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Women's hidden roles in war

Discussion in 'Military History' started by The_Historian, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. green slime

    green slime Member

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    And let's face it. Sure, the average guy is stronger, and taller, than the average woman.

    But

    1) height and maximum strength are seldom an issue. Mental endurance and tenacity are almost always an issue.

    2) Once upon a time, women weren't allowed to run further than 800m, because of their supposedly inferior physiques would be inclined to self injury. In 1984, the Olympics allowed women to compete in the marathon; it was controversial. Today, no one even thinks twice about it.

    3) While the best women, will not beat the best men in a physical competition (running, sprinting, swimming, skiing, cycling, rowing, etc) they can and do beat well-trained men. Compare the winning women's result in any endurance race; there'll be a substantial number of male athletes behind : Tiki Gelana's 2:23:07 in the Olympic 2012 women's marathon would put her 64th in the men's race (of around 100 starting). In the Vasaloppet 90 km annual cross country skiing race in Sweden, the best woman is almost invariably 30 minutes behind the best man (usually the best guy has around 3:50). That's only 20 seconds slower per kilometre, and well ahead of a lot of men. For 2013 Laila Kveli came 137th place, of 16,000 starting humans, the majority of which were men.

    4) While a degree of physical endurance and strength is desirable in the armed forces, as important at least is the attitude and mental tenacity to keep going when it gets tough.

    And don't tell me all guys have that attitude, because they don't.

    Standards should definitely not be lowered; but at least allow everyone the opportunity!

    No one voices any concern about weak-willed tv-addict Average Joe getting his chance to serve.
     
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  2. PFlint

    PFlint Member

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    During WWII the Soviet Union employed Women in a number of frontline combat roles.
    the 586 Fighter Aviation Regiment was equipped with the Yak-1 fighter.(and later the Yak-7)
    although the commander was male all the fighter pilots were women.
    some of the ground crew were also women.
    the 587 was equipped with the U-2/Po-2 "kurkurznik" and all the pilots were women.
    they got so good the Germans called them "Nacht Hexen" (Night Witches) and they were later awarded Guards status.
    the 588 Bomber Aviation Regiment was equipped with the Pe-2 twin-engine bomber
    again, although the commander was male ,all the pilots were women.
    this is another unit later awarded Guards status.

    other women were employed as snipers and were damned good at it!

    Anna Yegerova flew the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik.(ground attack aircraft)
     
  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    How many Infantry or Special Operations Forces have you operated with? Physical strength and endurance are critical. Especially in infantry (good infantry not the half-arsed units often fielded) physical ability is critical to your ability to perform.
    No one is suggesting that "weak willed tv addict Average Joe" should or could serve in an infantry unit. If "Joe" did make it through basic training he would wash out of Infantry School or an Elite Force selection phase. He'd never make it to an operational unit. Now when it comes to females, when the word comes down that it will happen, it will happen, even if they can't hang with the rest of the group. When this occurs females will complain that they are not respected by their team mates, which will be true because all the male team members know that she didn't make the physical cut and was passed due to gender. She will then be viewed as the weak link and the potential cause of death to team members and mission failure, if she ever deploys. Eventually, all standards will be lowered so that the females do not feel looked down upon due their being held to a lesser physical standard. In order to gain full integration and acceptance it will be decided that a lower physical standard will be adopted. At this point "weak willed tv addict Average Joe" will be able to hang, will not be dropped or wash out and the overall force quality will be degraded. Instead of the taking a group and weeding out the weak and only keeping the best, you'll be keeping the average and the best will chose to go elsewhere, or the best will get whacked trying to pull the load for the weak.
    I've seen this very same scenario happen with the Army's Airborne School (and in other areas). Not too long ago males and females ran in seperate formations, with the females running at a slower pace. If a male run dropped twice he was out of the course. Run drop was not necessarily that the candidate stopped running, most often it was that he finished behind the formation even if significantly ahead of the female formation. It didn't matter that he exceeded the female standard, he failed to meet the male requirement. It was a course component intended to weed out the weaker individuals and it worked. Then there were complaints that male, airborne personnel, had a negative view of female personnel because they felt that the females were allowed to graduate with a different standard. (In addition to the run there were a number of other accomodations made for female candidates, pull ups, push ups, exemption from having to participate in certain incentive pt, etc. The pullup exemption was particularly galling because a pullup is exactly what you had to do on the risers of a T-10 canopy in order to steer it. So lack of upper body strength meant they couldn't control their canopy and they presented a real danger to other jumpers. The MC1-1 series canopies used a toggle system to steer and the ability to do a pullup was less critical).
    Anyway, the way the concerns were addressed was to alter the program so that all candidates performed to the same standard, which happened to be the female standard. Now you have weaker, less motivated, less capable males graduating. The overall quality of personnel entering the operational units thereby goes down That's the way it works.

