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May 31, 2002
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Pip Tattersall is the first woman to win the Green Beret of the Royal Marines, but she still can't fight in combat. Is the British army ignoring thousands of years of history, or is Martin van Creveld right?
posted by CatherineB (24 comments total)

 
The Royal Marines come under the Royal Navy. Nothing army related has a 'Royal' in it.
posted by vbfg at 5:38 AM on May 31, 2002


What about the Royal Artillery, the Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), for example?
posted by tucola at 5:48 AM on May 31, 2002


They don't count. :)
posted by vbfg at 5:55 AM on May 31, 2002


I believe that women have long been deprived of the right to go war and fight and that such discrimination can be made up by having only women fight the next big war. Reparations sort of thing.
posted by Postroad at 6:06 AM on May 31, 2002


According to a 1992 US Senate report, 60,000 women had been raped or assaulted in the military.

That kind of ties in with the earlier thread. Equal rights, equal fights. Go for it ladies, I can't wait until they start forcing women by law to sign up for Selective Service (what a clever euphemism) when they turn 18 in the United States. I signed up for it, so I can be drafted when Bush starts the big war. If I didn't sign up, I could have faced jail time or a large fine. Just a thought.

Some people think women should stay out:
The force-feeding of women into combat slots and the morphing of the military into a feel-good organization where political correctness is more important than combat effectiveness are also still taking their toll. A senior sergeant at Fort Drum, N.Y., told me there were 142 pregnant soldiers in his unit who couldn't deploy. No wonder the Army's head man recently declared this division unfit to fight! Yet to stand tall in the military against women on the front lines or in maternity wards remains an absolute career killer. [Hackworth]

This one is pretty good too:
The distraction factor can't be ignored, either. Unless you've been locked up in a prison all your life, you know that young men and women really lose it when they're around each other. If joy-riding civilians distracted one of our sub crews to the point where they sank a Japanese ship off Hawaii, can you imagine the havoc female submariners could cause? If the dozens of 50-year-old generals and admirals who've been fired in the past decade alone couldn't keep their hands off their female subordinates, what can we expect from the younger bloods? [Hackworth, again]

I can only imagine the torture a male American soldier would be subjected to if he were captured by fundamentalist Muslim soldiers. I can't imagine what they would do to a woman soldier. It is not denigration to deny women a role in combat. Its a privilege. We are already taking the fathers away, why take the mothers too?
posted by insomnyuk at 6:39 AM on May 31, 2002


Martin van Creveld is very obviously correct.
posted by rocketman at 6:51 AM on May 31, 2002


We are already taking the fathers away, why take the mothers too?

Well, one reason is because excluding women from the draft is part of what makes it palatable to the public. Start drafting people's daughters, and they might think a little harder about jumping into wars with both feet.

And what's with the whole idea that young men are expendable, anyway? Why are people so much more willing to let their sons go off to die than their daughters? I'm a life-long feminist, and I say that equal rights mean equal risk and responsibility. If I were eligible for the draft, I would have signed up, fought in any war that I could reconcile with my conscious, and resisted any war that I couldn't. Which is all a conscientious patriot can do.

And, finally, on the pregnancy issue, it seems to me that we already exclude from combat any men who are experiencing a temporary condition that makes them unable to fight. Why is it so difficult to do the same for female soldiers? We should hold women to the same standards as men, and let those who can meet the criteria fight. I don't understand why that's such a controversial idea.
posted by Fenriss at 6:52 AM on May 31, 2002


Why are people so much more willing to let their sons go off to die than their daughters?

We should hold women to the same standards as men, and let those who can meet the criteria fight. I don't understand why that's such a controversial idea.

Indeed.
posted by rushmc at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2002


I can only imagine the torture a male American soldier would be subjected to if he were captured by fundamentalist Muslim soldiers. I can't imagine what they would do to a woman soldier.

Torture is torture...your implication that one sort trumps another is very biased.

It is not denigration to deny women a role in combat. Its a privilege.

