Women in Combat: What Repealing the Combat Exclusion Means for Our Military

Jude Eden

By Jude Eden Published on October 1, 2015

This week was the deadline for the leaders of the armed services to issue their recommendation for opening all combat units to women, though these have not yet been made public and the major media have hardly mentioned it. Repealing the combat ban will not only harm women but weaken our effectiveness in combat.

You may think women are already serving in these roles; but there’s a world of difference between the combat zone and direct ground combat. Women have served honorably and well on deployments, but none who has been injured or died was in direct ground combat or on a combat mission. Performing well and bravely when engaged by the enemy is not the same as qualifying for the infantry. Returning fire isn’t combat, nor is surviving an IED on convoy. Combat is the ferocious, dirty and bloody destruction of the enemy at close quarters, often face to face and hand to hand.

Think about our foreign enemies from al Qaeda to the Taliban to ISIS raping and beheading their way across Iraq. Imagine your daughter there, not in support, but going after these bad guys where they live: hard, fast, with the greatest possible violence.

For infantry to achieve their top priority — victory with the fewest casualties — the combat arms require the best of the best, the toughest, strongest and fastest. When speaking of rates of injury or performance, we’re not comparing civilian averages, or military women to civilian men. We’re talking about trained and fit military women compared with not just military men, but the top one percent of military men.

This is the reality. The Marine Corps’ recent 9-month combat integration testing showed that the female participants had less strength, speed and shooting accuracy, and were injured more than twice as much as men. Coed teams underperformed on nearly 70% of tasks. Since close combat fights are often won on the margins, such disparity could be catastrophic for the units fighting our bloodiest battles at the front. We should be giving them everything they need, and clearing any hindrances from their path, not hobbling them with egalitarian social experiments.

Jude Eden morning convoy - 400

Judy Eden before heading out on convoy to checkpoint duty, Fallujah, 2005.

Military women, as tough, smart and able as they are, are not interchangeable with the men at the infantry level. Before even attempting men’s or infantry standards, military women are already experiencing two to ten times the rate of injury as men: feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, just to name a few.

What does it matter if one or two women can make the lowest men’s standards if they’re prone to more than twice the injuries and we have to break hundreds just to get those two? That means they’ll need to be replaced much more frequently than men, at great expense to both women and taxpayers. With quotas already demanded by General Dempsey, the military has to ensure not just that a few willing women can get the chance. They must guarantee a steady supply of such women.

Military service is not a right. No one “deserves” to be able to fight. The combat arms’ raison d’être is not to provide career opportunities, but to fight and win wars. The feminist politicians and military brass pushing this policy frame it as an equality issue because they can’t show that women truly benefit and enhance combat readiness. And because they can’t possibly prove that women can do whatever men can do, they dismiss the empirical data as inherently discriminatory. They want us to believe that women are strong enough for combat units, but too weak to pass men’s standards because of men’s (alleged) attitudes.

Their argument is basically this: we just need more leadership, and then women won’t suffer more than twice the injuries, underperform at 70% of tasks, and distract men. They say that men get passed “just because they’re men,” and women are excluded “just because they’re women.” Nonsense. Replace “men” and “women” with the physical ability each represents. Denser, larger bones, greater strength, stamina, speed and accuracy, much greater muscle-building potential vs. smaller, lighter skeletons, less aerobic capacity, upper body strength, speed, accuracy and stiff limits on the ability to build muscle. There’s no amount of leadership or attitude adjustment in the world that can change biology.

Even if it weren’t so, repealing the ban would still be expensive, untenable and deadly. Women on the front lines are at higher risk of capture and torture as high-value targets. They’re more susceptible to infection, need more accommodations to maintain hygiene, and, to state what ought to be obvious, are uniquely capable of getting pregnant.

Sexual tension and dynamics also dramatically weaken unit cohesion. Consensual or not, the spectrum from flirtation to rape is destructive and expensive enough in non-combat units. They spell calamity for the infantry. It’s not that men and women can’t work together. We can, but we’re not robots. Where the sexes are mixed, those dynamics are always in our faces. Relationships, jealousies, favoritism, fraternization, wanted attention, unwanted attention, sex and all its ramifications: these create emotional roller-coasters to units that are often isolated in remote areas with no privacy and no doors to lock. The combat units need this stuff like a hole in the head.

War is cruel, demanding and catastrophically dangerous. Women are not excluded out of some arbitrary patriarchal misogyny. It is nature who discriminates. While there may be a few highly atypical women who could pass the elite training, you don’t make policy that affects our national security and the entire population of young females based on the short-term performance of a few individuals.

Military leaders have to make decisions based on the facts on the ground, not on an ideological view of how they would like things to be. There is no job in the combat units that men can’t do, while there are plenty that women can’t do, or can’t do well enough and without lots of injury and other high risks. Where women are needed in the combat zone they are already being utilized and recognized.