    Then you used the female athelete example. I say good, before we alter the military where the change will result in dead people, why don't we just do away with seperate male/female categories in sports. If all are equal it should not be an big deal. No womens NBA, Soccer, Track and Field, etc. See how many women are able to compete at world class level. Because few if any women will make the cut to represent their country or compete on the professional level. We in democratic nations will see it as descrimination and make a rule that "X" number of women be included in each field, event, team, whatever. Then when we compete against a country that only fields their best, without making accomodation for gender, we'll never win in a sporting event again. Good thing is they won't be shipping those that don't win home in body bags.

    The Marine Corps, since the policy change came down from DoD, has gone on a Corps wide recruiting effort to find the best among it's female Lieutenants to attend the Marine Infantry Officer Course. They have entered with several classes now, and not a one has gotten very far along and most have quit during the initial event. It is true that many men have also quit, but then there are the are also many men that complete the course, and meet all the requirements. It's meant to be competative, its meant to weed out all but the very best, because that's who you want leading your infnatry when they're in a knife or gunfight, close up with the enemy. This does not mean that those women that attempted and quit are not good officers, can not fulfill other vital roles, and are not some of the smartest and most fit our society produces. Same-same with the male officers that try and fail. They are still smart, capable leaders in excellent physical condition, worlds ahead of "average Joe" you spoke of. They just don't meet the standard.
    Another thing that is never mentioned in the press, or by the politicians that have never humped a ruck, weapon, ammo, water, rations, medical supplies, batteries, personal protective equipment, but pontificate as if they knew what the hell they were talking about, is the factor of physical breakdown. Believe it or not, as many people are dropped from the infantry schools and elite forces selection or qualification courses because their bodies can't handle the stress. You have a small proportion that are dropped at their own request, DOR, because they lack the pain tolerance, don't want it bad enough, lack motivation, and other personal reasons. Then you have a larger percentage that are involuntarily dropped for failure to meet course standards, failing required events. You have an equal percentage that are dropped for medical reasons. When you become fatigued, push your body past where you normally stop, and do it repeatedly, your muscles tire and your reflexes slow. Parts break and dislocate because you move in a way you normally adjust for or react to, or where your musculature normally compensates for a structural weakness. This is another important "weeding" out technique. If part of your body is going to break, better to break in training than break on a mission where in addition to mission critical supplies and euipment your comrades have to carry you and your gear. You will have to carry your own combat casualties, why add additional, avoidable casualties?
    Even other military members that haven't served in the infantry do not fully understand what it is like. They have a better understanding than civilians, but still don't fully comprehend the demands.
     
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  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    And you're talking pilots and not infantry. World of difference.
     
  5. green slime

    green slime Member

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    USMCPrice, you stated;

    "The Marine Corps, since the policy change came down from DoD, has gone on a Corps wide recruiting effort to find the best among it's female Lieutenants to attend the Marine Infantry Officer Course. They have entered with several classes now, and not a one has gotten very far along and most have quit during the initial event. It is true that many men have also quit, but then there are the are also many men that complete the course, and meet all the requirements. It's meant to be competative, its meant to weed out all but the very best, because that's who you want leading your infnatry when they're in a knife or gunfight, close up with the enemy. This does not mean that those women that attempted and quit are not good officers, can not fulfill other vital roles, and are not some of the smartest and most fit our society produces. Same-same with the male officers that try and fail. They are still smart, capable leaders in excellent physical condition, worlds ahead of "average Joe" you spoke of. They just don't meet the standard."

    If you re-read what I stated, you'll see that as all I requested; that the standard be maintained.

    What I don't want to see, is a page long harangue advocating that they shouldn't be given the chance.

    You have to look beyond your own limited experience and view, and see it on the scale of human potential. It doesn't matter if 99.9999% of women couldn't pass. 99.8% of men don't have a hope in hell either. Just give that 0.0001% of women that might pass their due chance. (In a nation of 313 million, with approx. 10 million women aged 20-25, that still amounts to 10 women, out there, doing something else with their lives)

    Whether the armed forces of the USA sets a different set of substandards or not is not the issue in the wider debate. The fact is, there are women who can perform sufficiently well. That there are vastly fewer of them wanting to participate in combat operations shouldn't really be a surprise.

