Except as otherwise provided in this title (sections 451 to 471a of this Appendix) it shall be the duty of every male citizen of the United States, and every other male person residing in the United States, who, on the day or days fixed f
or the first or any subsequent registration, is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, to present himself for and submit to registration at such time or times and place or places, and in such manner, as shall be determined by proclamation of the President and by rules and regulations prescribed hereunder.
That is section 453 of the Military Selective Service Act that was passed in 1917 and amended many times over the years, the most recent being in 2003. This will come into play later.
On my way home from work, the news played a clip of a former Army helicopter pilot, Major Mary Jennings Hegar. There was much ado about the fact she served three combat tours in Afghanistan. Along with three other female veterans, she has joined with the ACLU to sue the Department of Defense over the combat exclusion policy that bars females from going into combat specialties. In an op-ed published today, MAJ Hegar made the following comments:
If there is one thing I’ve learned about the differences between us all throughout my years of service, it’s this: putting the right person in the right job has very little to do with one’s gender, race, religion, or other demographic descriptor. It has everything to do with one’s heart, character, ability, determination and dedication.
That’s the problem with the military’s combat exclusion policy. It makes it that much harder for people to see someone’s abilities, and instead reinforces stereotypes about gender. The policy creates the pervasive way of thinking in military and civilian populations that women can’t serve in combat roles, even in the face of the reality that servicewomen in all branches of the military are already fighting for their country alongside their male counterparts. They shoot, they return fire, they drag wounded comrades to safety and they engage with the enemy, and they have been doing this for years. They risk their lives for their country, and the combat exclusion policy does them a great disservice.
It’s no secret and I don’t deny that women have been shot at, shot back, and contributed to direct-fire engagements of the enemy. However, that doesn’t mean that these actions equate to being infantry, cavalry, or other combat specialty. As a matter of fact, the Marine Corps recently opened up their Infantry Officers Course to women. Two women volunteered to attend the course…and both women dropped from the program. These women were “to complete required training due to unspecified medical reasons, a Marine official told Marine Corps Times. It’s unclear whether she was injured or if she became ill,” according to the Marine Corps Times.
Women in the military want to have equal treatment while being treated differently. For example, in order for a male my age to just pass the push-up event with the minimum passing score, he has to correctly perform 34 push-ups. For a female of the same age, she only needs to complete 13. To pass the 2-mile run, I need to run 18:18 or faster while a female my age can take up to 22:42 to complete the same distance.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t women that can meet the standards. As a matter of fact, I know there are. Just as I know there are men that can’t meet the minimum standards. But, that doesn’t matter when males and females are treated differently in regards to physical fitness standards. It’s simply a biological fact that women and men are built differently. There will always be exceptions, but it is what it is.
Yes, somehow, I don’t see MAJ Hegar complaining that she doesn’t have to do as many push-ups or run as fast as men (the only physical fitness event in the Army that is equal is the sit-up event). I don’t see women complaining that they aren’t required to register with the Selective Service upon turning 18. I don’t see women complaining they don’t have to cut their hair to the standards men must keep theirs.
It’s obvious that women want equality in the military, but only if it means they can have differently. The Marine Corps, in opening up its Infantry Officers Course to women, didn’t change the standards for women coming through the course. They were required to meet the same standards as the men. I don’t have a problem with that.
I’m not against women serving in combat roles. I’m not against women serving in an infantry squad or as a tank commander or gunner. What I’m against is giving them different standards and somehow calling it “equality.” When a platoon is dropped off at the base of a mountain and is required to hike to their OP, they have to be physically fit and strong enough to complete the task. There is ammunition, weapons, and other gear that need to be humped along with it.
Getting dropped off in a town and performing a simple foot patrol while engaging with the local populace isn’t the same as a combat patrol or movement to contact. It’s not the same as assaulting or taking and holding an objective.
I say that if these women and the ACLU want true equality, give it to them. Standardize the physical fitness requirements for men and women. Standardize the requirements for load bearing equipment. Drop any and all references to gender in every single area and truly treat women equally the way they want. Amend the Military Selective Service Act to incorporate a requirement for women to also register upon their 18th birthday. If women can meet the same standards that men must meet – without lowering the standards to make them equal – then they deserve to wear the crossed rifles or sabers.