Women have been involved in our nation’s military since the Revolutionary War, serving not only as nurses and cooks but also supplying water to thirsty soldiers on the battlefield. Throughout history, men have always fought our battles while women stood by, never allowed to face combat, but what if I told you that in some countries, women are fighting alongside men inside combat zones? Here in the U.S., there is an immeasurable disagreement about equality in the military. One of the supporting arguments is that several other countries outside the U.S. already have women serving on the front lines. Countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, all have allowed women to serve in combat. While there are several countries that don’t allow women in combat, the U.S. has recently had the biggest sparring match when it comes to this issue. Women have been involved in combat for years, however they were never properly accredited like they should have been. Combat is nothing new to our women in the military. Several women have already given their life serving in combat. I believe the United States Military should allow women in combat because equality in the military should be a global idea, not just on a country to country basis, and they have shown they can be just as tough as males with no change in the standards.
The first of my supporting arguments to lead this debate is about global equality. Over twenty countries around the world already allow their women to serve in either combat roles or fighter pilot positions. While the U.S. military does allow some women into specified combat positions, they are unable to serve in frontline combat units such as infantry, artillery, and armor positions. They also cannot serve in the Army’s Ranger Regiment, serve as Special Forces or Navy SEALS. They cannot lead troops into battle in other words. Just to compare, in 1989 Canada allowed their women to serve in all combat positions and would go on to lose their first women in combat to taliban forces in 2006. In 2011, Australia allowed their women in Infantry, Special Forces, and artillery units and even deployed them to Afghanistan. Even Denmark has allowed women to serve in combat since 1988. Anna Mulrine says in her article 8 Other Nations That Send Women to Combat, “[based on a study from the British MOD], danish research showed that women performed just as well as men in land combat roles” (par 10). As you can see, women in several countries outside the U.S. have been doing so much more than our U.S. military women. Regardless, there are still critics out there who believe just because other countries are doing it, doesn’t mean we should follow suite. Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin believes we should not risk sending women into combat. In his article Combat Shift Ignores Gender Realities:Opposing View he says, “Women in the military already serve with courage, putting their lives on the line. However, it is neither in their interest, nor the country’s, for them to serve in front-line combat positions” (par 7). Jerry Boykin has been actively opposing the decision to lift the combat ban for women in the military. There are still several other countries out there that don’t allow women in combat but the U.S. being one of them seems a bit odd since we have a large number of women serving in our military. We currently have over 200,000 women in our nation’s military. It surprises me that women are banned from joining the fight. As I said before, combat is nothing new to our women. Kathy Johnson says in her article Women in Combat: History and Future, “despite the raising of such specters, women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 130 women have died and more than 800 have been wounded” (par 4). Women have found themselves engaged in combat several times, some even being awarded the Purple Heart Medal. I think it’s time that they be properly rewarded for their service.
The next part of my argument is about women and the physical capabilities in the military. Some might think this is a pointless argument, I however believe that women can meet the standards if they really want to. Mulrine quoted Colonel Gjerde, former commander of the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan in 2012 who said, “it’s not a big deal because women who go into these fields know the standards, and it’s not that hard for women to train up to the standards if they really want” (par 18). In August 2015, the Army allowed women to try out for the Ranger course. Two women would go on to graduate from the course inspiring the country, and a month later a third woman would graduate from the sixty-one day course. While some might say that just because three woman made it doesn’t mean anything, I believe these three women just showed the country the strength of the American Women and this will only inspire more to try out for the course. It seems like a pretty easy argument on the opposing side. Mike Fredenburg wrote in his article, Putting Women in Combat Is an Even Worse Idea Than You’d Think, “a recent study, for instance, by Britain’s Tri-Service Review found that mixed-gender combat units have “lower survivability,” a “reduced lethality rate” and reduced deployability. This study, along with countless others done over the last 40 years, demonstrate that combat capabilities are so heavily weighted toward men that the gap cannot be closed” (par 4). Fredenburg may have hard facts, but I still believe that women can be just as unbreakable and unyielding as the men. Women obviously can’t put on the same muscle mass or weight as a male, but a women will do whatever it takes to complete the mission just as a male would. They will full heartedly train just as hard, and do what is necessary to ensure the survival of those around them. Women have showed their strength in the military. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty like so many think. From a personal experience, I was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas and I served as a Air and Missile Defense Crewman for the 69th Air Defense. We had women integrated in my unit before I had arrived there. Women were held to the same standard as the men, and even out performed some of them while conducting battle drills in the field. Near the end of my service I had real trust in women and saw how effective they can be. This argument about the physical capabilities seems to be the largest concern.
One of the arguments against me, is that men and women serving beside each other is comparable to asking for trouble as some might put it. Problems such as sexual assault, rape, and morality issues are the biggest concern. In 2014 an estimated 20,000 cases of sexual assault were reported. Although that is a decrease from 2013’s 26,000 cases reported, it still is extremely high. Because of this extremely high number, critics say putting men in women together in combat units will only increase that. Anna Simons agrees saying in her article, Here’s Why Women in Combat Units is a Bad Idea, “cast back through history or just look cross-culturally: Men’s abiding interest in women (and women’s interest in having men be interested) creates limitless potential for friction. Is this really what we want to inflict on combat units?” (par 6). Since the beginning of time, men have always competed for women. That is a fact. Putting women in a combat unit could cause distraction and this goes back to how women could reduce the effectiveness of a unit. While I understand the risks of putting men and women together I believe it won’t be as big as an issue as they make it seem. Men don’t see gender, they see soldiers. When a woman gets deployed down range, I believe there won’t be men and women, there will only be soldiers. Take Capt. Kristen Griest’s and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver’s experience for instance. After they were the first two women to graduate from Ranger School, one male classmate said, “you’re way too tired and way too hungry to really honestly care, at the end of the day everyone was a Ranger” (par 9). The military understands the risk, that is why to make it easier on men, during the Ranger course, both women had their heads shaved to risk distraction. I believe with methods such as this, it will make it easier on men to accept women in combat. I can’t guarantee that putting men and women together won’t cause incidents, but I do believe that putting men and women together will make a stronger military.
I have no doubt women have earned their place in the military. I think it’s only right we allow our women to fight alongside our men as a single and efficient unit. As this war changes, so must our military. One of the biggest reasons that I didn’t state earlier about why I believe women should be allowed into combat, is simply because they want to be in combat. The longer you deny women from combat, the more they will seek it out. They are already exposed to it; it’s nothing new to them. They want equality and I believe we should give it to them. Women may not fill combat roles by the hundreds but I believe women out there have what it takes to be in a combat unit. If the U.S. allows women to join all combat roles, not only will it inspire other countries to do the same but it will surely be a historic moment for women.
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