'Students were allowed to quit at any time. Seven of them did.'
July 15, 2012 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Officers in the United States Marine Corps face a long and rigorous selection and training process. First, Officer Candidate School, where they receive their commissions. Then The Basic School, where they are taught the credo: 'Every Marine A Rifleman.' Then, for those who choose and are selected for the infantry, the Infantry Officer's Course. With the 'front lines' of modern combat blurred at best, the United States Marine Corps will begin accepting women for the infantry in September, enrolling them in the Infantry Officer's Course.

CJ Chivers writes about his NY Times piece on his blog. WIRED reports: A Few Good Women: Marines Open Infantry to Females

Women in the infantry? Forget about it, says female Marine officer
posted by the man of twists and turns (133 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I recently read a book by Nathaniel Fick called One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer that included his experience in Marine Officer Candidates School. I don't care whether you are a man or a woman, getting through OCS still takes a lot of mettle these days. It strikes me as likely that the same soldiers/sailors/airmen/Marines who will salute you gay or straight will probably also salute your rank regardless of your sex.

I know a few Marines, and they respect ability over a lot of other factors. I am interested to see how this plays out over the next few years.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:47 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal!

Right, some men are stronger than some women, and some women are stronger than some men. As long as the criteria for passing doesn't change then it should be open to everyone without discrimination. So you have to bring an extra latrine and shower with you, whoop dee shit. Personally, I've met women in Canadian military that were able to run circles around me and strong enough to pull me in full gear out of a trench. So what's the problem again? Men don't have a monopoly on toughness and any problems regarding the sexes became moot as soon as gays were allowed to serve. Glad the Marines are catching up with the rest of the USA and most other Western Countries.
posted by furtive at 9:01 PM on July 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm not actually IN the military and it's probably a tribute to our armed forces, but it always seems like these things (women in the military, don't ask don't tell repeal, women in the infantry) cause a huge uproar and hullabaloo among the brass, and then they come into effect and everything proceeds pretty much as before.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:08 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


That female Marine officer's reason for not treating women equally seems to be "because it could be hard".

What an idiot.
posted by dazed_one at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sooooooo, that whole "overwhelming culture of sexual assault" thing, are they gonna work on that too?
posted by schroedinger at 9:10 PM on July 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


This will be a huge step in doing that, schroedinger.
posted by Etrigan at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sooooooo, that whole "overwhelming culture of sexual assault" thing, are they gonna work on that too?
It could be that having women in the combat branches would work on that. The divide between men and women is exacerbated by the divide between combat-arms MOSes and support MOSes.
posted by kavasa at 9:15 PM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then The Basic School, where they are taught the credo: 'Every Marine A Rifleman You're Basic.'
posted by hermitosis at 9:17 PM on July 15, 2012


"“People just think I’m just closed minded and I’m a sexist and I’m not looking to expand opportunities for females,” Petronio told msnbc.com. “And that is absolutely not true. There are a lot of jobs in the Marine Corps right now that could be open to females. My big point is there needs to be a distinct line when it comes to the infantry.”

I think the opinion of an actual woman who is an actual Marine should count for something here.

Allowing gays in the military is about an arbitrary/imaginary belief that wanting to have sex with a certain kind of person with has something to do with being able to be effective on a battlefield.

How our bodies are built isn't an arbitrary difference. I think people should be given the right jobs that they can excel in that is evaluated on an individual basis. But if your body is more likely to break down under extreme stress than someone else's, maybe that's not the right job for you. I don't know, maybe we can do some better testing to figure out whose body is more likely to break down under extreme stress so women AND men won't be put in that position.
posted by bleep at 9:19 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right, some men are stronger than some women, and some women are stronger than some men. As long as the criteria for passing doesn't change then it should be open to everyone without discrimination.
I believe every branch of the military has different (and generally lower) physical fitness standards for women.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:21 PM on July 15, 2012


The divide between men and women is exacerbated by the divide between combat-arms MOSes and support MOSes.


I suggest you read the book Love My Rifle More Than You, with a trenchant review here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 PM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Great news for equality. The same goes for "the Corps is opening up about 400 non-infantry jobs previously reserved for men, including amphibious assault; artillery; and low-altitude air defense" -- that's probably going to have an even greater impact on women in the Corps.

As for whether women are capable of serving in the infantry, I think people sometimes forget that we make the military, not the other way 'round. Other countries have made it work, which suggests that we can, too. It's just a question of whether The Way Things Are Done is more important than equality... and the Corps has changed before, so I suspect it can change again.
posted by vorfeed at 9:24 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


if your body is more likely to break down under extreme stress than someone else's, maybe that's not the right job for you

Thus, the IOC. From the NYTimes:
The Marine Corps insists that the standards for coed Infantry Officer Course classes will be exactly the same as the standards for male Infantry Officer Course classes, and that things will fall where they may.
We don't promise you a rose garden

We don't promise you a rose garden either.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:30 PM on July 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some people may find the slideshow illuminating.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:36 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This will be a huge step in doing that, schroedinger.

I mean, I think this is a great step towards gender equality. But integration needs to be accompanied with more severe prosecution of sexual assault cases and more ways for women to report sexual assault without fearing retribution from their commander or fellow soldiers. Right now something like one in five women in the military is assaulted by her own countrymen. I feel like without accompanying aggressive anti-sexual assault programs this is just throwing cadets into the lion's den. I support this measure, I think these women should go ahead with it, and they're already active-duty military so they likely are already aware of the culture. I just wish I saw more stories like "Sexual assaults down in the military" or "Female soldiers report greater comfort with reporting assaults." I think stopping shit like that would go further towards ensuring successful integration.
posted by schroedinger at 9:37 PM on July 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here's a counterpart to Captain Petronio's article from a woman Cobra attack helicopter pilot. The author has a few previous articles dealing with similar issues.
posted by squorch at 9:40 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think stopping shit like that would go further towards ensuring successful integration.
Not only that, but think of the civilian impact if SEXUAL ASSAULT IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE was drilled into every new recruit across the branches of the military.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:40 PM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


From Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal!:

"Even though she was a standout Bowdoin athlete and could bench press 145 pounds and squat 200 pounds, was ranked 4th out of a class of 52 in Officer Candidate School and excelled at Marine Corps fitness tests, Petronio's deployment in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan took a brutal toll on her 5-foot-3-inch body.

In Iraq, she developed severe restless leg syndrome, and a spine injury pressed on her nerves. In Afghanistan she was the senior Marine in her engineering unit working 16-hour days for weeks at a time building patrol bases."


I have an online friend who was in the Marine reserves, who routinely spent 16-hour days loading and unloading planes. The thing is, though, no body is designed to handle that level of heavy work indefinitely.

My friend developed severe back issues during his first extended tour-of-duty... and they got worse after his second tour, despite his repeated medical complaints and requests for different duties. They just kept throwing prescriptions his way and sending him back out there.

He has severe, incapacitating spine problems now, and his partial disability is just enough to guarantee him a dismal, painful, substandard life of barely scraping by -- reservists get worse benefits than Marines, with all of the extended tours of duty -- and it doesn't reflect what a constant need for pain meds does to a person's quality of life. I fully expect that he'll die young, due to a cocktail of meds, depression, PTSD, and alcoholism. He's just about thirty, but essentially, he's been used up like old kleenex.

Sakes forbid that we treat women in the military just as crappy as we treat the men.
posted by markkraft at 9:41 PM on July 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


My grandmother became a Marine in 1943. Even at 91 years old, she's still actively supporting the USMC (and other services). I'll be curious to get her take on this when I see her next.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:42 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Allowing gays in the military is about an arbitrary/imaginary belief that wanting to have sex with a certain kind of person with has something to do with being able to be effective on a battlefield.

And allowing women in the infantry is about an arbitrary/imaginary belief that having certain types of anatomy has something to do with being able to be effective on a battlefield. Or it has something to do with how daughters coming home in body bags looks on the TV, but we're well past that stage already as the lines between combat and support have disappeared. I'm male and I will never be a US Marine, and I wouldn't expect to be unless I met the appropriate standards. If someone satisfies the requirements, then that's great and we should take advantage of their willingness to sacrifice and serve. If someone doesn't, then we should figure out another job for them that better suits their strengths and weaknesses. It may well be that the necessary requirements for some of the hardest jobs are going to tilt toward those that men are more likely to satisfy, but what's wrong with giving an equal shot to anyone who meets the requirements to succeed?
posted by zachlipton at 9:42 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The women I know can pull a trigger as well as I can, they are typically smaller than I am, which means less of a target, and they can run faster to cover than I can.

I wouldn't want a single one of them to go to war, the same as the men that I know.
posted by Drumhellz at 9:47 PM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hate war and I think people who volunteer to fight it are misguided, but if this helps move the needle for equality measures in other areas then perhaps some good will come out of it.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Marine Corps insists that the standards for coed Infantry Officer Course classes will be exactly the same as the standards for male Infantry Officer Course classes, and that things will fall where they may.

