Top US Generals: Register Women For Draft

Yahoo – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. Marine Corps and Army generals said on Tuesday that women should be required to register for the military draft, along with men, as the armed forces move toward integrating them fully into combat positions.

President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, Ash Carter, announced in December that the military would let women serve in all combat roles. The historic announcement prompted opposition from many Republican members of Congress, some of whom said it would force women to register for the draft.

Republican Senator John McCain pointed to studies that found that women suffer more injuries and did not perform as well. “Rather than honestly confront these realities, some have sought to minimize them,” McCain said.

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Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

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  •   The biggest hazard women face in the military is rape. Much more likely than combat death or injury. Just sayin’.
      The politicians (not defense contractors) keep saying they want peace. (We all know it’s a lie, but let’s hold them to their word). Well, replacing the volunteer military with draftees is the surest way toward peace. Whatever explanations were offered as excuse, the reason we finally pulled out of Vietnam was that middle-class WASP kids were dying instead of just blacks and rednecks.

  • I’m against women in many front line combat roles because physical requirements would have to be lowered, which gets people killed. Women are twice as likely to be injured just in training as it is.

    The modern military isn’t a bunch of guys running down hills in kilts any more, though. Supply lines matter as much as gun caliber. Given most males don’t see front line combat anyway, filling necessary roles with women is morally and tactically appropriate, as we’ve done to various extents in the past.

    • Why would one lower the physical standards? Our approach (CF) has been, broadly speaking, to keep the standards – if you can pass, great. If you can’t, too bad. All things being equal, I’ve a greater wariness of the guy that just squeaked past the standards than the woman. Odds are she’s had to dig a goodly bit deeper and at the end of the day *that’s* a lot more valuable on the two way range than a bit more muscle. [Not unrelatedly, on our equivalent of SFAS it’s not unknown for a hyper-fit guy who was less challenged physically to get recycled – to see if they’ll come back to try it again.]

      • Do women in the CF face the same condescension and incidence of rape as in the US military? (I recall posting links here some time ago about a woman doing intell & translation for an infantry company. When she complained to the CO about being raped, he told her to go make tea for the men).

          • The link is broken, but I find the same figures elsewhere. It may well depend on the type of forces and where they are operating. A major problem is that when the rapes are reported, commanders all too often take no action or victims are intimidated or have found it makes things worse.

        • I haven’t been able to find much in the way of precisely comparable statistics. The most frequently cited statistic for Canada is 7.6% of female serving members over the course of their service careers. The most commonly reported statistic that I was able to find for American forces was 5% of female members per year. Given how long service careers are, I tend to think your forces have a much bigger problem unless there’s very significant differences in the definitions.

          Considering that the baseline rate of sexual victimization in the Canadian civilian population is estimated to be 2% per year and the associated demographic skews, it’s not a simple matter to make a call as to how the rates in the CF compare with the civilian population. My gut instinct is that it’s bigger in the CF, but that’s not based on much rigour. I don’t know that anyone inside has spent much effort trying to nail down the comparatives – doesn’t really add much beyond any at all is too damned much.

          Of course, all this is kind of secondary to the real issue. Is your position that a woman in the combat arms is at higher risk than a woman in support or combat service support roles? If that’s the case, I’d have to say that that doesn’t match what I know of things. It might be comforting to believe that it’s all down to those combat arms knuckle draggers, but it sure seems to be a lot larger than that.

          • The link in my previous comment is to an article in which a victim describes why she did not report the rapes. Since leaving the Army she has been involved with groups of other rape victims and has documented numerous cases of both unreported rape and reports being ignored. In her own case, she writes:

            Before being sent to Iraq we trained for combat for two years and we trained in teams. In the military, nothing is more sacred than team.

            When I arrived in Iraq, I was attached to an infantry battalion and something in the atmosphere changed so subtly it is almost impossible to describe.

            I was an Intelligent Specialist at the time, and although I had trained with this battalion back home, I never had to live with them. But in order to carry out my missions, to do what the team does, I had to fully integrate with this infantry battalion (about 400 soldiers). I went on dangerous patrols and raids into insurgent strongholds. I fought the enemy.

            We were exposed to heavy combat nearly every other day, firefights that lasted hours. Improvised explosive devices hit our caravans four or five times a week. I was almost never on our Forward Operating Bases for very long. In April of 2007, I only spent four separate days on the FOB. The rest of the time I was on missions. Every time I came back to the FOB I was required to attend a memorial service for a slain soldier. Every casualty felt like a personal failure to me so I worked harder.

            But according to many of my fellow soldiers in the infantry unit, because I was not infantry, I was not part of their team.

