Emotion is the death of reason
On Dec. 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that, effective January 2016, the U.S. military would open all occupations and positions to women, without exception.
For some, this was long overdue. For others, this was a travesty.
Regardless of how it was received, this action certainly sent a message. However, the question is, what message did it send?
I believe, without a doubt, this came from a place of good intentions. After all, shouldn’t a country’s military reflect its values? And if those values include equality, shouldn’t the military exercise such a belief?
No. It shouldn’t.
What we’re talking about here is the military opening combat jobs to women. These roles can range from standard infantry designations to elite special operations teams. Either way, combat training is much more demanding than non-combat training.
It’s undeniable that men are generally stronger than women. While there are exceptions, the fact remains that in the majority of situations, the average man is much stronger than the average woman.
Men will pass more rigorous training at a higher rate than women. If this is the case, this means that every woman, by entering training, is taking the place of a man, who statistically has a much higher chance of passing that training she does.
This is called inefficiency.
In the business world, this loses you money. In the military, this loses you lives.
The Marine Corps conducted a test of combat unit effectiveness, including infantry, artillery, and mechanized units. In this test, training was completed for four months followed by a five month “deployment” in the Mojave Desert.
At the end of the cycle, two women remained of the original two dozen who started the experiment.
Additionally, the Marine Corps reported that mixed-gender units fell short on combat skills and unit cohesion. The results of the exercise clearly demonstrated the inferiority of mixed-gender units compared to male-only units.
Even in my short time at basic training at the United States Air Force Academy, I experienced this issue. Every so often, we were, as a flight, required to make certain distance runs in a cut off time. Every flight member had to pass or the whole flight failed.
Every single time we did this, I would end up in a rotation of four men carrying one of the females on our shoulders so we could finish on time. This experience had its merits—we succeeded and failed as a team. But it also had its lessons: men and women are different, and in high stress situations, men will feel the need to take care of and protect women.
Yes, there are women who could not only meet, but surpass, the requirements for combat roles. First Lieutenants Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver are two such examples, making history as the first two females to graduate from the Army’s infamous Ranger School.
However, the problem is that these individuals are such a rarity, such an exception from the norm, that the cost of implementing a system designed to identify these few is not worth what it would cost the military.
All of this is not to mention the distractions that come with placing young men and young women in close quarters for prolonged periods of time.
If the military loses focus of its original goal, its true purpose, and compromises its effectiveness for a feel-good political move, American lives will be lost.
Regardless of intentions, allowing women in combat roles will prove to be counterproductive to American interests, and the cost for such a move is far too high to be seriously considered by our leaders.
Jonathan Deemer is a sophomore studying biomedical science.