questionsdid you hear the pentagon is lifting its ban on…

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It's about time! Women have been serving on the front lines in Afghanistan (and Iraq), but haven't been eligible for combat pay or promotions that require combat experience - even though they're doing the same jobs side-by-side with men who are on combat tours.

I wish that none of our armed services were on active combat duty, but as long as there isn't peace across the world, women are just as capable as men in combat positions.

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I have no doubt in a woman's ability to be a soldier. It's the whole prisoner of war scenario that scares me should a female soldier ever be captured.

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@bsmith1: and you don't think that stuff happens to guys too?

I agree, about time, and not just for being allowed in combat, but for getting combat pay as well.

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Cool!

Are they adjusting the fitness testing to hold females to the same standards as males? 71 pushups instead of 42, and 2 miles in 13:00 instead of 15:36? I'm all for equality, as long as it's true equality.

I do wholeheartedly agree that females soldiers deployed at present should absolutely be eligible for combat pay, and able to claim combat experience.

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I can sign myself as US Army Retired. I get two votes.

Women serve in all sorts of roles, some are as tough as any guy in the same role.
Gender is obvious, but its impact on performance is not. In combat, nerves, reaction time and intelligence matter far more than raw strength. Women often excel in these areas.

So, I'd agree with @neuropsychsocial, it is about time. The fact is, women have been in combat for years, just not officially recognized or sanctioned. This change just removes an artificial administrative rule. Equal pay, equal opportunity. Let the commanders in the field make their deployment and assignments as they see fit. A practical commander uses the best resources at hand.

Tom S, USA Ret.

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@okham: I'm sure it does, but it's likely at the hands of men. I don't imagine those men would treat female soldiers as equals to the male prisoners.

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I have two female friends that were combat medics and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of them wanted to see combat and that was the closest they could get. When the government says women were not allowed to serve in combat roles, they were being ignorant or stupid. There's no other way to say it: These women were in the sh*t. And they had to help save lives at the same time.

This does mean the Army needs to really take more seriously the rampant sexual assaults and harassment that originates from the males in the armed forces toward women when they are deployed. They are doing an awful job as it is. Increasing the number of roles women in which women can serve will increase the frequency of sexual assaults unless they actually start cracking down on this and removing the stigma from women reporting sexual assaults to the brass.

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@voxitage: Ditto 100%. I have served with some excellent women and I am for 100% equality, if that's actually what you're getting, but lets set the record straight on a few points here before the self-righteous know-it-alls dislocate a shoulder patting themselves on the back:

1. Women, especially post Cold War, are placed in harms way and in combat, as it is now defined, on a routine basis. They are excluded, generally, from having jobs in "combat arms," i.e. infantry, special forces, artillery, etc., but serve in many "combat support" specialties like military police, aircrews.
2. Military bonus pay is based on your theater and/or duty, not whether you fire a weapon. In fact, a woman serving in an aircrew (hazardous duty) would actually be paid MORE than your average grunt unless said grunt was actually being shot at somewhere. Everyone in an "imminent danger" zone receives bonus pay. Each country and period is rated for imminent danger; look it up.

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3. As far as promotions go, women tend to get promoted faster than men (and thus earn more money) due to a number of factors including, but not limited to, quotas (unofficially), less stringent physical fitness tests and other "gender norming" policies, and restriction to more specialized career fields with higher promotion rates. Is it fair, absolutely not, but lets not pretend that women in the military are downtrodden and abused.
4. I have absolutely no problem with women serving so long as they are required to meet and maintain the same standards that men are. "A Kinder, Gentler Military" is a good read for those interested in the concept of gender norming and its negative impact on readiness; out of print but it can be found. Written by a woman who set out to show the opposite, but after researching and writing, became opposed to the policies as themselves unfair and detrimental. Sorry, can't remember her name of the top of my head, but it was written in the 90's.

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@curtisuxor:
When you put people into a lawless situation, I wouldn't be surprised if they ignore even the laws they are supposed to remember.

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5. Finally, please, let women serve and afford them the same opportunities, but also make them shave their heads at boot camp, maintain the same levels of physical fitness like actually doing pull ups rather than just being required to get on the bar and hang there for so many seconds, and no more lipstick and earrings in uniform. And don't tell me that it's unfair to them because they are naturally weaker; there are men who can't do it either, but we don't change the rules for them to make it easier.

I know most everyone will read this as some kind of woman bashing rant, but it really isn't. I'm just saying that artillery shells don't care that its not fair that you can't run as fast as everyone else or pick your buddy up and get him out of a field of fire. War is what it is no matter how politically correct we become.

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I'm just curious about the number of people that have actually served in the military v. the number of people that haven't re: this issue. I'm wondering how many people think this is a case about "fairness" and from what perspective they're coming from. Because I was in the military, my wife is active duty, and I think it's a bad idea and so does she. There are many, many jobs in the military that women are eminently suited for. There are a few that they are not. I'm colorblind so I was excluded from a pretty broad swath of jobs in the military. Did I cry about it because I'm physically unable to perform certain tasks but I should be allowed to do them because it's "just not fair that I'm being treated differently"? That was rhetorical but no, I did not. If you want to say that "everyone is equal" then you have to assess them all equally. If you understand that in the really real world (and not some hypothetical world) that there are gender differences you have to act accordingly.