This would be ideal, but I don't think anyone should put too much faith in it actually happening this way. This has been claimed by various military institutions at various times during the drive to integrate, but in practice it doesn't last. Even in the Virginia Military Institute, which was all about this argument as the basis for its integration, never lowering its standards, etc., adopted lower standards for women eventually. Marines might be able to pull it off because the practical stakes are so high for them, but it would take a very strong dedication to the principle and a lot of political obstinance.
posted by Winnemac at 9:56 PM on July 15, 2012


Shortly after the test ended, Major Cuomo shared the results. Of 96 officers who had started the endurance test, 76 passed, 7 quit, 7 were injured and 6 failed.
Remember, this is the entrance test. The one you do to see if you can get in the course. The one at the beginning.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:03 PM on July 15, 2012


It's worth noting that Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a way for a college graduate to get into the Navy/Marine Corps, but its an alternative for those who could not or did not access the same introductory training through NROTC or the US Naval Academy, electing "Marine Option." Many women already access those avenues in addition to OCS.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:04 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


NROTC folks go through OCS. USNA folks go through "Leatherneck." everyone goes through TBS.
posted by squorch at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"And allowing women in the infantry is about an arbitrary/imaginary belief that having certain types of anatomy has something to do with being able to be effective on a battlefield."

Right, it's not as though men behave differently around other men vs. a group of mixed genders, nor do men carry loads of baggage relating to the women they interact with. Oh, and last I checked, women have the same kinds of baggage, and they too behave differently in homosocial and heterosocial situations. The trick will be making a unit out of a mixed-sex group, a unit that won't have its morale screwed to pieces over love and sex. Whether the MC works out that trick right away or takes a few years to figure it out could make a major difference in fighting effectiveness.

Point being, this is not exactly a dead ringer for a good idea all by itself; it's merely the first step in a climb towards the right idea.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:11 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marines Moving Women Toward the Front Lines
In the coming months, General Amos said in an interview, the Marine Corps plans to assign about 40 women to 19 battalions of six different types: artillery, tank, assault amphibian, combat engineer, combat assault and low-altitude air defense. Infantry battalions, however, will remain closed to women.
CNN: 86 Days Of Hell(video)
Essentially ... they strip you down to the minimal amount of sleep, the minimal amount of chow, the minimal amount of information.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:12 PM on July 15, 2012


Proper CNN link.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:17 PM on July 15, 2012


it always seems like these things (women in the military, don't ask don't tell repeal, women in the infantry) cause a huge uproar and hullabaloo among the brass, and then they come into effect and everything proceeds pretty much as before

As I understand it, the same thing happens when budget changes (overall military budget, differences between branches) occur. Fact of the matter is, this is how any large institution which needs to get things done generally works. You scream and howl as long as there's a chance of changing the outcome, and then when it goes through anyway you put your head down and deal with it.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:18 PM on July 15, 2012


The trick will be making a unit out of a mixed-sex group, a unit that won't have its morale screwed to pieces over love and sex.

This has already been done. The only place this hasn't been done is the 'combat' arms branches - ships, support units, non-direct combat units - are all combined. This doesn't preclude these units from taking and returning fire, however.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:19 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The major problem with sexual assault in the military has to do with the dehumanization of women. I say this as a female veteran. Women are dehumanized from the moment male servicemembers get to boot camp. Male servicemembers are told that their girlfriend is cheating on them, their wife is sleeping with someone else and is going to spend all of their deployment money. Male servicemembers are told that nobody loves them but the Corps, and definitely not those women they might think love them. They're just dirty whores.

Women died in in Iraq because they were too afraid of being raped by their fellow soldiers to drink water, because they might have to use the bathrooms at night. They died of dehydration. Some of their fellows died of being raped, beaten, and having acid poured over their genitals in incidents the Army ruled "suicides."

It's going to take a lot more than 400 new infantry positions to root that bullshit out of the military.
posted by corb at 10:21 PM on July 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


For those who were unaware, when the US allows women in combat, they'll be arriving late to the party.
A 2010 survey by the British Ministry of Defense listed Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Sweden as countries that allow women in "close combat roles," defined as "engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile forces personnel." Australia joined that list in September 2011 when it opened its front-line units — including one of the largest contingents in Afghanistan — to women. (source)
So not only do we have a bunch of prior experiences in our own military to draw from, things that people threw shit-fits over but that turned out to be overblown (racially integrating the military, repealing DADT, allowing women at all)… we've also got the experiences of a dozen other nations to tell us that all the scary questions we're asking (but what about esprit de corps?!?) actually have mundane answers.

I mean, the army's attitude toward women is a problem, but I don't see how it's any more or less of a problem after we let women serve on the front lines.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:29 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with schroedinger and b1tr0t. There needs to be a much stronger message sent about sexual assault being unacceptable. The victims should be more comfortable about reporting the incidents and the perpetrators should be swiftly turned into social pariahs.

As it is, you get these mostly 18 to 22 (average entry age that I've seen) guys that are quick to make rape jokes, women-in-the-kitchen jokes, or unacceptable jokes towards their fellow female sailors about their bodies. Add to that an overlying anger towards women in general, mainly from the high rate of male divorcees; "the bitch is trying to take as much of my paycheck as she can" is a fairly common theme that I'll hear from some men for months on end, since the divorce proceedings often take longer with the added military difficulties (distance, the time it takes to mail papers, odd hours, etc).

It may also be a factor that many of the men who enter the Navy are: conservative Republicans, just out of high school, "Fuck yeah, I'M GONNA BE A MAN" jock-y types, or young nerds who haven't grown past the "but women are precious glass figurines!" Seriously not trying to put all guys in little boxes here, but these are some pretty common observations. A lot of guys in the military are very polite, respectful, and "normal" as far as I've seen. A smaller, but still common, amount are like those I listed above. And a sub-group of those give me the fucking creeps every time I see them, seemingly for no reason.

I'm fine with quite a lot of locker room style banter, but there have been a few times in which I've had to strike quickly, like a viper, at the guy mouthing off such insufferable snark towards my person while in a group. I generally get an apology with a bonus of being eyed with a little more wary respect. For weeks afterward though, I constantly have to say things like "Stop apologizing! I don't give a fuck if you say 'fuck' so get over yourself."

Point being, it's a bit rocky, trying to figure out what fits into the training of "Red light, yellow light, green light" and I think those lessons could do with a little more expansion. You're told that if you see anything wrong or suspicious, to interfere. That if you, being of any sex, feel unsafe, ask/scream for help. That you won't be punished in any form for reporting any incidents or suspected incidents.
But it's a small community, and god do these fuckers gossip. Who is suspected of sleeping with who. If so-and-so female got ahead because of, er, head. Smoke shack chit chat over which chick you'd like to fuck more is fairly common. If your next command can find you on Facebook, there's a lot of "Is she hot?" going on months before you ever get there, often a small base or ship where the women are outnumbered 20 or 30 to 1, and most of THOSE women have already established themselves as married, taken, pregnant, or "a cold bitch".

I just think we need to get past the mentality of "the worst of OKCupid" because this is not a damn dating scene. Too many men, and women, treat it as such right now and I think it's partially the cause for a lot of the drama, rapes and attempted rapes, and general misogynistic atmosphere. I think letting women into more aspects of military life will help that, but it needs to be followed by some severely strong walls to lean against in case the terrible shit happens, which it will more often for a while because of this change.

/end ramble-rant.
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:30 PM on July 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh, heh. I'm in the Navy, not the Marines, but you get my gist.
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:31 PM on July 15, 2012


twists and turns - the way you phrased that book recommendation makes me think I didn't put myself very well, so I'll try to clarify what I was trying to say:

1) It seems true to me that misogyny is a component of most sexual assault, in that many offenders think of a woman's desires or autonomy as less important than their own desire to have sex.
2) It's also true in my experience that combat arms MOSes - and especially the infantry - look down on support MOSes.

A CIB commands respect in a way that the CAB does not. (I know these are Army awards, this is just the most succinct way I can think of to get my point across.)

I think that factors one and two have sort of amplified each other, in that an infantryman that looks down on women already has a sort of extra item on his misogyny list because women can not serve in combat roles. And the military does stuff like send a female medic out to serve with a line infantry unit and then, as soon as she's put in contact with the enemy and earns a silver star, she's pulled back off the line. It's my feeling that stuff like that possibly contributes to unhealthy attitudes towards female service members.

