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Wed Nov 28, 2012, 12:35 AM

Lawsuit targets women's exclusion from direct combat jobs

Source: Los Angeles Times

Yet since 1994, the Defense Department has formally excluded women from most direct ground combat positions, creating a growing disconnect with the realities of warfare.

Bedell said she left active duty last year because the policy limited her potential for promotion by failing to officially recognize her combat leadership experience. (In military parlance, the female teams that played a critical role in communicating with Afghan women were "attached," not "assigned," to infantry units.)

On Tuesday, she joined a federal lawsuit challenging the blanket exclusion.

"The modern battlefield means there are no front lines or safe areas," Bedell, 27 and now a Marine Corps reservist, said during a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. The ACLU is representing her, three female members of the Marines, the California Air National Guard and the Army Reserve, and the nonprofit Service Women's Action Network.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-women-in-combat-20121128,0,3989656.story

We just discussed this issue in con law the other day. I have kind of mixed feelings. I think women should be able to voluntarily serve in combat, but should not be drafted into combat positions. Actually, I don't think women should be drafted at all until they pass the ERA. One of the biggest arguments against it was that women could be drafted if it was passed. They can't give us the responsibilities without the rights.

But this lawsuit challenges the exclusion of women who want to serve in combat, and I think it's an important step forward. A lot of women effectively serve in combat but get paid less because their positions are not classified as such.

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Reply Lawsuit targets women's exclusion from direct combat jobs (Original post)
democrattotheend Nov 2012 OP
Victor_c3 Nov 2012 #1
sarge43 Nov 2012 #3
happyslug Nov 2012 #5
WooWooWoo Nov 2012 #2
heaven05 Nov 2012 #4
kickysnana Nov 2012 #6

Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:11 AM

1. I think you are wrong on this one point

A lot of women effectively serve in combat but get paid less because their positions are not classified as such.

Having served in the Army, I'm not aware of this at all. If you look at the military pay charts, they are identical for all jobs in the military - which is part of the reason I was as bitter as I was when I was in Iraq. The only exception are certain jobs that require special education like doctors and pilots. If you are an Infantryman mucking around in the middle of firefights you get paid the same as that poge who sits on the FOB all day cooking chow. That person sitting on the FOB in an airconditioned office still gets the same hazardous duty pay and tax free benefit as that grunt in the field stuffing body bags.

However, that being said, there are different physical fitness standards for the genders. If a woman can meet the same physical standards as a man, I don't see any reason why women shouldn't serve in the same Infantry unit as I did. However, I could never imagine my wife being able to function while wearing 80 pounds of body armor, 210 rounds of ammunition, and then having to put on a rucksack and perform a 16 mile march in 4 hours. But, then again, if a woman could function physically at the same levels as a man, they should be welcomed into the same Infantry units I served in.

Oh wait, here is another point. The top military generals are almost always combat arms officers (i.e. served as an Infantry offer, Armor officer, Artillery officer, etc). Without serving in a combat function you will probably never make it to the same top positions in the military.

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:45 AM

3. It is wrong, Victor

Pay is based on time in service and rank, not MOS. Some fields allow a little gravy, like air crews get flight pay. However, base pay was and is one of the few things that was never gender restricted.

Back in the 70's when the AF lifted its career field restrictions, a great deal of hand wringing went on about women pilots, mechanics and so forth "They can't physically do the job!!" Now there's both air and ground crews all girl bands. I don't know what the stats are today, but when I was wearing the Blue, about 50% of the men who were in pilot training washed out. I never heard anyone say that given their high attrition rate, men shouldn't be pilots.

Your last point is dead on. The restriction is a glass ceiling for women Army officers. Yes of course, it is possible to get the bird and even the stars in a non combat arms field, but for both men and women the morals and instincts of a honey badger are required. Above E-5 and O-4, the promotion system turns red in fang and claw. That's my ole sarge only problem with it. Removing it would benefit the officers, the enlisted, no so much.

Just a word from a REMF or poge or whatever we're being called nowadays -- we had no more say about what we did and where we were than you did. Like you we did the duty that was dropped on us. According to my husband, the retired ammo man, there's no such thing as a bullet or bomb that stops in mid flight because a non combatant is in the way. Sorry to be snippy, but I'm still mourning for REMF loved ones and friends who wound up in those body bags.