Until now, a willingness to face combat reality has kept the combat exclusion in place. In the past the issue has been publicly debated, subject to presidential commissions and congressional oversight. Whenever put to a vote, America has vehemently rejected repeal. Yet all Leon Panetta had to do to enact this policy was to sign a memo. Where’s the outcry in Congress? Our representatives, who have apparently been rolled by political correctness, need to know that we will hold them accountable for subjecting women to conscription and weakening our military in the process.

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  • mw006

    Only a nation whose military and political leadership has become enslaved by political correctness would place women in combat roles. This is like making half the roster on our Olympics boxing team women and sending it off to compete for the Gold. Absolutely absurd and no decent person would stomach the sight of a man pummeling and bloodying into submission an undersized, overmatched woman in the ring. But the consequences in combat and war are infinitely worse. Besides jeopardizing the success of a mission and compromising our country’s security, they place their fellow solders at far higher risk of death. And this doesn’t even touch on the disruptive effects of the sexual tensions and dynamics. But hey, get over it. In the word of PC (defined as coerced make believe), men and women are interchangeable and the acknowledgement of sexual differences a thought crime punishable by ostracism, demotion or discharge. Shame on our gutless an dishonorable leaders if they sanction this radical and reckless experiment!

  • Mactango

    You hit the nail right on the head. Reading your piece here gets me all agitated just thinking about it. I just recently retired after 20 years of service in the US Navy and one of the reasons I got out was because of some of the reasons you cite. I could tell you so many stories. Your piece revolves around combat but there’s also the day to day activities as well that need to get done in the military outside of combat. The military isn’t all push button like some people may think…even outside of combat there is A LOT of manual labor that needs to be done as you might already be well aware of. Speaking from my own experience, for example, during ammunition on-loads or off-loads you need to set up ‘chain gains’ to physically carry 70 pound 5″ rounds from one person to the next. The chain gang starts at the main deck and goes down several decks and can be 50 yards long or longer depending on the type of ship. The women in these chain gangs as I have observed fatigue long before the guys and have to sit down and rest. This creates a burden on the guys still in the chain gang because now it’s short people and the chain gang doesn’t stop just because some people get tired. There’s work to be done! We’re on a schedule! These feminists talk about fairness. But who’s really suffering? If the ship had a full compliment of only men we wouldn’t run into these issues. The guys are the ones that have to carry the load when the weakest link fails. And because of super tight budgets there aren’t any extra billets, there are no extra guys just standing around ready to jump in and take the place of someone that fatigues. I would love it if one of these feminists would join the navy for one day and participate in a ammo chain gang, and when they sit down because they are tired or hurting, I would take a moment to kneel bedside them and tell them this is what they wanted…this is fair right? I would also like them to look at the burden they placed on the others in the chain gang that have to carry their load. I’m not totally against women in the military but when you only have a restricted amount of billets available and a certain number MUST be filled by women for the mere reason of fairness, what happens is it actually turns out that it’s not fair to the men.

    • idahodisq

      Exactly! When I was in SeaBee school. the first day a female Chief came in and starting screaming at everyone that she and other females could do the same job as men. I found it strange that she would holler at us for no reason and completely out of context on this subject. The ironic thing was, during training, it was amply evident that the females COULD NOT do the same Job the men could do. While I pushed an overloaded wheel barrow, two females pushed a half full wheel barrow. While I carried 3 planks, two females carried one plank! And on and on and on! It is ideology and hatred of men over logic and reality in todays modern West. The fact that men allow this is mind boggling. Could this be the result of 40-50 years of men boys being raised in single parent households by females?! WE are sissified, and are crumbling from within because of this mental disorder that has infected every institution we have.

  • idahodisq

    Best piece on this I’ve read. The writer encapsulated everything everyone knows to be true by empirical experience. This is one more nail on the coffin of the west. Learn Russian folks. I’m jumping ship when it starts sinking. That is coming, unless there is a miracle. In a once moral nation that now for the most part rejects the creator that gave us freedom, a miracle is unlikely to occur. So. leftists and feminazis, have your pc victory. When your heads and the heads of your children and grandchildren start rolling off their shoulders, then you may understand your illogical folly.

  • solstar

    Once again: there is not a single society that can successfully eliminate gender differences in physical sports competitions, where everything is controlled to give the players the safest possible game, what makes anyone think it can be eliminated in COMBAT, where nothing is controlled and the cost of failure is death ?

    For your consideration:

    Along about the 6-7th grade females find that they cannot successfully compete with their male peers in ANY physical body to body sport. By the 9-10th grade it is not even a topic of discussion except as a soundbite for a news story. By the end of high school it is universally recognized that females are not capable of the same physical performance standards as males.


    No society, country, nor group or organization has been able to eliminate gender differences in physical sport competition!


    But there seems to be people that think that women can compete against men in COMBAT! And let us not forget, COMBAT is a brutally hard PHYSICAL COMPETITION that includes KILLING your opponent. I fail to see the logic that indicates that this is a sustainable course of action.

    The proponents for this inclusive course of action totally ignore 5000+ years of human history. If they were honest they would pit groups of females against groups of males in physical competition and compare the results. But of course, this has been done millions of times in past wars, it did not end well for females. This stupidity will not end well for our females either.

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