Regarding the "women in the infantry" question, the answer has always been obvious to me: sure, assuming they meet the same standards. Women have combat pilots for years, so as long as she qualifies with her weapon and meets standards, that's the end of the story for me.
It's going to take a lot more than 400 new infantry positions to root that bullshit out of the military.
No doubt, no doubt. Shit is fucked. I honestly think though that a woman out in some godforsaken shithole patrol base in the Pich or Korengal valley could be safer from her fellows than the women back on the big bases though. I mean shit goes wrong in units all the time, but most of the time people pull together under fire.
posted by kavasa at 10:37 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also true in my experience that combat arms MOSes - and especially the infantry - look down on support MOSes.

The book I recommended - the author talks about her experience with a Ranger company versus the support company she's usually assigned with. To the Rangers, she's "our 'terp" (interpreter). To the support, she's 'that chick.'

I read it my youngster year. It was illuminating.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:52 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


"...Petronio said she’s just relating her own experience to avoid any sort of blanket policy..."

It seems to me Petronio is advocating for a blanket policy of no women in infantry. Women will stil have to pass the tests so it's not like they're saying "hey, everyone is welcome!". That won't happen for men or women.
posted by deborah at 11:14 PM on July 15, 2012


The book I recommended - the author talks about her experience with a Ranger company versus the support company she's usually assigned with. To the Rangers, she's "our 'terp" (interpreter). To the support, she's 'that chick.'
Ahhhh! Yeah I mean for sure - and I'm sure that the infantryman from the unit that worked with then-SPC Brown were cool with her as well. I'm more talking about the sort of institutional attitude and lived experience. I was a support MOS as well, but I spent most of my deployment out in the sticks, and the only times I saw women were my two brief stays on Bagram moving from one outpost to another. There are always exceptions to everything, but generally the smaller the FOB/outpost/FB, the less likely you are to find a woman on it.
posted by kavasa at 11:30 PM on July 15, 2012


If I want the sort of lifestyle that requires Marines to sustain it (i.e. appropriating, under threat of terminal violence, the material and energy resources of other sovereign nations), then I need to be prepared to accept the terms under which the Marines tell me they will be prepared to endure the risks associated with doing so.

So if they want to wrap a bandana round their wingwang as a condition of being prepared to have their brains spattered over the nearest wall so I can enjoy a tasty portion of Cheeze Doodlez, then I should be as cool with that as the air in my air conditioned garden. If they tell me that they don't feel comfortable getting into an IED magnet (a.k.a. armoured troop carrier) in the company of a lady, I should say, "hey - I'll never face the prospect of premeditated, imminent, violent death, and can't possibly intuit the processes by which others reconcile themselves to that and remain functional - I'll reserve judgement".

Now, if I feel strongly enough about it, I can go and join the marines and show them, through my own actions, why I think they are wrong.

Or I can forgo the lifestyle.

What I can not do is sit around in my internet cafe with my online hipster pals sipping my Somali latte, speculating on what their moral sensibilities should be as they underwrite those pleasures, on the basis of an extrapolation of my life selling photocopy insurance policies. Any conclusion I might arrive at would not even be wrong.

(Personally, I think we should forgo the lifestyle and disband the Marines.)
posted by falcon at 1:27 AM on July 16, 2012


Now, if I feel strongly enough about it, I can go and join the marines and show them, through my own actions, why I think they are wrong.

I guess that probably sounds better in the original Prussian. That is not how the armed forces of democratic countries work. Of course if you're a woman, then precisely what you cannot do is to join the marines and show them why you think they're wrong, because you can't serve in the infantry.
posted by atrazine at 1:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yay for movement toward equality. Boo for movement towards more war.
posted by srboisvert at 1:56 AM on July 16, 2012


If they tell me that they don't feel comfortable getting into an IED magnet (a.k.a. armoured troop carrier) in the company of a lady, I should say, "hey - I'll never face the prospect of premeditated, imminent, violent death, and can't possibly intuit the processes by which others reconcile themselves to that and remain functional - I'll reserve judgement".

If they told you that they wouldn't serve in multi-racial units, would you be fine with that too?

What I can not do is sit around in my internet cafe with my online hipster pals sipping my Somali latte, speculating on what their moral sensibilities should be as they underwrite those pleasures, on the basis of an extrapolation of my life selling photocopy insurance policies. Any conclusion I might arrive at would not even be wrong.


The armed forces of most western nations get their orders from a civilian, and for good reason. Do you really think civilians should have no say in how the military is run?
posted by dazed_one at 1:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with sexual assault is that the perpetrators know it is wrong and evil. Particularly those that do it with enough violence to dominate a soldier.

Telling them it's wrong and evil won't solve the problem. It seems to me sexual assault on fellow servicemen should be considered treason, in addition to rape, and dealt with accordingly.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:54 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


(servicemen as in all genders)
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:56 AM on July 16, 2012


If they told you that they wouldn't serve in multi-racial units, would you be fine with that too?

You are mistaking me for someone who is fine with the military per se. There is no "too". I make the simple point that if you want to be protected by them, then you have to do it on their terms or not at all. They get shot in the head, not splashed with Häagen-Dazs. Anything else is the worst kind of hypocrisy.
posted by falcon at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2012


I was in the Marines, and we had whiny, weak men and whiny weak women, and we had men that shut up and did what they had to and women that shut up and did what they had to.

The argument seems to be about strength? That has hardly anything to do with it. Almost all of the hard stuff in boot camp, deployments, and the rest was about endurance, discipline and mental toughness. It doesn't matter how big or small you are, but it does matter if you have a tough mind and body.

The thing about relationships screwing things up may be more valid, but just a touch. The 'but then they might be boyfriend/girlfriend!' argument is stupid. Other countries stepped right over this one. It won't be a big deal. Just like DADT; we had gay people in my unit, everybody knew, and it was a non-issue except for the most ignorant among us. And allowing people to be gay and de-stigmatizing it a bit is going to go a long way.

If they can hang, I'm cool with it. I am still a little miffed about the flexed arm hang vs. pull-ups though! :P
posted by amcm at 6:52 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


So if they want to wrap a bandana round their wingwang as a condition of being prepared to have their brains spattered over the nearest wall so I can enjoy a tasty portion of Cheeze Doodlez, then I should be as cool with that as the air in my air conditioned garden. If they tell me that they don't feel comfortable getting into an IED magnet (a.k.a. armoured troop carrier) in the company of a lady, I should say, "hey - I'll never face the prospect of premeditated, imminent, violent death, and can't possibly intuit the processes by which others reconcile themselves to that and remain functional - I'll reserve judgement".

What about those of us who are ladies who are facing the prospect of premeditated, imminent, violent death? The frontlines aren't frontlines anymore. Women died in Iraq, just as bloodily as the men. Just because they weren't officially trigger-pullers doesn't mean they weren't in just as much danger.

So do those ladies get the privilege of getting to do whatever they want (ie serving officially as infantry rather than just suffering the dangers of it), or is it just the penile-Americans?
posted by corb at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I can not do is sit around in my internet cafe with my online hipster pals sipping my Somali latte,

Perhaps we can expand this further - perhaps only people who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States should have opinions on this matter.

Where would that put you?

corb: trigger-pullers

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who uses this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are mistaking me for someone who is fine with the military per se. There is no "too". I make the simple point that if you want to be protected by them, then you have to do it on their terms or not at all. They get shot in the head, not splashed with Häagen-Dazs. Anything else is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

So the military should be deciding the military's affairs? Underline, period? The military should decide what is right and wrong for itself? Does that include punishments for assault, murder, war crimes? Human rights conventions--should we abandon them in favor of what the military decides?

But why stop there? Who decides the defense budget of the military? Should that be a civilian matter? They're the ones dying, right, not the pencil pushers in DC. Give the military control of how much money we need, we should just turn it over.

Heck, the military should be in control of all its resources, right? Perhaps we need to start instituting mandatory military service, the military can pick and choose who it wants to keep and who it wants to go, and if you're kept you're in the military for as long as it wants you.

We also cannot have civilians in control of foreign and domestic policy, influencing, or, God forbid, dictating what the military will and will not be doing. Better put the military in charge of the government. They're the ones dying. They should be making the decisions.

Have you followed your thought processes to their logical conclusion?
posted by schroedinger at 7:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no "too". I make the simple point that if you want to be protected by them, then you have to do it on their terms or not at all.

No, that's not how it works in America. The civilians oversee, in broad strokes, the military. If the various branches are told that women are to serve, then it's up to them to figure out how to make it happen, and that's it. There may be some back and forth about when and how and the benefits and negatives, but no, if they military wants the honor of serving the country, then they follow the orders they are given.

They can tie whatever their particular unit commander tells them to tie around their wang or vagina.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one wondering how, if one can train/condition people to run towards incoming fire, something pretty contrary to instinct, one should be able to train/condition people to treat everyone fairly?

Or am I an optimist here?

