As I wrote for Chronicles in 2013, the strongest women are only as strong as the weakest men, according to testimony before the President George H.W. Bush’s Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Thus, if the armed services were to recruit women for combat, it would recruit weak men.
As well, the commission learned, the average 20-something women has the lung power (and I would say general stamina) of a 50-something man. But the Army doesn’t recruit 50-year-old men. Given that a woman’s physical prowess peaks in her late mid to late 20s, or even earlier (look at professional women golfers and tennis players), then quickly declines, what can the Army do with 48-year-old women? Answer? Nothing. A 48-year-old woman cannot survive the rigors of combat. A 48-year-old man can. If the best women professional golfers and tennis players cannot seriously compete with their male counterparts for three or four afternoons in good weather, how will average women recruits survive the debilitating climatic and physical conditions of sustained combat over weeks or even months?
Women also suffer higher rates of fractured and broken bones because they are, well, softer than men. Thus, women wash out of military training at higher rates. Then there is the obvious: pregnancy.
These facts apply to almost all women, barring a few exceptions who really are very strong and tough. Given that the military is voluntary and recruits from the general run of citizens, it won’t find these strong and tough women by serendipity, which means using women in combat requires recruiting and training a very select population. Even assuming such women want to be found, and that they want to serve in the military, such an effort it a waste of military money and resources.
Because we don’t need women in combat. I’ve been writing about this subject for 20 years, and while I have often read or heard that women want to serve, I have never read or heard that removing the combat exemption for women is a matter of military urgency. I’ve never heard a flag or fleet officer say that the armed forces urgently need women for combat assignments, lest our enemies destroy us.
But what about those Amazonian wonders who do enlist, the ones the Army don’t have to search far and wide to find? Why, the equalitarians ask, can’t they serve with the men? The practical answer is this: They can and should.
But this isn’t just a practical question. A woman’s marching into gunfire is egalitarianism of a different order than her walking into a courtroom or an operating room, which means the question at hand isn’t merely a question of equality.
It’s a question of right or wrong. A Christian society thus considers another question: Should women serve in combat? Anyone with a properly formed conscience knows the answer. A Christian society would never permit it.
But we don’t live in a Christian society.