Monday, April 23, 2018

Recruiting Women For The Military

USNI News website has an interesting article about the military’s efforts to recruit women and why they aren’t doing more. (1)

“Lawmakers Friday morning challenged the military personnel chiefs to redouble their efforts recruiting and retaining female service-members …”

Here’s what the response to that challenge should have been:  “Why?  Why would we want more women in the military?  What do they bring to the table?”

What’s the official response?  Well, it’s along these lines,

“…not doing so means potentially missing out on selecting the best from half the nation’s talent pool.”

Yeah, we’d be missing out on the best of the least capable half of the talent pool!  That’s the point that everyone glosses over.  With a few job exceptions, women are not capable of contributing to combat. 

It’s not even debatable that women are a detriment in combat.  They simply don’t have the physical capabilities that are needed and, as a group, lack the mental/emotional aggressiveness to be effective in combat.

The problem with women in the military and, particularly, in combat, is that the discussion leapt right over the merits and into implementation.  All the studies that I’m aware of have uniformly shown that women are a detriment in combat.  I’m unaware of any study showing any benefit to having women in combat.  Despite that, we’re totally focused on implementation.

That said, there are jobs in the military that women can fill quite ably.  Here’s a few examples,

  • Computers – computer operators, programmers, network techs, etc.
  • Medical – Non-combat medical jobs such as doctors, nurses, med techs, lab techs, etc.
  • Rear area maintenance – aircraft, armor, and equipment maintenance as long as it doesn’t involve strength (such as tank track maintenance)
  • Pilots – non-combat transport pilots;  I’m undecided about female combat pilots.   I’d have to talk to male pilots to see if women can handle combat flying.  I have doubts but I don’t know.

One of the approaches the military is proposing to recruit more women is to have more contact with women’s sports teams – the theory being that these are the type of women who are already superior in physical capabilities and mental attributes such as determination, motivation, and toughness.  You know what?  They’re right!  Unfortunately, the best of women are pathetically behind even the worst male athletes or even average non-athlete males.  I’ve witnessed female college basketball players get demolished by extremely average high school males.  The physical disparities are simply too great to overcome.

According to the military,

“We’re making progress. It’s slow, but we’re making progress.”

Hey, don’t apologize for not wrecking the military faster!


(1)USNI News website, “Military Branches Are Doing More to Recruit Women into Active Duty”, Ben Werner, 13-Apr-2018,


  1. You are right on. Stand by for a barrage from the usual sources.

  2. I had a very distinct experience with this on USS Firstship. We were at NWS Yorktown doing a weapons onload when the ammo handling elevator broke, resulting in a shipwide working party in order to make the 3PM bridge opening. With the powder and 5" rounds weighing 50 lbs individually, you can imagine the effectiveness of the females during this evolution. Yes they were pulled out of line but that highlights the more insidious aspect of women in combat; the jobs they can do are typically leadership positions.

    A P250 firepump is a difficult two man lift and almost an impossibility for two women. The same can be said for lowering a deck hatch. Instead being assigned to these tasks, the female sailor will be put in charge of the Repair Locker. Same thing for artillery fire; they won't be asked to load or adjust the equipment but will be put in charge of the 3-4 person team directing the calls for fire.

    1. Regarding female leadership, I've seen it from all three sides: I've worked with females as peer leaders, I've been in charge of females, and I've worked for female leaders. As a group, they lack the decisiveness, confidence, and aggressiveness to be effective - qualities that men, as a group, inherently have. In the business world, this is acceptable. Things take longer to get done and are less efficient but no one dies. In combat, people will die waiting for indecisive leaders to act.

      Women tend not be decisive. There's an old saying, "Women constantly take the temperature of their surroundings while men just assume the temperature is whatever they want it to be". In other words, women constantly search for consensus and harmony while men act and don't care what anyone else thinks. There is a time and place for consensus and harmony but it's not combat.

