Reading this piece, Rubber-Stamp RAND Report Excuses Women in Land Combat, (h/t Mudville) I knew immediately I was going to disagree with it.
There are issues in here about appropriate congressional oversight of mandated laws which requires at least 30 days notice that women will be assigned to front line units or roles in theater. I understand those concerns based on our still rather conservative society. Yet, I believe that it is likely most of the MOSs these women are serving in are designated as roles women can serve in without congressional oversight.
But, where I really doubt this interpretation of the RAND report is this section:
The document condones practices that blatantly disregard congressional-oversight requirements mandated in law, and puts female soldiers at the mercy of commanders making up their own rules. What’s worse, the RAND Report disregards the military consequences of forcing women into or near direct-ground-combat units, which attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action. Nor does it mention that such a change ultimately will expose civilian women to future Selective Service registration and combat duty on the same basis as men. The authors seem unconcerned that all of this could happen without Congress or the American people having a say.
As far as I know, based on anecdotal evidence only, but including conversations with many women who have served as combat medics and as leaders of CMOCs, etc, I have not heard one woman complain about being "forced" into these roles. In fact, from my experience, most of the women who have served in these positions have trained for and volunteered for these positions. Some have even demanded it. Most of them are not overtly concerned with women as future Selective Services candidates. They are largely concerned about two things: 1) giving as much service as their male counterparts; and 2) having as much career opportunity and advancement as their male counterparts.
Can Donnelly provide any reports, official or anecdotal, that women are being "forced" into any combat or near combat related role?
Then we get this time worn and bogus issue:
Our female soldiers are indisputably brave, but the military cannot disregard differences in physical strength and social complications that would detract from the strength, discipline, and readiness of direct-ground-combat units.
Collocated forward support companies, called “FSCs,” also are required to be all male for many good reasons. No one’s infantryman son should have to die because the FSC soldier nearest him cannot lift and single-handedly carry him from the battlefield if he is severely wounded under fire. Male soldiers have that capability. Female soldiers, no matter how brave, do not.
Gees...I am hard pressed at even where to begin, but let me talk about "social complications". Women are serving in great numbers on bases all over Iraq and Afghanistan. Bases that are large and small. Let us say, for simplicity, that Al Faw Palace in the Green Zone, arguably the largest base and well protected, is most closely associated with the "rear". It is in the middle of Baghdad. It is mortared still pretty frequently and "front line" offensive forces come and go from there every day to patrol Baghdad. Women are on this base. It IS the front line. Exactly where would Donnelly like these women to be based? Kuwait? How about Balad? It is routinely mortared, has infantry troops stationed there that go "outside" the wire and so is a major medical unit, personnel, paymasters and various other support groups.
Exactly, how would she like these forces allocated? And the nurses who volunteer to take medical flights that are shot at? What different social connotations are supposed to exist on a small base where front line forces are compared to a big base? And, how often does it really happen that women are on absolutely remote bases with small forces?
In reference to what women or men can or cannot do, there have been plenty of instances where combat medics have pulled men to safety. Raven 42 comes to mind. There are also stories of men single handedly carrying another to safety. But, many famous images, including that of Sgt Brad Kassal, show a common action is multiple men working together to pull carry the wounded to a safe location. This is not about lack of body strength or heroics, this is about economic use of strength and quickly resolving the situation. It is how they train in the first place to work as a team to protect and secure their battle buddies. It is not about whether an individual is effective or not at a single person removal.
She continues with the "no matter how brave" meme. I believe that is referred to as "damned by feint praise".
I don't know what is going to happen for selective services registration. That is its own separate issue that has a particular law guiding it that was enacted at the beginning of our creation as a nation. Congress would definitely have to enact a revision or a new law to replace one that calls for every able bodied man between 18 and 40 to be called in a time of necessity.
What I do know is that women have been serving, not just with distinction or "bravely", but voluntarily and with purpose. They are 15% of in theater forces and 30% of over all forces. Trying to turn back the clock to some 1980's version of the military and society is not going to happen.