And yes, I've been in the military (not the U.S.), in the combat arms, with women ....
posted by milnews.ca at 7:46 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one wondering how, if one can train/condition people to run towards incoming fire, something pretty contrary to instinct, one should be able to train/condition people to treat everyone fairly?

Soldiers or sailors aren't trained to run towards incoming fire. They're trained to take cover and overwhelm the enemy by various means or sneak up and kill the enemy before it has a chance to fire.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2012


I'm glad to see that they aren't creating two sets of standards, anything less would't be real equality.

I've had another thought but I'm not sure what to make of it.

My hope is that, by making sure that everyone of any gender has to meet the same standards that they women who serve (and hopefully the type of women who will want to serve in combat units) will be just as physically able to defend themselves as the men. In other words, if you're a male in a combat unit and you try to rape one of the members of your unit, there will hopefully be a good chance that she'll kick the shit out of you.

I know it would be treating the symptom and no the disease but I'd hope it would help curtail some of the behavior. I've never served in the military and I'm a male so I don't really have the perspective to know if it will help though.

Besides, do you really want to try and rape someone who you might be counting on to drag your wounded ass behind cover?
posted by VTX at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2012


They train all sorts of weird things about firefights, most notably how to kill without the conscience getting in the way.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:09 AM on July 16, 2012


Soldiers or sailors aren't trained to run towards incoming fire. They're trained to take cover and overwhelm the enemy by various means or sneak up and kill the enemy before it has a chance to fire.

Dismounted counter-ambush drills notwithstanding, I'm comfortable with the bolded section being categorized, broadly, as "closing with the enemy", as opposed to running away.

All I'm saying is that if an organization can change human behaviour to the point where people will act contrary to instinct, given good leadership, the same organization can certainly change human behaviour re: treating women unfairly.
posted by milnews.ca at 8:11 AM on July 16, 2012


corb: What about those of us who are ladies who are facing the prospect of premeditated, imminent, violent death?

If you are in the military - specifically, at risk of death in the event of the potential misapplication of civilian norms and sensibilities - then your speculation about how the military should conduct itself in this matter is entirely relevant. In which case, make your case to your fellow Infantry. If you are not, then it is not.

schroedinger: So the military should be deciding the military's affairs? Underline, period?

Nope. You ask them to do something. They tell you the terms under which they are prepared to do it. If those terms aren't acceptable, you withdraw your instruction. Put another way - they can't tell you they want to fight in France rather than Iraq. They can tell you they don't want to depend in a firefight in Iraq on a person who's gender based predisposition to muscle atrophy causes them to trip and fall over on slight grade changes (to quote the female infantry woman in the OP). If you can't live with that, withdraw your instruction. Don't force them. You aren't defending New York from Soviet invasion. You are defending Monsanto's profits through access to third world resources, labour and markets. It's not worth it.

schroedinger: Have you followed your thought processes to their logical conclusion?

Yep. And the conclusion is that I think the military should be scrapped. A point I believe I have made twice in two postings.

the man of twists and turns: Where would that put you?

That would put me in the position of a man who has served on the front line of his own country's armed forces (Desert Storm, aircrew) and is pointing out that, in speculating about something upon which your lifestyle depends yet have absolutely no idea about, you are being hypocritical.

Where does that put you?

Brandon Blatcher: No, that's not how it works in America.

An argument which would be so much more convincing if the way it does work in America, worked.
posted by falcon at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2012


So long as we have an 100% volunteer military, that need-not be true. Everyone who signs up to serve should understand that the civilians in charge can and will dictate the terms under which they will serve. If those terms aren't acceptable, they don't have to serve.
posted by VTX at 8:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems to be pretty well-established (through anecdotes, articles, and common knowledge, if not official military reports) that rape of female soldiers by their comrades is a significant problem in the U.S. military. One that female soldiers think about on a fairly regular basis and actively take precautions to avoid.

I'm genuinely curious: To what extent is this an issue in the military of other countries where there are no barriers for women serving in the infantry? Can someone who has served in a co-ed, non-U.S. military provide some insight on this?

Maybe the rape of female soldiers is a big problem that every military deals with. But if not — if the U.S. has a particular problem with it, significantly more so than other countries — why is that? Can it be attributed to not allowing women to serve in the infantry? Can it be attributed to the military still overwhelmingly consisting of men? Can it be attributed to America's "rape culture"? Maybe something else I'm not thinking of?
posted by hypotheticole at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2012


An argument which would be so much more convincing if the way it does work in America, worked.

Umm - that ended up sounding like a slur on US Armed Forces. It was not intended as such and I apologise if it was interpreted that way.
posted by falcon at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2012


Where does that put you?

In uniform. Lets see how 'relevant' my opinions are:

If you are in the military - specifically, at risk of death in the event of the potential misapplication of civilian norms and sensibilities - then your speculation about how the military should conduct itself in this matter is entirely relevant.

Thanks for your approval , it is not required.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:29 AM on July 16, 2012


If you are in the military - specifically, at risk of death in the event of the potential misapplication of civilian norms and sensibilities - then your speculation about how the military should conduct itself in this matter is entirely relevant. In which case, make your case to your fellow Infantry. If you are not, then it is not.

Hi, recent Army veteran here. Let me assure you that I have had lots of "discussions" on the subject with my Infantry buddies (in all services), especially while I was in service. Some agree, some don't. Like, you know, everything else in the military.

But my "fellow infantry" aren't the ones who are deciding these matters. It's the American public. So our ideas about what should be good practices need to go to those individuals first - on sites like these! Where we're talking with our fellow citizens!

They can tell you they don't want to depend in a firefight in Iraq on a person who's gender based predisposition to muscle atrophy causes them to trip and fall over on slight grade changes

If it was a matter of physical fitness, then why not simply have one standard, and if you meet it, you're in? Because let's face it. There are a lot of women in the military that can outperform some of the men that are currently serving in infantry units.
posted by corb at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am with AMCM on this one. Having served as both a grunt (infantry) and as a force reconnaissance Marine, I have seen strong and weak men AND women. The entire premise of the obstacle courses/OCS/Infantry School/etc isn't necessarily about who can bench press a zillion pounds - but to determine who has the sheer physical and mental tenacity and toughness to keep pushing when the situation seems hopeless and when every sane person around you has already given up - and to do so while making decisions that could get people killed if made poorly.

While admittedly a bit of an outlier, I would say categorically that I really didn't give a rat's ass whether the person carrying 100 plus pounds in a ruck for three weeks next to me has a penis or not. Nor did I care whether they find the penis erotic or not. I did care about their ability to do the job, not get me killed, and watch out for me if I need help. Pretty simple.

The ability to hold their liquor, tell raunchy sex stories while bored in the back of a 5 ton or bus, get in awesome bar room brawls, and simultaneously make fart jokes while debating the upcoming presidential election were all bonuses.
posted by jason says at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


the man of twists and turns: Thanks for your approval , it is not required.

Why are you taking posts directed at others, requoting them as if they were directed at you, and responding to them? Was I not sufficiently clear in my markup? Otherwise it looks like you fabricated an excuse to get all snotty which was entirely misplaced, as I can have no interest in your requirement or otherwise for my approval.
posted by falcon at 8:35 AM on July 16, 2012


One side note - and I know it will seem trivial and borderline pedantic - but Marines are not soldiers. Nor are soldiers Marines.

This moment in inter service rivalry and proper terminology is brought to you by EnormoCo, makers of fine military gear for the last 20 centuries.
posted by jason says at 8:37 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


But my "fellow infantry" aren't the ones who are deciding these matters. It's the American public. So our ideas about what should be good practices need to go to those individuals first - on sites like these! Where we're talking with our fellow citizens!

Couldn't agree more. Nor could I be any clearer in my view that yours is the ONLY opinion that matters on sites like these.
posted by falcon at 8:37 AM on July 16, 2012


They can tell you they don't want to depend in a firefight in Iraq on a person who's gender based predisposition to muscle atrophy causes them to trip and fall over on slight grade changes (to quote the female infantry woman in the OP).

Ok.

If you can't live with that, withdraw your instruction.

But here I disagree. What if the position of the person (who you have made clear is not you, somehow) in the first quote is wrong? I've known a lot of women, and I don't see them tripping on all the ramps around here.

I once thought as you do (about civilian control of the military, not the specific women-in-the-infantry thing). But consider: everything the infantry does could be done with less risk by using artillery or the air force. Secure that building? No, just blow it up. Guard that camp? No, just blow up any heat signature that comes within a mile. Go into that cave and come out with prisoners? Hell no, just roll in some nerve gas.

The infantry gets jobs that are necessary, not pleasant or easy. It has always been thus. So if using the infantry is better for the long-range goal of the reason you are fighting, you should use the infantry. Which leads to the conclusion that if having women in the infantry is better for the overall nation, there should be women in the infantry.
posted by BeeDo at 8:38 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if the position of the person (who you have made clear is not you, somehow) in the first quote is wrong?

