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US Army wants to lift ban on women in combat: report

ramy

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What are your thoughts on this report ?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Army is reportedly negotiating with the Pentagon (news - web sites)'s civilian leaders a plan to eliminate a women-in-combat ban so it can place mixed-sex support companies within warfighting units, starting with a division going to Iraq (news - web sites) in January.


Citing unnamed defense department sources, The Washington Times said Army blueprints for a lighter force of 10 active divisions included plans for postings of women-men units.


A spokesman said the Army is now in discussions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's staff to see whether the 10-year-old ban in this one area should be lifted, The Times said.


The ban prohibits the Army from putting women in units that "collocate" with ground combatants.


"When that policy was made up, there was a different threat," the paper quotes Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Rodney as saying. "We imagined a more linear combat environment. Now, with the nature of asymmetrical threats, we have to relook at that policy."


Rodney cited the fighting in Iraq as typifying the new threat whereby all soldiers, support or combat, face attack by rockets, mortars, roadside bombs and ambushes, the report said.


Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Army has lost 24 female soldiers.


The Army is not seeking to lift the ban on women in direct combat units, such as infantry or armor, The Times reported.


What is being examined, the paper said, is the part of the exclusion rule that says mixed-sex support companies may not be positioned with ground combat teams.


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20041022/pl_afp/us_iraq_military_women_041022192841



 
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dutchie

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Does anyone think the US public can handle women coming home in body bags?

I am not trying to make a political statement hear, just that I think there is a different psychological impact to both civilian and soldier when a female is killed violently as opposed to a man. Men are viewed as violent, and so the whole 'Live by the Sword' mentality comes in, whereas women are still viewed as primarily care-givers/creators/mothers and certainly not destroyers/killers. In short, most view women as not 'fair game' in war.

Based on the reaction of the US public/military to Jessica Lynch and the other female POWs, I think the 'cost' might be more than they are willing to pay (in Iraq at least).


 

JasonH

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Caeser said:
Does anyone think the US public can handle women coming home in body bags?

I am not trying to make a political statement hear, just that I think there is a different psychological impact to both civilian and soldier when a female is killed violently as opposed to a man. Men are viewed as violent, and so the whole 'Live by the Sword' mentality comes in, whereas women are still viewed as primarily care-givers/creators/mothers and certainly not destroyers/killers. In short, most view women as not 'fair game' in war.

Based on the reaction of the US public/military to Jessica Lynch and the other female POWs, I think the 'cost' might be more than they are willing to pay (in Iraq at least).

The Army is not seeking to lift the ban on women in direct combat units, such as infantry or armor, The Times reported.

Probable reason why they do not wanna add more of a risk maken them direct combat?  There's a thoguht.
 

pbi

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US female soldiers are already being exposed to the dangers of combat. For example, the US Military Police Branch is quite different from the Canadian MP Branch: it has a much greater focus on force protection operations, and MPs are organized into coys, bns and even larger organizations. Here at Bagram there are two Divisional MP Coys that are equipped with up-armoured HMMVWs mounted with LMGs and Mk19 gren launchers. These coys do convoy escort and security patrolling in the countryside around Bagram. The night I accompanied the soldiers of 58 MP Coy on patrol through the area outside the base, there were at least two female MPs in the squad. If an MP patrol gets attacked, the females are in combat, plain and simple. Cheers.
 

onecat

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Its about time, the US Army lifted this ban.

"Does anyone think the US public can handle women coming home in body bags?"

No one sees teh sees the bodies coming home anymore.  Those imagines are banned, by the US military to begin with.  So I don't there would be an outrage.  The stuff about mothers and caregives is just hold overs from a sexist era, that is slowly disappearing.  Although the military seems to be one last strong points for this belief.  This is not a request fro women to join combat arms teams, so I don't think it will have a problem passing it.
 

Michael Dorosh

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Caeser said:
Does anyone think the US public can handle women coming home in body bags?

Is there any reason to think they can't?  Women get killed all the time; they get into car accidents, but we still let them drive cars.  When a passenger plane crashes, odds are at least one of the flight attendants were female.  Still let them fly.  Women serve as police officers and firefighters as well despite the risks.

What exactly do you think would happen if female soldiers were killed in combat?  I mean honestly, if they US couldn't "handle" it, what exactly are you suggesting would happen?  Your comment makes little sense to me.
 
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vr

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If you look at the casualty figures from Iraq a number of female soldiers have already been killed, the most recent a week or so ago.  Not that this has been widely publicized.  So far, it seems, that the US has tolerated it rather well...probably much better than the Canadian populace would.

 
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dutchie

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Michael: I am a little late with my reply, but for what it's worth.......

What exactly do you think would happen if female soldiers were killed in combat?   I mean honestly, if they US couldn't "handle" it, what exactly are you suggesting would happen?   Your comment makes little sense to me.

