Women combatants in the military is first step in fixing our war-mongering ways

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Illustration by Gabriel Orendain-Necochea / Senior Illustrator

In a move that was a longtime coming, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, lifted the ban on females serving combat roles in our nations military branches on Thursday. The ban was put into place in 1994 and effectively removed women from serving in high risk jobs during wartime, including infantry, artillery, and any position deemed “ground combat.”

While conservatives and traditionalists choke on their frothing outrage-spittle and sputter inane logical fallacies about women being physically unfit (the same standards male members must adhere to, otherwise they are also excluded, conveniently enough) or being more likely to suffer sexual assaults (like the government sponsored legitimate rapes condoned by Republicans in Virginia and abroad), our saner citizens have a chance to reflect on this practical decision.

I expect the next brilliant Republican talking point to encompass Brick Tamland’s pleading response to women sharing the spotlight from the movie “Anchorman.”

“The bears can smell the menstruation!”

In this instance, just replace the bears with Muslims.

Panetta will be passing the torch to expected incoming Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. According to defense officials, Hagel supports the move. Hagel himself is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. His experience with an unneeded conflict makes him an ideal candidate to see this adjustment through.

Each branch of the military will be setting forth their proposed plans of action on how to integrate these changes on May 15. It’s expected that the specialized combat units like the Navy SEALS and Special Forces will ask for exclusion. That’s another step to be fought for in a truly equal military but for now there is at least the opportunity for further integration.

The most absurd argument about the ineffectual nature of women and their perceived physical weakness is perhaps the strongest argument that the naysayers have. Of course, it’s easily dismissed once the realization hits that no matter what the gender of the individual is, they cannot be considered for combat jobs unless they pass preset physical requirements. That means, if a male can’t do the proper amount of pull-ups, they can’t go off and shoot other people. Those requirements will not change for this new policy so women will be held to the exact same standard.

In the official statement from the Defense Department about the upcoming changes, that point is driven home,If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job – and let me be clear, I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job – if they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed or color or gender or sexual orientation.”

That’s equality and it’s fair and nothing more can be asked at this time. We’re long overdue for changes and it’s good to see some action from a generally inactive government. Especially one that has seen the changing landscape.

Over the last decade, our war efforts have moved from very traditional ideas of frontline combat and rearward deployment of support. That frontline no longer exists as we fight a continual guerilla war against counter-insurgents. This enemy doesn’t abide by rules of conduct on or off the field. They instead strike wherever they see an easily destroyed target. Due to this, 152 women have died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as their traditional support roles were also targeted.

As it happens often with emotional cultural discussions in our country, we end up discussing the absurd hypotheticals and miss the forest for the trees. In this case, we actually just shoot the trees with bullets and hope the forest is still standing.

Now that women are allowed to die equally next to men, maybe our chicken-hawk representatives and leaders will think twice before sending them to a war that doesn’t need to happen. Maybe the sight of mangled and torn body of a young American women, serving her country, will be the shock our society needs to jolt us out of our vicious, drooling lust for killing abroad.

I don’t actually have faith that this will be end result but I can hope at least.

We have too easily seen war and the loss of precious life as something easily engaged and subsequently dismissed. It’s bad enough that all of our action overseas has engendered vast swaths of the world to loath us, but the loss of life that was a complete waste in pursuit of unattainable goals was always drenched in misguided patriotism. While anybody dying in war is a tragedy, maybe the prospect of female soldiers laying down their lives will stem the tide of our countries all too eager lust for war.

-Nathan is a graduating senior and former Marine. He runs when he sees bears and menstrual blood.

What's your opinion on the change in combat classification for women in the armed services?

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  • Dan

    Standards are already lower for females in the military. Look at the PT test standards and tell me they are equal. Is that going to change? I don’t see it happening. As with anything in the Army I won’t believe it till after its happened. 

  • Arman Gosparini

    –”While conservatives and traditionalists choke on their frothing outrage-spittle and sputter inane logical fallacies…”–

    Ever notice how, to leftists, conservatives always choke, froth and sputter but never talk, voice or discuss anything. Excuse me while I wipe some spittle off my lips. 

    Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that the prospect of female soldiers being captured, tortured and raped was compared to a standard diagnostic medical procedure? 

    And am I the only one who thinks it is naive of the author to suggest that standards will never be reduced for women trying to enter combat units? This decision wasn’t made to improve the military. It was made to promote that non-virtue called “diversity”. If the standards are kept the same, then only a handful of women would ever make it into these combat units, then that would not satisfy the goals that the social engineers set out and further action would have to be taken. Don’t believe me? It happened to the LAPD S.W.A.T. They lowered fitness standards so that their teams could look “More like L.A”. Every diversity program does this invariably. I see no reason why an already politically correct military would not. 

    People will die as a result of this policy, I’m certain of it, which is why this particular part of the Op-Ed really stuck out to me:

     –”Now that women are allowed to die equally next to men, maybe our chicken-hawk representatives and leaders will think twice before sending them to a war that doesn’t need to happen. Maybe the sight of mangled and torn body of a young American women, serving her country, will be the shock our society needs to jolt us out of our vicious, drooling lust for killing abroad.

    I don’t actually have faith that this will be end result but I can hope at least.”–

    This is the most disturbing thing I’ve ever read in any Sundial Op-Ed up to this point. Lets just think about what this paragraph is saying here.

    Mr. McMahon is championing an agenda that will result in increased combat fatalities, and then hoping (those are his words) that the resulting carnage can be used as a propaganda tool with which to stop his fellow citizens from pursuing policies he disagrees with. 

    What’s a few eggs when you’re making a delicious anti-war omelet?

    I’ve defended a lot of controversial things, but I’ve never made the case that we should get people killed in order to prove a point. What that paragraph suggests is simply disgusting.

  • David the small-L libertarian

    Mr. McMahon:  You should read this piece titled Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal written by a female USMC captain.

    http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/article/get-over-it-we-are-not-all-created-equal

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KS6F5ADTFMSPZJNTLR7QFI4DDQ Cleveland Steamers

    So do they have to register for selective service?

    • Michelangelo Landgrave

      No. Selective service is only for the draft and they’re still exempt from that.

      • BurgerLess

        “Spare no one.” said Moe Szyslak, at the battle of Troy.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/KS6F5ADTFMSPZJNTLR7QFI4DDQ Cleveland Steamers

        My feeling is they can’t have it both ways. All women should have to do selective service.

        • Michelangelo Landgrave

          Ideally no one should be signed up for the draft. I can see where you are coming from though. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/KS6F5ADTFMSPZJNTLR7QFI4DDQ Cleveland Steamers

         What happened to all this “Equal under the law” stuff. Let them be drafted too then. If it ever happens again.

  • David the small-L libertarian

    The purpose of the armed forces is to win wars, not to make women more “equal.”

    I wonder if women will continue to demand such equality if the draft is ever reinstated and women start getting their notices to report for duty.

  • Jon Soto

    Why would a woman want the psychological trauma induced by combat?

    • Michelangelo Landgrave

      Why would a man?

      • BurgerLess

        To defend their life, their family, their home…

        • Michelangelo Landgrave

          A woman has all three. 

          Not that I am for or against this initiative.