Wrong, as defined by whom, exactly? As defined by the person enjoying the latte, or wrong as defined by the person getting his head blown off?

Unfortunately, much of this reduces to quotes from "A Few Good Men" which I can't help but, until you have 'placed your life in the hands of another person and had them place their life in yours', you don't really understand what it's about (disclosure: I flew jets, so I don't pretend to understand the Infantryman's specific bond of trust, or his conditions of satisfaction for placing himself in harm's way - I just know he them and needs them satisfied).

So without getting hoity-toity - how dare you decide whether he is wrong or not. Corb gets to tell you what he wants (and if he wants female infantry, fine). You don't get to tell him what he wants.
posted by falcon at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2012


You don't get to tell him what he wants.

No I don't. Only what he (or she) has to do. That's civilian control of the military right there, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1.

I'm not going to get into the "how dare you" game with you. I'm glad I live in a country where we are free to have this argument, so thank you for your part in assuring that freedom exists.
posted by BeeDo at 9:00 AM on July 16, 2012


Why are you taking posts directed at others, requoting them as if they were directed at you, and responding to them?

I thought that line beginning 'If you are in the military,' was directed at members of the military. Being one, I replied.

If it wasn't, please excuse me for misunderstanding you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:06 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I do realize you live in Scotland, but regardless of which air force you served in my statement of thanks can stand. NATO.)
posted by BeeDo at 9:06 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I live in a country where we are free to have this argument, so thank you for your part in assuring that freedom exists.

You should also be glad to live in a country where people are free not to join the military or re-enlist if they think what you tell them to do stinks. And the only thing that it making it a buyers market right now (for civilians) is collapsing domestic employment figures - underlying military recruitment and retention is in crisis. So you are in fact rather less free to get high handed than Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 might lead you to think.

Oh, and our freedom to have this conversation is rather tenuous. We are having this conversation today because we are permitted to, not because our right to is guaranteed any more. But - different thread.
posted by falcon at 9:12 AM on July 16, 2012


Couldn't agree more. Nor could I be any clearer in my view that yours is the ONLY opinion that matters on sites like these.

Whose freedom are you protecting, if your (general "you" directed at hypothetical members of the military) opinion is the only one you consider worth listening to?
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on July 16, 2012


I get really uncomfortable when people I don't know claim that they're owed this or that special consideration because of the position they've put themselves in on "my" behalf. If the arrangement really is that transactional, then civilians deserve to have more say in what wars and missions are actually worth that risk in the first place. In the interim, I suggest more lattes and fewer heads being blown off.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whose freedom are you protecting

The military protects your freedom to go about your life without having to give too much thought to how the resources underpinning it are obtained and secured.

In return, you protect the military's freedom to set the conditions of satisfaction it requires before volunteering to get killed in the process of obtaining and securing those resources for you.
posted by falcon at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2012


You should also be glad to live in a country where people are free not to join the military or re-enlist if they think what you tell them to do stinks.

I am glad of that. Of course I'm glad of that. How do you parse my statements to somehow think I'm arguing for the return of the draft? You think because I am pointing out one of the freedoms in the constitution of the US (the freedom from military dictatorship) that makes me a warmonger? You weren't fighting any wars I voted for. You weren't even flying a plane that I voted for (unless it was an F-22, I have always supported that program).

We have well and truly lost the plot here, so I'm going to lunch. If I ever make it to Congress, I will only vote for military deployments that are truly needed for the defense of the United States and its allies. If I don't, I'll vote for candidates who keep that promise as well.

Until then, I'll keep giving my opinion, and we will have to agree to disagree.
posted by BeeDo at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2012


In return, you protect the military's freedom to set the conditions of satisfaction it requires before volunteering to get killed in the process of obtaining and securing those resources for you.

No, this is not even wrong. Enlistees don't get to set any conditions for anything. They either enlist or they don't. At least, that's how it worked when I enlisted. I didn't get to say I only wanted to serve with other men, or with white people, or whatever. If people don't volunteer or reup because personnel policies change, the military will find other people who will.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


In return, you protect the military's freedom to set the conditions of satisfaction it requires....

As determined in consultation with and at the direction of civilian leadership. You swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, which document directs that the Commander in Chief of the military be the holder of a civilian office.
posted by rtha at 9:46 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really didn't give a rat's ass whether the person carrying 100 plus pounds in a ruck for three weeks next to me has a penis or not.

Only a vanishingly small fraction of women could carry such a load, certainly not for three weeks. That's the point. If they could, then the issue would be moot and the human species, and all of human history, would be very different than in fact it is. Actually 100 plus pounds is in excess of loads considered safe for male infantrymen, although I guess soldiers have frequently been overburdened in Afghanistan/Iraq.
posted by zipadee at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do you parse my statements to somehow think I'm arguing for the return of the draft? You think because I am pointing out one of the freedoms in the constitution of the US (the freedom from military dictatorship) that makes me a warmonger? You weren't fighting any wars I voted for.

Err, I don't, and I don't. I'm suggesting you should be glad to live in a country where people are free not to join the military. If I thought you were arguing for a return to the draft, I presume I would have said something like "Why are you arguing for a return to the draft?".
posted by falcon at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2012


They either enlist or they don't.

Well that would be my point. And given they have that choice, you are constrained in your choice of the constraints you place on them. In practice, if not in theory.

Sadly, it is a choice they are exercising.

Of course I'm rather assuming that you would prefer a military comprised of motivated professionals, not of the economically marginalised with no other life choices. If I've misjudged civilian standards, then I apologise.
posted by falcon at 10:26 AM on July 16, 2012


Only a vanishingly small fraction of women could carry such a load, certainly not for three weeks. That's the point. If they could, then the issue would be moot and the human species, and all of human history, would be very different than in fact it is. Actually 100 plus pounds is in excess of loads considered safe for male infantrymen, although I guess soldiers have frequently been overburdened in Afghanistan/Iraq.

So why not let the women who can ruck the weight they can?
posted by corb at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2012


The military protects your freedom to go about your life without having to give too much thought to how the resources underpinning it are obtained and secured.

In return, you protect the military's freedom to set the conditions of satisfaction it requires before volunteering to get killed in the process of obtaining and securing those resources for you.


Dude, did you miss the part in A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson's character was the bad guy?
posted by asterix at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Only a vanishingly small fraction of women could carry such a load, certainly not for three weeks. That's the point. If they could, then the issue would be moot and the human species, and all of human history, would be very different than in fact it is. Actually 100 plus pounds is in excess of loads considered safe for male infantrymen, although I guess soldiers have frequently been overburdened in Afghanistan/Iraq.

So why not let the women who can ruck the weight they can?


Completely agreed. If one can do it - then one is in. If one cannot, then one is not. Most cannot, but many can. And I, for one, don't really care about orientation or gender. I care about capability.
posted by jason says at 10:36 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


zipadee: yeah, as corb says, maybe you're right - whatever, that's fine. No reason to say "no" to said vanishingly small percentage, then. It's also worth noting that jason says he was force recon, a unit that's as far as I can tell equivalent to the 75th Ranger regiment in the Army. Special operations units train to standards and operate in conditions beyond what conventional forces do.
posted by kavasa at 10:37 AM on July 16, 2012


Wait, so the military isn't there to protect us (or others) from dangerous external threats, but to obtain and secure resources, on the terms of its own satisfaction?

Tell me: are we a democratic nation, or a pirate ship?
posted by hermitosis at 10:39 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


hermitosis: I'm acutely aware of my status in this conversation as a non-US, military person. I feel comfortable discussing factors involved in the state dictating the circumstances under which its military personal volunteer to get killed. You'll understand I'm less comfortable offering my opinion about whether you are a democratic nation or a pirate ship. An American might speculate what you were doing funding those "dangerous external threats" a decade ago that you are now fighting, but I can't.
posted by falcon at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2012


Well that would be my point. And given they have that choice, you are constrained in your choice of the constraints you place on them. In practice, if not in theory.

Sadly, it is a choice they are exercising.


This is clearly why the US military was unable to get enlistees after desegregating the military. Oh, wait, no, that's not correct is it?

You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about who's exercising what choices, and you aren't backing those assumptions up with anything.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:08 AM on July 16, 2012


I'm suggesting you should be glad to live in a country where people are free not to join the military.

I'm not glad of this, precisely because of the "latte-sipping" rhetoric you're using. A volunteer-only military leads directly to this kind of resentment, and this kind of resentment is a deadly danger to both our military and our democracy -- take a glance at late Roman history if you need more on that. It was a huge mistake to allow the military to become a separate, permanent class rather than a shared effort taken up by civilians of all walks of life.

