President Obama is keeping his promise of “fundamentally transforming” the nation, especially when it comes to the military.

Women have been voluntarily serving in the Army officially since 1901, but today, with new policies being introduced at a rapid pace, the modern major generals in the Pentagon are changing the nature of combat units.

To be sure, women have been involved in varying degrees of military service throughout recorded history.  One of the most famous examples is Deborah the Prophetess (Judges 4-5).  Her job was to motivate a commander named Barak who had cold feet about fighting Jabin’s army.  Barak would not fight unless Deborah went with him on the campaign, and she pushed him forward into battle.  Barak’s army was victorious as was foretold, and Deborah was celebrated.  Other famous female commanders include Boudica, a queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe, and Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Boudica led a rebellion against the Romans in Britain around a.d. 60, and Queen Elizabeth I was the monarch in charge of the defenses of England during the failed Spanish invasion in 1588.

These famous and oft-cited examples of women in the military share two traits: They were capable administrators, and they were not splitting skulls as the men they commanded were.  Historically, when women have been used as soldiers, it has been in response to a desperate situation where there were not enough men available to defend a position or an area.  The Soviet Union used women to fight on the front lines during World War II to ward off a German invasion; female soldiers filled in the gaps on the lines.  Modern Israel—a small country surrounded by nations that wish she did not exist—conscripts women into combat positions.  In 2010, the Israeli Defense Forces reported that 34 percent of all its soldiers were women.  Most of them serve in support roles (medics, supply), but 88 percent of all IDF jobs are open to female candidates.  Although there are many jobs open to women, in the IDF women do not go into every field, serving in only 69 percent of the available positions.  Women also make up about 25 percent of the IDF’s officer corps.

In the United States, leftist activists (who will not have to live with the direct consequences of their radical policies) regularly point out that the IDF has women in its infantry units.  They fail to mention that these infantry units essentially function as border guards and would not engage in direct combat.  They also fail to mention that the IDF does not allow women into its various special forces.  Nor does their narrative account for the fact that many women serve in the IDF because they have no choice: Theirs is not an all-volunteer force.

The situation is very different in the United States, where these days our military is deployed not to fight against hostile neighbors but for social engineering, nation-building, and keeping markets open.  Given that context, the push by President Obama, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and members of Congress to require women to register for Selective Service is an empty gesture: Reinstating the draft would be political suicide for any politician who advocated it, and if we know one thing about politicians, it is that most of them would roll their own mothers into traffic to keep their jobs.  If the Selective Service were reactivated, today’s helicopter parents would lose their minds, and the fortunate sons and daughters of politically connected families would get deferments.

Opening combat roles to women, however, is not an empty gesture.  Real women will fight and die.  This move raises some questions beyond matters of “social justice” and equality.

Given the fact that our military is grossly overextended throughout the world, and in light of the fact that our forces remain “all-volunteer,” I wonder: Are American politicians pushing women into combat jobs out of need?  Are they trying to boost the number of females in combat units to keep from conscripting males?

I raised my hand and took the oath of enlistment in Chicago in 1992, and I served two enlistments on active duty in the United States Army until 2000.  I was an airborne infantryman (paratrooper) in the 82nd Airborne Division, and I was stationed overseas in places like Panama and the South Korean side of the DMZ.  When my second enlistment ended, I was an infantry squad leader in charge of the safety and training of eight soldiers.  At that time, there were very few female soldiers around the infantry units.  The only places where I worked with them were at the various schools that I attended, like the NCO Academy.  At the end of the NCO course, we went on a field exercise—an infantry-style operation.  There were road marches, ambushes, patrols, and nearly every other basic infantry training exercise taken straight out of the manuals.  We had a few female soldiers who were capable and at least tried to keep up.  There were others who fell back in everything that we did.  In the classroom, the women did very well, but when it came to physical tasks, it was hard for them to keep up with the male soldiers—most of whom were not even infantry but support personnel, so they would have had the same previous training as the female soldiers.

My anecdotal evidence is confirmed not only by common sense but by the Marine Corps, which published (September 2015) a study on women in mixed-sex units.

Again, the results of that study were not surprising to anyone who has served in the military.  The Marine Corps examined 400 volunteers, 25 percent of whom were women.  Mixed-sex units were slower at accomplishing tasks than all-male units; they suffered a much higher percentage of injuries; and the women scored lower on physical performance.  Over 40 percent of the women developed musculoskeletal injuries, versus 18 percent of the men.  The Marines also opened their infantry school to female volunteers from 2013 to 2015.  The female Marines graduated at a rate of 36 percent, compared with 99 percent for males.  Out of the 29 females who have volunteered for the Marine Infantry Officer Course, all have failed.

The Marine Corps has now stopped taking female volunteers for their infantry schools.

Naturally, at this point the leftist will cry, “What about those women who completed the Army Ranger School?”  U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK, and a retired Ranger) wondered about that as well, after the first two female soldiers graduated from Ranger School, complete with press releases and media fanfare.  (As of this writing, one additional woman has graduated.)  Having heard private testimony from other Rangers, Congressman Russell sought records to make sure that none of the physical standards had been relaxed or altered to accommodate the women.  (He refuses to name the whistleblowers because he knows it will destroy their careers.)  In response to his inquiry, Army brass stonewalled, and then claimed that complying with the legislator’s request would violate the privacy of the soldiers involved.  Eventually, the Army had to tell the truth: The records had been shredded.  This is curious, considering the U.S. military keeps just about everything on file for years.  After telling Representative Russell the evidence he wanted no longer existed, Army brass claimed to be shocked that he would think that they were doing something questionable at Ft. Benning.

We won’t know the real story until the people involved start retiring.

Doubtless, there are women out there who could put the average infantryman to shame in certain physical competitions.  Many great female athletes represent our country in the Olympics.  But athletic women are not overly represented in the military.  It only stands to reason, given basic science.  Unlike women, men have muscles that have been soaking in testosterone all of their lives.  Women’s bodies simply perform differently under physical stress.  It is for this reason that men and women must meet different standards when they take the Army Physical Fitness Test.

I have no desire to detract from the respect that is due the sacrifice and dedication of thousands of female service members.  I honor anyone who is willing to put his life on the line for this country.  But I also have respect for the soldiers who would be directly affected by the presence of women in infantry units.  There really is no other option: The only way to have more women in infantry and elite units is to lower the standards.  After 15 years of continuous war, the U.S. military is already weakened.  Policies aimed at “transforming society” will only weaken it further, and at the expense of the lives of soldiers.  The combat effectiveness of the U.S. military would be damaged in many ways, and our military would be weaker than it already is.

I do not hear the Obama administration demanding that women be allowed into the NFL or NBA.  Why?  Because nobody wants to watch a woman get her neck broken by a man on national television.  Professional sports teams sign players based on performance and measurable physical qualifications that pertain to winning.  So why is it acceptable (or even desirable) to send an unqualified person into combat?  The stakes of winning and losing are only higher with war.  If you mess up on the battlefield, you aren’t sent to the bench for a few minutes or cut from the team; you go home in a flag-draped coffin.