Women do not belong in the infantry, Nate Smith says:
It’s a simple statement and one that, until recently, nearly every civilized culture seemed to accept as a truism. For reasons as multitudinous as they are apparent and profound, in time of war men have shouldered arms and marched to the clash of legions or the sound of the guns. Women as a rule have not. Even in those scattered and wretched societies whose women prowled the battlefields to torture the wounded and desecrate the dead, no woman was thrown into offensive action against the massed ranks of the enemy. Show me an exception and I’ll show you savages.
I don’t think he’s going to be changing anyone’s mind:
Since the obvious has apparently escaped social reformers and military planners, I will restate it: there are fundamental physical differences between men and women. I could quote facts and figures about the difference in average body weight of men and women, the distribution of muscle mass, and the capacity for heavy lifting and muscular endurance. But since facts and figures haven’t deterred those who argue for women in the infantry, I’ll just use a real world example.
Marine Second Lieutenants at The Basic School — just across the street from the Infantry Officer Course — conduct at least a half-dozen conditioning hikes during their six months of basic officer training. The hikes range from 3 miles to 12 or more, and are conducted with full packs, body armor, personal weapons, and the machine guns and mortars organic to an infantry battalion. Since “Every Marine is a Rifleman”, all lieutenants — male and female — learn the basics of infantry leadership. The hike pace is 3 miles every 50 minutes, followed by a ten minute break. Forever. Or so it seems.
Most service members will admit that conditioning hikes are grueling exercises in physical and mental endurance. I personally despised them, especially when it was my turn to shoulder a 25 pound machine gun or a 45 pound, .50-caliber receiver. Each hike took all of my effort and physical fitness to complete. Unsurprisingly, during my time at The Basic School no female lieutenant completed a hike of greater than 6 miles with the rest of the 180 or so male lieutenants. Not one. And that’s with the male lieutenants carrying all of the radios and heavy weapons.
A hike only gets you to the fight.
Am I disparaging my fellow lieutenants simply because they were women? Of course not. Many of them were smart, fit, and exceptionally disciplined and dedicated. Hell, they chose to lead Marines. I’m certain that the majority of them went on to serve bravely in the stinking streets of Iraq and the austere mountain valleys of Afghanistan. But not with the infantry.
The fact is that an infantryman’s job is a mix between professional athlete, police officer, mechanic, and construction worker. It is a physical job. Infantrymen are affectionately and accurately known as “grunts” because of the sound made when shifting a 120-pound pack closer against one’s agonized shoulders. It isn’t good enough to survive the physical requirements of a 12 mile mountain ruck march if at the end of it an infantryman cannot fling down his pack and sprint in short bursts of speed across an undulating farm field while delivering effective and disciplined fire against a concealed enemy who is desperately trying to kill him.
It would be the rare woman that could meet such an exacting physical standard. Yet, undoubtedly some could. A 73 year old Japanese woman summited Mount Everest this past weekend. There must be a few 20 year old, female athletes that could excel in the infantry. So why not keep the standard the same and allow women who pass it to enlist in the infantry? This brings me to my next obvious point.