We need universal service.
posted by vorfeed at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about who's exercising what choices, and you aren't backing those assumptions up with anything.

Oh please. I AM assuming you are familiar with the basic problem your military faces and the ongoing tension between maintaining numbers and quality. It's your military, after all.
posted by falcon at 11:47 AM on July 16, 2012


pointing out that, in speculating about something upon which your lifestyle depends yet have absolutely no idea about, you are being hypocritical.

Absolutely no idea? Hearing friends and relatives talk about their experiences is no idea? Reading first hand accounts and histories? Basic common sense and critical thinking?

until you have 'placed your life in the hands of another person and had them place their life in yours', you don't really understand what it's about

This is a species of appeal to authority. There is nothing magic about the experience of two people being dependent on each other for survival that makes it impossible for anyone who has not had that experience to discuss the role of the military.

And what of all the people in the military whose lives were never in danger? Would you dismiss their experiences too?

I make the simple point that if you want to be protected by them, then you have to do it on their terms or not at all.

What's special about the military in this regard? How about the police? Or firefighters? Or doctors? Or anyone else who protects another person in a dangerous situation?

Or more broadly, how about anyone hired to do anything? "Until you have represented half a million people in Congress, you don't really understand what it's about. If you want your district represented by a member of Congress, you have to do it on their terms or not at all." By your logic, we should hold an election and then be absolutely silent until the next one.
posted by jedicus at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2012


I AM assuming you are familiar with the basic problem your military faces and the ongoing tension between maintaining numbers and quality.

I AM assuming that, still, you haven't shown any evidence that this specifically will affect enlistment one way or the other. Oh, wait, that's not an assumption!
posted by me & my monkey at 11:54 AM on July 16, 2012


Basically, I cannot stand claims that "my profession is a special priesthood that non-members may not even discuss, much less regulate."
posted by jedicus at 11:56 AM on July 16, 2012


Until you have 'placed your life in the hands of another person and had them place their life in yours', you don't really understand what it's about.

Bullshit. This is either a way of saying, "You lack empathy, you are a sociopath." or it's an "appeal to authority" fallacy.
posted by VTX at 12:02 PM on July 16, 2012


I mean seriously. Being a commercial fisherman is more dangerous than being in the US military (commercial fisherman fatality rate: .14%; fatality rate in 2006 during the height of the insurgency [pdf]: .13%).

Those fishermen routinely put their lives in each other's hands on the high seas. By your logic, our sole choice as non-fishermen is to say yes or no to the question of "do we want commercial fisheries?" and we may not tell them how to do their job or even comment on it. It's just patently absurd.
posted by jedicus at 12:15 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Both those fatality rates are from 2006, as it happens).
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on July 16, 2012


While I don't believe that it is fair or just to say that military members must never be questioned by anyone who does not belong to the military, I also think it's completely unfair to attempt to suggest that fishermen are as noble a profession as military.

Also, your statistics leave out significant risk factors and complications that military members suffer after leaving service.
posted by corb at 12:49 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Couple of points:

I think there is an interesting confluence of arguments/discussions here. I agree with the "Until you..." sentiment except for one thing. The military is under civilian control. Every single soldier, sailor, airman and Marine learns that the chain of command culminates with civilian leadership. So the military is therefore compelled to honor the wishes of said civilian leadership. In my experience, the military is much much better than most segments of the corporate world at accepting dictates (that the individual members may or may not agree with) and figuring out how best to accommodate them. So discuss and argue - that is what we should be doing and that is how best to create a model fighting force that reflects our collective values.

But to the point of fatality rates in comparison to many other professions as put forth by jedicus et al. I appreciate the numbers (being the data wonk that I am) but I think they entirely miss the point. Those other professions do not require you to spend months or years in hell holes deciding whether the 12 year old boy your have your barrel pointed at is threat. They give you the option of leaving effectively whenever you want. They pay many times better. You don't have to sleep behind barricades because of mortar attacks. I could go on ad nauseam...

That being said, every service member bitches about every wee thing. That is how you know they are happy.
posted by jason says at 12:54 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those other professions do not require you to spend months or years in hell holes deciding whether the 12 year old boy your have your barrel pointed at is threat. They give you the option of leaving effectively whenever you want. They pay many times better. You don't have to sleep behind barricades because of mortar attacks. I could go on ad nauseam...

As I mentioned above, what about all the service members who never do any of that? Are their opinions also to be discounted?

And again, that's a nice parade of horribles, but there's still nothing there that is fundamentally different from the nasty aspects of many other jobs. More importantly, there's nothing there that is a sublime, ineffable, magic experience that makes soldiering into a special priesthood that outsiders may not comment upon or regulate.
posted by jedicus at 1:04 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


jedicus: ".... Those fishermen routinely put their lives in each other's hands on the high seas .... there's still nothing there that is fundamentally different from the nasty aspects of many other jobs ...."

Except for one thing - the military is there to protect the commonweal, while commercial fishermen and other private-sector businesses are there to benefit their owners/shareholders. VERY different motivations/driving forces.
posted by milnews.ca at 1:15 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jedicus, point well taken but I believe you miss mine. In no way have I said that outsiders may not comment on it. In fact I am arguing that in fact outsiders must comment and must understand.

Agreed, most of the military will never be in a combat theater, but that is the same as most professional fisherman not doing anything remotely akin to what happens on The Deadliest Catch. I would argue that the day to day life of the standard infantryman in combat (the extreme of the military) is significantly worse than the life of the standard deep sea Alaska fisherman (the extreme of the commercial fisherman).
posted by jason says at 1:17 PM on July 16, 2012


the military is there to protect the commonweal

Which would suggest that the commonweal should have some say in who gets to do that protecting, right?
posted by MoonOrb at 1:18 PM on July 16, 2012


As I mentioned above, what about all the service members who never do any of that? Are their opinions also to be discounted?

I can only assume you're not very familiar with the military, because some of the things that jason says cited, particularly those about not being able to leave when you wanted to and giving up your freedoms, happen to every single member.

That said, every military member agrees to sacrifice their own interests for the commonwealth, as said above.
posted by corb at 1:19 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I grow weary of the list of things that those who are not exposed to directed lethal force profess to be unable to stand about those who are.

A topical analogy, then I'll leave it.

Success in both Olympic Sport and lethal combat depend, in very large measure, on physical strength and stamina.

Both Olympic Sport and lethal combat have clear measures of success and failure. In sport, you win a little metal gong. In combat, you don't get killed.

Both Olympic Sport and lethal combat currently segregate by gender, on the demonstrable observation that men, on average, have greater strength and stamina than women.

If the US unilaterally decided to field mixed gender Olympic teams against sides which did not, on average the US would win fewer medals even though, at the margin, there are some women who are stronger than some men.

I cannot conceive of anyone on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in sport even if the other side did not, knowing it would win fewer medals.

Yet there are those on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in combat even though the other side will not, knowing it would win fewer medals (i.e. sustain more fatalities).

The desire for political correctness is playing havoc with your powers of intuition and reasoning, which are borderline autistic.
posted by falcon at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2012


Oh, please. Civilian authorities can and do tell the military how to operate. Thank fucking God.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:45 PM on July 16, 2012


Yet there are those on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in combat

I'm pretty dumb. Could you please point out to me people who are advocating that combat forces should be required to contain women, regardless of ability?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


To a large extent, military folks are a microcosm of the general population. Soldiers are not any more immune to wingnut theories about politics, sexism, or racism than anyone else. It's not hard to figure out how that's going to work out on the battlefield. Good units with capable leaders will handle it well. Others won't.

Women in combat: Well, if we must send our military out to kill people, then I'm all for it.
posted by mule98J at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2012


If the US unilaterally decided to field mixed gender Olympic teams against sides which did not, on average the US would win fewer medals even though, at the margin, there are some women who are stronger than some men.

The desire for political correctness is playing havoc with your powers of intuition and reasoning, which are borderline autistic.
posted by falcon at 4:37 PM on July 16 [+] [!]


First off, calling someone autistic for not agreeing with you is ridiculous. Grow up.

Perhaps one reason there is segregation in sport because if there wasn't, biased folk like you wouldn't let women on teams even if they outperformed the men.

If a woman passes the same selection criteria as a man, why shouldn't she get to shoot people too?

I was going to further take apart what you've said, but I think at this point you've made it pretty clear that you really don't know what you are saying and thus responses to your statements are about as effective as repeated face to face meetings with a brick wall. Calling for an end to the military in general and ad hominem attacks on people that disagree with you just illustrate that your position in this discussion is based on ignorance rather than information.
posted by dazed_one at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2012


I can only assume you're not very familiar with the military, because some of the things that jason says cited, particularly those about not being able to leave when you wanted to and giving up your freedoms, happen to every single member.

