A military study conducted by the Israeli army has concluded women are a
weaker sex, which means they will continue to be barred from most combat duties.
According to the study’s findings reported in the Washington Times,
women safely can carry 40 percent of their body weight compared with 55
percent for men. Because military-age women weigh 33 pounds less than
men on average, the total weight-lifting disparity between the sexes amounts
to 44 pounds on average.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers
In terms of endurance, the study found while men could handle
55-mile marches, any trek longer than 32 miles was found to be too arduous
for women. Researchers attributed this to the fact that the amount of
oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in women’s blood was more than 10 percent
lower than in men’s blood.
The Times reports Israeli army doctors assessing these limitations
recommend women not serve in front-line infantry positions, artillery units
or tank crews.
Israel Defense Forces tank
This comes as the Israeli government has called up 10 battalions of reserve soldiers to handle the escalating violence in the region.
The army study mirrors the earlier findings of Israeli scholar Martin van Creveld, a specialist in international conflict and author of the book “Men, Women and War,” who found that women lacked the physical strength needed for fighting at close quarters and that their relative weakness could, in some cases, put themselves and their comrades in unjustifiable danger.
Van Creveld concluded sending women into frontline combat units would reduce efficiency, increase costs and could prove “criminal.” His opinion largely swayed British officials in their 2001 decision not to lift the ban on women in combat.
The Israeli army study also fuels the long-simmering debate over the role of female servicewomen in the U.S. military. Proponents of women in combat historically point to the experience of Israeli servicewomen who fought alongside men in the 1948 independence war as an example to be emulated.
Retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning, director of the Center for Women in
Uniform for the Women’s Research and Education Institute, argues some
women are strong enough and physically capable of serving in infantry and
Special Forces and that, given training, those who aren’t can make up for their
Manning cites British studies in which women were called upon to run six
miles carrying 55 pounds on their back. After approximately three months of
special conditioning, they could do it.
“The only difference between men and women is that you have to invest
more time and training for women,” Manning told WorldNetDaily.
Citing anecdotal evidence, van Creveld calls the lore of female “Amazon” soldiers myths.
“There is no more reason to believe they ever existed any more than Barbarella or Wonderwoman,” he told the London Sunday Telegraph.
Van Creveld, who has studied the historical experiences of women in the military dating back to the Roman era, works to “explode the myth” about Israeli women in combat serving as ably as men. During the 1948 independence war, for example, women only served a brief couple of weeks on the frontlines before a group was ambushed and the desecration of their bodies prompted officials to sideline women warriors.
Israel is the only country in the world to have compulsory military service
for women. While men must serve three years in the Israel Defense Forces,
all women are required to serve 21 months.
Despite a 1995 Israeli court ruling that struck down the “men-only” rule for
combat units, women have not served in combat since 1948, and integration into combat-support platoons has been slow. According to IDF statistics, 84 percent of female soldiers still serve in administrative roles with only 1 percent training for combat roles, and 82 percent of female soldiers
have had no weapons training.
Israeli servicewomen point to their sisters-in-arms in America to push for
further integration in Israeli forces. Since the elimination in 1994 of the
United States Department of Defense “Risk Rule,” which held that women could not be placed in combat-support units that had “significant risk of capture,” American servicewomen have been serving among combat-engineer companies on the ground, populating combatant ships and sitting in the cockpits of jets, bombers and Apache attack helicopters.
“In the U.S. Army, you see the girls going everywhere and doing all things,”
a 20-year-old Israeli trooper told the Austin American-Statesman. “I know it
sounds bad, but one day I hope they’ll transfer us to the hot places, too. I want
to have a chance to prove myself and show everyone what I’ve learned.”
“We are a nation that has to take war seriously,” van Creveld testified in 1992 for a U.S. presidential commission studying the ramifications of allowing women in combat. “We are proud of the fact that we have not had women serve in combat [since 1948] even in the most desperate of times.”
Military advocates opposed to women serving in combat in the U.S. welcome the Israeli army study as additional ammunition for their fight.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an
independent public-policy organization that specializes in military personnel
issues, and a member of WND’s
Speakers Bureau, said the disparity in physical strength between men and women matters. She pointed to the Army’s fielding of a new rucksack for soldiers estimated to weigh 120 pounds when loaded to full capacity.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was the first combat test for the new Modular Lightweight Load-bearing Equipment, or MOLLE. The Army Times reported the excessive weight of the rucksack hampered a 101st Airborne Division air assault in May as “infantrymen staggered under the load.”
“If women can’t carry their own backpacks, then men must carry them, which adds to their burden. The physical limitations are practical realities,” Donnelly told WorldNetDaily.
Donnelly recently launched a petition drive calling on
President George W. Bush to roll back Clinton-era “social-engineering
policies” she says undermine readiness, discipline and morale.
The “Americans for the Military” petition, which has gained approximately 15,000 signatures, asks Bush to direct Pentagon officials to
“objectively review and revise social policies” such as:
- Assignments of female soldiers in or near land combat units with
a high risk of capture;
- Admittedly inefficient co-ed basic training;
- Prolonged family separations and pregnancy policies that detract
- Gender-based recruiting “goals” and quotas that hurt morale and
Donnelly hopes to present the petition in a personal
meeting with Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. While she has met with White House officials, no meeting is yet scheduled.