In a debate on Fox News Sunday, Air Force Col. Martha McSally characterized the exclusion of women from combat this way: “So that’s like saying Pee Wee Herman is okay to be in combat, but Serena and Venus Williams are not going to meet the standard.”

Granted, McSally, who was the nation’s first female combat pilot, was engaging in hyperbole, but you get the point.

The Pentagon announced last week that it’s going to gradually lift the ban on women serving in combat, as long as they measure up, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“If members of the military can meet the qualifications for a job—and let me be clear, I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job—if they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed or color or gender or sexual orientation,” Panetta said.

One critic of the shift is Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin.  He said in the Fox News debate that he’s most concerned about mixing the sexes in close-quarter infantry units.  He argued that harsh living conditions for mixed gender units are “not conducive to readiness.”

That’s a straw man argument since women have been at or near the front lines for years. 152 women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and another 900 have been wounded.   One of the earliest casualties of the Iraq war was West Virginia’s own Jessica Lynch.

Combat veteran and former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain supports the Pentagon’s decision.

“I think women are obviously prepared to serve side-by-side with men in combat,” McCain said on ABC’s This Week.  “I just want to emphasize, though, there should be the same physical and mental standards for anyone to perform certain roles and functions in the military.”

America appears ready for the change. A new Rasmussen Reports Poll finds that 59 percent of likely voters “now feel that women in the military should be allowed to fight on the front lines and perform all the combat roles that men do.”

It’s less clear about how the country feels about women registering for the draft.  However, if women are going to be equal with men in the foxhole, then they should also have the same draft status.

Now, this does not mean women are automatically going to be members of Seal Team Six.  The physical demands of elite fighting units are such that physiological differences will make it extremely difficult for women to make the cut.

Panetta says the policy change is about equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.  There’s no room for social experiments, though critics charge that’s exactly what’s happening here.

The country’s security depends upon the readiness and capabilities of our fighting forces.  Soldiers should be measured as individuals.  The country is best served by those who bring courage, discipline, motivation, leadership and physical and mental toughness to the job, regardless of gender.





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  • Don Jr.

    Bad idea.
    Where has common sense gone????

  • Don Smith

    As a veteran infantryman, I see this as an obviously counterproductive move. Beside the moral failure in a man's roll as defender of his home and family, no good result can come by placing females in ground combat units. My Vietnam platoon would only have had extra difficulties in such an arrangement. The addition of females to our circumstances would have led to certain loss of combat readiness and added a moral challenge that would have created a new and cumbersome distraction from our mission. It is to our nation's shame that we desire to bring women down to our level. Thanks to all who serve (male and female), but let us not pretend that there is no difference in the God-given responsibilities of men and women.

  • WV Patriot

    By the way, there is no doubt that captured women will suffer more. I don't think I have to be more clear on that issue. And now the Hezbollah and Al Quadia (spelling) will have a trophy to motivate them to win any engagement. Their commanders will promise a women as the trophy once they find out who is fighting on the other side.

  • WV Patriot

    Ok, so all women need to start registering for the Selective Service. That should be implemented immediately. There should be no conditions on this inclusion. Then we will see how many of the movement support the idea! Also, if the draft is ever re-implemented, women should be subjected to the draft just like women.

  • David

    Women should be wives and mothers. Like this:

  • Red Dwarf

    When I was in the Army almost twenty-five years ago guys had to do X amount of sit ups in two minute, and Y amount of straight-leg push ups, then run two miles in Z amount of minutes. The females had a more lax standard: fewer sit ups, fewer knee-down push ups, and more time to complete the run. Even up the standards, then I'm for it. I'll leave the field sanitation and other delicate issues for the military to settle in their wisdom.

  • ShinnstonGuy

    The same arguments were made when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" came under review. I might remind some of the folks on here that call Manchin a liberal that he was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against repeal. Oh well, that's Joe and I digress. The point was all of these arguments were used then and now a 16 months later we have seen none of these problems, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Africa. Of course, I always found it funny that a big, touch Marine would be scared to room with a gay guy, considering a Marine is supposed to be the world's tough guy. LOL. The same will be true for women. I met a female Marine in Hawaii that taught the men how to use their rifles. I would feel pretty safe if she was charging ahead of me on the front lines!

    • Shadow

      Everyone feels safe when they are behind. It's the front one that gets the lead.

  • Shines

    I know a bunch of women who said "if gays are allowed in the military and woman can fight on the front lines I'll join!" hmmm... guess what none of them have enlisted.

  • Shadow

    In the foxhole, this will give new meaning to: "caught with your pants down!" Sounds to me that we will need "Battle Skirts!" The good side is that when you share a foxhole, it might not be so lonely... How will you ever keep awake when it is your turn to watch?

  • Uncle Fester

    How long will it take for women to prep for the battlefield?? I know it takes many women 2 or more hours to prep just to go out to dinner and a movie. Hold on, the battle cannot start yet, the women's hair and nails are not done yet.
    Does this say we are advanced then as a society?? What then does that say about the Arabs, Muslims and Taliban? They use their women on the batllefield as "Human Shields."

  • Shadow

    No good can come of mixing sexes on the battlefield. It only complicates a difficult situation. The only gain is that a few women can have a "feel good about themselves moment." The "women" that I know think no good ot it.

  • Wowbagger

    As long as all women in the appropriate age group are required to register for the draft immediately and are included, without bias in any mandatory call up in the future I have no problem with women serving in combat.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, for many decades women have demanded equality with men, why not on the battlefield? They get the same level of military training in the Armed Services, so why not let them put that training to practical use on the front lines?

    Time to set aside all the old stereotypes about women and let them fight!

  • Medman

    One of the best arguments I have heard for allowing women to serve on the "front lines" is that we no longer have trench or foxhole type wars. Much of the fighting now is done by special forces or by using more high tech equipment. Yes, there are firefights, but has anyone seen a D-day type landing like we saw 75 years ago? One interesting fact is that some of the most skilled folks in competitive shooting today are women.

  • mntnman

    About time. My daughters could fight with the best of them. Strong women they are. Physically they could compete with many men, and they are as strong willed and strong minded as any man I know, including their two brothers and their father.

    While neither chose to join, if they had, then they should have the opportunity to serve in combat if they chose to do so. The facts are that many women are ready, willing and able to serve in combat -- as ready, willing and able as any man. For that matter, they already have.

    The time has come for qualified women to serve in whatever capacity they choose. IMHO it will not make us weaker, it will only show our strength as a society. That all people are created equal and are judged on the content of their character, as well as their strengths (and weaknesses). That everyone has the same opportunity to achieve and succeed. That we are all the same under the law. Those ideals make us strong and great and free. So we need to live them to their fullest. This is one of those steps that gets us there. Good decision. We will not regret it.

    • James

      As a Totally Disabled Vietnam Veteran, Putting Women in Combat Infantry Units will Destroy the Combat readiness of this Nation. I know for a fact in Vietnam a Female Infantry Solider would jeopardize a complete Infantry Company ! I would not want a Women covering my back in a Fire Fight. They will be a complete distraction to any Male Solider !!