The new debate about women in combat positions is an argument that few seem to be able to think clearly about. This post will contain some harsh language. Consider it a part of the selection process if you are a woman. If you can’t handle it then you might want to look at another career field because we say a lot worse about each other.
Whenever this topic comes up I hear the same statement from what seems like the vast majority of Americans. It goes something like this, “Hold them to the same standard and if they can hack it then let them do the job.” Intellectually I can look at this subject from an abstract standpoint and agree. Why not let job positions be delegated to soldiers based on their ability to meet the qualifications rather than their gender? This is probably the correct way to think about this subject, have one high standard which all must meet.
However, I did the job and there are some practical issues that we need to overcome. Here is one of the ugly ones: the Army just doesn’t have a lot of integrity when it comes to maintaining standards. They are often lowered for political reasons as commanders are expected to fill quotas or more understandably, units get understrength and need to be plused up on warm bodies. This is the wrong way to go about the problem because letting sub-standard personnel in causes huge problems down the line ranging from degraded operational capabilities to unit morale. Special Operations units are no exception to these internal politics I’m afraid.
But that isn’t fair to female soldiers, right? The problem isn’t women in combat but rather that the institution of the Army needs to get their house in order and stand by their own core values, namely, upholding high standards of combat readiness. I would agree with that argument as well and would be willing to work with anyone, man or woman, on this issue however I can. I feel strongly about this and have written about it previously.