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Feb. 14, 2013

Pros and Cons of women in combat

Military progression, to what extent

By James Ryan

When the Pentagon announced the decision to lift the 1994 ban excluding women from serving in ground combat on Jan. 23, many were thrilled by the steps taken by the U.S. military toward gender equality. With the ban lifted, women could pursue front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs.

Many arguments have been made for and against women in combat since the decision. According to most polls, the majority of voters agree with women serving in ground combat roles. Military progression is a beautiful thing, but one question remains flagrantly unanswered, “Why create the ban in the first place?”

Have women changed physically over the last 19 years? Has the tension women potentially bring to all-male combat units disappeared? To downright deny women’s physical inferiority to men would be to deny scientific fact. To deny that male-to-male relationships build essential brotherly bonds while female-to-male relationships build sexual tension would be careless and potentially disastrous.

Putting women into harm’s way isn’t the issue. No doubt women have earned their place beside men in combat. But what impact will their inclusion have on our military?
According to research done by the Livestrong Foundation, the average male is 30 percent stronger than the average female due to greater capacity for muscular hypertrophy. Men also have the capacity to have more cardiovascular endurance than women due to their increased lung size.

Men have a greater tolerance to physical trauma due to thicker bone density. Men have greater stamina because their heart is larger, and because they have more red blood cells and hemoglobin than women.

These stats don’t suggest that women can’t do the job, but that men can do it better. Women are perfectly able to cart 80 pounds or more on their back all day. But men can do it more effortlessly. Why use a hammer to demolish a house when a wrecking ball sits at the ready?

The same question should be posed to the U.S. military. Why use women when there are men fully capable and willing to take charge? The next question worth answering is which relationship is superior in combat, male-to-male relationships or female-to-male relationships.

Camaraderie in combat is absolutely essential to success. Men build strong brotherly bonds with their comrades that they come to depend on in battle. One has to be clueless to deny that men relate to men differently than they relate to women. With the military primarily populated by men, pundits and legislators should put away the politically correct jargon and ask whether these men will fight harder and be more efficient with women in their unit.

Did legislators find a way to regulate sexual attraction? Do legislators not care about giving these men the best possible means by which to succeed? The argument here is that the relationship women and men share is complicated. It could be distracting. There are fewer hurdles to jump in a man-to-man relationship than a woman-to-man relationship.

If women have fought and died for this country, they deserve the title for which they have fought. That would be fair; however, fairness shouldn’t be the primary concern.

The primary concern of those in charge of putting our men and women in harm’s way should be whether these soldiers have been given the best opportunity to succeed.

On average, men can physically outperform women, and the relationship men and women share isn’t as conducive for combat as a male-to-male relationship. Political correctness and people pleasing shouldn’t matter when this decision affects whether they live or die. Seek simplicity and efficiency, and the military will be strengthened as a result.