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I'm a female currently serving and have two deployments under my belt thus far. Personally, I would like to see women afforded the opportunity to serve in "combat" units, IF they can pass the same fitness standards the men are subject to.

There are "combat" specialties that may not be considered "combat" per se. I'm in a maintenance support unit for a field artillery battalion but I can't actually join a battery as it's considered a combat unit. However, most FA units aren't on front lines. We're in the rear firing over the front line. There aren't any extra fitness standards to meet as an artilleryman, so why can't I be a fire support specialist or a fire direction officer?

Hopefully, positions like that will be opened to females who can competently complete the necessary courses to qualify for the job. As for other combat specialties (Special Forces, SEALs, etc), I feel if a woman can meet the exact same standards as a man can, more power to her.

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Now if we could get females to register for the draft. That may be the next battle.

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Like most of the military types (past and present) around here I don't have much problem with it, with the caveats that standards aren't lowered. I would also add that serving in a combat unit would NOT be voluntary: if the NEC/MOS/designator/AFPC/whatever is needed, and you are the best fit, you go. I don't think that this is going to be the case.

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@voxitage: I highly doubt that they are going to change the womens PFT standards to match those of the men, honestly, I think they should though. Those women will have to be able to pull their buddy out of combat if they get hit and won't be able to if they are weak.

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I would like to announce that tomorrow I am going to officially announce my support of this. (Brought to you by the logic of the US Department of Defense)

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@th3cap3: I was just having a chat with a few military coworkers about this. In our opinions, everyone should register at 18 with the Selective Reserve.

Fitness standards shouldn't be changed in combat MOSs just because females can't meet or exceed them. You become a liability (male AND female) if you can't perform the tasks necessary to complete the mission.

I think there are a lot of things that need to be discussed, with a wide range of people. But I have a hard time reading these news articles where some women are all gung-ho about this but may not have thought through the implications. I hope this brings about good, valid dialog.

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@th3cap3: they announced yesterday that they are going ot announce today that they are makeing a gender neutral PT standard.

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@sgtgreeneusmc: I don't see your post as misogynist at all. I am ambivalent about the physical standards. I can see where that is coming from. But there are factors that make me think about the issue. For example, the average physically fit woman cannot pick up and carry the average man. The weight differential means it's just not going to happen. But can the average physically fit woman pick up and carry the average woman? I expect so. Basically, is being able to lift and carry your own weight good enough, or do you have to be able to lift and carry the biggest person in your unit? Women face the additional likelihood of sexual assault at the hands of the enemy, but they are also facing the much higher rates of sexual assault at the hands of their fellow soldiers. I think that female soldiers go into their roles with eyes wide open and if they are willing to face that possibility then they should have the right to do so. I agree with the loss of hair, makeup and jewelry.

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@sgtgreeneusmc: Oorah, Marine! Well said. I watched what happened at AOSC at NAS Pensacola when women were allowed into the aviation pipeline, especially with two separate physical fitness standards put into place. Even the the "O" course had two different obstacles, one for men and one for women. Eventually, it was done away with--can't remember the name of the three star, but in her opinion she felt doing the obstacle course was detrimental.
I'm hoping every person will be held to the same physical requirements across the board with NO lowering of the standards. It bothers the hell out of me to hear nonsense such as the Army Ranger school telling leadership females WILL PASS regardless of meeting the requirements.
Another concern is factual reporting of the pre-deployment pregnancy spikes. These stats were muffled under the guise of HIPAA, but they are startlingly high, especially in Navy at-sea deployments.
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Much thought needs to be put into making sure women who are truly at the tip of the spear & in harm's way cannot become pregnant if they become POWs. Rape of captured females HAS occurred in the past, but that has also been swept under the rug.
I have a daughter whose deepest wish is to become a Marine Corps sniper. We have several dear friends who did just that & encourage her to hang in there as time just might make that possible. As a mom, my gut tightens knowing what hell is involved with that MOS. I'd feel that no matter the sex of my child & I know this particular child has the mentality to do the job--killer instinct. She's IS different. Whether she could meet the fitness standards is something else.

As to the book, I believe the good Sargent is referring to this one: The Kinder, Gentler Military by Stephanie Gutmann.

(edit--Admiral Pat Tracey. THAT was the Navy three star)

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@lavikinga: The AF has female snipers, if that's really what she wants to do. If she wants to be a Marine then that's a different story altogether.

@lwalt1: What you said. This. Exactly.

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What @lwalt1: said.

If there's a draft, everyone should be required to register and serve if called. As someone who served with draftees, I very much prefer an all-volunteer force.

The APFT is a test of overall physical fitness, not a standard for a particular job. If there should be no difference for gender, there should be no difference for age, either. No medical waivers. How many 50 year old men can meet the standard for new recruits? There should be a standard for certain jobs/MOSs - but if so, everyone should have to pass it. No exceptions for the senior NCO with the bad knees.

