the same civilian positions as men, even if to talk about some high business or political positions, they are able to develop the same or even better qualities for civilian job and be a greater success. But it all is absolutely different when it comes to combat services. To become a soldier or a military sailor this is not the same as any other job at some corporation. Military and civil societies have different rules as they have different natures of services.

c. Feminists are defending the right of women to be equal with men and certainly touch the matter of women in combat, they insist that women should have the same opportunities to serve as combatants as men. One of the active feminists – Simone de Beauvoir ”“ wrote once: “Aggressiveness is one of the traits of the… male; and it is not explained by competition for mates, since the number of females is about equal to the number of males; it is rather the competition that is explained by this will to combat. . . . He is in general larger than the female, stronger, swifter, more adventurous; . . . he is more masterful, more imperious. In mammalian societies it is always he who commands” (Skaine, Rosemarie. Women at War: Gender Issues of Americans in Combat. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Co., 1999 pp.1-3).

2.  But the fact is that surveys done in the Army prove that women are usually opposed to combat assignments, and especially on the equal basis with men. In 1998 a study was done by the Rand Corporation, and the result of it were 10 % of women, who agreed that women should serve as combatants and should be treated absolutely the same way as men. In 1993 the Army Research Institute found out most women in military forces were not eager to take part in combat assignments.

There were a lot of surveys and studies of this problem and as a result the certain steps were taken by the ruling forces to regulate this controversy. Some policy changes were made:

1992 – The Defense Authorization Act repealed the long-standing combat exclusion law for women pilots in the Navy and Air Force.

1993 – President Clinton signed the military bill ending combat exclusion for women on combatant ships.

1994 – Defense Secretary Aspin approved a new general policy to allow Army women to serve with some ground combat units during fighting.

In the year 1992 Presidental Commission on the Assignment on Women in the Armed Forces held some survey on the practicability of assigning military women to close combat units. Certainly a great number of documents concerning the issue of women in combat were worked through. Some of those issues are still valid. In 1993 a former member of presidental commission – Elaine Donnelly, created an independent public organization ”“ The Center for Military Readiness.  One of the tasks of CMR was to publish articles related to the matters on women in combat.

Their opinion was supporting both men and women in the army and they stated that women could also serve well their country, and they never diminished women’s courage and differentiation. There is as usually one small “but” – supporting women in military was not the same as supporting them in combat. The definition for combat and his actions was as follows:  “”¦engaging an enemy with individual or crew-served weapons while being exposed to direct enemy fire, a high probability of direct physical contact with the enemy by fire, maneuver, or shock effect in order to destroy or capture, or while repelling assault by fire, close combat, or counterattack.” (Keller, W.M. and Scarangella, H.M. Military Use of Women in Combat: An Historical Perspective. Monterey, CA, Naval Postgraduate School, March 1979 p.12)

a. Physical capabilities were of very high importance as equipment and survival gear that combat soldiers were to carry, including some electronic weapon and ammunition, satellite communication devices and water weigh about 50-100 pounds. Body armor alone weighs 25 pounds. Women can be certainly trained as well as men, but they are usually shorter and smaller and thus it could be really difficult for them to manage such ammunition. Besides women have half less upper body strength, not so high aerobic capacity, this means that they can not carry as much as far as fast as men, and they get tired sooner. The aerobic capacity of an average 20-30 year-old woman is the same as it of a 50 year-old man. Women have 37% less muscle mass, a slighter skeleton. About 10% of all women could thus meet all minimal physical requirements for 75 % of jobs in the Army. Some women are able to drive 5-ton trucks, but even they are not able to change the tires, they work at a field artillery unit, but they usually can’t handle the heavy ammunition.

The most important physical difference is ”“ pregnancy. During the conflict in Bosnia from 1995 to 1996 every three days a woman was taken home because of being pregnant. Even if a pregnant woman remains, she is not able to take marching and field trainings any more. In many cases sex between military men and women ends with abortions.

b. Some opinions, presented by the physiologists in the United States of America and in Great Britain stated that combat women did not have the “equal opportunity to survive.” Not all  females, but very few are able to do some physical exercises at the same level as men do, moreover, these cases can be considered exceptional cases, and it seems useless to count with them as polices are to be based on the majority of average soldiers.

Sociologist Richard A. Gabriel once noted: “it will avail us little if the members of our defeated forces are all equal. History will treat us for what we were: a social curiosity that failed.” The main idea is that is rather dangerous to sacrifice the stable defense of the nation to some social experiments like letting women without any restrictions to the military and combat units. Besides, when we talk about women in combat, no matter how important military situation of the country and the physical state of the soldier is, we can not forget about other vitally important issues ”“ moral state and cultural traditions.

They are connected with the accepting of violence against women as long as it occurs at the hands of the enemy. In the report of Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces this problem was presented in the following way: “An objective review of the body of research and testimony before the Commission reveals that although some witnesses argued that including women would improve combat effectiveness, the case for unprecedented change was most often framed as the “right” or “equal opportunity” of individuals to serve in all positions they desire regardless of military need.” (Smith, Diana W. and Mowery, Debra L. Women in Combat: What Next? Newport, RI, 16 June 1992 pp.45).

A lot was mentioned about the physical capacities, that differentiate women from men, but not much was yet told about moral aspect of this issue. The role of a woman as wife, mother, and basic stone of the home has been interpreted in many ways alongside with the development of the society. Today society is far from being based on the biblical principles with such devotion as it was done hundreds of years ago, but as evidences to the topics of women in combat some of them can be used. In Titus 2:5, “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Women are to be keepers at home”. Not just house keepers of course – the attitude of most women nowadays is negative to this, but keepers of home, of warm kind and calm atmosphere at home.

c. The only country that actually supports the point of view of feminists and takes women to combat on the equal basis as men is Israel. But the fact is that although women are taken to the military services on the same conditions as men, since 1950 they are excluded from combat units. This has a straight connection to the above mentioned definitions of combat and so on. Female soldiers together with males were fighting in Israel’s War of Liberation, the war ended in 1948, after that women were never sent to battles any more. Military historian Edward N.Luttwak wrote a book about Israeli Military and he explains this fact in the following way: “Men moved to protect the women members of the unit instead of carrying out the mission of the unit.” He tells also that women are present at many levels at the military in Israel, they are even a part of the Mossad ”“ Israel’s elite counter-terrorist force, but they are not allowed to infantry and other combat positions. So some defenders of women in combat, who are not aware of the complete picture, can use the military system of Israel as an argument of their position.

3. If the woman is to serve in the military, she should live and act in accordance with military and even war laws, she could never be gentle and kind, she can’t actually afford it. The military makes its service constantly prepare for war, which is too far from being gentle and quiet procedure, it brings nothing but killing and destroying.

A woman serving in a military has to be aggressive and dominant, as well as men, otherwise she won’t be able to work and even to survive. If women take up this job they have to change everything in them starting with clothes and ending with inner world and their life completely.

We can not certainly neglect all claims and demands of those protecting women’s rights and insisting on their equal position with men in this world, but the issue of women in combat is absolutely unique and thus needs unique and special handling. To let women become combats is not a simple matter of equal rights, this would bring some policy and cultural changes in the country and in the whole world. For example this would mean that women at the same age as men are to be taken to the Army to serve as soldiers, this could lead to considerable changes in the military services of the country, in the relations between sexes and so on. Thus before taking this really important decision it is necessary to touch upon all sides of the matter and make sure that almost all facts are certain.

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