Eric Lopez is a senior studying political science, writing in response to the Daily Question published March 1, 2011.
There has been talk for years on whether women should be allowed to sign up for combat arms jobs such as infantry, scout and combat engineer, field artillery and armor.
While there definitely are women that do participate in combat support roles, such as military police and medics, who see combat and conduct themselves valiantly, women aren’t built for the stresses of every day life in a combat arms battalion.
I served in combat arms for the United States Army and went to Iraq twice and I don’t believe that most women are capable of standing up to the physical rigors of combat life. Beside putting on body armor with a full combat load of ammo, personal med kit, bayonet and countless other items including your weapon, soldiers have to then strap on a large rucksack ranging anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds. This all takes a toll on the human body and this might be something that some women aren’t capable of doing.
Women also have different physical needs than men. In the Army, if a woman is training in the field and begins menstruating, she gets to pack up her equipment and go back to base.
Guys in combat arms battalions have to stay out in the field for weeks without a shower. In the military’s eyes, it is very unhygenic to have a female soldier out in the field for who knows how long.
Think of the combat arms battalions in Afghanistan with small outposts in the middle of no where and a shower consist of dumping a water bucket over yourself or wiping yourself down with wet wipes. You can see how things might get awkward quickly.
In the military, there is a set standard for everything and not living up to the standard is a failure of the soldier and their leadership. If someone wants to join Special Forces, the mark to strive for is 71 push-ups in 2 minutes, 78 sit-ups in 2 minutes and a 13:00 minute 2 mile run, regardless of age.
Is the military to lower the physical standards so that women have more of a shot in meeting them?
If and when this policy changes and women are allowed to join combat arms, then the standards should be the same across the board – the same gear load out, the same hygiene policy and the same physical fitness scoring.
To do otherwise would lower the standards of the fighting force and this is something our country can’t afford.