    2. I have to agree regarding the allocation of roles in the Navy for women. Physical combat is not their strength. Had a similar experience where as a CVN working party women could not lift M2HB .50 caliber receivers. Much less carry them up ladders to weapons stations. Things will go sideways for the social justice warriors once we get into a peer conflict (China) and casualties come home.

    3. The "women seeking consensus" thing is a misunderstanding in my experience.
      The women whom I encountered in their 'search for a consensus' used this merely as an excuse for delaying a decision that they knew was not going their way.
      They were very quick at coming to a vote or decision when they expected the decision to go their way.

      It's more a manipulation thing than a general characteristic.

  3. "That said, there are jobs in the military that women can fill quite ably. "

    To that you can add all kinds or radar and missile operators, on land air and sea, basically all kind of weapon systems that require you to sit and a chair watch a screen and press a button.

    Other than that , always be sure to remind those advocates of woman serving in combat arms the Jessica Lynch case

  4. Company prepare for deceased equine impact drill.
    Company, execute drill.
    (in the voice of the late Gunny Ermey, RIP)

    Women have lower participation rates in said drill,
    studies will not be funded to explore reasons,
    until the AAG works.


  5. "They simply don’t have the physical capabilities that are needed and, as a group, lack the mental/emotional aggressiveness to be effective in combat."

    Yeah, okay. I'll buy this argument when we start shipping home all of the men that aren't effective in combat. I'd rather have a female 0331 that knows the classes of fire and how to properly work a T&E mechanism versus a male that doesn't but can haul an extra 300 rounds of ammo.

    Come up with a set of physical, emotional, and intellectual standards and ENFORCE them against all men and women. Leadership that waves or relaxes the standards, gone. Men and women that can't be responsible when it comes to sex, gone. No questions-asked access to contraceptives wouldn't hurt either.

    If males and females can't responsibly serve with one another as colleagues, they're not responsible enough to be trusted on patrol or on leave/liberty overseas at the end of a 7+ month deployment.

    1. "Come up with a set of physical, emotional, and intellectual standards and ENFORCE them against all men and women."

      Nothing I've ever said about women has even remotely implied that all men are qualified for combat. There are many males currently serving who have no business being anywhere near combat. That does not, however, change the premise that the average male is far superior to the average female.

      "I'd rather have a female 0331 that knows ... versus a male that doesn't"

      What you're essentially saying, without realizing it, is that you'd prefer a bank robber over a murderer. Neither are good people or desirable but the former is slightly less bad. A female who knows the mental part of the job but can't do the physical is still substandard. That you prefer that over a male who doesn't know the mental part and is, therefore, substandard is just you making a choice about which substandard person you're willing to settle for. Neither is proficient or desirable.

    2. "That does not, however, change the premise that the average male is far superior to the average female."

      What does this have to do with anything? Can the average male even meet the full set of standards that are set or should be set for combat personnel? Why shouldn't anyone who meets the standards be given the opportunity to do the job?

      "That you prefer that over a male who doesn't know the mental part and is, therefore, substandard is just you making a choice about which substandard person you're willing to settle for."

      Except we ARE settling for males that can do the physical aspects of their MOS but not the intellectual ones, and it is getting people killed. It's laughable that so many individuals bend over backwards to justify excluding women that meet the physical standards for combat MOSes when many if not most men in those roles today do not possess the basic skills required for them to be combat effective in those roles.

      If we decide that the physical standards need to be so high that essentially no woman can meet them, so be it. The problem there is that our leadership clearly isn't willing to accept the even small pool of acceptable men that those standards would entail.

    3. "What does this have to do with anything?"

      It's the entire issue! As a group, women are so inferior as to preclude them from combat roles. The incredibly few females who can meet combat standards do not justify the disruption they cause in terms of hygiene, housing, morale, etc. I have no problem with a dedicated, all-female combat unit of women who can meet the standard but it would be a very small, nearly non-existent unit.

