I have two daughters. Both on active duty in the United States Navy. Both extremely capable in their chosen career fields, both better than many of the men in their fields. I'm not just saying that as their father.
I've talked privately to their peers, subordinates and superiors. All of whom had very complimentary things to say about my daughters. All of whom were warned that if they tried to feed me bullshit in their answers to "How is she doing?" I would recognize it immediately. I am a retired Master Sergeant. I was trained to recognize BS and have a certain amount of experience at detecting BS.
In fact, I have a lot of experience in the field of Bullshit Detection. Not only was I on active duty for 24 years, I also have three kids. I've also had the opportunity to work with lawyers. That lot is very good at both dishing it out AND detecting it. Bullshit that is. (Someday I will tell my "I was a bailiff at two military courts martial" story. And a sordid tale that is, involving lieutenant colonels and various indiscretions of a personal nature. Hhhmm, I may tell that story sooner, rather than later.)
Where was I? Oh, yes. So to continue, both of my daughters had to meet the same standards as the men in their chosen fields. The exact same standards.
So by now you're no doubt wondering just what it is my daughters do in the Navy. The oldest daughter is a Lieutenant in Nuclear Propulsion. Did her first tour on a destroyer, her second on an aircraft carrier. Why yes, those are both classified as warships. Meaning that if a war breaks out, they don't pull over and let all the girls off before sailing into harm's way. No, not at all.
My youngest daughter is a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the F/A-18F (aka Super Hornet or Rhino), assigned to a Fighter-Attack squadron out west. Yes, the Rhino is an aircraft used in combat and no, the girls don't stay on the ground when they launch these aircraft on combat missions. If called upon, they climb into the jet and go forth to do aerial battle just like their male counterparts.
So women have been in combat roles in the US military for quite some time now. (In case you were confused by the verbiage spouted by any one of the various sources currently expounding on this topic.) The big stink is allowing women into what are known (in the Army) as the combat arms. Infantry, armor and artillery. Which also happen to be the most traditional of the military specialties in both the Army and the Marine Corps. These are also the military specialties most likely to see people wearing different uniforms than our folks. Who are shooting at our folks. (Well, nowadays if they're wearing uniforms at all!)
So really, the big stink is having women in direct contact with the enemy. On the ground. Face to face with the bad guys, so to speak. Intentionally. In a military specialty which by its very nature is intended to seek out and kill the bad guys. Officially.
The point I'm trying to make here is that American women have already been face to face with the enemy. American women have already been killed and wounded in action. American women have already been captured by the enemy. So it's a "been there, done that" scenario for American military women in a certain sense. So what's the problem?
The problem, as I see it, is that there are standards which have been set for those seeking entry into the combat arms. If an individual does not meet those standards, they do not get the job. Period. The problem is that the people who want to see this program "succeed", want it to succeed at any cost. Even at the cost of getting young Americans killed in combat.
If one lowers the standards so that more women will qualify for, let us say the infantry, what does that mean? What's the big deal? Of course, this could mean that now more men would also qualify for the infantry, who couldn't make the grade before. Where does it stop? Do we really want men and women in the infantry who can't carry 100+ pounds of ammunition, rations and other equipment, plus their personal weapon over rough terrain. I think not.
But if you lower the standards to make more women eligible, all you're doing is setting them up for eventual failure. Most of the people making the most noise over the "women in combat" issue will never be one of those women in combat. They may be women who served their time on active duty and have since retired or otherwise gotten out. Perhaps they wish they could have had those combat arms "opportunities" when they were still wearing the uniform. I'd be willing to bet that's a pretty small percentage of the women who have served.
Another argument I've seen advanced for allowing women into the combat arms regards promotions. As in "gee, only the combat arms guys have a shot at making general". Uh, yes. That's true. The job of the Army and the Marine Corps is to close with and destroy the enemy. The old "blow things up and kill people" mission statement. So you'd want the people in charge to know how to do that. Right?
Would you want to have the person in charge of an upcoming battle have come up through the ranks as a personnel specialist? Or a supply officer? I mean why should we limit their chances of commanding a mechanized infantry division simply because they're not infantry? Because they have no idea what they're doing from a practical standpoint.
