Friday, January 25, 2013

The Infantry Woman Shortage

By Donald Sensing

Apparently there is a shortage of infantrywomen. How else to explain the announcement by the secretary of defense to remove restrictions on assignment of women in every military specialty?

As a retired artillery officer, I assure you that is a bone-headed policy change. But the same time, it will not change anything very much. There are no infantrywomen now and there will not be any in the future. I do not foresee a time when women will be involuntarily assigned to infantry or the vast majority of other specialties putatively opened to them now. And believe me, women are absolutely not going to volunteer for them in any kind of significant numbers at all, leading them to again be closed to women (unofficially, but actually). Here is why:
Back in the early 1980s, the US Army opened artillery specialties to women except for cannon crewman, which is an incredibly physically-demanding job. A fair, but not great, number of women volunteered and most of them just as quickly volunteered out once they found out how hard it was.
By the mid-80s the Army officially closed artillery branch to women and retrained the two or so women who were still in it.
There are many jobs that women will naturally gravitate to and infantry and other direct-combat, extremely physically-demanding jobs simply are not among them. Civilian experience in the job market shows that this is true, and not just in physical jobs.
Case in point: my daughter is presently majoring in chemical engineering at an engineering university. In her entire class there are four other women with the same major but dozens of men. This is absolutely typical of the STEMs and is repeated from year to year. There is certainly no physical reason that women can't do the STEMs and obviously women as a class are no less intelligent as men as a class. Yet despite the fact that female engineering grads' starting salaries are typically significantly higher than men's, women simply do not major in the STEMs in significant numbers. (She is one of three women in her physics class this term, with 27 men.) 
So let the liberals have their orgy of self congratulation on how they've made the military so gloriously equal and gender neutral. It means nothing much as far as actual assignments of women in the force at large. You just cannot fool Mother Nature and the women who are joining the military know it. We may expect an initial rush of a few women who think of themselves as trailblazers or women who want the media frenzy over them to prepare the marketing environment for their book. There will follow not long afterward Congressional hearings because women won't start appearing in large numbers graduating from the Benning School for Boys (aka, the US Army Infantry School) - and then women will continue to stay away in droves. Why? Because they are not idiots.
Postscript: When I was the brigade fire support officer for 1st Brigade, 3d Armored Division, the brigade's tactical operations center (TOC) consisted of four armored, tracked command post vehicles (M577 by name). They were my vehicle plus one each for the operations section, the engineer section and the S2 Intelligence section. The S2 officer and all four section soldiers were females. Whenever we occupied a new position, it always took the S2 section about 15-20 minutes longer than the rest of us to get ready to fight because of the manual labor involved in setting up each section to make the TOC an integrated operation.


M577 Command Post Vehicle with tent extension. The tentage and
the aluminum frame are both heavy and require a lot of
muscle power to get set up quickly - and in combat or field
operations, you are in a hurry all the time.
Understand, none of the women ever complained, none were slackers and all were pretty good soldiers and did a good job in their specialty. They were simply too bodily small and under-muscled to keep pace with the men of the other sections. Usually the operations and engineer troops would finish their setup and then help the S2 section.
That's just a fact and there is nothing all the liberals in the world are going to be able to do about it. So don't get the vapors, people. We are no more likely to see infantrywomen as we are to see women crewing crab boats on Deadliest Catch.

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