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What did Jim Webb mean, vis a vis women in the military?

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11 Bravo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:36 AM
Original message
What did Jim Webb mean, vis a vis women in the military?
I'll probably get flamed for this, but here goes. First of all, despite the bullshit being spewed in Felix Allen's ads, Jim was referring specifically to infantry and artillery billets, not the military in general, and he was writing not only through the prism of 1979, but also that of a man not far removed from jungle combat.
I never served in the artillery, but I can share the contents of the ruck I humped in the A Shau Valley from 70-71. A 12 meal box of C-rats weighed 25 pounds (but we threw away everything but the meat and fruit). On top of that I carried a block of C-4, poncho and poncho liner, a claymore mine, a trip flare, a shaving kit, extra socks, jungle sweater, extra water, a waterproof bag (for letters, wallet, pen and paper, etc), an e-tool (shovel), extra M-60 machine gun ammo for the squad automatic weapon (SAW), mortar rounds for our 81-millimeter, and extra personal ammo. My fighting harness carried a cople of canteens, 2-3 bandoliers of M-16 rounds, a first-aid kit, a smoke grenade (I always preferred goofy grape, easy to see), a compass, and 4 frags. My M-16 was in my hands. We were also supposed to carry an extra uniform, underwear, and T-shirts; but even the dumbest cherry got rid of those items within a day or two.
There it is, and while I am sure that there are women who are capable of humping that ruck up and downhill while engaged in a running firefight, I personally don't know a lot of them. This is NOT a slam at women in the military. Hell, if we had had more women in G-2, individuals interested in coldly analyzing the intelligence, rather than a bunch of career jerk-offs engaged in a dick-measuring contest, the whole thing might not have turned into such a cluster-fuck.
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peacebird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. no flames from me. There are jobs where physical strength and stamina
matter a great deal, and any soldier ought to be able to prove their ability in that regard or NOT be placed in that billet. To have someone assigned a job who isn't strong enough to carry off such a job places others around them at risk.

There are some women who are strong enough, and there are some men who are not. Billet placement should be based on capability not gender.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
2. I doubt Felix's attack campaign is going to get much traction.
WP had an article and excerpts from Webb's '79 Washingtonian article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
Here's the introduction that he wrote, and Webb pretty clearly frames the message he intended at the time:

Excerpts from "Women Can't Fight," by James Webb, in the November 1979 issue of the Washingtonian magazine:

Lest I be understood too quickly, I should say that I believe most of what has happened over the past decade in the name of sexual equality has been good. It is good to see women doctors and lawyers and executives. I can visualize a woman President. If I were British, I would have supported Margaret Thatcher. But no benefit to anyone can come from women serving in combat.

There is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. SNIP


He doesn't come across as the sexist bigot that Felix's handlers are trying to pin and spin.

As for my own opinion, I would assume that most people -- male or female -- given a choice, would prefer to fly the chopper than to jump out of one into ground combat on a LRP. Both are combat positions, but there is a difference. There may be evidence that women make better, safer pilots and no doubt they excel as intelligence analysts. I would tend to agree with you about the other side, that there are few people of both genders who are up to the physical and psychological demands of the sort of jungle warfare operations that you describe.

Sounds like a hell of an experience.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
3. To be honest...
there were some men that could not do that job either...
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. We should get women out of the military....men too.
I sure as hell wish I could have got out before my 4 years were up.
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11 Bravo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I think I know what you're trying to say, but I respectfully disagree.
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 12:52 PM by 11 Bravo
The armed forces are an honorable calling, and I have never heard anyone seriously claim that we don't require a standing military force. What we DO need is a Commander-in-Chief whose world view encompasses more than the inside of his rectum.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. James Madison and Patrick Henry were serious guys.
"A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people." James Madison

"A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?" Patrick Henry



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11 Bravo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Eloquent, and appropriate in an historical contest.
But is it your contention that we should disband the armed forces of the United States? Now? Today?
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Why not? They aren't doing us any good.
Except for keeping a lot of poor folks employed who could be employed doing something useful.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. In late 18th Century America, it was possible and desirable. But,
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 02:03 PM by leveymg
in the early 21st Century, even Switzerland maintains a standing army and Air Force.

The alternative today would be further outsourcing and privatization of the military. I think we'll all agree here, those are hardly desirable trends.

A certain amount of downsizing in some force categories would be desirable, but, I just don't see how we could altogether disband the military. Not in today's world, not unless we lived in a very different world and a very different America.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. We could try be innovators instead of reactionaries.
Perhaps, we could try something new and revolutionary. Like settling disputes without the use of force. Worth a try. What the world has been doing since Cain whacked Abel certainly hasn't worked.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy. - Gandhi
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sarge43 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:01 PM
Response to Original message
6. Webb's argument a straw (wo)man
The true problem with the combat restriction is it's a glass ceiling for women officers. In order to have a chance to climb the greasy pole of promotion, an officer has to serve in combat or at least in a combat/combat related MOS/AFSC. Yes, there are exceptions, R&D, non-line career fields, but they are limited. That's how it should be; them what do the dirty work should have first crack at the goodies. And those individuals who cannot do the work shouldn't for their own sakes and the sake of the unit. However, to restrict half the population solely because many, if not most, cannot physically perform the duties seems self defeating.

