Archive for the 'Women in Combat' Category

Female Warriors: You Can’t Have It Both Ways Girls

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago

From reader Ned Weatherby, Liberty News Now:

Transgender mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Fallon Fox is the target of criticism after brutally injuring an opponent.

Fox defeated Tamikka Brents just two minutes into the first round of the match. Brents suffered a damaged orbital bone, which required seven staples, and a concussion.

Brents summed it up: “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women,” Brents stated. “And never felt the strength I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”

The video of the Brents-Fox fight was pretty brutal: Fox threw knees to Brents face and torso right at the beginning, to kick off the fight. Brents ultimately turned her back to avoid more damage–and took almost a minute of hard strikes from Fox’s elbows and fists, before the referee stopped.

But wait?  I thought women can do everything a man can do?  That’s what I’m led to think about Ranger school.

It’s down to three now — three female soldiers, out of an original 19, that refuse to give up their dream of earning the coveted Army Ranger Tab.

The one female major and two female first lieutenants failed at two attempts to make it through the first phase of U.S. Army Ranger School, but the trio has still earned the respect of the gatekeepers of this grueling, two-month infantry course.

The female soldiers had been at it for 29 days when the two top leaders at Ranger School offered them a choice – start over from day one with a new class or go home.

All three agreed to start over on June 22.

“Anybody that takes a day-one recycle — be it a male or female soldier — it displays an incredible amount of grit and determination; they want to earn the Ranger Tab,” Col. David G. Fivecoat, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, told during a June 5 interview.

Fort Benning, Ga., held its first co-ed course of Army Ranger School on April 20. Nineteen women and 380 men were pre-screened for the combat training course.

Three of the women failed to pass the Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment, a requirement to enter Ranger School. Eight out of 16 female soldiers completed the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week.

But the remaining eight females weren’t able to complete the first phase and advance to the second phase of the course. Instead, they were allowed to repeat the Darby Phase along with 101 male candidates.

Fort Benning officials announced May 29 that none of the eight passed the Darby Phase on their second attempt. Three of those females, along with five males, have been invited to start over on day one.

No female has successfully passed the Marine Infantry Officer Course either.  You can’t have it both ways girls.  You can’t claim unfairness if you have to fight men on the one hand, and claim you can do anything a man can do on the other.

That doesn’t pass even elementary tests of consistency.  And to reiterate what I said earlier, God has made men and women differently, in case you missed that growing up.

Special Operations Troops Doubt Women Can Do The Job

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 4 weeks ago

Stars and Stripes:

Surveys find that men in U.S. special operations forces do not believe women can meet the physical and mental demands of their commando jobs, and they fear the Pentagon will lower standards to integrate women into their elite units, according to interviews and documents.

Studies that surveyed personnel found “major misconceptions” within special operations about whether women should be brought into the male-only jobs. They also revealed concerns that department leaders would “capitulate to political pressure, allowing erosion of training standards,” according to one document.

Some of those concerns were not limited to men, researchers found, but were found among women in special operations jobs.

Dan Bland, force management director for U.S. Special Operations Command, said the survey results have “already driven us to do some different things in terms of educating the force.”

Well, there you go.  If the force believes that women can’t do the job, the only recourse is to educate them differently, because surely, surely, surely they must be wrong.  Otherwise the advocates of gender homogeneity would be wrong, and that couldn’t be the case because command says so because the administration and God-hating, elitist, Marxist liberal arts colleges around the nation say so.

Dan Bland responded the way he did because he has lost his soul and joined the dark side.

See category Women in Combat.

Women In Combat: Misunderstandings

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

It isn’t necessary to recapitulate what we’ve discussed concerning women in combat since it is so well rehearsed here on these pages.  But occasionally something comes out that needs correction.

David Martin: Now you’ve been through this training, what’s your own opinion about whether women can serve in the infantry?

Nisa Jovell: My opinion would be that it would be pretty difficult for them. We’re just, unfortunately physically, we are not built for it. And I’m not saying that we can’t do it, what they do. But our body structure is different.

David Martin: So what is it really, physically that you think?

Nisa Jovell: Honestly, it was really just carrying a lot of weight. And learning how to move as fast as you can with it.

