Why are our generals trying to push women into ground combat in Iraq despite Pentagon regulations and congressional law against it? What is it about civilian control of the military that the generals don't understand?
Current Department of Defense regulations exclude women from ground combat, as well as from assignment to forward support units that "collocate - i.e., are embedded side by side with units assigned a direct ground combat mission." Federal law requires that Congress be given 30 legislative days' advance notice of any change to this policy.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey has been skirting this policy by unilaterally rewording it to assign women to forward- support units except when "CONDUCTING (emphasis added) an assigned direct ground combat mission." When a ground-combat unit actually engages the enemy, the women, who are slated to be roughly 10 percent of the forward-support companies, will have to be evacuated from the battlefield.
How many ground and air vehicles, and how many extra men, will this ridiculous plan require? Will the enemy hold fire until the evacuation is complete?
Frustrated by the Army's devious behavior, U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and John McHugh, R-N.Y., had tried to add an amendment to the military appropriations bill to codify the current Defense Department regulations that the Army seems to have difficulty understanding. Feminists are lining up their media allies to demand that women be forced into land combat situations, while falsely asserting that Hunter-McHugh is "changing" the rule.
Much of the demand for women in combat comes from female officers who are eager to obtain medals and promotions. Enlisted women are acutely aware of the heavy lifting that must be done by combat infantry.
The Army's own opinion surveys prior to 2001 consistently reported that 85 percent to 90 percent of enlisted women oppose "being assigned to combat units on the same basis as men." Women enlistees have a right to expect the Army to obey current policy and law.
Advocates of women in combat say the front line is everywhere in Iraq. They continually try to fuzzy over the difference between being subject to risk, such as being ambushed by a car bomb, versus the task of aggressively seeking out and killing the enemy.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker tried to laugh off the difference by saying that "maybe since we're killing 40,000 people a year on the highways, (women) shouldn't drive. That's very dangerous, too." Comparing the risk of highway driving with engaging the enemy in combat is insulting to our intelligence and common sense.
Putting women in military combat is the cutting edge of the feminist goal to force us into an androgynous society. Feminists are determined to impose what Gloria Steinem called "liberation biology" that pretends all male-female differences are culturally imposed by a discriminatory patriarchy.
History offers no evidence for the proposition that the assignment of women to military combat jobs is the way to win wars, improve combat readiness, or promote national security.
Women, on average, have only 60 percent of the physical strength of men, are about 6 inches shorter, and survive basic training only by the subterfuge of being graded on effort rather than on performance. These facts, self-evident to anyone who watches professional or Olympic sports competitions, are only some of the many sex differences confirmed by scholarly studies.
Denial of physical differences is an illusion that kills. That's the lesson of the March 11 courtroom massacre in Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse. That's where authorities have returned a murder indictment against 6-foot, 210-pound Brian Nichols, a former college football player. Nichols is accused of overpowering a 5-foot-1, 51-year-old female sheriff's deputy, taking her gun and going on a crime spree that left four people dead, including the deputy, a judge, a courtroom reporter and a federal agent.
Every country that has experimented with women in actual combat has abandoned the idea, and the notion that Israel uses women in combat is a feminist myth. The armies and navies of every potential enemy are exclusively male; their combat readiness is not diminished by coed complications or social experimentation.
The 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces voted to maintain the exemption of women from assignment to combat in ground troops, combat aviation, amphibious ships and submarines. But already 33 servicewomen, including mothers, have been killed and 270 wounded in the war in Iraq.
The Army is wondering why it can't meet its recruitment goals. It could be that the current 15 percent female quota is a turn-off to men who don't want to fight alongside of women who can't carry a man off the battlefield if he is wounded. Forcing women in or near land combat will hurt recruiting, not help.
No country in history ever sent mothers of toddlers off to fight enemy soldiers until the United States did this in the Iraq war. We hope this won't be the legacy of the Bush administration.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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