Tag Archives: combat arms

Indeed, women should register for the draft


This almost seems like an oversight on the part of the Pentagon brass.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter declared a year ago that women should be able to serve in the combat arms of all military services.

But wait! They don’t yet have to register for the draft the way their male colleagues have to do.

The Marine Corps commandant and the Army chief of staff have testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that, yes, women should be required to register with Selective Service.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a member of the panel, agreed.

Generals testify

So, didn’t they think of this earlier, when they were deliberating in the Pentagon about allowing women to serve in direct combat? Women now are able to serve in the infantry, armor and artillery branches — the three combat arms — of the armed forces.

However, if we’re going to extend full equality to both genders, then we need to go all the way.

We don’t have a draft any longer. It ended in the early 1970s during the last years of the Vietnam War. Despite having an all-volunteer military force, young men have had to register for Selective Service in case there would be a need to call them into military duty.

With women now joining men on the battlefield as soldiers and Marines, it’s time to sign them up, too.


Army experiment off to rough start

My friends, acquaintances and even readers of this blog understand my liberal political leaning.

I consider myself a progressive on most issues.

We all have our limits. Mine involves the military and whether it’s wise to seek to integrate women completely into all the combat arms.

Word out of Fort Benning, Ga., suggests the Army’s experiment with qualifying women to serve as Rangers is falling, shall we say, flat on its face.

I’m not surprised.


Eight women have failed to advance beyond the first phase of Ranger training. They have a chance to try again, as do the male soldiers who also fell short in the first phase. The eight women, though, comprise the entire complement of females who signed up for the elite fighting force. They all fell short.

I should ask: Is this really what the Army wants? Does it really intend to ask women to strap on heavy ruck sacks, load them down with ammo, ask them carry a weapon — often a heavy one — into battle right along with their male counterparts?

Forgive the appearance of chauvinism, but last time I checked the average woman wasn’t as strong as the average man.

To its credit, the Army has insisted all along it wouldn’t lessen the rigorous physical standards to suit the women who are seeking to participate in the combat arms — infantry, artillery and armor.

I fully accept the combat roles that women are performing already in the military. They ride truck convoys through hostile territory; they fly combat aircraft — fixed- and rotary-wing alike — into blistering enemy fire; they serve in civil affairs units working behind enemy lines with civilian populations in what we used to call in Vietnam “pacification” efforts.

Armed forces’ female personnel perform valiantly, heroically and have sacrificed much in defense of the nation.

The effort, though, to create a “gender-integrated” fighting force that includes women fighting in elite combat forces might be a step too far.

I want like the dickens to be proven wrong. I want the women to succeed. I want to see them stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in elite forces, such as the Rangers.

Hearing the news about the failure of the eight women from the Ranger training course makes me dubious that this effort is going to work.


Corps of Cadets gets its first female commander

This is a very cool development down in Aggieland.

The Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets — formerly an all-male bastion — is going to be led next year by a woman.

Her name is Alyssa Marie Michalke. She hails from Schulenberg and next school year she’ll lead the Corps, the A&M student military organization.


We talk about gender equality all the time. The Pentagon in recent years has relaxed its ban on women serving in combat; women now are able to participate in the combat arms — infantry, armor and artillery. Yes, women have been flying aircraft in combat for years, be they high-performance fighter jets or bombers or close-support helicopters.

Michalke’s leadership role at the Corps of Cadets, though, signals a new day at A&M, which for many decades has taken great pride in the military officers it trains.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s a great honor and a great privilege,” said Michalke, a junior … who’s majoring in ocean and civil engineering. “There’s been so many well-qualified cadets that have come before me. It’s just an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as these remarkable young men and women.”

Michalke told the Tribune that she once was shy, such as when she enrolled at Texas A&M as a freshman.

It’s a good bet, now that she’s about to lead the Corps of Cadets, that she’s gotten over her shyness.

Gig ’em, Alyssa.


Women are ready for combat, more or less

This blog post is going to get me in trouble with some of my female friends.

Here goes anyway: I have trouble accepting that women are capable of performing as infantry personnel in combat.

There I said it. Now I’ll explain why.


The Washington Post reports on an experiment under way in the Marine Corps, where women will be taking the same Physical Fitness Test as men. As the Post reports: “The PFT requirement is the likely sticking point for many female Marines: To score a first-class PFT, men must do at least five pull-ups, assuming they rack up maximum points by running three miles in 18 minutes or less and complete 100 sit-ups. Under current rules for female Marines, women are not required to complete pull-ups.”

I’ll stipulate that I am well aware that women are performing well in some dangerous and deadly assignments in all branches of the military. They’re flying high-performance combat aircraft, as well as helicopters in close-air support roles on the battlefield.

Indeed, a young cousin of mine is now an Army master sergeant who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her earliest assignments in Iraq were with a civil affairs unit, which meant she would venture into villages to set up infrastructure for Iraqis — not knowing if the village was occupied by enemy combatants. In Vietnam we called the effort “pacification.”

I do not doubt that women can perform in two of the three combat arms: artillery and armor; the third one being infantry. They can drive tanks or armored personnel carriers and they can fire big artillery pieces.

I long ago disabused myself of the concern about women being emotionally capable of performing combat duty. I hold up my cousin as the prime example of a female soldier’s emotional stamina.

But does a typical 120-pound woman have the same upper-body strength as a typical 200-pound man, enabling her to lug around an 80- or 100-pound rucksack while slogging across some rough terrain?

I tend to think not.

Therein lies what I consider to be the problem with allowing women to serve as infantry personnel.

I fear this experiment is not going to work for either the Army or the Marine Corps.

Female Marines fail physical. Now what?

I was afraid this could happen.

The Marine Corps joined the other military branches in requiring women to compete with men in physical fitness tests to determine their ability to perform the sometimes-arduous tasks the military requires of them.

Then half of the women Marines failed the exam.


The failure rate has prompted the Marine Corps to delay its fitness plan to determine what its next step should be.

What we have here is a serious conundrum for the Marine Corps, not to mention all the services that include women in their ranks.

Count me as someone who has been skeptical of the decision to allow women into the combat arms, which is what is happening. The combat arms are the infantry, artillery and armor branches of the military, primarily in the Army and the Marine Corps.

I have no doubt that some women can perform as well as their male colleagues. I’ve known many women over the years with whom I would not want to encounter in a fistfight.

But … the issue here is whether all the females who serve in the combat arms are able to carry their share of the load in combat situations. I mean “carry their share” quite literally.

The Marine Corps has said it wouldn’t reduce its physical requirements for women who have enlisted for duty. They would be required to do all the tasks required of men. However, half of them have been unable to make the grade.

What now?

Am I wrong to have these doubts?