So yes, not having women in the combat arms certainly does limit their promotion chances. So let's make sure women can be in combat for that small percentage of girls who want to grow up to be tank generals. Let's get lots of our daughters killed so little Molly can command Hell on Wheels someday. Or not.
Let me diverge here a moment for an example. Now all three of my children wear glasses. (My fault, the Missus Herself had perfect vision until fairly recently. And yes it is important to this tale.) When my son was looking at going into the military, he had three ROTC scholarship offers. One Army, one Air Force, one Navy. Being a good son he came to the old man (moi) for advice.
Now the Army scholarship was rejected pretty much out of hand. Not because of any disdain for that fine service. My Dad, his brothers, my Gramp, various and sundry great-uncles etc all were soldiers in the Army of the United States. I once toyed with the idea of becoming a soldier. The reason the Army ROTC scholarship was rejected was that it was for three years. College (for most of us) lasts four years.
Now the Naviguesser, loyal son that he is, asked me what I would do, were I him. I asked him who he figures runs the Air Force. He correctly guessed that it was that class of magical beings known as "pilots". Yes, the job of the Air Force is "to fly and to fight". As my son wears glasses, I recommended that unless he was enamored of spending his time in a support role, the USAF was probably a bad idea.
Now the Navy was different. Should he have decided to make it a career, flag rank was attainable. All things being equal, like "was he a good ship driver?" (And yes he was as a matter of fact. Just sayin'...) So he chose a service based on where his abilities and physical abilities might stand him in good stead. There shouldn't be waivers or exceptions made in the ranks of the aerial warriors for those requiring corrective lenses. And there aren't. (At least not yet.)
Another example I like to trot out as to physical ability and providing waivers for things and lowering standards is the two, rather petite female airmen who worked for me in Korea. Before I go further I must say that both were qualified for the job as determined by the standards of the time. Which applied regardless of what wedding tackle you were equipped with.
One of those standards was the ability to lift 60 pounds, all by your lonesome. Keep this in mind. Another key piece of data, for later, is that the radar receiver-transmitter (R/T) as installed on the F-4D Phantom II weighs 120 pounds. Now how much is 120 divided by 2? If you came up with 60, go to the head of the class.
Now one dark and stormy night, whilst engaged in my duties as the NCOIC of the swing shift at the 8th Component Repair Squadron (part of the immortal and renowned Wolf Pack by the way) I was called to the phone by one of my
Well, as a firm believer and proponent of equal rights, equal pay, blah, blah, blah. I asked Senior Airman Cindy what the problem was? Was there a stripped bolt perhaps? Was something broken?
Why no Sarge. The thing is too heavy for myself and Airman First Class Delta to lift.
Hhhmm, I asked her if the unit was different somehow than it was on the other aircraft. No, same as usual. I see, I said.
"So, Airman Cindy. You have two choices. If the R/T was indeed suspect, then bring it here, down to the shop. OR *long dramatic pause* I'll send Staff Sergeant Dave up to help you. And I'll go with you tomorrow to the commander's office to explain why you need to be transferred to other duties. As apparently you are no longer capable of doing this job."
Airman Cindy, "We'll figure it out. If we're not there shortly, send Dave up."
Approximately 30 minutes later, my two female troops showed up with the R/T. No one was hurt, the unit was intact. Seems they pulled out the tech manual and followed the instructions contained therein. Like they should have in the first place.
Now the ladies learned two valuable lessons. One is that I expected them to do their jobs. Two is that I would treat them as another cog in the Big Blue machine, no special treatment because they lacked a "Y" chromosome. They actually appreciated that. At their last assignment the powers-that-be treated them like delicate flowers, NOT like full-fledged members of the United States Air Force.
Bottom line is, if the ladies can cut it and meet the EXISTING standards, then let them play war with the boys. But if they can't, and the ee-jits in Washington want to lower the standards for the sake of (D)iversity or political correctness then be prepared to watch our daughters come home in body bags.
As to making women sign up for the draft as men have to? I'm not prepared to go there. Not only do I have daughters...
I also have grand-daughters.
If they want to volunteer, more power to them. I don't think the government should have to compel people to serve. If they do, then perhaps it ain't a good fight to be in. But that's this Old Sarge's personal opinion. As always, YMMV.