Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Will Never Quit

Somewhere along the way to where I am now, I lost track of what was important.  My aspiration:  contributing to the end of the gender barrier in combat arms.  The wall is already crumbling, look at the Female Engagement Teams.  Yet it is not fair that women are asked to put their lives on the line doing a cultural or SF (Special Forces) assignment, without recognition for taking the very same risks their brethren take in combat arms.

As a woman, I have struggled internally with choosing a path where I could get my dose of adventure and adrenaline high; and choosing a path where I can help women who join the military in the future not have any doors closed to them.  Some days I am frustrated beyond belief because of the opposition from both genders, but I am not disheartened.  I know what I am passionate about beyond all else is true:  that qualification and not gender is how personnel should be assigned.  Archaic ideas of what women should and shouldn't be doing is not how they should get their branch.

There are women who have served who are opposed to this idea because they don't ever want to be in combat arms, but that's putting themselves on a pretty high pedastol isn't it?  Are they saying they shouldn't be asked to make the same sacrifice as any man who has signed up to don a uniform and be a Soldier?  These women would probably never repeat this, but I've heard it muttered before that they don't mind the gender barrier because they sure as hell don't want to be Infantry.  Well, I have news for them:  they wouldn't have to.

First of all, my proposition is that combat arms be open to women, not that women must be integrated into combat arms.  I would propose no minimum quota in the combat arms, at least initially.  Unwilling women already get assigned to Field Artillery and Military Police because minimum quotas are attempted to be met by the Army.  I know from watching one or two Branch Nights at West Point.

Second of all, and more importantly to me, I would like to say for the record:  Puh-leeze!

If one is scared of being roped into Infantry (Queen of Battle, Hooah!) or having to go to Ranger School, I assure you the commander will readily sign the memorandum to get you out of his or her branch since you probably wouldn't offer much to it.  And as for Ranger, don't worry just refuse to do one of the obstacles, and easy, you're out.  I'm not trying to be snide... well, not too snide, just pointing out that commanders should have a large amount of leeway to reassign disqualified candidates.  Which brings me back to my first point, that minimum quotas are a bad idea.  They leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth.  I am not just trying to call out the timid, I also think that the most enthusiastic woman who cannot meet the demands of combat arms should not be allowed to stay on in that role.  Not everyone wants to serve their country, and not everyone who wants to is capable.  Ask any recruiting office; they will tell you.

But do an experiment and have a couple recruiting offices be allowed to put women into combat arms in a few different locations nationwide, and you might hear some surprising reasons from women why they want to join the Army.

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