Walter E. Williams

Then there's the pregnancy issue, which makes women three to four times as likely as men to be undeployable. And once deployed, they often have to be medically evacuated, leaving units understrength. Finally, there's another difference between men and women rarely considered in deliberation about whether women should be in combat. All measures of physical aggressiveness show that men, maybe because of testosterone levels 10 times higher, are more aggressive, competitive and hostile than women. Those attributes are desirable for combat.

Here are a couple of what-if questions. Suppose a combat unit is retreating in mountainous terrain in Afghanistan, where a person's aerobic capacity really makes a difference, and the women in the unit can't keep up with the men. What would you propose, leaving the women behind to possibly be captured by the Taliban or having the unit slow down so the women can keep up, thereby risking causalities or capture? What if a male soldier is washed out of the Army's Advanced Infantry Training program because he cannot pass its physical fitness test whereas a female soldier who can't perform at his level is retained? Should male soldiers be able to bring suit and be awarded damages for sex discrimination? How much respect can a male soldier have for his female counterpart, who is held to lower performance standards?

There's another issue. The Selective Service System's website has the following message about draft registration: "Even though the Secretary of Defense has decided to allow women in combat jobs, the law has not been changed to include this. Consequently, only men are currently required to register by law with Selective Service during ages 18 thru 25. Women still do not register." How can that, coupled with differences in performance standards, possibly be consistent with the Defense Department's stated agenda "to provide a level, gender-neutral playing field"?


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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