An op-ed from a female Iraq veteran has restarted the debate over women in the military. Catherine Ross
wants to see women afforded full combat roles, as they are in the
Israeli armed forces. Several bloggers, including another veteran,
agree with her position. Yet not all are convinced by her handling of concerns about fitness, privacy, and male-female troop relations:
- 'Maybe I Should've Been a Soldier in Israel's Army' Catherine Ross,
a veteran of the Iraq war, argues that she "faced the same dangers" as
her male colleagues, living with them without privacy problems. So why
aren't women allowed to serve in full combat roles in the American
army? She pushes for having the same fitness standards for men and
women, saying that her own "limitation" when it comes to "carry[ing] a
wounded soldier out of a danger zone" is related to her size rather
than gender. In fact, she says, "in reality, American women do engage
in combat, so it's probably time to make it a written policy. If the
policy changes, maybe attitudes will too." She mentions the talk of
changing "don't ask, don't tell" and asks that we change the policy
regarding women "while we're at it."
- Right On, says scottthomasb
at the Attackerman blog (whom some may remember as Scott Thomas Beauchamp, whose Iraq war accounts for The New Republic were later discredited). "With only one percent of the American
population willing/able to serve in the two wars that we're fighting
right now it seems stupid that anyone physical able would be turned
away." On a personal note, he adds, "I've served with women who were
unofficially put into combat roles out of necessity, as well as with
closeted homosexuals, who served capably and honorably. I feel that
more of us veterans should speak up on their behalf."
- And Israel Has a Good Army, Too Dorian de Wind
at The Moderate Voice points out that the Israeli military "have
actively recruited women since the start of the Israeli state in 1948,"
and now allow women to serve in any role that men may. "In my opinion,"
adds de Wind, "the Israeli military are among the finest fighting
forces in the world."
- Respectfully: A Bad Idea for Many Reasons Careful to thank Catherine Ross for her service, the National Review's Elaine Donnelly
offers a rebuttal. "Civil affairs, even in a combat zone, does not fit
the definition of direct ground combat: deliberate offensive action,
attacking the enemy under fire," she explains. Ross has therefore not
actually experienced the role she is advocating for her fellow women.
Though "Ross's experience was a positive one ... forcing women into
situations much worse, without authorization in policy or law, would
not be right." Furthermore, "matters of privacy and matters related to
sex, including harassment/fraternization and pregnancy, directly affect
morale, discipline, deployability, and readiness." Israel is a "a small
country that conscripts forces and does not require long deployments
away from home"--the two situations are not comparable. As to the
matter of physical fitness, she thinks Ross "misses the point":
on average do not have the physical capability to lift a fully loaded
male soldier who has been wounded under fire, in order to save his
life. Even average-sized men have that capability; no one should have
to die because women do not.
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