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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]
C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific
Research Institute [go
to Pipes index]
Women in the military...
[Sally C. Pipes] 6/30/05
search for oppression of women has become creative of late.
A recent Tribune Media Services column
by Robyn Blumner
argues that women are warriors on a par with men but a “khaki
ceiling” still keeps them down. According to this very
column, interestingly enough, this khaki ceiling is rather threadbare.
A full 91 percent of all Army jobs are open to
women, according to an Army spokeswoman cited in the piece.
There are 17,000 women
now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are not baking
cookies. Women soldiers patrol the streets as military police,
and enter homes to search for weapons and insurgents. They are
assigned to dangerous checkpoints “so that female Iraqis
can be searched by a woman.” Women also move supplies in
large convoys and Blumner notes that women are sometimes the
gunners, returning hostile fire. More than 30 women have been
killed in Iraq, with at least 23 deaths related to combat, Blumner
Blumner is right that this kind of duty constitutes
combat, and that in a conflict such as Iraq, what constitutes
line” is not always clear. But she is wrong to assume that
putting women in combat roles is the best policy for the United
States military. She blasts President Bush as “laughingly
out of touch” for stating that there should be no women
in combat. She accuses Republican members of the House Armed
Services Committee of “trying to throw a roadblock in the
path of women’s expanding military roles.”
Actually, in late May, House Republicans abandoned plans to
curb the role of women in combat. They instead decided to let
the military continue determining which jobs women can hold,
as long as defense officials advise Congress on changes. That
move will not end the debate.
Combat is not only dangerous but includes a lot
of heavy lifting. Women’s lack of upper-body strength
cannot be compensated for by bullet-proof vests and an M-16,
as Blumner argues. She
also makes light of the effect of women on unit cohesion.
Here “women must pay the price for male lust,” she
says. Again, it’s not so simple. Male gallantry is also
a factor. Men can undertake risky actions to protect a female
soldier, jeopardizing the lives of others, as well as their own.
It appears to have escaped Blumner's notice that
there is no constitutional right to serve in the military at
all, let alone
in combat. There are age restrictions and various physical problems
that keep any number of willing males out of the Army, Navy,
Air Force, and Marines. To paraphrase Paul Simon, one women’s
ceiling is another man’s floor.
In addition, putting a woman in any military post includes no
guarantee that she will do a good job. Witness Lyndie England,
the infamous prison guard, and General Janice Karpinski, in charge
of Abu Ghraib. Karpinski was recently demoted to Colonel and
was relieved of command of the 800th Military Police Brigade.
In fairness, whoever decided to place women in charge of male
prisoners, in an Islamic country, should also be relieved of
When a nation goes into combat, it had better deploy the strongest
possible hand unless it wants to bluff or fold. That means both
equipment and personnel should be the best suited for the task.
That task is to win wars, not engage in social engineering or
gender quotas at the behest of feminists.
The question for the Pentagon, and for legislators, is whether
deploying women in combat makes the United States military the
best it can be. Instead of whining about a khaki ceiling, what
we need now is a thorough study of whether political correctness
keeps us from achieving that goal. tRO
2005 Pacific Research Institute