David Martin: It’s what? Bone density that wears you down over time?

Nisa Jovell: It’s mainly hips that affect us.

David Martin: Hips?

Nisa Jovell: For females, yes.

David Martin: How does that play out on a 15K or a 20K?

Nisa Jovell: We had to learn how to put on the pack a certain way to like — relieve the stress off of our hip, so the hip problem is definitely a big deal.

No, no, no, no, and a thousand times no!  Any backpack that places the weight primarily on the shoulders will cause spine damage and ultimately cripple a man over the long haul.  Proper designs can be seen in the civilian market, and they place the weight primarily on the hips, not the shoulders.

While trying to emphasize that there is a “workaround” of sorts for the fact that females are designed differently than men and suffer from mechanical disadvantages unique to their structure, Ms. Jovell has in fact highlighted and emphasized those differences rather than the workaround.  And women still aren’t designed for combat, no matter what the progressives want to believe and no matter how much they would like the military to be the grand experiment in gender-neutral homogeneity.

Rangerettes and Female Marine Infantry Officers

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 2 weeks ago

Fox News:

Two female Marine officers who volunteered to attempt the Corps’ challenging Infantry Officer Course did not proceed beyond the first day of the course, a Marine Corps spokesperson confirms to the Free Beacon. The two were the only female officers attempting the course in the current cycle, which began Thursday in Quantico, Virginia.

With the two most recent drops, there have been 29 attempts by female officers to pass the course since women have been allowed to volunteer, with none making it to graduation. (At least one woman has attempted the course more than once.) Only four female officers have made it beyond the initial day of training, a grueling evaluation known as the Combat Endurance Test, or CET. Male officers also regularly fail to pass the CET, and the overall course has a substantial attrition rate for males.

Regular readers know what I think about women in the infantry, so there is no need to rehearse all of it again.  Just to give a quick reminder, remember this?

Marines in Helmand, water transported by helicopter with it so hot by the time it got there it would scald their throats, full kit, body armor, mortar plate, no showers for seven months, sleeping by two’s in “hobbit holes” in Now Zad, and so on.  Need I say more?  No, but I will.


The standards have been evaluated and will be lowered where necessary, but ALCON will deny that any standards were lowered. They are calling this an “assessment” and when the “assessment” is complete and its success is announced, they will move forward into the bright sunlit uplands of making room for the next group of “victims,” those confused or mistaken about what sex they are. Such is progress in the Year of Our Lord 2015.

Coddling of the women attendees includes a pre-ranger prep course, and a shadowy sisterhood made of dozens of appointed female commissars called “observer/advisors” who are to mentor, encourage, (and not incidentally, prevent male instructors from giving failing grades to), the Unique and Special Snowflakes. The commissars do not have to attend Ranger School themselves. Good intentions suffice, and good intentions are defined by their conformity with what the suits in the E-ring, and the generals purring in their laps, desire.

Yep.  Sounds about right for post-modern America, children of the enlightenment who have rejected everything decent and good.  There isn’t much left any more except for the circus and clown show all around us.

And to summarize, I’ll convey a conversation I had with Daniel on this very subject (allow me some latitude, since it was multiple conversations over many months).  His view: it’s about more than just a PT or a “school” or whether you can make the grade in a fixed set of conditions with known boundary conditions.  Daniel went four days without sleep at times in Fallujah.  If he didn’t carry enough water on patrol and made the mistake of drinking the local water, he got dysintery (or at least the runs very badly).  He went without food on many occasions, during training and in Iraq.  All of this and more, while being shot at.  It’s like the camping trip from hell that never ends while people are trying to kill you.

Just the training can kill you (as it did with some of the Marines in my son’s Battalion during squad rushes with live fire).  Or perhaps the women want to be with the boys after they have visited every range in America during pre-deployment workup, finally during winter in the mountains when the sadistic sergeants removed more and more and more equipment from the company, the last few nights being the fleece, sleeping bags and tents.  The Marines slept against and on top of each other, an entire company, covered by leaves and branches trying to stay alive.

