5 years ago
Quite an ugly exchange took place a few days over the issue of women in infantry (note, not women in the military, but women in infantry) . But many may still harbor the notion – or believe the myth – that it’s all about social mores. My detractor is not a Marine infantryman, and neither am I. So I decided to go right to an authority on the issue and discuss this with a certain Marine infantryman whom I know that has spent a lot of time in the field, earning the combat action ribbon in Iraq.
I expected a visceral reaction, and to my surprise I got much more of a reflective, studied response than I bargained for, at least initially. The initial thoughts concerned the Navy Corpsmen and the sorts of things they treat for Marines on a daily basis when Marines are in the field for 28 days and don’t shower. A whole host of different diseases and different logistical concerns would exist for women than for men. But we won’t rehearse the balance of that part of the discussion – it was far too personal. Other issues were brought up. The very long discussion eventually shifted to a number of physical issues. It went something like this (this is a condensed summary statement of what I heard; there was much more than included below).
“Look. Whoever said this is a pogue and has never been in the field. Yes, it’s about the 120+ temperatures – it’s almost impossible to operate. Yes, it’s about the heavy body armor, and in full gear with backpack, hydration, weapon and ammunition, it’s more than 120 pounds for as long as the hump, 15 or 20 miles. But it’s really about more than that. It’s even more than about the ability to carry heavy weight for long distances in high temperatures. We don’t bathe for a month at a time. If we are doing MCMAP quals, we beat the hell out of each other, continually – every day, all of the time. Literally. Men beat the hell out of men, and get it back too.
Remember when I was in Fallujah and I had to jump off of the roof of the house? I was under fire, my unit was leaving and I had to catch the HMMWV, and I had on full body armor with hydration, SAW drums and SAW. And I had to jump from the roof of a house to the ground. I have had to tackle men in Fallujah who were assaulting us. Full grown men, attacking us by hand. Football style tackle with holds and moves on the dude while in full body armor.
Remember when I trained the SAW gunners before ___________? I would make them hit the road for a four or five mile run in the morning, full armor, to the range. Range all day, then four or five miles back. Screw PTs. Can you run and live all day in full armor?
You want to know what it’s like, physically, to be an infantry Marine in the field? Strap 120 pounds on your body and play men’s football for a season, and do it while being sleep deprived with guys dropping around you from heat stroke. Do squad rushes with full weight. And when you hit the ground, don’t pretend. Hit the ground.
Whoever said this is a f****** pogue. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he’s trying to impress the women around him. He’s listened to what they’ve said for too long. Tell him I said that he’s a pogue and sits behind a desk. Time to get his ass up and hit the field with the infantry Marines. Then he’ll understand.”
So there you have it. The case is closed for The Captain’s Journal because an authority has spoken on the issue.