The Gunny Women Infantry Combat
"The push to get more and more women into infantry combat roles will result in the men fighting alongside them being under more stress and facing more dangers."|Photo by Big Stock Photo

The Gunny: Women in Infantry Combat Is Dangerous

The push for the PC notion of women in combat is dangerous stuff for our troops!

The 120-pound pack of Marine infantry combat gear hit the floor with a thud. It brought to attention all those present in the polished and pristine committee hearing room on Capitol Hill. The Marine who humped the pack into the room—the 12th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Gene Overstreet—issued a challenge for any woman in the room to pick up the pack and walk with it. “Never mind doing what Marines do,” he said, “carrying the pack 10 miles, then fighting with it.”

There were a lot of gulps and mumbles and uneasy stirrings heard, but none of the women in the room picked up the pack. The point Sergeant Major Overstreet made was that while women may be as tough as men, they sure as hell aren’t as strong. And the strong are vital to infantry-type combat operations.

That was 1991. Today, The Gunny is almost sick with worry about the same subject. As 2015 was coming to a close in December, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that women will be allowed to serve in all combat jobs in the U.S. military.

Alone among all the services, the Marines had the guts to disagree with the Secretary’s decision. Marine Commandant General Joseph Dunford, who is also chairman of the combined Chiefs of Staff, voiced his reservations about the new policy. He also decided to be absent from the showcase staging of the announcement where Secretary Carter sounded off about the decision as if it was unleashing stronger U.S. combat forces.

Carter said, “As long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. Even more importantly, our military will be better able to harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer.”

Pardon me, Mr. Secretary, but will you please tell The Gunny how “the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer” are going to help an infantry platoon hump machine guns and ammo, plus mortar tubes and rounds, plus rifles and ammo, plus individual combat gear? Hump this stuff over 10 miles of hills and swamps, under fire, and then fight with them?

After the announcement, General Dunford did what Marines do: He followed orders. He issued a carefully worded statement that, in effect, said, “Yes, Sir!”  It read: “In the wake of the Secretary’s decision, my responsibility is to ensure the decision is properly implemented. Moving forward, my focus is to lead the full integration of women in a manner that maintains our joint warfighting capability, ensures the health and welfare of our people, and optimizes how we leverage talent across the Joint Force.”

You don’t have to be an old Devil Dog to realize that the Secretary’s ruling will whiplash through combat unit training. The effects were already being felt at the time of the announcement. The Army had showcased the graduation of two women from the Ft. Benning Ranger School.

On Sept. 25, 2015, People published an article by Susan Keating that threw a stink bomb into the Army’s celebration, claiming special treatment for the women candidates.

In a Marine study unheeded by the Secretary of Defense and reported by the Washington Post, it was found that gender-integrated units were slower, less accurate and had more difficulty removing the wounded. It was also reported that 40.5 percent of the women had musculoskeletal injuries, compared to 18.8 percent of the men. Marine General John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command and a Marine for 45 years, cited this study in voicing his concern over easing of the military’s training standards as a result of the new policy of integrating women into combat and infantry posts.

Today the push for political correctness is well under way in our military. Will the women who have made up their minds to join the ground-combat ranks as the men receive the same hard training of the men? You know the answer to that one. The training will be changed—to accommodate political correctness and see that at least some women can complete the courses.

Just after the Secretary Carter’s announcement last December, Brigadier General Diana Holland was named Commandant of Cadets at West Point. She graduated from West Point in 1990 and is now the 76th Commandant—the first female ever.

Does The Gunny have a problem with that? Absolutely not. As far as I can tell, that job is something a woman can certainly handle, and handle well. I trust and hope that she’s the right person for the job. A job that won’t require the backbreaking duties and demands that fall on infantry combat soldiers and Marines.

Women have a place in our military. There are jobs galore for them—duties and responsibilities that require professionalism and dedication. From flying an F18 to being Commandant of Cadets at West Point.

Infantry combat is different. You can’t convince me that doctoring the training requirements of our elite special operations forces like the Army Rangers, and the basic infantry training of the Marines and Army, will make our fighting forces stronger.

The push to get more and more women into infantry combat roles will result in the men fighting alongside them being under more stress and facing more dangers.

Semper Fi!

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this “Giving ’Em Hell” piece went to press, the (hypothetical) debate topic about requiring women to register for Selective Service was put to candidates running for POTUS. We’re sure that The Gunny will touch on that subject in the next issue of TW. In other news, we want to congratulate The Gunny and his team because GunnyTime with R. Lee Ermey won Best New Outdoor Channel Series during the 16th Annual Outdoor Sportsman Awards in Las Vegas on Jan. 21, 2016.

