Women do Not Belong in the Infantry

February 4, 2013

Female soldier

Photo: Reuters

“I think we would lose something in our ability to defend our nation if they had to be down in the trenches, fighting hand-to-hand with the enemy……..So there should be some sort of a combat exclusion, not based on women’s rights, but on the fighting ability of the armed forces.” ~ General Norman Schwarzkopf, Infantry Officer and Commander of Forces during Desert Storm, testifying before Congress in 1991 about whether Congress should allow women to be assigned to Infantry battalions.


On Jan 24, 2013, the Obama administration unveiled plans to open up the placement of women throughout the military’s combat arms. That placement includes the Army and Marine Corps Infantry and even special operating forces. In making this announcement as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta argued that women have seen the “reality of combat” during Iraq and Afghanistan. He stipulated that though not everyone can meet the qualifications to be a combat soldier, everyone is “entitled the opportunity.”  “They’re (women) serving in a growing number of critical roles on and off the battlefield,” Panetta said of women. “They have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission.”


Reaction from Democrats was predictable cheerleading.  Disturbing to me is the Republicans in Congress, who should be expected to oppose the sweeping changes to the time-tested nature of our military.  They have remained mute as even John McCain came out in support.  The bright light was freshman Congressman Tom Cotton, a former Infantry Officer and Iraq veteran, who spoke truth about the problems of this change.  Unfortunately, he was lambasted and fellow Republicans did not come to his defense.  It appears Republicans just don’t want to risk the “war on women” allegations for speaking up and have decided to run for cover.  It now becomes the duty of individuals with experience to speak the Truth of the issue in the hopes that Americans will see the light.


I have some unique personal insights as a 23-year Infantry Officer, who has served at various levels, from Infantry platoon leader through Infantry and Ranger Tng company commands, to a senior level combat advisory command. Throughout my career in the Infantry, the Infantry, Armor, and Artillery branches have remained all-male.  Despite the perception of most American civilians due to misreporting by the Liberal media, the close combat fighting has remained an all-male role throughout the War on Terror, just as it was during Vietnam.


The Infantry is unique. With the exception of the Armor branch, all other branches of the Army or Marine Corps support the Infantry. The missions of those support branches are to assist the Infantry or Armor in destroying enemy forces. The distinction amongst branches remains important: An Infantry company supply sergeant has the primary mission of supplying Infantry soldiers, while the sole mission of the Infantryman is destruction of enemy forces. Though not all Infantrymen may have to face hand-to-hand combat, all Infantrymen must be prepared as it has happened on multiple occasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Watch Saving Private Ryan as the reminder of what the Infantry faces in combat.


Virginia Soldiers engage in Hand-to-hand combat trainingWomen have faced “combat” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not the same kind of combat as those assigned to company level Infantry units. Women and men in support units come under fire on convoys, and must fire back. Men and women have both faced the missile and IED attacks. However, even during the War on Terror only men in the Infantry and Special Operations have actively sought out the enemy to aggressively kill him with direct fire and hand-to-hand combat. This requires a brutal and aggressive mindset, and physical exertion and toughness beyond what most could imagine. It requires massive amounts of testosterone, more than would be required of NFL football players.  Again, watch Saving Private Ryan to get the idea. I will never forget the difference between shooting back from a convoy and actually chasing Taliban into a compound to kill or capture them.


During Infantry operations directed against the enemy, the mission is to get physically close with the enemy to kill or capture him. Though many in the unit may not spend substantial time in actual Infantry combat, the entire unit must be imbued with the mindset and cohesiveness required.  As Infantry Officer and Commander of all Forces during Desert Storm, “Stormin’ Norman” bravely told Congress during hearings about women in combat, the Army needs “a combat exclusion, not based on women’s rights, but on the fighting ability of the armed forces.”


History and even modern examples give us reason to question the wisdom of assigning men and women together in Infantry battalions.  Forces like the Israeli Army, which must keep forces at the height of efficiency to survive, have experimented with gender integration and yet pulled back.


Though top officials “claimed” the standards would not change, we are already seeing the change take place. The first two hand-picked Marine women were allowed into Marine Corp Infantry Officer’s Course last year. Both failed, with one sustaining multiple stress fracture injuries due to the punishment on the body. Top officials are now requiring the Infantry to “defend” keeping “standards” which are too hard for women “if” those standards aren’t “really” necessary.” In other words, Infantry standards in place for decades, and proven for combat, may be dumped by bureaucrats who believe computers and gadgets have taken the risk away from hand-to-hand combat of the Infantry. Not a smart move and one the Jihadists in the world will quickly take advantage of.


WW2 draft

Another issue with this change is about our values in society.  The reason women were excluded from being subject to a draft was their exclusion from ground combat in the Infantry.  If we require another draft, women will be drafted and then “forced” into the Infantry to possibly die or be captured in Infantry combat. Those drafted don’t have the “choice” of their branch, and due to the heavy casualties of the Infantry, that is what we would likely need.  Imagine this scenario: Your daughter has just given birth to her first child and then receives a draft notice to be sent to a frontline Infantry Unit. She will be forced to live with men in foxholes for weeks on end while all must clean themselves within close view. She will be forced to deal with all the sexual issues prevalent among 19-24 year olds living “co-ed” together in that way. She may be forced to fix bayonets and go face-to-face with much stronger enemy soldiers who will have no pity.


This scenario is not a hypothetical, as men are not able to decline Infantry after being drafted (query: do you think the feminists pushing women in the Infantry will allow women to be treated differently and decline a draft into the Infantry?) Do we “really” want this for our mothers and daughters?  Does this comport with our Judeo-Christian understanding of a man’s duty to protect his wife and children?


I expect many to claim “sexism” and read this as some kind of “slight” against the service of women.  I intend nothing of the sort. Women have served bravely in those branches and positions open to them within the physical capabilities granted by God when He made men and women. However, the physical gender differences are obvious to any sane person and we know that women have only half the upper body strength of men. Let’s start standing up for Truth as we make decisions our children will have to live with.


God Bless America,

Bill Connor

Bill ConnorBill Connor - of Orangeburg SC is an Attorney, a decorated Army Reserve LT. Colonel (Airborne Ranger), and is an expert in counterinsurgency combat.  He served as Senior US Advisor to Helmand Province, Afghanistan where he received the Bronze Star. Connor is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of South Carolina (USC) School of Law.  He is a former candidate for S.C. Lieutenant Governor (making the runoff election in the Republican primary 2010.)  Connor served as National Security Advisor for presidential candidate Rick Santorum.  He currently serves as GOP Chairman for South Carolina’s sixth district, director of the Army’s Command and General Staff College (ILE) in S.C., and a is member of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team.  Connor, along with partner W. Thomas Smith Jr. recently founded National Defense Consultants LLC, a partnership providing clients with military analysis ranging from geostrategy to special operations; counterterrorism; ground, Naval, and air combat; military leadership and military law.  Connor is also the author of the book Articles From War He became a contributor for the South Carolina Conservative Dot Com in 2012.

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