It seems that the old military song “The Army Goes Rolling Along” may need some revisions. Especially where it says, “We’ll fight with all our might, as the Army keeps rolling along.”
That’s because of the military’s new move to open up previously closed job assignments, such as infantry, to women, according to the nonpartisan Center for Military Readiness.
The move was launched in February when Defense Department officials Vee Penrod and Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton eliminated some rules regarding women soldiers. They promised at the time that assignments for women in or near direct ground combat would be “only the beginning,” the organization noted.
The move was affirmed yesterday when Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno spoke with reporters.
“This is a progressive way forward,” he said. ” … We’re opening up the occupational specialties that currently women serve in, down to infantry and armor battalions. And we will run this for several months. And my guess is, based on my experience in Iraq and what I’ve seen in Afghanistan, we’ll then move forward with a more permanent solution inside of the Army probably sometime this fall.”
The CRM statement released by its director, Elaine Donnelly, explained the situation this way: “The National Football League does not pursue ‘diversity’ by training female players for non-lethal combat on the gridiron. Even the best female athletes would not survive the grueling training and punishing clashes against aggressive male opponents. Social experiments that override recognition of individual merit are not acceptable in pro football. Every team wants to win the Super Bowl.”
But in the case of the U.S. military, women now are being invited “to train for infantry battalions that engage in lethal ground combat – violent conflicts in which lives and missions are at risk. The stated motive is not to improve combat readiness, it is ‘diversity’ and ‘equal opportunities for women to excel.’”
Odierno said just this week “more than 200 women began reporting to the maneuver battalions in nine of our brigade combat teams, selected to participate in the exception to the direct ground combat assignment rule.”
He said other rules were rescinded to open up “six military occupational specialties and 80 units, more than 13,000 positions to women, opening up new opportunities to our female soldiers.”
But a report posted by the National Health Institute cites studies showing that women are “approximately 52 percent and 66 percent as strong as the men in the upper and lower body respectively. The men were also stronger relative to lean body mass.”
So where are the military benefits to having someone physically less strong being put in a position of carrying an injured soldier, hefting a 70-plus pound pack and fighting a pitched firefight at the end of a days-long trek?
CMR has said the Pentagon’s policy “is doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.”
“Instead of putting the needs of the military first, the Defense Department is taking incremental steps to implement the deeply flawed recommendations of the Military Diversity Leadership Commission,” CMR said.
Its report, “From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 21st Century,” comes not from battle-scarred veterans but from “civilian military ‘equal opportunity’ professionals who assign priority to ‘diversity,’ not military effectiveness,” CMR said.
The recommendations concede “diversity” is not about “treating everyone the same,” but instead its focus is on “inclusion.”
Congress already has been warned of the problem. In a Congressional Research Service Report on women in combat, CMR reported, the authors point out: “Notably absent in this language is any mention of the effects of military readiness such changes may produce.”
The military has said that starting this month, both men and women in entry-level training and male Marines from a Ground Combat Element will be asked to volunteer for three physical tests: heavy machine gun lift (72 pounds), casualty evacuation and a march under load (more than 70 pounds).
“The same tasks in an actual combat environment are often performed while attacking the enemy after a long march, in bad weather, when troops are exhausted, short-handed and under fire,” CMR reported.
None of the concerns reflect on the bravery, ability and sacrifices of women in the military, CRM said.
But besides the very real impact on a military’s capabilities, the women themselves are at risk, CRM reported.
A number of studies have fond “there is no way to treat women exactly like men in training without increasing debilitating injuries at far higher rates among women than men.”
A British test of “gender-free” training found that injuries among women rose 200 percent, and Britain ultimately decided women would not be assigned to land combat units.
A study reported in Military Medicine in 2007 said the career implications of injuries include a failure to complete a term of service, a failure to advance in rank and a failure to re-enlist.
“Since the announced goal is ‘equal opportunity to excel,’ women will ‘excel,’ no matter how many compromises are made to achieve that result. To make ‘equality’ permanent, trainers will simply drop or modify exercises that injure women at rates far greater than men,” the CMR analysis said. “Within a single generation, no one will remember the previous regimen, resulting in infantry training programs that are less challenging for male Marines.”
But, the report said, remaining unexplained is how any of this will benefit fighting forces.
The organization said the key question remains how would assignment of women to front-line combat posts help combat readiness.
The CMR also long has reported on the advance of permission for same-sex soldiers to serve openly in the U.S. military.
The group’s most recent report documented that sexual misbehavior is on the rise.
CMR completed an analysis of the the reports, including the overall military assessment of sexual assaults as well as the Army’s Gold Book report. It cites 515 rapes, 414 aggravated sexual assaults and 349 forcible sodomies documented by just the Criminal Investigation Command in 2011.
“Pentagon officials regularly praise their own work and proclaim undeserved ‘success,’ even though evidence of sexual misconduct, both consensual and non-consensual, continues to accelerate, year after year,” Donnelly said.
“It is time to reconsider and change flawed policies that are weakening the culture of the only military we have.”
In December 2010, Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy established by President Clinton that allowed homosexuals to remain in the military on the condition they not make a public issue of their sexual lifestyle.
The new law, for the first time in U.S. history, allows homosexual members to openly acknowledge their sexual choices.
Among the details in the reports: While, in 2006, 5 percent of the violent sexual assaults have been against men, recent reports now put that figure at 12 to 14 percent.
The Army said it is “currently monitoring same-gender sex crime for a potential increase in forcible sodomy and other sex offenses related to the disassociation of homosexuality from the crime itself.”