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  • anon

    I am afraid I can’t agree. Women are deployed with infantry in expeditionary forces and serve on far-flung fire bases and checkpoints. The alternative is for male soldiers to do any intrusive searches of women, and is would be such a powerful recruiting tool for insurgents that no western army would consider it (well, maybe the French).

    Given that women are in infrantry roles the question is if they are trained and deployed as infantry or if they are shipped in. In the case of the Royal Marines, shipped in from the Naval Reserve. So we have a far flung checkpoint where a quarter of the post is undertrained for the role and have dropped in from civvie street (this is no criticism of women, they signed up for shipborne tasks in the RN, and instead find themselves in the most dangerous infantry posting on earth; a man in the same situation would be no more useful).

    It’s time to stop delusion. Women are part of infantry deployments, doing infantry tasks. We need them to *be* infantry. The current situation is unfair to both the men and to the women, and saps the power of the infantry force at the pointy end.

    And yeah, that is harder for some military cultures than others, but let’s recognise that as a cultural problem rather than using some bullshit physical tests as cover. Because none of the overfed, under-run male politicians in that room would shift a bergen far either.

  • I can only agree with gunny. Truth of the matter, unfortunately for BS PC, the standard WILL be lowered at a cost of lives. While i have Nothing against women in infantry or elsewhere – say FireMEN – women should and MUST meet the standard. Not all men can become a fireman or a Marine or a doctor for that matter. IF it so happens that “female representation” is zero, so be it.

    The irony of it all is that women , often willingly, segregate themselves in sports – especially professional sports – except professional motorcycle road racing (and this is simply because they cant. IF Women want to race, except for rare instances (like italy), they have to race with the boys – and often it IS boys. In face in racing there is no age limitation either – motorcycle road – car racing is truly an egalitarian sport.

    I mention roadracing in particular because it physically it requires one to be somewhat fit (IOM legend jeffries was fatty and Dunlop in his 40s) and certainly NOT strong, but requires a GREAT deal of skill and concentration, whereas motocross (MX) and enduro require significant strength and endurance, which like gunny’s concerns are CLEARLY manifested.

    However, due to this physical “limitations” in countries like the US and Italy (not sure about other countries) once again women DO segregate themselves https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Professional_Motocross Nevertheless women CAN technically race the smaller classes (as they often do in roadracing) – after all teen BOYS race these but they dont – they are simply slower – ie less skilled.

    Back to roadracing. The interesting aspect is that there are SMALL clases, especially in europe at the, regional, national or pro level (single 250cc 4stroke or before single 125cc 2 stroke). This machines are so small, especially at the regional cups, that 12 year olds race and by the age of 16 some are world champs – and yes they could hardly carry a 50 pound back pack !!

    In sum, in the brutally competitive egalitarian sport of road racing, women have been unable to do much – except a marketing curiosity – despite being a sport that is by and large a none physically sport. Sure women can ride a motorcycle, and many ride well… but… when it comes to real performance, the REAL skill just isn’t there. The skill may be enough to best a LOT of boys-men, but highly insufficient when it comes to REAL competition and not weekend racers. There are a few rare birds (no pun intended), but simply it cant be done.

    And in case someone is wondering IF fear plays a factor, and i would say yes it does. It is scary and if it is not, you are going waaaaay tooooo slow. But, from what i have seen, women DO crash (some often) and keep trying – so it is not a lack of determination – something that women seem to have more determination than most men.

    So, IF in world of high skill, i just wonder – honestly. Sure a women can fly an aircraft and do it well i have no doubt, but when it comes to REALLY perform at high level – that of a man at high level, i just wonder and have my doubts.

    • AJ

      I think its plain stupid. Haven’t we all seen the movie “GI.Jane”? I mean she was hottt but even after the outcome of the movie, can women actually compete with the men on a combat level? I think not. However if the femenazi’s want to push it then they will have to take the exact same training as the men. Take a punch just like the men and slug all that gear. oh and no crying! or pulling the “Girl” card. Israel uses their women but I believe they are a special breed of women. Koodos to them. at any rate i would be worried .
      A.J. – PMC

      • Indeed I was actually talking about that with the retired fireman and yes their women but they do the light work which of course is also a necessity like Manning the pumps equipment and so on. Oops did I say Manning ???? How sexist of me!!! But the truth of the matter at high performance levels like we see in motorcycle road racing the women are completely absent from the mid to the top the few that actually are able to compete do quite poorly. This does not mean these women are not faster than many men but at the high-level they don’t come close. This is particularly interesting considering that road racing does not require a l strength and the woman who actually are able to compete are the very very best compared to other women. The irony of it all is that competitive Sports appears to be more realistic to the real world the sense of lack of skill in other aspects cannot be hidden or manipulated. I say this as a person who is not into sports. Except perhaps for racing hahaha.