It’s not an issue, for example, of being able to lift a certain amount of weight, or run so far so fast.  It’s an issue of having had nothing to eat, no sleep, no water, and weak to the point that you can hardly stand, and then having to handle munitions (or sand bags, or heavy weapons, or fill in the blank), over and over and over and over and over again, off body axis and twisting so that there is maximum opportunity to hurt your back, and then when you’re finished, doing it again, and then trying to keep a fellow Marine alive who has just been shot, and then doing it all over again.

I didn’t make any of this up.  I’ve never been in the military.  All of this is from my son.  And God has made men and women differently, in case you haven’t already noticed.

Female Soldiers Apply To Ranger School

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

The U.S. Army’s top officer said he expects between 70 and 80 women to apply to become the first-ever female students at Ranger School.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno cited the figures on Wednesday during an interview at Atlantic Media’s Defense One conference in Washington, D.C.

When asked how many women will apply to the historically all-male combat training course, Odierno said, “We’re still waiting to see. By December-January, we’ll know the number of women who have asked to actually participate in Ranger School. I expect it will be somewhere around 70 or 80.”

Like the other military services, the Army must open all combat jobs to women by 2016 or seek a waiver and explain why any must remain closed. The Pentagon last year lifted its ban on women serving in such roles, but gave the services time to integrate female troops into male-only front-line positions.

The Army recently picked 31 women — 11 officers and 20 noncommissioned officers — to undergo training to become observers and advisers for the course, most of which takes place at Fort Benning, Georgia. The punishing two-month ordeal is designed to train future infantry leaders. More than three dozen women had applied for the positions.

The so-called observer-advisers underwent a week of modified training last week to give them a sense of what the program is like so they can work alongside male instructors and help observe the female students selected for the first-ever co-ed class, known as the Ranger Course Assessment, tentatively scheduled for this spring.

[ … ]

“It’s going very well,” he said. “We still have some final assessments to do. For me, it’s about talent management.

Uh huh.  If it’s all about “talent management,” then why the “modified training?”

Prior: Women In Combat

Heavy Loads Could Burden Women’s Infantry Role

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 7 months ago

If and when women assume the role of infantry soldier, one of the biggest challenges they may face is the weight on their backs, according to an official at the Veterans Health Administration.

The average female will have trouble as infantry soldiers must carry a load often weighing more than 80 pounds for many hours at a time over rugged terrain in some cases, said Dr. David Cifu, national director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Veterans Health Administration.

“I’m certain the majority of women doing this won’t be physically able to do it as long as the men. It’s a matter of body size and body mechanics,” Cifu said.

Well gosh.  This could be embarrassing for the women, the Army, the Marines and just about everybody associated with this effort.  If only someone could have said something beforehand?  If Dirty Mick and my son Daniel had only weighed in on this issue, maybe some of this embarrassment and trouble could have been avoided.

Developments Concerning Women In Combat

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

Women in combat, and in fact, in special operations.

The commander of U.S. special operations said Tuesday he expects to see women in the elite commando forces now that the Pentagon is allowing them to serve in combat.

Adm. William McRaven, head of the US special operations command, said he was “fully supportive” of the decision to lift the ban on women in combat.

I’ll tell you what.  Obama has himself some lackeys doesn’t he?  Adm. McRaven is remarkable.  But no more so than the current Commandant of the Marine Corps.

In his first interview since the Pentagon opened ground combat jobs to women, the commandant of the Marine Corps said some occupations may ultimately remain closed if only a small number qualify.

The Marines will not lower physical standards for certain specialties, Gen. James Amos told USA TODAY. “We can’t afford to lower standards,” he said. “We can’t make adjustments on what’s required on the battlefield.

“That’s not why America has a Marine Corps,” he said.

Sounds like he isn’t so much of a lackey, huh?  But wait.

The Pentagon last week ordered that the services provide the opportunity for women to enter all fields, including infantry, tanks, artillery and other combat arms.

The entire process could take years as the services develop and validate “gender neutral” standards. The secretary of Defense would have to approve any fields that remain closed to women.

“If the numbers are so small with regards to qualification, then there very may well be (job fields) that remain closed,” Amos said. “Those will be few and far between.”

