Women in Combat: Myth vs. Fact

I carried my load just fine while in a combat zone.

I carried my load just fine while in a combat zone.

Instead of expressing my opinion of Rick Santorum and his medieval pronouncements on the modern world, I will simply counter myth with fact: women have been serving in direct combat since Desert Storm, and thousands of women have served (and continue to serve) in combat over the last 10+ years. This long overdue policy shift merely begins to acknowledge this reality.

As far as the physical capability of women: this, too, is phoney baloney. It is true that the Army, for example, adjusts the scoring scale on the physical fitness test by age group and gender. But. I am no athlete, but on my PT test last May my 2-mile run time and number of push ups and sit ups met the passing grade for an 18-year-old male. I am 38. In my officer candidate school a few years ago, I was faster than at least 3/4 of my male counterparts on the 10-mile road march in full gear and carrying a 35-lb pack. Two days ago I neck-dragged a 200-lb man who was simulating a battlefield casualty. I am hardly a physical exception. So please forgive me for not understanding exactly what physical standards women simply cannot meet as a result of our gender.

As far as the “infection” allegation that Newt Gingrich has claimed should keep women out of combat, I will also tell you that I (inadvertently) went a week without a shower while traveling between combat outposts in Afghanistan. When I did shower, it was out of courtesy for the people around me and not for health reasons. I have never understood the “infection” myth.

Oh, and then there’s the emotion. I won’t tell any personal stories here, but I will say that maybe women get a little angrier than men since some would like to periodically remind us that we are considered inferior as soldiers. It’s annoying. Especially coming from squishy, blowhard men who never even considered military service as an option.

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