A privilege that they neither earned nor deserve. One that is contrary to the American system and the dedication to equality upon which it is founded. And one that I, for one, am not willing to grant them on the insulting pretext that they are weak, useless, or incapable of contributing to their own defense.
posted by rushmc at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2002


What does the American system and the dedication to equality upon which it was founded have to do with the Royal Marines?
posted by vbfg at 7:17 AM on May 31, 2002


Well if they do let her fight, she needs to get a good nickname. "Pip" just doesn't have that scary soldier ring to it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 AM on May 31, 2002


Yeah, unfortunately the end result, for the US Army, is simply a lowering of physical standards, to meet people's sensibilities that more women should be in combat training. Some examples.

Our country was not founded on equality, in the modern sense of the word. When our country was founded, there were slaves, and women couldn't vote. Founded on equality? I'm not saying that's how it should be now, but that's how it was. People are equal ontologically, but not in gifts. In general, men are larger and stronger than women. Thats just how it is. It's not insulting. There are very few women, if any, that could meet the physical combat requirements of the Navy Seals, or the Army Rangers. It is more practical and convenient to leave women out of combat, rather than consider every special case where an overly large, muscular woman wants to be in combat. So long as we don't get into a land war in Asia, a small combat force of volunteer men is the most practical solution.

Soldiers are trained to kill. In the Hackworth article, examples are given where women soldiers are distracting to the male soldiers. This is an unsolvable solution, no amount of military training will make the sex drive go away. Distractions mean less success in killing.

Today, men and women are not held to the same standard, as Fenriss reccomends. Try out this calculator. Just enter in the age and gender, and hit the "=" button. Do it for both genders, of the same age. For a 20 yr old male, he has to do 42 pushups, and a female counterpart would have to do only 19. That doesn't seem equal to me. The male soldiers have to run the 2 mile test at least 3 minutes faster, too. And what is happening to the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test)? Proposals are being made to lower the requirements even further. That's all well and good until a 130 pound woman has to drag me, a 180 pound man with 100 pounds of gear on, off the battlefield. She could do it, but she'll be holding me by the ankles and I'll be hitting my head on every rock on the way. So be it, if equality is your god.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2002


We should hold women to the same standards as men, and let those who can meet the criteria fight. I don't understand why that's such a controversial idea.

Except for one very politcally incorrect reality: Men and women are not the same. Even if they "meet the same standards" they aren't the same.

Men have more physical endurance and strength. This is needed for combat, especially ground combat. A smaller, weaker person in hand-to-hand combat will generally lose - even if that smaller person is very well trained. I don't know how many times I've seen a large, ill-practiced karate student beat a smaller, well-practiced student. Why? Strength, reach, harder to hurt.

Yes, yes, "that's why they carry weapons". Weapons jam. You can run out of ammo. Air support can be misguided. Just ask my wife's grandfather who was on Okinawa.

The military isn't about equality, and it shouldn't be. Sending anyone other than the very best into a combat situation is stupid, and it can make you lose the encounter. I'm sure that it will be a great consolation to the family of the deceased that she died needlessly because of some pinheads idea of equality.

Add to that the other problems; pregnancy. Competition for attention from the opposite sex. I've heard this from numerous people who were in the Gulf War.

I've also read about increased combat losses due to men trying to protect the women, but I can't find a reference so I'll leave that to someone else to prove or disprove.

As to the idea that "we should draft both so that the idea is unpalletable", yeah, that'll work. What color is the sky on your planet?
posted by hadashi at 8:19 AM on May 31, 2002


Interestingly, I was just reading one of the primary arguments to keep gays out of the military was in reference to keeping women out of front line situations.

Say a small group of men and women are doing a patrol. They come across a hutch or something. The commanding officer has to send 2 people into investigate. He knows that there is a good chance they would get killed if it happens to be an enemy trap or ambush, but he has to send them in anyway. A pretty typical scenario. Now the natural instinct is not to send the woman in. Be it subconscious or not. Even if the army was able to go rid officers of this sense of chivalry they still can't get rid of the natural need to keep a good looking woman safe. How many men would send an attractive woman whom they bonded with over time into a death trap? It's a simple biological response not do it. In the case I was reading about gays it was in reference to a gay being a commanding officer and not sending in the guy he had an attraction for.

