Re: The Intergrated Military (was Re: Transgender Marriage)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Sun Jan 20 2002 - 12:55:00 MST

Tom Cowper wrote:
> On 18 Jan 2002, at 22:15, Kimberly Dubbs wrote:
> > As a long-time lurker with a rare few minutes to post, I can't stand by and
> > let my gender be, once again, completely slammed in another round of the
> > list's recurrent "standards slide" discussion.
> Very good post Kimberly. I agree with you about the standards issue.
> It's a non-issue. Women can be as fit or more fit than their male
> counterparts. No question. I will say that there aren't a whole lot of
> women that can AND are willing to endure the physical hardships associated
> with infantry work. But certainly as the various adventure races have
> shown the world in the last decade, there are women that have the strength
> and endurance to compete in harsh environments on an equal basis with men.

Yes, and I've found in my experience that given a greater predeliction
toward beer guzzling in male soldiers, those females that do get into
shape retain their physical prime far better than the guys do over time.
> > (To give credit where due, I also saw some awesome athletic
> > performances--again from Marines of both genders. There were men who could
> > vault over a six-feet fence like it wasn't there, and women who could
> > slither better than snakes under wire strung 6-inches above mud-pits. Both
> > seemed to do well on hills--men made better time when the surfaces were dry
> > and packed, but on the hill that was drenched by a fire hose, the women
> > climbed faster on the rough, slippery surface.)
> It is said, though I've not seen the scientific data to back it up, that
> because of physiological differences, women can actually be better
> shooters than men.

It has to do with women having a different ratio of slow to fast twitch
muscle cells or some such, as well as better female receptivity to
training. For this reason, women have found that sniper/anti-sniper work
in wars is a very easy combat role to move into. There is one woman
Marine who has repeatedly won top standing at the National Matches at
Camp Perry, and women in general are very well represented there.

> It's problematic to equate or evaluate the NVA in 1968 with the US Army
> today. No doubt many many NVA females served with distinction. And
> perhaps some of the sexual tension issues didn't occur in NVA units or
> occurred to a lesser extent, or maybe they overcame them altogether. We
> don't know. But we need to keep in mind that the NVA did not win in
> Vietnam due to their tactical superiority. Pitched battles between NVA
> and US Army or Marine units in Vietnam were rarely won by the NVA, even
> accounting for the technological superiority of the Americans. In
> addition, the morale of US forces at the time was by many accounts a low
> point in American military history, for a variety of reasons (none having
> to do with men and women in the same combat units). In spite of the low
> morale, atrocious leadership, and flawed overall strategy, US forces
> routinely wreaked severe havoc on NVA units. They won primarily because
> they were willing to sacrifice many many more of their people to achieve
> victory than the American people were.

And they had a real propaganda machine willing to promulgate any lie,
and they didn't have a gullible national media as we did (for example,
Time Magazine's Saigon bureau chief was in fact an NVA intelligence
officer with the rank of Colonel, a fact Time continues to refuse to

> > I don't intend any of these comments as arguments in favor of "lowered
> > standards" for women or as negations of the existence of "special
> > treatment" in certain circumstances for women. However, "special
> > treatment" exists for guys too in the form of "old boy's" networks that let
> > unqualified males slide by. Let's get rid of ALL of it.
> Agreed.

Of course. One phenomenon I found was abuse of the body capacitance
tests by overweight people. Use of this test is for those engaged in
body building/weight lifting activities when they exceed the weight
standards (the USAF actually has the most strict weight standards of all
services, since they want you to look sharp in the uniform rather than
actually be built for combat) to demonstrate you are actually 'in
shape'. The problem is that overweight long timers use calcium and other
mineral supplements to 'dope' themselves for such tests to create the
impression that more of their fat is actually bone mass.

Consequently, you see airmen in desk jobs with beer bellies (women
included) rolling over their belts who pass, while some of the less
disciplined weight lifters end up failing.

> > As a final note...the equal and rational application of standards would
> > likely result in a great reduction in the number of women qualifying for
> > traditional combat, and a great reduction in the number of men meeting the
> > standards for submarine service and the ASTRONUAT PROGRAM. Aside from a
> > few jokes about Minsky's comment, and Spike's "legless woman" proposal, I
> > see numerous outraged postings about sloppy performance by women in jobs
> > they shouldn't hold, but I see scant outrage on the list about "standards
> > slide" when it comes to men. Why not? As forced taxpayers, we certainly
> > get stuck with the bill for both classes of substandard performance. (Also,
> > fixing the space program might be an easier first step than fixing the
> > military...)
> And again, we are in complete agreement.

No dispute here. Integration of blacks in the armed forces with no drop
in standards (and the fact that blacks who do join up tend to excel in
the military, I never had any problem with any black fellow I served
with, and would trust any of them with my life) demonstrates that
integration can be achieved if you demand the same level of excellence.

The thing that concerns me with integrating women is that the phenomenon
cited by military people against full female integration, that males
would tend to coddle females rather than focus on combat, seems to be
systemically demonstrated in the prevelancy of dissimilar performance
standards for women.

I am of the opinion that women are fully capable of meeting the same
standards if they are expected to do so, and if they are mentally
determined to do so. One thing I learned in the military is that failure
to reach a goal is far more a matter of the individual conciously
choosing to fail rather than a lack of physical capacity to achieve the
requisite performance. None of us are ever really aware of what our true
limits are, the limits we perceive to exist are generally significantly
fudged by the subconcious desire to avoid pain and/or stress.

I have seen women who were really not physically prepared for an ordeal,
but completed it anyways because they decided to the core of their
beings, that they were not going to quit. It is quite amazing what any
human can do when their minds are set on not failing. Childbirth, I
think, is an ordeal of this magnitude, and I'll bet you could easily
delineate military women of distinction and not by those who repeatedly
prefer and choose natural childbirth and those who scream for the
epidural at first opportunity. Of course, I'm just a guy saying this, so
what is that opinion worth, really?

Perhaps the best thing that can improve the performance of women in the
military is some sort of psychological preparation program.

One phenomenon I noticed was that off duty, the guys were far more
likely to rent movies like 'Heartbreak Ridge' and 'Full Metal Jacket'
while the women went more for classically 'chick flicks'. Perhaps this
has some impact upon the mental state of the respective individuals, as
the best performing women I knew in uniform had no problem enjoying the
guy flicks as much as the guys.

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