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(cont.)

Rape is about dominance and humiliation, not sex. Men in the military get raped as POWs, and sometimes, by their fellow soldiers. It gets covered up pretty well, with the perps often charged with "aggravated assault" rather than rape to "spare the victim the humiliation" of having to testify to specifics in a Court Martial. Rape is a particularly effective tool against men for just that reason. (For a description of what happened to Russian soldiers in Afghanistan captured by the mujaheddin, read Charlie Wilson's War )

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@adadavis: I absolutely agree that I prefer an all-volunteer force. I'd hate to have to deal with s-bags whose only purpose in life is to get out of a draft rather than do their jobs. Not everyone is cut out for the military, it's true. But I think everyone would benefit in some way through civil-service work (military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, etc).

As for the APFT, I agree with you there as well. Everyone takes a pt test in order to join the military. However, specialty branches (special ops) require troops to meet or exceed the 18-21 (?) standard. If a female can meet or exceed that standard in addition to other requirements for that MOS, I have no problem with letting them into that MOS. My fear is that women will attempt to go through these schools, wash out, and someone way above my pay grade will say "We need to lower the standards". That can't be an option. If you can't meet the minimum requirements, find another MOS.

Hope that clarified my last post.

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@lwalt1: Yup. Lowering the standards to meet a quota. Been there, seen that, burned the T-shirt. (It wouldn't have met Woot standards, anyway :) NOT a fan.

The Army did some test runs in the '80s for certain combat/support MOSs and what physical requirements should be - like "lift x lbs" or "carry x amount of weight for y distance". The results were mixed. When the test standards were sane and logical for the job requirement, most women failed, but so did some of the male NCOs and officers who were already serving in the job. Typically, the solution was to nix the testing and simply go on as before.

US Army Retired - career MI (reconnaissance/collection ops)

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@lavikinga: You daughter wants to be a Marine Sniper? You and the Mr. raised her right! Be sure that she reads one of the many biographies for Carlos Hathcock. Too bad the brass (for the most part) forgot what a devastating tool a sniper can be in a low intensity conflict. Fortunately, SOF did not: we had plenty for the first go around in AFG and IRQ. A shipmate at my final command had a Silver Star from sniper duty in the first year in IRQ.

It would be awesome if she asks for a ghillie suit and a Remington Model 700 chambered for 308 Lapua Magnum for her 16th birthday.

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@wilfbrim: She's in her early 20s, finishing up her Bachelor degree. Had a rough few semesters playing catch-up with the math courses. She comes from a long line of those in military service and her choice of the Marines was put to us this way: The Marine Corps is the best of the best. I want to be a part of the best. Hard to argue that logic.
I gave up buying Barbie dolls for her early on. She fell had for the Ninja Turtle way of life, resulting in taking up aikido and appreciating a good knife. Both her Dad & my father have gifted her with firearms along with the proper training that goes into owning them. She's a pretty darned good shot too. We'll just have to see how the winds of fortune blow for her.

(I'm betting you & I probably are just a degree or two apart from knowing the same people)

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The "top brass" in the military are politicians. No one, and I mean no one, short of a presidential seal of approval, gets moved up that high in the military if they aren't a yes man to the political machine.

I could barely make it through some of the more demanding physical fitness training sessions we were made to complete in my unit. I am not talking about that worthless PT standard that thing is a joke. I remember vividly my buddy and I getting our bags smoked royally at this "prestigious" course, and two females being given a "rest" break. IN the end, they completed the prestigious course the same as I did, but they definetly didn't do the same course I did.

I have met some hard core, bad ass women in the service, would go to war with them anyday. I have met a lot more that like to pick and choose what they do. No one should be able to choose if they fight or not, if so, then let the men choose too and have one standard for everyone.

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@lavikinga: I respect your choice to allow her to follow her desires.

I'm third generation of military service, but I am already teaching my child that military service should be the last option. I am afraid that parental choices, grandparents choices, and great grandparents choices will influence the decision making process. I know it did for me, as I wanted to continue the tradition. I laughed about the martial arts, my child had an orange belt with a stripe by age 7, and hangs out in MMA gyms everytime allowed.

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@lavikinga: More than a degree or two. I seem to recall that your DH was a 'FO. For somebody in my community, I had an inordinate amount of contact with the brown shoes, including spending 5 years in sunny Pensacola, with a 14 month detour as an IA to NAB Little Creek, hanging with still more aviators.

I also did a tour with the jarheads, which was interesting and educational. They do pride themselves on being what they are. Consider their ads. With a few exceptions recently, their pitch has always been the same: "Maybe you can be one of us." One of my co-workers was probably an exceptional Marine, but left (at the insistence of his wife, I think) due to the punishing OPTEMPO of the force. He down deep misses it.

Anyway, long way around to say that the O's in the Corps don't usually get to do fun stuff. Snipers are all Es. And I expect that the future of the Corps doesn't look really bright moving forward. Huge cuts coming.