My apologies for not editing out those parts of the quote. I was referring specifically to the dangerous parts, per the analogy to other dangerous jobs, since the danger was the element cited above as being the reason why civilians cannot comment upon or regulate the military.

But since you bring it up: it's pretty hard to quit being a fisherman when you're hundreds of miles from shore, and lots of jobs involve giving up freedom (though not necessarily to the same extent as the military).

Agreed, most of the military will never be in a combat theater, but that is the same as most professional fisherman not doing anything remotely akin to what happens on The Deadliest Catch.

The numbers I quoted were for the military as a whole and the commercial fishing industry as a whole. I was not comparing extremes (e.g. front line soldiers vs Alaskan crab fishermen).

A topical analogy, then I'll leave it.

It's unfortunate that you decided to leave with a bad analogy rather than engage with the arguments at hand.
posted by jedicus at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2012


I cannot conceive of anyone on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in sport even if the other side did not, knowing it would win fewer medals.

Olympic sport is essentially rigged against meaningful female-vs-male competition/contribution. The battlefield is not. This has been proved by other armies -- both historical and modern -- which have fielded female infantry without loss of effectiveness or increased casualties. It has also been proved by our own recent experience with women in combat. At this point, "intuition and reasoning" has nothing to do with keeping women out of combat, given that evidence suggests they can be capable there.

The real question is what kind of standards and training we need to make mixed-gender units maximally effective in combat... and in a total war the country which has answered this question will have, numerically speaking, twice the potential effectiveness as the same country would otherwise have. The country which won WWII understood this -- and certainly understood that effective numbers mean much, much more to an army than min/maxing individual qualities like "strength and stamina" -- so maybe we should, too.
posted by vorfeed at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can we say "Pyrrhic Victory"?

Congrats, you've won the right to die for someone else's political ideology, something no woman should ever do.

No man, either.
posted by pla at 3:50 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Success in both Olympic Sport and lethal combat depend, in very large measure, on physical strength and stamina.

This is not true in many, many sports. There are plenty of sports that require a minimum of physical strength and stamina but success is determined by skill. Someone more familiar with combat operations can tell us to what extent this is true in the military. My guess would be that much stronger or much more stamina than the minimum doesn't count for as much as working well as part of a cohesive unit, communication, the ability to stay calm and think quickly under fire, shoot well, etc, etc. You know, skill. Especially since we're long past the days of fighting wars with swords, shields, and spears.

If my choices are the unit full of big strong people who carry heavy shit for days and the unit full of people who just cleared the minimum standards but shoot straighter, are more cohesive, have a better grasp of tactics, and are generally more skilled, I'll take the weaklings any day.

Both Olympic Sport and lethal combat currently segregate by gender, on the demonstrable observation that men, on average, have greater strength and stamina than women.

What don't you get about this? Averages imply that not everyone is the same. Some are weaker than average, some are above average. Assuming that the military always bases their standards on combat requirements, there won't ever be very many women in combat (unless or until physical capability ceases to be an issue) but there are plenty of women who are above average who can out-perform men serving on combat right now.

I cannot conceive of anyone on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in sport even if the other side did not, knowing it would win fewer medals.

Yet there are those on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in combat even though the other side will not, knowing it would win fewer medals (i.e. sustain more fatalities).

Bullshit. It would depend on the nature of the sport. Having much higher strength/stamina doesn't get you much in auto racing, archery, shooting, etc. The same is probably true of soccer, baseball, and a bunch of other more physical but still mostly skill based sports but it isn't as obviously true to me and I don't have enough knowledge to assert that as strongly. The teams would be MOSTLY men since there are fewer women who have the required strength and stamina and the highest level of skill.

The desire for political correctness is playing havoc with your powers of intuition and reasoning, which are borderline autistic.

I could say the same of you but with different motivations.

I don't think anyone expects women to be a large part of combat units (specifically the infantry) but if the military standards mean that only the top 10% strongest men are in (and I'd bet it's much lower than that), it's not unreasonable to think that the top 1% of women would be able to do just as a good a job in most units. The very highest performing units (the Marine Equivalent of the Navy SEALs, for example) probably won't have any women in them simply because the nature of their missions put more emphasis on strength and stamina so their requirements are higher and there are naturally going to fewer people, and therefore many fewer women, who can make the cut.

Olympic sports are segregated by gender because they are dealing with the highest level of the sport. The people who compete there are the sport equivalent of the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Delta, Force Recon, etc. Or are you saying that the US Olympic Women's Soccer team would lose to any team of male players?
posted by VTX at 4:35 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the big shocks in my short military career was was living next to and sharing the same dining facility with all of the Army Special Forces candidates in training. (Ft Bragg-Hoo Aah!) None of those guys was anything like Rambo...they were all pretty fuckin' skinny, many wore glasses and none of them were terribly intimidating to me. Average weight was probably 160 lbs and there is a reason for that. With all the gear one has to move and with all of the tight physical maneuvering one has to perform in combat, being a big bulky fuck isn't helpful at all.

The big thing to accomplish in BUDS, SF, Rangers schools or whatever is mostly psychological. The idea is to bring your best game and never give up. Sure some people actually break bones and stuff, they sometimes can come back and try again. But LOTS of people finish with sprains, pulled muscles etc. It's about enduring the pain and treating training like a real life situation...if you quit here, you fail, if you quit in the field...people die. Don't quit.

Does anyone really believe that females are incapable of performing at that level? I don't.

I work with female Marines on a pretty regular basis and while it takes a special kind of bad ass to be a Marine, double that for the females. If she qualifies and is accepted to OCS, well then, holy shit. If she graduates, she is a world-class leader of men and women. Period.

FWIW, I've been in a couple of quasi-combat situations in which I've seen guys piss their pants while my female counter parts rolled their eyes and focused on mission.

I congratulate the Marine brass for seeing this opportunity to fully realize and utilize ALL of their awesome assets! Hell Yea!
posted by snsranch at 5:54 PM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Unfortunately, much of this reduces to quotes from 'A Few Good Men' ..."

You seriously missed the point of that play and/or movie.
posted by kyrademon at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2012


Chops, snsranch, for a great post.

In my time in Force Recon, I was surrounded by the oddest assortment of individuals I have ever had the honor of serving with. We had a former member of the Sinn Fein, a socialist, an enlisted man with two PhDs in engineering, a couple of vegans, a man who worked in a comic book store in his off hours and ran Dungeons and Dragons games, a couple of Marines who were gay, and every other assorted individual that you can imagine. They all shared, among some other traits, this incredible mental and physical toughness. You take the volunteers from the infantry (who are already salty hard individuals) and keep one out of every three to four hundred who apply (from try outs to graduation at the end of the pipeline). Most men cannot make it, yet I knew a couple of women who could have. My simple view - if you can do it that you should and if you can't then you shouldn't. Don't limit it because somebody has or doesn't have an extra dangly bit between their legs.

The only reason I was there was because I am - while not strong, fast, or smart - frickin stubborn.

Also, people, please (for the love of whatever you find holy) stop referencing A Few Good Men. That would similar to judging people who drive taxis by quoting from Taxi Driver.
posted by jason says at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yet there are those on this thread who would argue that the US should unilaterally abandon gender segregation in combat even though the other side will not, knowing it would win fewer medals (i.e. sustain more fatalities).

Errrr, the other side is quite often say, well mixed in with civilians. Even ignoring the premise that distinctly male athletic peak condition traits win wars and vast history of combat hinging on the behaviours of people who were deathly ill or otherwise doing things like missing limbs and being short, or stupid or puking and crying the whole way...

Furthermore, this situation is pending making it on the same qualifications of a male candidate, so the 'just got in 'cuz you're a woman' argument doesn't apply here.

War isn't something were you and the blokes from the other side pick a nice empty woodlot and have at it, and is quite often fought over top of civilians. against mixed forces made up of guerrillas and irregulars who include the support and assistance of women, and so on. you're limiting yourself here, it's not that we're the big softies who are letting our liberal values give the girls a chance to play an actually serious game, it's that we're not tapping the full potential human resources that say, and angry occupied country will and does.
posted by Phalene at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


First off, calling someone autistic for not agreeing with you is ridiculous. Grow up.

"Autistic", as an adjective, describes the condition in which fantasy dominates over reality. Since I am describing an argument in which fantasy appears to dominate over reality, it is apposite. In other words, since I am being descriptive, not pejorative, your instruction to grow up is misplaced.

Calling for an end to the military in general and ad hominem attacks on people that disagree with you just illustrate that your position in this discussion is based on ignorance rather than information

We covered your synthetic ad hominem, and my position is based on 6 years of front line military service, debating this issue for real. What's yours?

Olympic sport is essentially rigged against meaningful female-vs-male competition/contribution.

In what way can running a mile, throwing a spear, swimming a kilometer, or wrestling an opponent, be rigged against meaningful female-vs-male competition?