Deploying only one or two female servicemembers in a unit, for example, would make it difficult for the women to succeed. “You want to have assimilation … so our females can mentor one another,” Amos said.

“Difficult for women to succeed.”  We wouldn’t want that.  After all, that’s what the military is there for – to allow women to succeed.

I’ve already discussed my own (and my son’s) view of women in combat.  I can’t add that much to it except to say that it’s the most stupid social project the American progressives have ever conceived.  But let someone else tell you that as well.

America has been creeping closer and closer to allowing women in combat, so Wednesday’s news that the decision has now been made is not a surprise. It appears that female soldiers will be allowed on the battlefield but not in the infantry. Yet it is a distinction without much difference: Infantry units serve side-by-side in combat with artillery, engineers, drivers, medics and others who will likely now include women. The Pentagon would do well to consider realities of life in combat as it pushes to mix men and women on the battlefield.

Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war.

Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

And what sensible women wouldn’t want something like that?  So that women can experience the ultimate thrill of being shot at, going a month without a bath, getting their limbs blown off, and defecating near the faces of their colleagues, the evisceration of the U.S. military continues unabated so that the social engineers can have a legacy.

It’s a great country.

Amelioration of Battle Space Weight and Women in Combat

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 8 months ago

Do you recall what Tim Lynch said about battle space weight?

Many of their Marines are suffering chronic stress fractures, low back problems as well as hip problems caused by carrying loads in excess of 130 pounds daily.  ”We’re fighting the Mothers of America” said one; if we lose a Marine and he was not wearing everything in the inventory to protect him that becomes the issue.  Trying to explain that we have removed the body armor to reduce the chances of being shot is a losers game because you can’t produce data quantifying the reduction in gun shot wounds for troops who remain alert and are able to move fast due to a lighter load.

Do you recall what I said?

This Marine is carrying his backpack filled with food, hydration system, clothing, etc., and is also carrying ammunition, weapon, body armor, and other equipment.  He is likely going “across the line” at 120 to 130 pounds.  He is suffering in heat and with heavy battle space weight.  For weight lifters like me, let’s put this in terms we can understand.  This is like putting three York 45 pound plates in a backpack and humping it for ten or fifteen miles in 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather.

Battle space weight is a recurring theme at The Captain’s Journal, and will remain so.  Money should be devoted to the weight reduction of SAPI plates in body armor and other low and even high hanging fruit.  The weight of water is decided by God and cannot be altered.

Another salient point bears down on us.  This is why women are not allowed in Marine infantry (or Army Special Forces), and why women suffered an inordinately high number of lower extremity injuries (leading to ineffective Russian units) when they deployed with the Russian Army in their losing campaign in Afghanistan.  Just like God decides the weight of water, He also decides the physiques of men and women.

And NPR weighs in.

Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely carry between 60 and 100 pounds of gear including body armor, weapons and batteries.

The heavy loads shouldered over months of duty contribute to the chronic pain suffered by soldiers like Spc. Joseph Chroniger, who deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Twenty-five years old, he has debilitating pain from a form of degenerative arthritis and bone spurs. “I mean my neck hurts every day. Every day,” he says. “You can’t concentrate on anything but that because it hurts that bad.”

Like many soldiers and Marines, Chroniger shouldered 70 to 80 pounds of gear daily.

A 2001 Army Science Board study recommended that no soldier carry more than 50 pounds for any length of time.

“We were doing three, four, five missions a night sometimes,” Chroniger says. “You’re jumping out. You’re running. I mean it hurts — it hurts.”

Muscle strain is usually a short-term condition that has always been prevalent among soldiers.

But after a decade of war, the number of acute injuries that have progressed to the level of chronic pain has grown significantly.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who retired with musculoskeletal conditions grew tenfold between 2003 and 2009.

Col. Stephen Bolt, chief of anesthesia at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., says the Army has started deploying physical therapists to serve with some infantry brigades in combat areas.

“The faster you can address some of those issues at the clinic level, the less likely you are to see those injuries progress to a true chronic-pain state that’s going to require them to be evacuated from theater and replaced by someone else,” Bolt says.

But that’s a relatively new concept.