    You have a catch-22 situation; USA is constantly at war, women are subject to inequality and objectified at home, a fighting women is hardly seen as a role-model for other women, any women even attempting to qualify is heckled and ridiculed by her peers & society (there's plenty of web pages out there espousing just how stupid it is). Given all this, and you think the armed forces are going to attract the best and brightest women? That's not saying they can't attract a few, but we both know this is a numbers game; what's the percentage of males that make it through? In the SAS a course in '88 started with 24 officers and 204 men. By the end of Test Week, they were down to 12 officers and 50 soldiers. By the end, just three officers and 21 men of the original 228 past. So around 10%. But consider further, that 36% of them have already been vetted:

    For the SAS, candidates must first complete the "Special Forces Barrier Phase", that tests physical fitness. It includes push-ups, endurance marches and swimming. An average 64% of (male) applicants pass this series which includes 10 chin-ups, 60 push-ups and 100 sit-ups. This is followed by a 2.4 km (1½ miles) run with a completion time of 10:30 seconds, a 3.2 km (2 miles) run in 16 minutes, 5 km (3 miles) run with a completion time of 22 minutes and a 15 km fast march carrying 28 kg in 2 hours 15 minutes as well as a 2-minute water tread and a 400-meter swim, which must be completed in 12 minutes. All tasks are compacted into 8 hours.

    For me, it's enough that there may well be a single individual female with the potential to serve.

    Otherwise we may as well bar people on ethnic, social, and religious grounds as well. Each time these barriers to service were torn down, there were voices of how it was going to doom the armed forces. Learn from our own history.

    The issue you seem to be discussing, however, is concerning Favouritism, which is something rather different, and is merely done to accommodate a political need to show change, and is counterproductive against any effort to actually reduce prejudice. I'll not discuss further the politics of the different standards; I don't want different standards, I want the same standard to apply.

    I'll reiterate: It's a numbers game.

    How many men maintain a decent level of physical fitness in civilian life? How many men want to serve in the armed forces? How many want to serve in the infantry? How many want to serve in a combat role? How many want to try out for the special forces?

    At each step, there are significantly many, many more men than women. A Longer period of sustained high level physical exercise (measured over years), reduces the effects of physical exhaustion you describe; the tendons and ligaments become more durable, they are the things that take the worst beating. Many candidates have not maintained a high enough level of fitness long enough, prior to entering the armed forces, especially those entering SF. Many people rarely exercise outside their comfort zone and push themselves (and so may be more susceptible to mental fatigue).

    When reviewing the bell-curve of humanity, the average man is faster, stronger. But looking at that same bell curve, you'll see there are women with the potential, and we shouldn't be excluding them forever, merely because we haven't found one yet with both the physical potential and the will to participate.

    Such extreme physical examples of women are more likely to find adequate remuneration and life fulfilment in professional sports. There aren't that many people that would pass up life as an professional sportsperson for the possibility of Marine Infantry Officer Course.

    Choose
    1) accolades and medal ceremonies
    2) getting shot at, and if you're a woman, ridiculed by your peers.

    So in conclusion, women who have the potential are very unlikely to be in the services.

    One way to modify the bias would be to increase the pay of special forces to the equivalent of the average professional sportsperson. Yeah, we can all dream.
     
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  6. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Again in my own slanted view and knowing female serving forces from even my own time....Fitness is the only requirement for doing the job. Whether female or male...the rest is male female ego warfare as in civvy st...
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You have no idea how limited or broad my experience may be.

    Nice to throw figures out there when you just pull them off the top of your head. So there is just a 0.0001% difference in the performance between men and women? What do you base this statistical assumption on? If that were the difference I'd be in full support of the change. The fact is that the failure rate for males in the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course averages between 20 and 24% for all reasons, medical, DOR and failure to meet standards. Despite scouring the Corps for female candidates to attend, their failure rate to date is 100%, through at least three classes and virtually all fail the initial event. The one that did make it part way into the course was dropped for medical reasons, a foot fracture. Before you attribute this to "bad" luck, you should know that during an Orthapedic rotation at Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, I was briefly involved in a study into why female service members had a much higher incidence of lower extremity injuries than male soldiers. Foot fractures were one of the common injuries being tracked and studied. The reason it was being studied was that units with high numbers of females were at much lower readiness levels due to non-deployable personnel, medical costs were much higher, a greater strain was being placed upon limited medical resources, and training costs were skyrocketing for females.

    Why shouldn't it be part of the debate? Because you say it shouldn't be? That is the point of the debate. If you lower standards you risk disaster. If the only way to see to it that women can serve in infantry/Special Operations Forces is to lower the standards, then you risk the nations ability to field as capable a force as is possible.