Despite the advances in society in the last century in regards to gender equality, there are still (and always will be) a difference in how we view men and women. My purpose was NOT to debate whether or not women should be in combat. My point was this: what will the impact be to the psyche of the US citizen when female soldiers die in combat, with their name, life story, picture, and/or gruesome stories/pictures of their demise plastered all over the news? However as Usul pointed out, women have died, but it didn't get much media air play, so the impact might not be felt until it is publicized more. The whole Jessica Lynch fiasco indicates that the US people and their military view female soldiers differently than male ones. My assertion is that this is a product of our social conditioning, as we still view killing as the domain of men, and view women as life givers, not life takers.

Women get killed all the time; they get into car accidents, but we still let them drive cars.

You can dismiss the point as much as you like, but the fact is is that this is the first war where large numbers of female US soldiers can/will be killed. I assume your attempt to corelate a car accident and a soldier dying in battle was sarcastic, so I won't bother pointing out the silliness of this comparison. It seems you took my post as an argument for banning women in combat, which was not my intention.
 

pbi

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Caeser said:
Michael: I am a little late with my reply, but for what it's worth.......

What exactly do you think would happen if female soldiers were killed in combat?  I mean honestly, if they US couldn't "handle" it, what exactly are you suggesting would happen?  Your comment makes little sense to me.

Despite the advances in society in the last century in regards to gender equality, there are still (and always will be) a difference in how we view men and women. My purpose was NOT to debate whether or not women should be in combat. My point was this: what will the impact be to the psyche of the US citizen when female soldiers die in combat, with their name, life story, picture, and/or gruesome stories/pictures of their demise plastered all over the news? However as Usul pointed out, women have died, but it didn't get much media air play, so the impact might not be felt until it is publicized more. The whole Jessica Lynch fiasco indicates that the US people and their military view female soldiers differently than male ones. My assertion is that this is a product of our social conditioning, as we still view killing as the domain of men, and view women as life givers, not life takers.

Women get killed all the time; they get into car accidents, but we still let them drive cars.

You can dismiss the point as much as you like, but the fact is is that this is the first war where large numbers of female US soldiers can/will be killed. I assume your attempt to corelate a car accident and a soldier dying in battle was sarcastic, so I won't bother pointing out the silliness of this comparison. It seems you took my post as an argument for banning women in combat, which was not my intention.

I think Caesar is on to something here, although it may be a transitional thing only. If you consider the public reaction in Canada to the death of a female police constable as opposed to that of a male constable, or a female firefighter as opposed to a male counterpart, I think you will find a noticeable difference. I think that we still tend to find the death of women in the role of "protector" (as opposed to "helpless victim") an unusual and shocking occurrence. Perhaps, as women gradually take more of a role in these areas, this will change. Cheers.
 

onecat

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"think Caesar is on to something here, although it may be a transitional thing only. If you consider the public reaction in Canada to the death of a female police constable as opposed to that of a male constable, or a female firefighter as opposed to a male counterpart, I think you will find a noticeable difference. I think that we still tend to find the death of women in the role of "protector" (as opposed to "helpless victim") an unusual and shocking occurrence. Perhaps, as women gradually take more of a role in these areas, this will change. Cheers."

You do have some points there, womens deaths are still treated differently.  But their role as a protector is still new, so that will change with time and as you said in your post it will likely be only transitional.  Give it ten or twenty years and no one will be talking about it, by then whole generations of kids will ahve grown up with mommy in army and mommy as the war vet.
 
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dutchie

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A hypothetical scenario to ponder:

A group of US soldiers are captured in Iraq, including one woman. The enemy, not being champions of the Geneva Convention, interrogate and torture the troops. The male troops are not harmed, but the female is sexually assaulted and the men are subjected to watching it, as a 'lever' to make them talk.

I think it is fair to say that as soldiers, we expect that all soldiers would resist caving in to interrogators despite threats of torture to fellow soldiers. But in this mindset, I think we all see the troop getting tortured as a man. Would we react the same way if the threat was not to beat our fellow male soldier, but instead to rape our fellow female soldier? Would our programed 'protector' response kick in, and would we do everything (including talk) to 'save' this woman? Or would we view her only as a soldier, and resist as much as possible, hoping she does the same?

The same conditioning that creates a different impact in us in this scenario, would create a different impact on civilians in the event of graphic portrayals of female death/torture/suffering as opposed to male death/torture/suffering.

Thoughts?
 

pbi

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What about the male PWs getting raped? Don't dismiss it! Cheers.
 

Infanteer

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What about the male PWs getting raped? Don't dismiss it!

Ask T.E. Lawrence about that....

As well as the psychological aspects, I think it is important to look at things like male small group bonding, male aggression, and other sociological ideas when addressing the notion of mixed-gender combat units.
 
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