      For me, the two most basic combat tasks are humping more than your body weight in equipment and supplies for endless miles per day, day after day and carrying a wounded comrade to safety. No woman can do either. It's that simple.

      To that, add the requisite mental attitude of aggressiveness and determination and it further excludes women.

      "Except we ARE settling for males that can do the physical aspects of their MOS but not the intellectual ones"

      I've already addressed the issue of males who are unfit for combat. That there are such, does not justify accepting substandard women - it justifies getting rid of substandard men. Don't make me repeat this again.

    4. The world 100m sprint record is 9.58
      The womens is 10.49

      200m, 19.19, women, 21.34

      400m, 43.03, women, 47.6

      800m, 100.91, women, 113.28

      10,000m 1577.53, women, 1757.45

      Men are 10% faster

      Weights is even worse,
      You have to go all the way down the a 62kg man for any woman to beat him.
      I didnt even realise there were 62kg men....

      At roughly equal weight men are roughly 25% more capable lifters.

      How far down the MMA rankings do you think you have to go to find a male fighter that cant beat Cris Cyborg?

    5. "Men are 10% faster"

      You've highlighted an Olympic event for which men and women train relentlessly to ultimate perfection. Among the average male/female population, men are on the order of 100% faster.

      It's the average male/female that make up the soldier ranks.

    6. Someone should have let the North Vietnamese and VC know that they were supposed to have lost because the average American solder was stronger and that the presence of women on the Trail and in the jungle was detrimental to hygiene, housing, and morale.

    7. Don't be an ass. We're talking about the requirements to be a United States soldier not an insurgent.

  6. What has Israel’s experience with women in their armed forces been? Seems like their successes or failures would inform this conversation.

    1. My vague understanding is that women were excluded from combat roles until the early 2000's. Since then, some combat jobs have opened up but the vast majority of women serve in support roles or guard duty. A co-ed battalion was formed that is, theoretically combat capable but currently serves guard duty. That's all I know.

  7. Current data sets from the Israeli Defense Force shows that in physical combat roles women fare poorly. That is not to say that they would not excel being fighter or attack helicopter pilots. I am all about getting the proper role fitted for maximum effectiveness but not at the cost of placating social justice warriors. It's a little long but I included a portion of the article below and link if someone wants to read it at length. Notice that the main reasoning for the IDF bringing women in according to the article is the reduction of conscription time for men.

    "According to a report in the IDF's Bamahane magazine, a large scale study was conducted among female combat soldiers in the Karakal infantry unit, the Artillery Corps and the Field Intelligence Corps, between the years 2012-13.

    The study indicated that a full 46% of the female soldiers suffered injuries during their initial period of training, as opposed to 25% among the men. One third of the women in the study were injured more than once.

    The injuries included torn ligaments, sprains, knee pain, back pain and stress fractures. The latter were much more common in women, afflicting only 2% of men but 8% of the women. “Most stress fractures appear in weeks 4-6 of the training period, and mainly in the field and warfare weeks,” an officer explained to Bamahane.

    "The bone density of female combat soldiers is lower than that of men, and that is why they suffer more injuries,” said the officer. “The fat percentage in women is 70% to 100% greater than men's and that is why they are slower than them, and consume more energy during activity. At the same time, their muscle density is 33% less than the men's and their ability to carry weights is lower.”

    The study found that the injury rate for female soldiers in Karakal is 40%, and in the Artillery Corps it reaches a whopping 70%. Knee pain among female combat soldiers is three times more common than among males, and tears in knee ligaments are also more common in women.

    Women drop out of the combat track for medical reasons at rates that are 2 to 5 times those of men's.

    Despite all this evidence, the IDF is making an effort to combat physiological nature and reduce women's injury rates. This is being done because of a recent decision to double the number of women in combat, in order to try and make up for the shortage in men, whose period of service has been rather inexplicably shortened, from 36 months to just 32.

    1. Nice contribution. Thanks! The findings are exactly in line with the USMC findings.

    2. Slightly off-topic but the IDF does know how to its manpower. Under certain conditions people with Down's Syndrome, autism, and other conditions are accepted into service.