Question 11 Bravo, how much of that load did the officers carry?
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11 Bravo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I reckon you knew the answer before you asked the question, sarge.
We buried one L-tee, and had one other rotate out. The one we lost carried a full combat harness (but not a ruck). I never saw the other one with anything in his hands but a map, a compass, or his dick. As for company or field grade officers, I didn't spend much time in that rarefied air.
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sarge43 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. No I didn't know the answer, 11Bravo
I'm AF, enlisted, female, personnel puke - about as far from potential combat as you can get and still have the UCMJ hanging over your head. I've heard about the full pack and ruck situation for the grunts, but never heard if the louies and caps were weighed down, too.
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alcibiades_mystery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
11. Quotas don't work in combat
Agreed.

And welcome home.
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bluedogyellowdog Donating Member (338 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
14. Re:
I know that as recently as 1987, women were still not allowed in infantry and artillery. But women were allowed in the armed forces going back as far as WWII.

I honestly don't know what the policy is now.

Webb wrote what he wrote in 1979, which was a long time ago, and what he wrote reflected the views of a lot of people. There's no reason to hold it against him today. Instead I'd rather talk about George Felix Allen's moronic statements *today*
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cap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
16. hate to tell you.. but many women are into sports these days
and hump that kind of gear.... I have carried a loaded canoe on my back into the water. Now I dont side arm and swing that puppy over my head like the guys do. I stand the canoe on its nose and walk underneath it until it is balanced on my sholders (sp). When I canoe, I watch for the lay of the water and canoe to its advantage. I use current and the "map of the water" to plot the easiest course down white water.

I have humped that kind of gear on camping trips. A lot of what you are talking about are weight distribution problems and women have to load up and put stuff on different parts of their body. So I just arrange my stuff a little differently and book on.

I sail and can manhandle my boat. I dont do it the same way the guys do... I dont manhandle stuff but I use leverage and a little smarts about which way the wind and current is coming and use that knowledge to my advantage. I've taught sailing to the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy and the funniest thing to watch is these guys grunting and groaning trying to trim the sail in a heavy wind. A lot of guys refuse to listen to pointers on good technique. Sorry guys. There is a point where mother nature wins over brute force... say in a 30 gale wind. You gotta have technique. Good technique means getting your butt up in the air and using the winch handle to grind the winch (yes, mechanical advantage) with your shoulders over the winch. A little knowledge about the traveler can buy you a few more points in getting your boat to sail a little more exactly where you want it to sail and with the best sail setting for that point of sail. Also, just listening to the boat and its humming will tell when it is "in the groove". I can get a lot of girls to outperform guys.

If there is anything where I want to do a little bit more hefting. Well, I get in the gym and pump iron.

Sorry, the days of the cavemen are over. Anything that I can't physically do my self by brute force, I figure our a way to use some mechanical advantage to do what I want to do. Brains over brute force any day of the week.

Good old fashioned smarts been brute strength on the battlefield any day. The sergeants that get promoted arent the gorillas;but the men who knew military strategy.

If the women around you arent performing up to snuff, I suggest you analyze the task at hand and look at another way to do that task. Remember a woman's center of gravity isnt her shoulders, it is her hips. She should, like all men, lift with her legs. That way you dont get back problems that lead to surgery after many years. Look around on the web ... there are lots of stuff that help women do heavy physical things that maximize the innate advantages within the female body. Basic principles of leverage go along way. Also, encourage the women around you to pump iron to maximize certain muscles. Good trainers know a lot about this and can take women a lot further than the average man would suspect.

Also, any tasks that take endurance and the ability to endure pain are right up a womans's alley.

Please remember, African women tote all kinds of loads on their heads. African American slaves toted all kind of stuff on those plantations.

Finally, all resistance fighters welcomed women when they needed the manpower...



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11 Bravo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. I'm not sure you got my point.
I have also been white-water rafting, including the occasional difficult portage, and have crewed on P-21s in the San Francisco Bay, WAY before I went into the army. Nobody was shooting at me on any of those occasions. (Trust me, it affects your balance.) But your response has nothing to do with combat, and it has even less to do with my original post. I was defending Jim Webb's 1979 article, and thought I had fairly framed my comments as such.
If you enjoy extreme sports, goodonya, but please don't attempt to place my post in a 2006 context; when any honest reading of that post would acknowledge that I was referring to jungle combat in the late 60s and early 70s. Anything I couldn't do by "brute force" didn't get done, and there was no "mechanical advantage" to be had. You either picked it up and carried it, or you left it in the field. That includes dead and wounded men.
Believe me, in the context of today's armed forces, I'm on your side. I tried to make that clear initially. If I didn't, I apologize.
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