            But the real reason why I wasn’t one of them is because I was one of the battalion’s few females in a place (combat zone) they believed was exclusively for men who were trained to kill. This wasn’t a place for a woman. Tradition and history told them this. And when a woman is in this place where life is so fragile, they are, in essence, fair game.

            The infantry had taken to tormenting me in other ways. In one firefight I was required to serve tea to a company commander and a squad of infantry.

            Another soldier tried to force me to have sex with an Iraqi in order to gather information. I was called a whore, and taunted mercilessly.

            Small wonder she suffers from PTSD to this day.

            • So your view is that because women aren’t accepted in the combat arms, they should be prevented from serving in the combat arms? You’ll pardon me, but that doesn’t sound like the world’s best solution to what is at its root a significant and pervasive leadership failure.

              • I do not claim women should be restricted as to where they may serve. I simply point out the possible consequences. We can indeed cite it as a failure of leadership or at the very least a failure of control. But ultimately it’s the fault of a sexist mindset that is unfortunately not that uncommon. The prevalence of that mindset may vary from country to county and your mileage may differ from mine.

                In parts of the world for centuries, rape has been a tactic of war, supposedly as a way to intimidate the population and spread the victors’ genes. However, when it turns on one’s own, I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t just a matter of horny guys and lack of inhibition. Most of us have had a ‘thou shalt not kill’ upbringing and one of the ends of military training is to over-ride that learned mindset, hopefully in a controlled way and subject to certain rules. Bayonet drill – at least at one time – encouraged screaming as one plunged with the bayonet, the idea being that overcoming one’s inhibition against running around screaming would help overcome one’s inhibition about killing, particularly when the killing is up-close-and-personal. Perhaps a ‘combat mode’ mental state is put in place that loosens all inhibitions?

                • I know a little bit too much about the business of killing and what professional conditioning to help people carry out that business with a minimum of psychological baggage looks like to swallow the notion that it leads in a straight line to rape. Personally I think that notion is largely a mental shortcut to hang individual action on a handily faceless social process and institution and in the process map observed patterns to one’s own beliefs about how people work.

                  Here’s my philosophy in a nutshell – most people are pretty okay, but a substantial number of them are assholes. They are particularly prone to act on being assholes in the context of being removed from pre-existing social ties that previously bound them and becoming embedded in large, imperfectly run institutions. Whether that institution is a military force, a corporation, a boy scout troop or a church congregation matters very little except as to the extent it removes or shields the asshole from other social controls. Managing the asshole quotient and keeping it under control is a non-trivial part of what the skill we identify as leadership is in institutional settings. In well-led organizations, the proportion of assholery that gets kept unexpressed is high.

                  The bottom line for me on much of this is that if I cannot trust the leadership of my forces to exert sufficient discipline on members that they don’t sexually assault teammates (or accept that someone else can do their job without having their delicate snowflake sense of self worth diminished), I cannot trust that they will prevail in a conflict – particularly given the complexity of modern physical and cultural terrains and the frequently amorphous nature of missions.

                  •   Thank you – a clear and succinct view. Your experience is certainly orders of magnitude more than mine and your elucidation is gratifying.
                      The question then becomes whether the leadership in the American military – as it stands today – is good enough to keep the bastards under control if we add women to the mix. I’ve read several reports that rape of men is a lot more common than generally known or publicly admitted (for cultural reasons?), so maybe drafting women would force the military to face their shortcomings in this regard.

                    • To be honest I do not think that is the question. For me the question is just exactly what one is saying about universality of rights before the law when one says that a citizen can not, based purely on their sex, seek to serve in *any* combat arms role. For me this is a moral issue – not one of practicality. Yes, these can be very expensive edge cases and the number of women who can make the cut in some roles is so small as to graduate the female component of the class in a phone booth (if a ceremony is needed at all), but it’s the principle of the thing. Everything that I know about these institutions says that you mess with the notion that everyone shoulders the burden of the mission at your peril.

                      My major caveat is that no one should be under the illusion that this can be done quickly or without cost – or that this is a good social engineering tool for the broader society. We have nearly 20 years head start on you guys and we’re still grappling with it.

  • I’ve linked to Gena Smith’s blog in comments from time to time over the last couple of years. Informative reading, if depressing. Repeated rapes and threats, eventually PTSD and an ineffective VA. Her experience in the military is unfortunately fairly common.

    She seemed to be getting her act together, publishing some articles in alternate newspapers but I haven’t seen her online anywhere in several months. She’s not blogging now – don’t know if that’s good or bad.

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