Women in Combat Units Research Proposal

Pages: 12 (4690 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

Women in Combat Units

Women in the army are nothing new. During the Second World War, women served in the front as much as men, both among the allied and the axis powers. The separation of duties resulted in companies called the WAC -- Women Army Corps that had details in medical, and other non-combatant operations. They were also subject to the same risks of bombings, enemy action and other hazards of war. The question that is now the focus of debate is if this service is to be extended to include women in combat units. or, 'Should the U.S. military allow women to fight in all combat units?'

The Controversies and Debates Earlier the problem or controversy of including women in combat units have been debated and discussed for over half a century. While the debates were on, the U.S. military did induct women into combat order. When the subject was discussed in the 1980's and 1990s many academics and writers expressed opinions for and against the proposal. In 1985 for example there was a hot debate in the public policy arena and in social scientific writing; the issue is still alive and undecided. Despite the current combat exclusion policy, there are women in jobs in the U.S. military that will place them in combat should war break out where they are stationed or where their units are planned to be deployed. As pointed out by Grace King, as well as Jeff Tuten, many women in the army who are in combat support and combat service support military occupational specialties are currently at risk of combat. What distinguishes the combat service as well as combat support jobs which women presently occupy from many of those from which they are excluded is not the degree of risk of their being killed, but rather the degree to which the jobs involve offensive or defensive combat potential. They are excluded from employment as well as from units that during times of war routinely involve in offensive types of warfare. (Goldman, 267)

This later was seen in the light of the law, which at that time law forbade the assignment of women to military combat roles in the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Women, who volunteer can be inducted but have to be kept off from dangerous work of the military assignments. During the Carter administration in 1979 an attempt to remove the combat exclusion laws were made. The House Military Personnel Sub-committee considered the matter in detail but the proposal was shelved. It was revived on May 8, 1991, by Representative Patricia Schroeder, the Democrat from Colorado and the same was approved by a voice vote Thus the House Armed Services Committee allowed induction of women into combat units. (Schlafly, Women in Military Combat? What it Means for American Culture and Defense) Today women are serving in the combat units, especially in the gulf regions. There have been scandals involving omen and human rights violations too. There are fundamental issues that were discussed regarding women in combat roles. These issues need to be sorted out at the earliest.

A a) the Issues Involved

There are various issues involved in the induction of women into the combat units. These issues can be segregated into physical, which includes sexual abuse, harassment and incompatibility, biological - which can be pregnancies and attendant issues, physical abilities and impacts, Social, which could be disruption in family life and psychological- the trauma of war. The fact that men are from Mars and women are from Venus is now an accepted fact and in the light of these, all these issues have to be examined in detail. Some of these issues are substantial amid merits detailed study and formulation of policies. The physical issues stress on the natural reactions in mixed company.

Physical Issues

To look at the issues that have to be addressed of a physical nature, we have to admit that women are being inducted into a hitherto male bastion, and consequently many issues, that pertain to sexual abuse, harassment, and gender bias can be expected. The second physical problem will be the biological capability of women in performing tasks that were or are considered injurious. Even though women served the army ever since the world wars; till the period of 1977, women in the Army were assigned to the Women's Army Corps. It is stated that during this period women were trained separately from men, and they were assigned either administrative or medical duties. Lynn Meola writes of her personal experience which shows that she was selected and assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to train in basic electronics and special cryptographic communications equipment. Thereafter she worked in a combat signal unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and later went to airborne school. Some of the male dominated dangerous works like being the first woman to drop in to remote sites to repair crypto equipment, jumping from helicopters etc. were performed. However she complains and maintains that during the years as an enlisted soldier, she was sexually harassed on every assignment. (Weinstein; White, 151)

Women are often the targets of victimization. Then if it was stated so for the GIs; then those at the very top are not considered to be spared from harassment. The scandals, namely the Tailhook and Aberdeen scandals are testimony to this fact. The "first female three-star general in the U.S. military, LT-GEN Claudia Kennedy, the U.S. Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence," once had to bring in an accusation on MAJ-GEN Larry Smith, for harassing her sexually in 1996-97. It is also pointed out that Larry Smith was at that time slated to be "deputy inspector general in charge of investigating sexual harassment complaints." (Loy, 43) There is also an argument that men who enforce discipline and the others targeted by women cadets can become the innocent victims of false accusations. This could be from women colleagues or subordinates, who are disgruntled. This issue is thus argued about. Sexual harassment occurs in most offices and establishments. That must not be a cause of excluding women from combat. Rather there must be, it is felt a safe system created to minimize hazards. How can sexual exploitation be minimized and also provide safeguards against false implications is a serious issue that needs to be considered in depth. While on one hand, the situation of a woman in a male dominated world is and issue, the more important question centers around the biological, or the inherent weaknesses in women to perform tasks required in combat. (Loy, 44)

Biological Issues

The biological issues could be the physical abilities of women and the barriers to them performing as much as required in physical activities. The second is the pregnancy issue. There is an opinion that when "compared to the average male inductee, the female is 4.8 inches shorter, 'weighs 31.7 pounds less, and have 37.4 pounds less muscle mass and 5.7 pounds more fat mass. In general, women are at a distinct disadvantage when performing military tasks requiring muscular strength because of their lower muscle mass." (Loy, 46)

Further argument is that the fat mass and heat tolerance, marching with heavy loads are all disadvantageous to women. Further arguments point out that women are at a higher risk for injuries and during the "training, 51% of women and 27% of men were injured." (Loy, 44) Fifty four percent of the women participants received injuries during the Army basic training. The manpower loss is set at thirteen days. One of the causes of injuries has been attributed to limited leg length. (Loy, 46)

These shortcomings have not kept women from performing in operation desert storm, and they have acquitted themselves honorably. The argument could also be advanced that today's wars are more mechanized and physical prowess of the individual is made up by technical gadgetry. Thus many of the demanding physical activities have been eased today which can be a point that could set of the biological shortcomings. For example weapons are lighter, and the distance and range is higher. Further aircrafts and ships have more facilities and are mechanized. Thus the physical strength is only a secondary need.

Environmental Issues

Women may not be able to adjust to heat as much as men do. However a positive point "that they are less susceptible to altitude sickness and, normally have a 'greater tolerance of cold temperature due to their extra body fat'" goes in their favor. (Loy, 47) "Lieutenant Colonel William Gregor a former faculty member at West Point, researched the performance of 3540 male and 623 female West Point and Army ROTC cadets at summer camp" he concluded that men and women do not meet the same physical standards. The study claims that women start to lose "bone mass at an earlier stage than men," and thus are probable victims of fractures and bone injuries. This may point "to the fact that women selected for combat units may not" be around till the end of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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