I keep getting asked how I feel about the change in the Department Of Defense (DOD) policy which lifts the ban on women in combat. I’ve done a lot of reading and listening over the last couple of weeks and tried to sort out exactly what the hell the DOD policy was and is so I could properly answer the question.
The new DOD policy does little more than formally recognize what is already the status quo in our military. Women have been serving and functioning in those positions for at least the last ten years. Females perform duties in almost all the roles that you might think of as traditionally male. And they do their jobs well.
When I entered the military, we still had separate dormitories and some of the older guys still referred to the females in the Air Force as WAFs. (Women’s Air Force for you youngsters.) The AF was working hard to come up to some sort of equal opportunity standard in most of the career fields and they were under a great deal of pressure to do so. As a result, the standards were sometimes lowered so they could get women into the jobs. For every four of us who met the standard and physically qualified for the work, there were at least two who didn’t. The result was less than satisfactory, and as you might imagine, it pissed off the men who felt like they were having to pick up the slack. Trust me, it pissed off the women who were qualified just as badly.
The thing to remember is this is currently an all-volunteer service. We aren’t drafting women and tossing them into roles they neither want nor are suited for. There are thousands of positions that are not combat related, but the reality is that if you’re joining a branch of the military service, you are expected to serve where and when you are needed. The Marines have always had the creed of “Every Marine is a rifleman.” If you don’t want to go to war, don’t join the damn Marines.
The military may not be for you if you aren’t prepared to put on your gear and roll outside the safety of the fence with the men you serve with. If you’re only in it to get your college money, you should remember that nothing is free. You’ll be asked to pay for that education with your best efforts and possibly your blood or your life. If you are not prepared to do so – don’t sign the damn paper!
Many of my non-military female friends have questions about bodily functions and a woman’s “personal security” in the field. There are ways to handle the bodily functions, and they are the least of your worries if you are outside the wire. No one is interested in watching you take care of your business. As for your daughter’s “personal security” – I’d be more afraid of letting my twenty-one year old daughter loose on a college campus these days than I would be of having her in the Army or Marines and out in the field. Is it dangerous? Hell, yes. But so is being a police officer or even a prison guard in an all-male facility, yet as a nation we have become accustomed to women filling these roles.
My attitude about equality in the military hasn’t changed since the day I entered the service. When you need someone to fill a job, that job should be offered to anyone and everyone qualified to do that job, regardless of gender, color, or religion.
The key word to me remains QUALIFIED.
No service should lower the standards required for any job just to accommodate a particular group. If the standard is to be capable of lifting 40 pounds, then you have to lift the 40 pounds or you can’t have the job. If the standard is to run a mile in full battle rattle in a set amount of time, then you have to run in the same gear as everyone else and complete the task in the given amount of time. If the job is to tote the twenty-five plus pound baseplate of the mortar along with your regular pack up the mountain, then quit your bitchin’ and get your ass to packing. Everyone in the job must be required to meet the same standard.
I’ve always believed that no person should demand equality unless they are prepared to accept the responsibilities and burdens that comes with that equality. Ladies, just like the gentlemen have to do, if you want to put on the uniform and accept all the benefits, then you must now accept ALL the demands and hardships also. Just remember, no one is making you sign on that dotted line – this is a job that you are VOLUNTEERing for.