There is no free lunch...or free shipping.
To your question, I would say anecdotal, yet the relevance and qualifications of the writer are so compelling to me as to make the points made highly significant in any case.I think the author introduces the important point when she uses the word "opportunity". She is grateful for having had hers. But she is also adamant that altering the physical requirements for qualification would the wrong approach to gender fairness, observing her own physical experiences in combat. I would say this point requires careful consideration.I am all for opportunity. I also believe that arbitrary restrictions that unfairly reduce that opportunity for no relevant reason are a scourge and need to be drummed out of any corps. Our soldiers of all genders should be honored equally for equal service, and given all the same opportunities and credit. However, the author here establishes some highly relevant criteria for service that need to be maintained both for fairness and for our best national defense.If a woman meets the legitimate and proven requirements of any job, (ANY JOB), I would insist we need to let her stand for it. I also agree with the author's implied point that reducing those standards to accommodate any class of soldier without regard for the nature of the role mistakes the objective of optimum readiness and strength of our armed services, (the most important consideration), as well as unfairly challenges the health and long-term effectiveness of a that soldier. There's no need to specify gender in any of this discussion!The third rail here is, for sure, establishing fairly what constitutes the actual physical requirements of a job. The good news is that this third rail also carries the solution to the moral dilemma of female combat soldiers. If we can set the bar properly, we can allow and encourage all soldiers regardless of race, creed, color, gender or any other characteristic to stand for those duties.I'm extremely impressed with this piece, and want to thank you, Cliff, for citing it. It's given me a lot to think about.
Too many "qualifiers" in the posit. What is "fairly" and what constitutes "actual physical requirements" (according to what expert??). Any time you try to "level the playing field," you do as much exclusion in one form or another as was done in the original field. Getting into medical school is tough, and so tough in many instances that those who are "disadvantaged" may not be able to attend, so, to "level the field" we drop the scores required or substitute some other qualifier for those who are "Not quite qualified" and then create quotas so that the field is now level....by someone's definition. Hey....I want to be a brain surgeon....I don't have good enough academic scores in the sciences to support it, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and I really, really, really want to be a brain surgeon, and my grandparents were discriminated against in the late 1930's because they were poor....and I am 1/64th Apache Indian.....so I should be allowed to be a brain surgeon. It doesn't matter that I will be a lousy one... maybe even a dangerous one.....I must have my opportunity.I can tell you....there is no way on this green earth that I want someone on my special operations team who can't carry a 100 lb ruck and shoot what they are aiming at 100% of the time. They will ultimately make me dead....and I will then be deprived of MY opportunity....The Marines are correct. We are not all created equal...and nothing will ever make us so.
Before I go further, has anyne else here served as a grunt? I want to put my marker down. I have served as a grunt and have had to endure the conditions actually at play. here.I'll wait a day before I continue.
Before we get carried away, the military is a pecking order of how tough it is. Anyone remember the cartoon with the Army grunt in the mud saying it is really bad here and the next panel is the Marine saying I like the way it is really bad here and then the next panel is the Special Operator saying I wish it would be even more awful here. In the final panel is some AF type saying "No cable? It is really bad here."When I was in the 36th TFW in 1967 the Wing had just converted from Thuds (F-105s) to Phantoms (F-4Ds). To the Thud drivers it was a step down to have been flying the Phantom, and to the Phantom drivers it was a case of looking forward to the last of the Thud drivers leaving, so we could finally fix the Wing the way it should be.What is that book about Germany, by Alan Dundes? Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder: A Study of German National Character Through Folklore? I don't need to explain that, do I?As Joe Friday would say, "Just the facts".Regards — Cliff
Neal I think you are agreeing with me despite disagreeing with the way I phrased it. I'm certainly agreeing with you, anyway. The author cites some actual physical requirements and points out that, though she served and did so well, she was not able to meet the requirements on a sustained an ongoing basis. This is exactly the point. Entrance to the infantry, like medical school, should be exactly as rigorous as the job eventually demands. No less, but certainly no more. I, for one, would not have a problem with a woman as capable as the average grunt standing with them shoulder to shoulder. Capabilities need to be the central part of the question, not gender.
Amen Kad....in complete agreement.There is a perverse pride in being a grunt, perhaps in some part from being able to tell others how bad it was/is. I never really wanted to bath in a helmet and sleep on a oil cloth with the snakes and leeches. I never really liked C's or K's....and the only edible MRE was the beanie weenies....and once I was promoted to Chief....I was able to get them on a priority basis if I wanted...and I wanted...but then felt deep pangs of guilt as my skeeter wings had to settle for hockey puck pork...so invariably...I ate what they didn't prefer. A leader can't sleep until the troops are fed and in bed.I did do my time in the mud and the sweaty jungle...and it was not fun...which is why I joined the AF to begin with. For me....and I suspect for most of my brethren...."bad" was a bare base without a functioning club and an 18 hole golf course with electric carts. While assigned to USAFE, we were invited to a conference at the Mothership at Ramstein. Part of the agenda was the perennial "welfare of the troops" discussion and this time we were joined by Army Sgt's Major. We all took a bus tour to visit nearby "barracks." We wandered into an Army barracks that was something out of the stone age. One of my fellow Chief's asked the Command Sgt Major how he could let his troops live under those conditions. His response was simple and straight forward. "I don't want them to get used to any comforts because they won't have them when they go to work."Made sense to me. One more reason for being an AF guy. As a member of a Tactical Hospital, we did live in the field..and slept on cots under tents we had to raise.....and we did perimeter guard duty as we were expected to provide our own security on deployment. We spent hours on the range expending hundreds of rounds of 7.62 and when lucky....some .30 cal stuff too. Several of us had our own modified 12 ga which we carried along on the theory that waiting for Ranch Hand to defoliate was too much of a burden. I could defoliate a pretty good arc of jungle with a few pumps...and the rounds did absolute wonders to the various flavors of snakes.
As a grunt, I've seen what men can do. I could do more than some and less than others. Some are physically weaker, but mentally tougher and vice versa.The "standard" sets the range of expectations. There are ways to "fail" the standard, but there is rarely a negative associated to "maxing out." For example, if 80 is the max for pushups, they stop counting at 80, even if you can do 90. The "standard" chops off the Gaussian distribution on the low side and ignores the high side. Though, the high side soldiers tend to get recruited into specialty units, like SOCOM.Ultimately, kad does capture the gist:If we can set the bar properly, we can allow and encourage all soldiers regardless of race, creed, color, gender or any other characteristic to stand for those duties.We have to keep the "equal opportunity lawyers" out of DOD's hair.Lastly, being in a combat arms unit, does not put you in the final 50 meters to the enemy. It does substantially increase the probability of engaging the enemy, but it will be decades before our sisters are a major force, prepared to "fix bayonets."Tell that "WM" to ruck up and move out smartly.
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