Col. Diane Flynn, chief of pain medicine at Madigan, says chronic pain is complex and challenging for the patient and the physician.

“Primary care providers who provide most of the pain management to patients have had very limited tools in their toolbox,” she says. “And it’s medications for the most part and maybe physical therapy — but very little to offer in addition to that.”

In an effort to provide more options for pain management and lessen the dependence on prescription drugs, the Army is starting to incorporate other forms of treatment including yoga, meditation and acupuncture.

Deploying physical therapists is a great idea.  But the best possible enhancement to warrior recovery hasn’t been floated, i.e., deployment of Chiropractors.  Reduction of battle space weight is one avenue of approach to maintain healthy skeletal and soft tissue systems, but immediate medical amelioration is possibly the best effect for the dollar that could be spent.  Chiropractors are our best bet.

On another front, we find repeated accounts of the duress that our warriors are under due to battle space weight, and this, interestingly enough, at the same time that we see silly and sophomoric advocacy for women in combat roles.  But Former Spook reminds us that:

Almost 20 years ago, columnist Fred Reed published results of an Army study, comparing fitness levels among male and female soldiers. The data reaffirms that most women simply lack the upper body strength and endurance required by an Army infantryman, a Marine rifleman, or most special forces MOS’s.

The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

The same report also cited a West Point study from the early 90s which discovered that, in terms of fitness, the upper quintile of female cadets achieved scores equal to the lowest quintile of their male counterparts (emphasis ours).

So, what’s a chief diversity officer supposed to do (don’t laugh–the commission recommends creation of that very post, reporting directly to the SecDef). Water down the standards so more women will qualify for combat service, removing that “barrier” to reaching the flag ranks? Or create some sort of double-standard, allowing females to punch their resumes in the right places and continue their climb to the stars.

Good data and perspective, but he equivocates by saying:

No one disputes the benefits of more flag officers who are women or members of minority groups. But the real emphasis should be on demanding excellence from all who aspire to flag rank, and promoting those who meet–and exceed–a very high bar. Some of the “remedies” outlined in the Lyles report seem closer to social engineering, particularly when you introduce the notions of “measurement” and “metrics.”

So that no one is confused and to ensure that I’m not misinterpreted, and just to make sure that we know that Former Spook is incorrect in this first assertion, let me state unequivocally and without reservation: I do dispute the benefits of more flag officers who are women or members of minority groups.

Note that this is from someone who would vote for a certain black man for president of the U.S. before any white man I know (and my co-blogger agrees).  I see no need to recruit the presumed “brightest” from Ivy League schools, and no one has offered me a compelling reason to believe that the principles of war and strategy and tactics in warfare are a function of race or gender, any more than, say, the sciences or engineering could benefit from a white, black, male or female presence.  Anyone who believes something like that doesn’t understand the sciences or engineering (or warfare).  That kind of thought is reserved for onlookers who want to do social engineering.  It’s for the land of make-believe, the domain of people who spent too much time and money learning from effeminate professors in college classrooms.

And so too the notion that women can handle loads of 120 pounds on ten miles humps when male bodies are breaking down doing it.  Long gone are the notions of winning hearts and minds by driving to the front in vehicles and drinking tea as a means to combat the insurgency.  This is an infantryman’s war, and it means fighting.

Finally, just to make sure that you know the stakes, let me make one thing clear.  If you claim that combat “roles” should be opened up to women but don’t clearly delineated that you mean infantryman (for the Marines that MOS 0311), you are hedging and not being honest.  At least be honest with what you say.  And finally, if you claim that the infantryman MOS should be opened up to women but exclude special operations forces, you are a liar.

Let me make it clear again.  If you want to open the infantryman billet to women but exclude SOF (SEAL, Ranger, Green Beret, Army Combat Diver, Marine Scout Sniper, Force Recon), you are a liar.  You are being disingenuous and dishonest, and it’s not even worth debating you.  You don’t really even believe what you are saying.  You want to believe that infantry is now only part of so-called “general purpose” forces, that they serve only as policemen in our new nation-building paradigm.  Leave it to SOF to do the kinetics.  But you know that this won’t last.  Your paradigm is a pipe dream, and Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that.