    I'd disagree that the military doesn't attract its fair share of the best and brightest females. I will agree that there is a good deal of disrespect towards some females by their peers, this is generally only directed towards those females that use their gender to avoid performing to standard or to gain unearned advancement. Usually, women that attempt to perform to standard are respected for their abilities.
    The two services that the change is most likely to have the greatest impact upon because they have large infantry components is the US Army and Marine Corps. While 14.5% of the total force is female, 13.6% of the Army and only 6.8% of Marines are female. The Airforce has the highest percentage at 19.1% and since they have virtually no direct ground combat elements it is not as big a deal as in the first two services. The Airforce's Special Operations Forces are already viewed as the easy way into Special Operations and if they lower their standards further to accomodate females the Special Operations Forces of the other branches will look down upon them even more. The US Navy has the next highest percentage at 16.4%. Their ground combat forces are also small, but the SEALS are probably the most elite, capable and highly respected unit in the US military. Lowering their standards will have an immediate effect on our nations ability to conduct certain types of critical operations. It is also not the "Good ole Boy" network that thinks the policy is flawed. You will find a video interview with a female Marine officer that speaks out against women in infantry billets here, Captain Katie Petronio, certainly has excellent, academic, athletic and military credentials.
    http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/video/marine-officer-women-shouldnt-be-infantry

    "I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007. I completed Officer Candidates School (OCS) ranked 4 of 52 candidates, graduated 48 of 261 from TBS, and finished second at MOS school. I also repeatedly scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests (for example, earning a 292 out of 300 on the Marine physical fitness test)......two combat deployments, one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan"
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Continued....
    [SIZE=9pt]Maybe they should have had a stricter vetting process, or vetted more that 36% of candidates.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]That's quite similar to the PT test given before being allowed to start the Special Forces Selection and Assesment Phase, which must be completed before moving on to the actual qualification course. The deal is that you'd better be able to smoke the PFT because it is the MINIMUM required to continue on. Even if you totally smke the entry PFT you will still at times struggle with some of the physical tasks once in the course, especially later in the course when long term fatigue sets in.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]Is that really wise when the DoD is so strapped for cash due to budget cuts that they are having to decide between money for training or investing in weapons technology to maintain future capability? That makes sense, let's spend money on training personnel we are reasonably sure won't meet the requirements. So what if we have to cut housing allowances for soldiers with families, that is what is happening right now, but at least that one in 10,000 soldier gets her shot! [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]Again, a statement not based on fact. The one time those barriers were torn down and the voices were proved incorrect was when the racial barrier was torn down. There is no physical or intellectual difference between soldiers of different races. There have not been religious barriers. Lyndon Johnson did attempt to tear down social barriers with his and Robert McNamara's Project 100,000 where they thought they could help the poor by allowing and requiring the military to take more troops with borderline intelligence scores, borderline physical standards, or disciplinary issues. They nearly destroyed the US military in the couple of years before the program was halted. Not only did it nearly destroy discipline and effectiveness in the military, cost enormous amounts of time and money for remedial training, resulted in huge increases in crime and disciplinary issues, drug use among this group skyrocketed, but these personnel "Program" were killed and became casualties at many times the rate of non program soldiers.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=9pt]And how do you propose to seperate the two? If you could make the change, leave politics out, and retain the standards, I would have no issue with the change. That world is not the world we live in, politics is part of the equation and must be considered. The only way that they can integrate females into the infantry/Special Operations Forces is to have two seperate standards one male/one female or insufficient females will meet the standards to satisfy Congress. The simple lack of female members in those fields will be proof that descrimination exists, in the minds of politicians. Lower the standards for all, you will get more women to qualify, but more substandard malesalso. Quality will suffer, but Congress will be pleased. Pleased until there is the next Raid to take out an Osama Bin Laden, the mission fails due to less capable personnel, the dead Americans are dragged through the streets and Congress is shouting, gnashing their teeth and screaming for an investigation. That's the real world.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]Enough to keep the ranks filled. Believe it or not, the hardest MOS to get into, in the Marine Corps is an infantry MOS, because that's what most people joining the Marine Corps think they want to do. It has been that way since the GWOT kicked off. If infantry MOS personnel didn't re-enlist early they were forced out due to a lack of billets. My younger son waited almost a year on in the delayed entry program to get an infantry MOS, he was told several times he could ship immediately if he would take a different MOS. He ended up taking a communications MOS because he ran out of time, fortunately after comm school he went to an infantry battalion so he got what he wanted. As for Special Operations Forces, (btw Special Forces specifically refers to the Army's Green Berets within the American military, I don't know where you're from, it may be different there), apparently enough men want to try out to keep the ranks filled without having to lower standards.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]Actually the tendons and ligaments become more susceptible to injury. Repeated stress results in minute tears. When they heal the scar tissue has less flexability and elasticity than the surrounding tissue. The more scar tissue the more likely the tissue is to rupture or have a serious tear.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]And how many extreme physical male specimens pass up the noteriety and big money of professional sports? You can't compare apples and oranges. If you want to compare professional atheletes compare male and female. Top female atheletes no matter how dedicated and how hard they train cannot compete with the top male atheletes. If they could there wouldn't be seperate categories based upon gender. Same-same with male and female servicemembers. You take the top percentile from each gender and physically the females cannot compete. It's physiology. .[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]And men with similar potential are likely to make that same choice the female made.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=9pt]Why? We already get adequate numbers of males with the current pay structure. We have even significantly increased the numbers of Special Ops personnel since 9/11. Oh, I forgot, lets further stretch already stretched defense dollars to make sure we are politically correct.[/SIZE]
     
