Thursday, May 19, 2005

Women in Combat

The Republicans in the House are having a bout of reality denial. They seem to think, first of all, that passing a law to keep women out of combat is a good idea, and second of all, that such a law will actually keep women in the military out of harms way. Not that we're not having enough trouble recruiting enough people to fight in Iraq without barring a segment of the population from going. Not that women won't still find themselves in combat situations if they are stationed anywhere in Iraq. When the Army objected, the House said, "Oh, our mistake. We meant for this to apply to ALL of the armed forces.”

What's the issue here? Women not being able to perform in combat? Up the standards. Make women who want to fight in a combat unit meet the same standards as the men. Yes, this will prevent many (or most) women from joining combat units, but it ensures that women who do join will be able to handle themselves at least as well as their male compatriots. And increase training for women (and all soldiers) who are “merely” in units that support the combat units. Are they concerned that women may me killed or injured? Women are already finding themselves in combat situations in Iraq. There's no front line for you to keep them away from. They're in it and they're going to BE in it as long as they are in Iraq. Also, it's wonderful how they don't seem to mind that MEN are getting killed and injured in Iraq, and in much greater numbers than the women. Fourty-five men die - not a problem. One woman dies - get them out of there!

The one that got me was when PVC Lynch was captured. The story came out that her gun had jammed and a fellow soldier had died protecting her. This was held up by some as an example of why women should not be in combat. As if the soldier who died was only protecting her because she was a woman. As if it would have been perfectly acceptable for him to leave a fellow soldier, who was injured and essentially unarmed, to die.

Then I read about the woman who saved a fellow soldier from being crushed, then shielded him from gunfire. Imagine that. It's possible for a woman to protect a man. Who knew?

It’s a fact of life now that women in the military are more frequently finding themselves in combat situations, even when they are not attached to a combat unit. If they want to fight and are capable of fighting, more power to them. Letting women volunteer to be in combat is a far cry from drafting them (which wouldn’t work – baby boom, anyone?) I don’t know what the House thinks this law is going to accomplish. The only way to get women out of harms way is to pull them out of Iraq. If you do that, what do you say to the men who can’t leave with them? Or the men who have to go in their place? Sorry, you don’t have enough X-chromosomes. Better luck next lifetime.


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