      They are given real duties suited to their capabilities. Autistic are great at watching CCTV feeds guard posts because they notice tiny changes like someone. Even if its janitorial they are proud to serve.


  9. The Navy itself has different standards for Men and Women in the Physical Fitness Test and in Height and Weight Standards

  10. I wonder if these new powered load harnesses that are being experimented with will eventually change the physical part of the equation? Obviously they are a long way off being sophisticated enough yet but the benefits are obvious so it's a given they will eventually lead to powered front-line troops. Clearly dexterity and speed are a factor as well as sheer lifting power.

  11. Anonymous's contribution above is very welcome, and answers factually the question about men vs women in very physical front line fighting.

    I have some questions leading from that:

    1) Does that mean that you should reject the small number of women who ARE strong &/or vicious enough to fight?

    2) Does this mean most of you also think women should not be trained in using weapons? I mean, if your base comes under attack, or you're a nurse in a truck/humvee under attack, wouldn't you want her to fire a rifle like everyone else? (It happens anyway)


    1. Here's the USMC study: Report Summary

      Results were similar.

    2. To answer your questions:

      1. The incredibly small number of qualified women represent a disproportionate disruption for male units. There are only two viable solutions: ban women from combat units or create an all-female unit for those few.

      2. Of course women should be trained in rifle use! As you note, there's no such thing as an assured non-combat position.

    3. All any of these studies show is that physical differences exist between the sexes. Women are, on average, significantly slower and weaker than men. Check. Got it. Roger that, boss.

      None of that explains why we should be okay with turning away a qualified, 90th anatomical percentile female and accepting a 50th anatomical percentile male. By some estimates (e.g., Retired General Robert Scales in "Scales on War"), there are only about 60,000 combat infantry positions in the entire US military. Do we really want to potentially exclude some of the best candidates from such a select force on the basis of sex alone? Are we not even going to consider the mental and intellectual faculties that that a female soldier might bring to the table? Those of you that seem to think infantry combat is decided by the physically superior combatant, or that it is any less intellectually demanding than any other type of service, are fooling yourselves.

      Furthermore, shouldn't "disrupted" males be a giant, glaring red flag? Women aren't going anywhere in a professional military like ours. And combat position or not, women will continue to be maimed and killed alongside men. Any male that is "disrupted" by the presence of a woman in combat is a liability. And if he is "disrupted" by a female grunt, how is he going to treat the female POGs that he relies on for food, ammo, and intel? Female combatants and civilians?

      For my money, the seductive southern drawl is too disruptive and too much of a liability in combat where clear communication is vital. There are only two viable solutions: ban southerners from the armed forces or create all southerner units.

    4. "None of that explains why we should be okay with turning away a qualified, 90th anatomical percentile female and accepting a 50th anatomical percentile male."

      Because a 90th percentile female probably ranks in the 10th percentile among males, if even that. You seem not to have any first hand experience with male-female physical or attitudinal comparisons. If you had, you would clearly understand the inferiority of women in combat.

      Regarding disruption, the Navy's integration of women has repeatedly demonstrated the magnitude of the disruption their presence causes. Pregnancy, sexual fraternization, sexual assault, costs to provide separate facilities, resentments due to the lower standards for females, etc. all are demonstrated and common disruptions. You may wish that in an idealized world there were no disruptions but the reality is that women are extremely disruptive.

      To your point about attributes that women might bring to the table, I've already listed examples of military jobs that women would be perfectly suited for. No one is saying to ban women from the military, just from combat units.

      If, as you claim - and I have no reason to believe you as the number seem ridiculously low - there are only 60,000 combat infantry positions in the entire US military, why would need or want to dip into the 90th percentile of women (10th equivalent percentile of men) to fill those few positions? We should, instead, be filling those positions with only the 90th percentile men! You've made a great argument for not even considering women for combat! Thank you.