I think a simple solution to giving women the right to fight for their country would be to segregate the armed forces. They don't work together then there is no competition for attention, need to protect women, etc. I don't know how legal segregation is but I don't see how it's different from what they're doing now, keeping women off the front lines. At least with segregation women would have the same combat opportunities as their male counterparts.
posted by geoff. at 8:51 AM on May 31, 2002


As to the idea that "we should draft both so that the idea is unpalletable", yeah, that'll work. What color is the sky on your planet?

I'll tell you this: there is a custom on my planet that sarcastic, ad hominem attacks are considered unworthy of reply.
posted by Fenriss at 9:04 AM on May 31, 2002


What does the American system and the dedication to equality upon which it was founded have to do with the Royal Marines?

Pay attention. The discussion has moved from the case study cited to the general topic.
posted by rushmc at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2002


In the Hackworth article, examples are given where women soldiers are distracting to the male soldiers. This is an unsolvable solution, no amount of military training will make the sex drive go away.

By that reasoning, men and women should never be allowed to work together in a place of business. It's bunk. Fortunately, human beings are not slaves to their "drives" and "instincts" and are fully capable of exercising self control.
posted by rushmc at 9:24 AM on May 31, 2002


Men have more physical endurance and strength. This is needed for combat, especially ground combat. A smaller, weaker person in hand-to-hand combat

More and more, physical strength will become less and less relevant in modern warfare.
posted by rushmc at 9:26 AM on May 31, 2002


I'll tell you this: there is a custom on my planet that sarcastic, ad hominem attacks are considered unworthy of reply.

Nice custom. Send me a vacation brochure...would make a pleasant change from here for a couple weeks.
posted by rushmc at 9:27 AM on May 31, 2002


More and more, physical strength will become less and less relevant in modern warfare.

I really doubt that, rushmc. I feel direct combat is a necessity to end wars. Look at afghanistan for a recent example, no men on the ground, (too late, in this case) no victory.
posted by bittennails at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2002


. . .the natural need to keep a good looking woman safe. How many men would send an attractive woman whom they bonded with over time into a death trap?

what a predicament for you warrior gents, geoff.

solution: draft only ugly women. then you won't bond with 'em. right? hmm. but i always heard the great bonding in combat happened between straight males.

of course, if attractive women insist on the same right to serve their country in the military as ugly ones, you must be sure the attractive chicks only serve in combat with gay men, who of course would have no qualms about sending females into a deathtrap no matter how pretty they look.

no, wait -- if you're trying to save the lives of attractive women, that doesn't work either.

never mind. but at least making women and gay men serve together is a fine way for DOD to shut up two groups that are widely unwanted by the ever-so chivalrous US military.
posted by jellybuzz at 10:19 AM on May 31, 2002


solution: draft only ugly women. then you won't bond with 'em. right? hmm. but i always heard the great bonding in combat happened between straight males.

She'd have to be pretty damned ugly not to get any attention from men out in the field, or stuck on a Navy submarine for months. Even then, she'd still get attention, and would be treated differently by the male soldiers.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2002


I think you'd have a better chance at getting a hormone raged, scared, 18 year old to send an ugly woman into battle as opposed to say, the sensual lines of Tina Turner.
posted by geoff. at 10:46 AM on May 31, 2002


Solution to the continually vexing problem of female attractiveness: make women wear burkas. Burkas, like body bags, are not as easy to fight in as standard combat gear, but they can ensure that while a female soldier is out helping to make the world safe from enemies of our republic, she can remain safely hidden from her own combat mates. Best of all, the boys won't get their heads blown off while thinking about boobs instead of bullets. God bless America!
posted by jellybuzz at 10:56 AM on May 31, 2002


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