The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat

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Ryan Smith @ The WSJ:

America has been creeping closer and closer to allowing women in combat, so Wednesday’s news that the decision has now been made is not a surprise. It appears that female soldiers will be allowed on the battlefield but not in the infantry. Yet it is a distinction without much difference: Infantry units serve side-by-side in combat with artillery, engineers, drivers, medics and others who will likely now include women. The Pentagon would do well to consider realities of life in combat as it pushes to mix men and women on the battlefield.

Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war.

Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

11 Responses to “The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat”

  1. 1


    And add to that for a young female several days every month will be menstruating, some quite heavily. A woman who refuses to change her tampon for reasons of being crowded in with too many males could die of toxic shock syndrome. Recall that in different circumstances the same advocates of this policy are happy to scold the rest of us about “sustainability”. Putting aside how hard combat is to sustain by fully fit and well-steeled young men, it is utterly not sustainable with young women in the mix. The decision to allow women in combat seems to be a dangerous and ultimately vain attempt to defy nature.

  2. 2

    Dave Brickner

    I guess it would do our boys a great morale booster to see some woman with a large hole in her chest. These PC types are nuts…. equality?????

  3. 3

    Nan G

    In Obama’s Leftist mind all this is is a way to raise women through to the top ranks faster.
    If he has to see a few eggs broken to get there, what does he care?

  4. 4

    craig livermore

    The Isreali military tried this and it was short-lived. Woman still serve in the IDF, but not as front-line infantry. All it took was for one female infantry soldier to be captured and tortured…her screams were heard by her comrades. Total breakdown in c&c. We should learn from their mistake. just saying.

  5. 7


    Obviously, this current administration hasn decided that we have gone from a nation full of Julias, to a nation where all women in the military are Demi Moore. News flash!!! G.I. Jane was a movie, and not reality. Reality is there are NO female SEALs. None.

    And what happens the first time our troops are sent into a violent fire zone and pictures come back of a female grunt with her guts hanging out? Or reports of a 19 years old Marine from Iowa who didn’t make it because his female counterpart couldn’t drag him out of harm’s way?

    In their goal of gender “equality”, departing Panetta dumped on the nation a problem his successor will have to deal with, only Panetta will be long gone and not held responsible for his stupid action. But make no mistake, this action has no resemblance to equality. Female soldiers will be given the choice of going into combat zones; their male counterparts are offered no such courtesy. If you are male, you go, or you go AWOL. That is your choice.

    If Leon Panetta, and the Chicago Jesus want true equality, they will abolish the practice of reducing training requirements for women. Let women show that they can haul a 185 lb. former farmboy out of a battle zone with bullets flying all around her. Let’s see her, in training, throw that 185 lb. former farmboy over her shoulders and run him out of the danger zone. You want “equality”, then equal training for the 5′ 4″, 110 lb female just like her 186 lb, 6’0″ male counterpart. Tell her that if she happens to be menstrating, too damn bad, change that tampon in front of your entire squad.

    Make no mistake; this is not about “equality.” It is about demoralizing our military so that attrition rates will increase and the size of our military will be reduced. Damn you, Panetta. Damn you, Obama.

  6. 9



    Gee, Greggie, seems we fought a war well over 200 years ago so that we didn’t have to be like other nations.

    Why do you liberals always want us to be like some place else? Israel also makes military service mandatory. Are you supporting the U.S. making military service mandatory for all citizens, as well?

    Why don’t you just pick the nation you think does things so much better and move there? You won’t be missed.

  7. 11



    Why should I leave? I’m not the one who seems to be so dissatisfied with everything about my country.

    Then why do you support those who are so dissatisfied with everything about your country and want to change it; like Obama, Panetta, John (traitor) Kerry? You want us to be more like other nations. Why go through all the effort to make us like them? Just move to one of them. Follow Tina Turner’s example.

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