  12. "Because a 90th percentile female probably ranks in the 10th percentile among males, if even that."

    And if we're accepting the 10th percentile of males, what does it matter? You're looking for a reason to exclude women based on nothing but their gender and the feelings of "disrupted" men, often boys, that haven't grown up enough to look past someone's sex. Sure, there are immature women in the military too. I don't think anyone is denying that. Neither is acceptable. Should everyone be held to the same standards? Sure. Many if not most women in the services are asking for this. Hmmm, what do women think?

    I contend that if we were serious about having a professional military and made retaining and recruiting men and and women of 24-32 years a priority, we'd be have the most effective force in our nation's history and this issue would be moot.

    Many of the comments here speak for themselves. I think the only thing of value I can add is to advise you, and many of the commentators here to find some female role models, talk to some 90th percentile women, and 10th-25th-50th percentile men. For that matter, talk to some 90th percentile, in every aspect, men and see f*#k all they think gender matters if an individual is otherwise qualified for their role.

    1. You are under the misconception that I think every male is automatically qualified for combat. Nothing could be further from the truth and I have explicitly stated that so stop that line of argument. I would eliminate the bottom X% of men that can't meet physical or mental requirements. Our combat personnel should be the best of what we have.

      At one point in my life, I spent several years coaching women's basketball players at the high school and college levels. I've seen and worked closely and extensively with the very best females our country can produce. The reality is that compared to men, the women are pathetically deficient physically and mentally/emotionally (inherent aggressiveness and "combat" mentality). So much for your admonition to find female role models or talk to 90th percentile women. I've lived it! Your fantasy of capable women is just that - a fantasy.

      I get lots of emails from active and retired service members and the overwhelming number (I'd put it at 95%) are emphatically opposed to women in combat for the reasons outlined. They're okay with women in non-physical military jobs, as we've noted, but not physical jobs or combat.

      So, nothing you've said is supported by data or experience and you seem to be in the notable minority as far as your attitude towards women in combat.

      Let's be honest, the conversation about women in combat shouldn't even start until we make routine physical requirements equal for men and women. For example, the Navy PRT standards for men and women are ridiculously unequal. With this as a starting point, how can we even begin a discussion of women in combat without laughing?

      We've all seen the YouTube videos of co-ed hand-to-hand combat training and they're absolutely hilarious. Watch those and then try to tell me you favor women in combat without laughing. What a joke!

  13. "Nothing could be further from the truth and I have explicitly stated that so stop that line of argument. I would eliminate the bottom X% of men that can't meet physical or mental requirements. Our combat personnel should be the best of what we have."

    Then do it. Make the standards whatever they need to be and the same for everyone. Let anyone that can meet them and/or make the cut serve in those roles. That's all anyone serious about the issue is asking for. We'll benefit from the talents of the women that make the cut and/or succeed in eliminating the least fit men. It's that simple.

    Did the world end with the end of don't ask don't tell? Did the world end with integration of the military? The world won't end with the women that earn them wearing CIBs either.

    1. You don't seem to realize that the anti-women crowd would be perfectly happy with a set of valid standards that everyone, male or female, has to meet to enter combat positions because we know that no woman could meet any set of valid standards. How do we know this? Because they already can't meet the routine physical standards that men have to meet.

      You also have utterly missed the core of this entire topic by comparing women in combat to racial integration. The resistance to racial integration stemmed from bias, not any real physical or mental difference. The resistance to women stems from actual physical/physiological deficiencies. Thus, your attempt to compare the two is illogical and incorrect.

    2. "Because they already can't meet the routine physical standards that men have to meet."

      So let me get this straight, the problem with imposing a common set of standards that everyone has the opportunity to meet is that women haven't met a set of standards that they haven't been required to meet? That no woman may meet that standard is not the issue.

      I guess that we're going around in circles shouldn't be a surprise when this type of circular logic is at issue.

      "The resistance to racial integration stemmed from bias, not any real physical or mental difference."