So if you care to debate the issue I am open to such a debate.  But let’s be clear that it doesn’t begin at opening “combat roles” to women (whatever combat roles means).  The debate will be an honest one, which means that in order to be consistent and honest, you must advocate that all billets, including SOF, be opened to women.  Otherwise, don’t even bother with the debate.

Women in the Infantry

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 3 months 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.

Counterinsurgency, Brutality and Women in Combat

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 3 months ago

Generally I think that articles which rely on the ideas of other bloggers is to be avoided.  Occasionally however, it is appropriate to respond to critics.  One strength of blogging is the ability to link, criticize, interact, and respond.  I accept that although I don’t want it to dominate my prose.

Now for Gulliver at Ink Spots.

People will use just about anything as evidence for things they already believe.

Case in point: Herschel Smith thinks that the presence of women in Soviet combat formations is one of the top five most important reasons for their failure in Afghanistan.

I think that other things were essential to the loss, including [a] focus on the cities v. the countryside, [b] complete breakdown of the lines of logistics due to [a] above, [c] heavy losses because of Taliban control over the roads due to [a] above, [d] focus on mounted combat and mounted patrols as opposed to dismounted operations, [e] women in combat billets which led to a high number of lower extremity injuries and a high number of combat ineffective units, and a whole host of other things. [emphasis mine]

This comes in the SWJ comment thread about an article on “Sri Lanka’s disconcerting COIN strategy,” as part of a post in which Smith dismisses Soviet “ruthlessness” as one of the primary reasons for defeat in the Afghan war.

So in short, girls in the infantry were more damaging to the Russian war effort than bad counterinsurgency tactics. “There is the thing of testosterone, and it’s different because God made it that way.” Ok? Ok. Glad we cleared that one up.

Let’s think carefully about both my comment and Gulliver’s reaction to it.  Both say something about the commenters and their thought boundaries.  The comment was left at the Small Wars Journal blog in response to an article by Major Niel Smith.  If I may be allowed to summarize the thesis, he posits that the more violent and less population centric counterinsurgency model has its supporters.  He specifically mentions Ralph Peters and Colonel Gian Gentile; I’m not sure sure about Ralph Peters, but I would comment that the inclusion of Colonel Gentile in this category is true to some extent, but somewhat inappropriate given the nuance included in Gentile’s model and also given the use made of this inclusion (for one of the best discussions of Gentile’s position, see The Imperative for an American General Purpose Army That Can Fight, Foreign Policy Research Institute).  His (Niel Smith’s) discussion ranges into the brutality of less population centric counterinsurgency, and in this he should have (in my opinion) focused more on Edward Luttwak.

But getting back to the main point, Niel goes on to grant the assumption that some of the evidence is compelling in favor of this view, but that there is even more compelling contrary evidence – defeater evidence – for the success rate of counterinsurgency focused on heavier combat tactics.  At this point he uses several examples, one of which is the Russian campaign in Afghanistan.

So Niel has written a fairly open minded article positing that there is evidence to support what I will call the Luttwak position, while more compelling defeater evidence.  He then invites critique.  In my critique I didn’t weigh in on the overall thesis, but did essentially state that the Russian campaign was a poor example to support the thesis.  I opined that there were other more important reasons that the Russians lost the campaign.

Enter Gulliver.  He thinks that I have listed my top five reasons that the Russian campaign failed.  Why Gulliver thinks that I have listed my top five reasons is not known.  Gulliver would have to answer that question himself.  If I had been asked to list my top reasons that the Russian campaign failed, I probably would lead with focus on the population centers and relegation of the countryside to the Taliban to recruit, train and raise support.  In second place wouldn’t be U.S. help and assistance, although many would place this one in first or second.  My second reason (challenging for top spot) would be the existence of the Russian made RPG, plentiful to the Taliban for reasons that included U.S. help.  The Russian RPG was the first EFP (explosively formed projectile) used en mass on the battle field.

But no one asked me to enumerate my top five reasons the campaign failed.  I merely included a list of things that initially came to mind.  Let’s deal with women in combat now.  Gulliver’s response drips with sarcasm even after his incorrect assumptions concerning my list of reasons that the Russians lost.  But it remains undisputed that there were women in combat billets in the Russian campaign, and it remains undisputed that there were a large number of lower extremity injuries and that this led to a large number of ineffective units.