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 12:56 PM

5. Then why do you mention a physical situation where women do better then men?


"80 pounds of body armor, 210 rounds of ammunition, and then having to put on a rucksack and perform a 16 mile march in 4 hours."

If given similar training and conditioning, women can do the above better then men. Women have higher endurance levels, higher pain levels and can carry heavy weights longer then a man. They do NOT have the upper body strength to engage in hand to hand activities with a man, to do any heavy lifting (as opposed to carrying, through many a nurse has to carry the weight of 150-200 pound patients).

The reason for is is the placement of Muscles in men and women. The same volume of Muscle weighs four times the same volume of fat. Thus men's center of Gravity is in the middle of their chest, while women's center of gravity is two below her belly button.

The reason for this is women have the strongest single muscle in the Human Body, the muscles to push out a baby at birth. Men have more muscle, but it is concentrated in the upper chest region. This distribution of muscle is the main reason for the difference in the Center of Gravity.

Women's center of gravity permit them to tote heavy loads on their backs OVER their center of gravity. A heavy pack of a man, pulls his chest back wards, so he has to bend forward to balance between the pack and his own center of gravity. Thus women can tote heavier loads then men, while it is easier for men to pick up heavier loads.

Thus your comment about having to haul "80 pounds of body armor, 210 rounds of ammunition, and then having to put on a rucksack and perform a 16 mile march in 4 hours." sounds like "Women's work", for a woman, if given similar training as the men, can do that better then a man.

Notice, I used the term "Similar training" for many women are NOT given the same training as men, or anything close. My sister when she went through Navy boot camp in the mid 1970s, made the observation that the Physical Training was NOT going to get the women up to the level needed to pass the PT test. She was correct, but she saw what the women had to do and knew what training they had to go under to get to that level and the two were NOT compatible. My sister also was known to out walk a Marine, who decided to go with her when she had liberty at her next training site, she thought nothing of walking 10-15 miles to the town that had things in it, and walk back. She had done that all her life, many of her fellow female Sailors had NOT. Could she out walk the Marine, yes, could she lift what he could, the answer was no but was given her level of phyiscal training.

My point is to show, women, if probably train, can excel in activities involving endurance, carrying heavy weights over a distance etc, but most women of the 1970s and today are NOT given that training (and if they are, they opt for Title XI scholarships, for Collages have to have the same number of Female Athletes as Male Athletes and thus there is a shortage of Female Athletes for the Collages and that removes many a better trained female from other areas, including the Military).

If you want to justify different treatment for women then men based on physical differences, lets make sure the difference is REAL, not made up. Superior upper body strength is a factor if you get down to hand to hand combat, something that STILL OCCURS QUITE OFTEN IN TODAY'S COMBAT SITUATIONS. On the other hand, endurance is something women can do and have done for thousands of years. In fact prior to the 1880s, whenever troops were formed, every 20 men (a traditional Platoon, Platoons starting in the 1880s started to get larger, as did most combat units) was entitled to have one "Washer Woman" assigned to it. The Washer women did more then wash clothes, she did many other "Support" elements to the platoon, while it was NOT a requirement, she generally was the wife of the Platoon's Sergeant. She walked behind the Regiment, the platoon was part of (or smaller unit if the Platoon was attached to a smaller unit) but was expected to keep up with the platoon and take care of the Platoon's equipment that the men of the Platoon was not carrying themselves. Sometimes they would do more (Molly Pitcher of American Revolution Fame was such a "Washer women" when she saw her husband killed, she took his place in manning his cannon, for this she was given a "promotion" to Sargent and discharged by George Washington, thus she was entitled to two pensions, her late husband's and her own).

Washer Women are NOT reported in Ancient text, nor Medieval text, then we have linen text about the exchange of prisoners during the crusades, and the first people exchanged are the Washer Women AND THE WRITING MAKES IT SOUND EXCHANGING WASHER WOMEN FIRST WAS A LONG ACCEPTED CUSTOM BY BOTH SIDES. This is probably the product of Linen paper being introduced about the time, prior to the Crusades it appears only in China, but came West in the 1200s during the height of the Crusades. Linen was much cheaper then parchment, the previous most common form of "paper" and thus could be used for thing previous done on wood, bark or other non-permanent object that writing could be done on was thus replaced by linen paper and we get all types of new data about the same time period. More do to the fact they had something relatively cheap to write on (linen paper) that could last more then a few months in the damp wet condition of Europe and the areas of the Mid East where the Crusades were fought in.