      And what exactly is the belief that a person who meets the standards for a role should not be able to serve in that role because of a quality of a group to which that person belongs? Who gets to decide which groups matter and which don't? That you can't see the bias at work in this discussion does not make my comparisons invalid.

      Were men of African and Asian ancestry asked to meet different standards? Were/are the "disruptions" caused by racial integration any less real than the "disruptions" caused by sexual integration? Why is one set of "disruptions" tolerable and the other isn't?

      Moreover, there are differences between groups of people via the effects of nature, nurture, and history. The problem isn't recognizing those differences between groups, it's imposing different restrictions on different individuals based solely on those group identities. A regulation that women can't serve in combat roles based on their identity as women is exactly that. We can't even begin to have a discussion until you acknowledge that fact before attempting to justify why that particular bias should matter, which is all your argument is.

      It is remarkable, if not unexpected, that we are still arguing about the merits of treating an individual as an individual instead of merely a member of this or that favored or non-favored group.

    3. Women can't meet the current generic physical fitness standards for men. How will they possibly meet a greater combat standard?

      I don't know if you're deliberately being obtuse about this or not.

      Racial integration certainly caused disruptions but they had to be dealt with because it was going to result in a significant portion of the armed forces being non-white. For women, that one out of ten thousand who might meet the combat standard constitutes an absolutely insignificant number and, from a strictly practical perspective, is not worth the disruption and cost. That said, I'm all in favor of creating a dedicated female battalion (well, let's be real - it will be an understrength squad!) if we really want to push it that far.

      Your ability to block out physical, physiological, and emotional realities is impressive. Have you ever worked with females in any kind of physical competition setting? I ask because, if you had, it's hard to believe you'd hold the views you do. Until you do work with them in such a setting, you ought to do the next best thing and try to learn from those who have, such as me. I can lead you to water ...

  14. Women can be excellent snipers. But let's be realistic, this means cold-blooded killing. In principle, I believe that when it comes to killing, it is a man's job and women are there to nurture more than kill. But if there's a woman who wants to kill people, then yeah, sniper is one job that suits women.

    I recall there was some female olympic sharpshooter from Bosnia who took on a sniper's role in Bosnia.

    But a sniper's job is to aim well and pull the trigger and stop the pulse of the person at the other end. It is simple.

    1. A sniper's job is much more than just shooting accurately.
      Snipers are forward observers, they are (slow) scouts, they advise regular infantry on fieldcraft, they do countersniping (which is much more about finding than killing), they usually act in a small team of 2 or 3, they need to have extreme patience and strength of will.

      They do not need to carry 30 kg of equipment unless they use a .50" or 14.5 mm AMR, though.

    2. I've seen the scout/sniper training (at least what they'll show publicly) and, if the standards are not watered down for women, somewhere between incredibly few and none can complete it. The failure rate for men is quite high. There is no way there would ever be more than a very occasional oddball woman able to pass.

      What would happen is that leadership would pencil whip women through as they did for the Rangers.

  15. Here are two Finnish articles, it says that one million women served in WW2 in SOVIET forces. Some of the language might be too much for google translate - the writer of the first article did a PhD on the subject and it's fairly complicated.

    If Finnish soldiers were cruel towards fallen enemy women, what do you think will happen if women end up in hands of ISIS or Al Qaida? Use your imagination, folks.

    1. Women in the WWII Russian military is not even remotely the same a women in today's US military. Russia was on the brink of extinction and resorted to throwing every walking body into the fight. They were handed a weapon (or told to pick one up) and thrown against the Germans in what amounted to human wave attacks. That's a far cry from being a professional, modern combat soldier in today's military.

  16. I found this post just over a calendar year after you put it up, and guess what? Two female navy recruits just died in basic training. One of them may not even have made it to basic, all I read was that she died during the running portion of the initial assessment.

    Of course, there seems to be no discussion of what these deaths might imply about pushing to increase female presence in our combat units. Strange times we live in.


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