Marine in Helmand suffering under a heavy combat load, way more than 100 pounds.

But there is more to discuss on this issue.  As regular readers know, we have followed the dismounted campaign by the U.S. Marines in the Helmand Province.  CBS reporter Lara Logan has seen the Marines in Helmand without an ounce of fat on their bodies, and she has even expressed concern over their health.  When my son deployed to Fallujah he was so slim and muscular that I wondered how he would lose any weight whatsoever, as there was no weight to lose.  The only way he lost 20 or 30 pounds was the same way the Marines in Helmand do it.  The body turns on itself and begins eating muscle for energy.  I am a weight lifter and I know how to avoid this, i.e., I know when to stop my workout because I am no longer helping my body.  It’s actually dangerous, although Ms. Logan doesn’t know how to express it.  The body hurts itself when it begins using muscle and internal organs for energy.

Here is a test question.  We have discussed the Marines carrying 120 pounds on their back in 120 F heat in Helmand, patrolling all day and even conducting squad rushes with this weight.  Now for the question for the readers.  How many of you – raise your hands now – believe that women could carry 120 pounds in 120 F heat all day in Helmand and then conduct squad rushes?  You can answer in the comments – it’s okay.  But if you answer yes, you are also required to tell us what kind of dope you’ve been smoking.  You see, we all know what the honest answer to this question is, even if Gulliver doesn’t admit that he does.

Now let’s close with a little examination of what the Democrats think about special forces, special operations forces, and women in combat billets.  I support women in the military, and one example of such a role would be the use of female Marines to interact with Afghan women after terrain has been seized.  But the Democrats in Congress ( hereafter Dems) wanted something different for the Army.  Hence, women occupy combat billets in the Army.

The Dems want their social experiments and projects, but even they know that there has to be a boundary for this.  Michael Fumento has a good article on the Dems’ love of SF and SOF and their promise to expand the SF.  I have weighed in on the cult of Special Forces, so I won’t reiterate my issues with the Dems’ proposal or Michael Fumento’s prose here.

The point is that SF are deployed all over the globe.  They are involved in black operations that are never seen, never heard of, and are not subject to the Dems’ social experiments.  The Dems know this and they want it that way.  Women are not allowed in combat billets, not in the Special Forces, not in the Special Operations Forces, and not in Marine infantry.  The Dems want their programs, but they also want to know that they can call on infantry to do the job of infantry, so they restrict their own programs to known boundaries.  I challenged those boundaries and believe that they should not allow women in Army infantry.  The Dems include women in Army infantry.  But they stop there.  Not the Marines, and not Army SF.

There you have it.  They are at the best simply not forthcoming, and at the worst, disingenuous liars.  The truth gets spoken in quiet circles when no one but the power brokers are listening.  The public hears what the power brokers want them to hear.  One piece of that tripe is that there is no difference between men and women in the military.  They know better, but don’t want you to know that they know.

Now back to Gulliver … if Gulliver has managed to hang on and pay attention this long.  Is it I who has allowed his bias (presuppositions) to dictate the outcome, or Gulliver?  Note again his comments above.  Gulliver is simply indignant that I have “dismissed” Soviet ruthlessness as the reason for their failure in the campaign.  But isn’t he begging the question?  Has he not even allowed the Niel Smith’s assumptions to dictate the course of the debate?  Niel has allowed that there is evidence that supports Luttwak’s thesis, but believes that there is stronger defeater evidence.  Gulliver doesn’t engage in the debate.  He simply assumes that the Soviets lost due to the reasons he outlines, and then proceeds from there.  Who then is the one who uses just about anything as evidence for things he already believes?

The reader can judge for himself.  In the mean time, I have given you Luttwak, Gentile, Niel Smith, women in combat billets, heavy combat loads, squad rushes, the Small Wars Journal blog, SF and SOF, black operations and the Dems in Congress to think about.

If I ever give you worthless tripe like you read at Ink Spots, you should savage me in the comments.

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