  9. green slime

    green slime Member

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    USMCPrice:

    "You have no idea how limited or broad my experience may be."

    Feels good to be called out, doesn't it? You, too, have no knowledge about my experience.

    So please don't enter a discussion by denigrating a person's experience.
     
  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Without getting into my dads bigger than your dad stuff...

    Maybe they should have had a stricter vetting process, or vetted more that 36% of candidates.

    Usmc...there is no where in the world that has a stricter vetting process than pre SAS preperation....The failure rate is due to the best of the best being weeded out into the unit not the worst of them being weeded out.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I agree that the British SAS are world class and are as good or better than the best of the best fielded by any other nation. I have never worked with the your SAS, but have worked with the Australian SAS and those are some hard men and professional in the extreme. I have worked with your Royal Marines and they are as good as their reputation suggests. This is a high compliment, in most cases many foreign and US units I have worked with have not lived up to their reputations. The IDF and US 101st Airborne would be two prime examples of overinflated reputations.
    I am with you that the troops coming out the other end are exceptional. My comment was directed, and probably ill stated on my part, towards GS's specific statement.

    "In the SAS a course in '88 started with 24 officers and 204 men. By the end of Test Week, they were down to 12 officers and 50 soldiers. By the end, just three officers and 21 men of the original 228 past. So around 10%. But consider further, that 36% of them have already been vetted:"

    I don't consider 36% of the candidates having been vetted a high percentage. I am actually surprised that the number isn't higher. I also suspect, but don't know, that there is a winnowing process and 64% of students don't just show up for the course without any pre-screening.

    Off topic, but did you know that the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, since 1972, always has a Royal Marines Colour Sergeant that works as Physical Training Advisor to the commanding officer. He oversees the physical training program and supervises all physical training instructors.
     
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    "You orrible little man...what are you!?
    An orrible little man Drill sergeant!
     
  13. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Am I hurtin' you, soldier? I should be, I'm standing on your hair- GEDITCUT!!!!
     
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  14. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Ive seen an RSM say as much to a Brigadier...ah, the priveliges of rank...
     
  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Just a thought i had - off topic but this arguement seems to have run its course...

    Who is the "baddest" sergeant between Windsor Davies (Battery Sergeant Major "shut up!" Williams) - Aint half hot mum

    Vs

    R. Lee Ermery (Gunnery Sergeant Hartman)? - Full metal jacket.
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    UP, I think you are deliberately misunderstanding.

    1) My comment about sustained physical fitness;

    It should be maintained for years, and not something you do over summer to prepare for whatever armed force you'd like to join. Sadly, too many do too little, too late.

    2) About women who meet the current standard, and the consequences.

    Let's face it, the current MINIMUM physical standard, as say, defined by the "Special Forces Barrier Phase" test mentioned previously, is such that, many professional male sports persons would find it easy to the point of laughable (or they should). A male who passes this test, and aims for your SOF, is not necessarily giving up a professional sports career.

    With the current state of women's sports, however, a female who passes the current physical standard (once again, using the SF Barrier Phase as a yard stick, not being familiar with your version) probably is.


    The DoD is strapped for cash because USA has been off fighting wars for more than a decade. You're advocating banning 1-10 women per year who meet the standard, from trying out for special forces, (sorry: "Special Operations Forces"), based on economy? Seriously? When every male that meets the standard may do so? The training / testing event is occurring regardless.


    Ultimately, your armed forces are there to serve the Political will, not the reverse. The political will as expressed in the popular vote. Apparently, it's not just "Congress" that wants this.
     
  17. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Windsor Davies any time.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Cpl drill instructor in Get some in...
     
  19. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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  20. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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