Someone more familiar with combat operations can tell us to what extent this is true in the military

Someone more familiar with combat operations has told us the extent to which success is determined by skill rather than strength and stamina - the female infantry captain in the OP. It isn't.

What don't you get about this? Averages imply that not everyone is the same. Some are weaker than average, some are above average.

What don't you get that about the fact that, if more on the other side are stronger than your average because you hire women and they don't, their side will, on average, be stronger, and your side will, on average, get killed more often. Can you really not translate into the combat scenario the implication of the fact that the average sprint time of an all-male group is shorter than the average sprint time of a mixed-gender group? Is is that hard?

It would depend on the nature of the sport.

No it wouldn't. Combat is about physical endurance. How do I know? Because a female infantry officer tells us it is. So it depends specifically on those sports in which physical endurance is a success factor. And in those sports, men consistently outperform women.
posted by falcon at 12:52 PM on July 17, 2012


Plenty of other people in this thread, with front-line combat experience have said, time and again, that modern day combat isn't about strength or stamina, it's about mental toughness.

If we can't field an army of individuals who just meet the minimum standards for physical capability and be successful, then I submit that the standards need to be raised. I'm pretty comfortable asserting that the standards are good enough and that as long you clear that bar, skill is the deciding factor in almost every engagement.

Can you really not translate into the combat scenario the implication of the fact that the average sprint time of an all-male group is shorter than the average sprint time of a mixed-gender group? Is is that hard?

The implication here is that the sprint time for ANY all male group will be faster than the sprint time of ANY all female group. I know my own sprint time and I can assure you that most women can sprint faster than I can.

Shaving a tenth off of your 100m time doesn't count for as much as keeping calm enough under fire to know which way to run to get behind some cover.
posted by VTX at 1:07 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Autistic", as an adjective, describes the condition in which fantasy dominates over reality.

This is a use whith which I am unfamiliar. A Britishism?

female infantry officer

You know how I know you didn't read the link?

Secondly, are you basing your argument that women should not, in the future, be allowed to serve in the infantry on the testimony of a women who, you incorrectly claim, currently serves in the infantry?

You are conflating military success with pure physical strength, endurance and speed. Prior and currently serving servicemembers have told you that their experience informs them differently.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:07 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a use whith which I am unfamiliar. A Britishism?

Yes. I got in trouble today elsewhere because I gather in the US it refers exclusively to people. We can also use it in abstract (i.e. an autistic argument/society/whatever). An "autistic argument" is no more offensive to autistic people (or arguer) than a "fat cigar" is offensive to fat people. I recognise that, without that clarification, it might be offensive and apologise for any offence, but none was intended.

You know how I know you didn't read the link?

I read it, but I misquoted it from memory. She is a female Marine officer, not Infantry officer.
“My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions.
If you can persuade me that there is some objective difference between Infantry and Marine duties that is altered by this testimonial, I'll alter my view.
posted by falcon at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2012


Speaking as someone -on- the autism spectrum, it should probably be taken to meta if that's the subject being debated, not the actual gender integration argument of the FPP.
posted by Phalene at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2012


Thanks Phalene - it's not being debated (or shouldn't be), I've apologised for inadvertent offence, I do so again, and I won't use it on this forum again.
posted by falcon at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2012


Perhaps an Americanism, then:

anecdata: 'A handful of stores, just one mall, not what you'd call a statistically significant sample.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, a better one, from the LDOCE: 'information which ... is actually based on what someone thinks but cannot prove.'

Here's where I differ from your view. You seem to me, to say, 'Men and women are obviously inherently different in physical attributes - therefore no women should be allowed in combat. In fact, we should not even attempt to see if women could possibly perform to the same standards as men.'

My experience informs me that the range of human performance in combat is greater than the difference between men and women, and that combat performance derives from many more skills than simple physical strength, enduance, and speed. Therefore, as long as performance standards are 1) representative enough without killing trainees and 2) applied equally, there is no harm in the attempt to determine if now-closed line-combat positions could open to women.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


In what way can running a mile, throwing a spear, swimming a kilometer, or wrestling an opponent, be rigged against meaningful female-vs-male competition?

They've all been chosen and celebrated by men, as events men excel in. If this were a matriarchal society we'd be arguing over whether men's relative weakness in yoga, gymnastics, and extreme long-distance running/swimming disqualifies them from combat, since clearly these are the only sports (and attributes) that matter.

For instance, men's short-term advantage in strength/endurance seems to be made up for (and even exceeded!) by women's advantage over hours and hours of constant effort and pressure. If so, we could be missing out on infantry leaders who are better than many of their male counterparts at making decisions during the third day on patrol, even though they're not as good at carrying rucksacks during the first. Hidden advantages, synergies, and force multipliers -- these are the reasons why performance needs to be measured in total, in a real-world context. The battlefields of the past are littered with the dead of those who thought success in combat could be distilled down to one or two attributes.
posted by vorfeed at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2012


As for "it was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions" -- if this had been a man who got a bad case of balanitis (a gender-specific medical condition!) and then got hurt faster than everybody else in the squad, he'd never conclude that there was a problem with his entire gender. He'd conclude that there was a problem with him (or that he'd had bad luck, or was insufficiently prepared, or...)

Men always fail as individuals; women always fail as women. That's why we need real evidence of how women in the aggregate perform in combat, before we can conclude that "women" are no good at combat.
posted by vorfeed at 2:53 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


You seem to me, to say, 'Men and women are obviously inherently different in physical attributes - therefore no women should be allowed in combat. In fact, we should not even attempt to see if women could possibly perform to the same standards as men.'

Well, no. I'm not. In point of fact, I'm merely quoting a female officer, who is saying that. A person who's views you all seems conspicuously to be ignoring in your admirable attempts to preserve the desired politically correct "right" answer.

Men always fail as individuals; women always fail as women.

I think, once we stray away from the objective and into gender behavioural stereotyping, your argument is going to get even more confused.
posted by falcon at 4:23 PM on July 17, 2012


A person who's views you all seems conspicuously to be ignoring

I think it's pretty terrible how you claim not to be advocating a position. You showcase one particular position on the basis that a servicemember holds it (when you can't even be bothered to understand the article as presented), while conveniently ignoring the servicemembers you are conversing with who hold the opposite position.

That, to me, indicates that you are more interested in the position advanced - namely, no women should be allowed to serve in combat - than you are in your oh-so-honorable:

Nor could I be any clearer in my view that yours is the ONLY opinion that matters on sites like these.

I noticed that you very neatly dropped that contention when former and currently serving military disagreed with the notion that performance in combat is solely reliant on gender.

Congratulations on hooking so many people.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:43 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"... the desired politically correct 'right' answer."

And thus vanishes the last of my hope that you are even attempting to pay any attention to what anyone who disagrees with you might have to say.
posted by kyrademon at 4:57 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think, once we stray away from the objective and into gender behavioural stereotyping, your argument is going to get even more confused.

The "gender behavioral stereotyping" I was describing is the problem -- it's hard to know whether a given person's self-reported problems have anything to do with gender. The solution to this problem is "the objective", which is testing to see whether women can succeed as infantry in real-world situations.
posted by vorfeed at 6:59 PM on July 17, 2012


The civilian-military thing is interesting because like anything of importance the threshold between just right and too hot/too cold is a very fine line.

The subservience of the military to civilian authority in Western (and thankfully increasingly other) political systems exists for a good reason. That reason is history. Modern and/or ancient and all points in between. And military intervention, or non-intervention as was the case with Egypt at one point, into the political is also a complex thing. Ideally we don't get to that point. It might sound strange to position it this way but at one level how you deal with a hierarchical organisation with a bunch of advanced weaponry is a continuous question of political science since at least ~500bc?

By the same token a contemporary society should be mindful of the risks it asks it service members to endure. I am sure I am not the only one that was on the streets in late 2002 not only because I disagreed with the government of the day about the need for the march to war and sort of strange foreign policy decisions, but because I disagreed, strongly, with the risks our various service persons would be undertaking. Despite being in one of those rare situations of being proven category correct on that point, I take very little comfort in that. Civilian control of the military means civilian responsibility for the consequences of that control. That's something we'll just have to deal with despite the fact that most of the people that made those decisions now have sweet jobs working at think tanks bank rolled by the purveyors of death. They have nicer offices then us but we have better arguments.

Fuck it, you're welcome at mine anytime for bbq and beer. We also have wine etc.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:05 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Civilian control of the military means civilian responsibility for the consequences of that control.

Quote of the day, and one I will steal shamelessly. Ok, fine, I will properly attribute.
posted by jason says at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2012


GI Janes: For U.S. servicewomen in Afghanistan, head scarves come with the job.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:43 PM on August 11, 2012


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