The reason for the removal of the Washer Women in the 1880s is harder to determine. Congress passed a law abolishing Washer Women, but did not explain why. It could be part of the Women's rights movement, it could be part of the budget problems of the 1880s (One year Congress refused to pay the army, in an effort to prevent Congress from having to pass the first peace time One Billion Dollar Budget in an election year). Other factors could be the decision to pay enlistees extra if they had wives and children, thus cutting out the extra pay a washer woman often provided her Husband, the Platoon Sergeant with. Could be Congress did not like the fact that Washer Women did NOT have to be married to the Platoon's Sargent. It could be that the Army decided to strip the men of cooking they own food (Men were formed into files of four men each, each file had to cook their own meals, a job the men often paid the Washer Women to perform) and replace them with actual cooks, but this being the 1880s the Cooks had to be men not women for the Cooks had to go to some sort of school and Congress did not want to pay to educate Women. Any of the above could be why the position of washer women were eliminated, and it could be ALL OF THEM.

My point is women can and have served in every ground combat unit with the exception of Armor (and Armor only because it is a post 1914 developed unit). Women did NOT serve in the front lines of these units, where they weaker upper body strength would be a major factor, but did serve in all of the other aspects of the unit.

In the case of Armor, one of the Criticism of Soviet Armor was it was a tight fit for American tankers. The reason for that is the same reason the ME-109 of WWII fame, when flown by a British pilot was called "Cramped", that reason being Soviet Tanks and German WWII Fighters were designed around men no bigger then 5'4", while the US and British army would take no man below that height. Thus women, being smaller, can actually operate those Soviet Tanks better then men. Now, the Soviet's used men in the tank forces, but only because they had a lot of short men (Thus Soviet Tank controls took more muscle strength then western tanks for they were designed around short men not women). I mention it for women are smaller then men and thus the tanks they operate can be smaller, especially given that today's tanks are so huge you have to have power assist to operate one even if you are a man. Once power assist is required, the higher upper body strength of men is no longer an advantage.

Thus I can see women being segregated from Infantry Units, from Towed Artillery units (No power assist, thus muscle is important) but not from Armor or Self Propelled (SP) Artillery. In Armor and SP Artillery you have power assist to move the gun and to aim it, load it and fire it. The only time where Upper Body strength would come into play would be if a track broke and had to be repaired, but that tends to be something the Tank, APC or SP Artillery piece has to perform as a team and often with unit maintenance support. Women can perform such maintenance AND repair, just as if such damage occurred in a non-combat unit tracked vehicle. If there is a rush, the vehicle is either towed or destroyed if the enemy is near even if it has a all male crew. On the other hand if the enemy is not near, men's greater upper body strength can be offset by women with the use of mechanical devices (i.e. jacks, and even larger tools). This is done today in the non-combat units, so not a real problem.

My point is, except in those units where there is a good chance of a one on one combat situation, women can perform as well as a man. How Women do it will be different, but the job will get done. If you want to use endurance as the test, it is a loser, if given adequate training women will do better then men in areas of endurance. Men's main superiority over women is men's in upper body strength, but that is offset by Women's superior ability to tote heavy loads long distances. The key is balancing between the two sexes in a way that is "Fair" to both. You do not want to require women to be equal to men, when the definition of equally is what men can do (and neither do you want the definition of equity to be based on what women can do, for men lose out in that situation, though it is much rarer).

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:27 AM

2. it would make promotions for women easier

since most combat MOS's (your military job) have less promotion points than non-combat MOS's.

But logistically it would be a challenge. I remember when I was deployed we had women come to our outpost either as reporters or support personnel and we had to post guards at the entrances to the showers and bathrooms whenever they were in use by them.

If you think there's a problem with sexual assault in the military now, I think it would skyrocket with women being allowed in infantry platoons.

not to say they shouldn't be allowed, I think they should, but it would not be an easy transition.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:02 AM

4. all

I have to do is look at Tammy Duckworth to know the hypocrisy of attached versus assigned is maddening hypocrisy. I go to the VA and the number of WOUNDED vets who happen to be women has risen dramatically. How many have died in combat related situations? Please! STOP THE HYPOCRISY people, it's maddening! Amerikkka is so backward. I don't know how we made it this far, truly. I thought the ERA was passed years ago? Not passed? What!!!!! How did I miss that bit of male inspired insanity? Rethug mostly, probably.

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