Emotion & Women In Combat
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has recently decided to allow women into front-line combat. However, this decision has been met with much controversy. The Washington Times reports on this complex and hot-button decision.
Some argue that certain units, like infantry, Special Forces, SEALs and others, are not suitable for combining men and women. It has nothing to do with the courage or even capabilities of women. It is all about two things: the burden on small unit leaders, and the lack of privacy in these units.
Leaders of these units must be focused on keeping their soldiers alive and defeating the enemy. It is unreasonable to encumber them with the additional burden of worrying about how they would/could provide privacy for the few women under their command during stressful and dangerous operations. How would the various military branches handle issues such as that?
Proponents in favor of women in front-line combat note that the Air-force already has female fighter pilots but many military people against women in front-line combat point out the issue of privacy as a null factor in the Air-force because a combat pilot returns to an operating base or an aircraft carrier after the fight, where separate facilities are available.
Arguers for women in front-line combat also point out that everyone in combat areas is vulnerable to an attack. Therefore, women are already in combat and will continue to be in combat.
The bottom line: The topic of mixing sexes in the military is a very emotional one. Women have been in combat areas for years and they fought well and displayed courage and commitment during contact with the enemy. It is a question of how acceptable the actual leaders and soldiers will be of such a decision that can make all the difference.