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Army women in combat ban? No problem, make them "units of action"

The Pentagon is going to attempt to quietly set a precedent (as much as that can be these days!). It is about to deploy “mixed-sex units” on the front lines. I wonder how this will go over with the Right? Hey, this is one of the last gasps by the Bush administration to stave off the draft. Here’s the spin from the Moony, winger paper. (Washington Times Op-Ed):

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division is scheduled to head to Iraq next month to bolster security before the Jan. 30 elections. When they leave, they could be the first division that deploys mixed-sex units near all-male combat units. The reorganization is part of Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker’s plan to change the basic combat brigade into self-contained “units of action” that train and deploy with their support teams. The mixed-sex units, known as Forward Support Companies, would be on the ground near fighting, but not actively involved in combat.

As Rowan Scarborough has reported, the redesign has created a stir inside the Pentagon, as well as among civilian defense organizations, as some allege that “collocating” mixed-sex units with combat units violates a ban imposed in 1994.

…Those crying foul see a degree of political correctness sneaking into the one government department that should resist such pressure. While it is true that in the past the armed forces have not been immune to such tinkering, the Army’s current reorganization doesn’t seem to be one of those cases. In May, an internal Army briefing paper set forth a sober analysis of its current personnel problems: “Army manpower cannot support elimination of female soldiers from all units designated to be units of action elements,” the document states. In other words, for the Army to go forward with Gen. Schoomaker’s transformation plan, it would not have enough male personnel to fill out the forward support units. The paper further states, all-male FSCs “creates potential long-term challenges to Army; pool of recruits too small to sustain force.”

As Mr. Scarborough has reported, some inside the Pentagon see the proposal as “skirting” the existing 1994 ban, if not violating it. That very well could be the case. Events in Iraq have shown that insurgencies do not operate on a front, thereby removing the safety support brigades enjoy being “behind the line.” Placing mixed-sex forward units with support brigades could endanger more female soldiers than would otherwise be the case.

Even so, it would be far more detrimental to the Army’s transformation objectives to deplete other units, possibly combat units, of needed manpower. To secure the highly mobile, self-contained fighting units Gen. Schoomaker envisions, combat units must be in close contact with support brigades. Allowing women to serve in such support units might not be the best alternative, yet until the Army increases its retention and recruitment it seems to be the only available one.

I think it’s safe to say if this sleight-of-hand change isn’t enough, then they’ll definitely overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before going ahead with a draft. Queer boys and gals, get ready to serve your country.

And now the Freeper reaction:

To: Former Military Chick

What’s our military coming to? I hope the Army one day comes to its senses, drops the PC baloney it’s been tinkering around with since the 90’s, and returns to the tough old days. It’s not just the women in combat thing, it’s also been a general slump in combat readiness caused by feel-good commanders and such, but both are tied together. Our Army is still the best in the world, but letting it slip like it this sets a dangerous precedent.

To: Former Military Chick

While I was active, the military flirted with the idea of women in combat. I felt it would cause the death of many a young Marine. Not do to the womens combat skills, but the fact that we would try harder to keep her safe, thus causing our deaths due to compromised fighting abilities.

To: Former Military Chick

My half-sister just got out of the Army after her stint in Iraq. She says she quit because combat is not for women. Duh. I could have told her that when she was 18. Actually, I did.

To: longun45

IIRC Canada put a test program in place to get women through combat infantry training on an equal par with men.

ONE woman out of the test group made it, for a total investment in the *millions* of dollars.

They gave up the idea.

When I think of women in combat, I always remember the procedure I’ve seen for how to pick up a wounded, incapacitated soldier off the ground and lash him to your back and carry him off. I’ve =never seen a woman who looked like she could do that, with the possible exception maybe of one of those bodybuilder “steroid specials”…

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding