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In this report, I will present the information I've discovered concerning whether allowing women to serve in combat units will reduce a units effectiveness. Women in today's military serve in more jobs and constitute the largest percent of women in the military they ever have. Four years ago women only made up 12 percent of the military, this has climbed from 1. 6 percent in 1973 (Armed Forces and Society, 1996, p. 17). They also hold more jobs than ever before. In 1991, congress passed an amendment which allowed women to fly fixed wing and rotary wing combat aircraft in the military (Harvard International Review, 1992, 52). The military has also opened more combat support jobs in an effort get more women to join the military.
Virtually every job is open to women in the military; infantry, submarines, and artillery are the only ones that are still off limits (Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 1996, p. 368). The only focus of my paper is whether there is still a need to ban women from direct combat. First, let me explain the distinction between combat support units and direct combat units. The military changed its definition of direct combat for women. This opened up more jobs for women that had been off-limits (Congressional Quarterly Researcher, 1992, p. 844). The performance of women in these positions was tested during the Gulf War.
For the first time, American women flew combat missions and directly supported infantry units (Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, 1991, p. 200). Many times they were exposed to live fire, consequentially 13 were killed (Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 1992, p. 842). However, women were never considered to be in direct combat. The military's current combat exclusion policy states that women are prohibited from serving in positions that are "engaging an enemy with individual or crew-served weapons while being exposed to direct fire, a high probability or direct physical contact with the enemy's personnel, and a substantial risk of capture" (Law and Inequality, 1991, p. 6). Many people feel that this policy is discriminatory towards women and only perpetuates the view that they are not seen equally in the military (Lady, 1992 as cited by Steel, 1992, 836).
This policy ensures the effectiveness of the combat unit, which brings me to my next definition. The effectiveness of a combat unit is measured by its ability .".. in mobilizing, and deploying troops, effectiveness in battle measured by outcomes, mission accomplishment or the ratio of United States versus enemy killed and wounded in combat" (Glenn, 1991, as cited by Peach, 1991, p. 212). In this report, I will discuss five sub-topics. First, I will discuss the experience other nations have had with mixing men and women in combat. My next two sub-topics will compare men and women in two ways.
I will start my second sub-topic by comparing men and women physically then comparing men and women psychologically. Then I will evaluate the health care needs of women in combat support units. Finally I will discuss the effect that women would have on unit cohesion. After discussing how these aspects can affect the effectiveness of the military, I will draw conclusions as to how these factors connect to the affects of allowing women to serve in combat. I will then the best possible recommendation using all of the information I have gathered concerning women in combat. I have come to the following conclusion during my research.
I am unable to determine the affect women in combat units will have. Undoubtedly, the majority of women are less muscular and lack the endurance of men. However, there is a small percentage of women that can equal or surpass some men currently serving in combat units. Also, I found very little research stating that women were not psychologically equal to men. There were three factors, which I used to compare men and women psychologically. I discussed how males are perceived to be more aggressive than females, the stress that males and females will face in combat, and female's effect on unit moral.
Also I showed how important unit cohesion was in determining a units effectiveness. The health care needs can be met by combat support units when there are well trained physicians and nurses treat can handle the needs of women (Military Medicine, 1995, p. 221). My recommendations are that more tests have to be done. The first type of test would be an actual field test, submit men and women to the same extreme standards for combat duty to determine if women were capable for service (Congressional Quarterly Researcher, 1992, p. 846). Only then should the military allow women to serve in combat units.
WOMEN IN COMBAT FACTS Only two countries besides the United States have used women in modern warfare. The first was Russia during WWII and later Israel in 1948. Russian women flew fighters to protect Stalingrad from advancing German armies and also took up arms to protect the city (The Journal of Military History, 1993, p. 319). After the war, Russian women were banned from all combat positions While in these positions it has been documented that they performed extremely well. The women pilots were soon called "Night Witches" due to their great performance (The Journal of Military History, 1993, p. 320). Israel during the War for Independence, also used women in direct combat positions.
The need for women to serve in combat positions became great because so many men had been killed on the front lines. Like the Russians, after the conflict ended the Israeli military prohibited women from serving in these positions (Harvard International Review, 1992, p. 58). Many researchers after examining how women performed in these positions came to the same conclusion. They noted that the effectiveness of the combat unit was in jeopardy because of women. Men became overprotective of women and jeopardized the safety of the unit by taking unnecessary risks to protect women from danger (Harvard International Review, 1992, p. 58). Also less then one percent of the soldiers who were killed during the war were women (Bloom, 1982, as cited by Landers, 1989, p. 579).
DISCUSSION The Russian women who flew combat missions during WWII are similar to the types of missions female pilots are expected to perform. During, the Gulf War, they flew jets and helicopters into combat zones along with their male counterparts (Congressional Quarterly Researcher, 1992, p. 842). Although, the women as a whole did not see much combat, the performance of Russian women prove that they would be able to handle the stress of air combat. The Israeli experience with women in combat is much different from the Russian. After the war ended the Israeli military conducted a survey which determined that the men were adversely affected by seeing women killed or maimed in combat (Editorial Research Reports, 1989, p. 579).
In 1948, women all over the world accounted for a very small percentage of the military. This led to a traditionalist view of the role of women in the military and many Israeli men shared this view. PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF COMBAT FACTS Serving in a ground combat unit is the most physically demanding job in the military. To serve with a ground combat unit males have to be in excellent physical condition.
Women as a whole according to Pentagons studies have half the physical strength as men and only 2 / 3 the endurance (Congressional Quarterly Researcher, 1992, p. 846). The Canadian military has acknowledged these differences and still allowed women to serve in direct combat positions (Editorial Research Reports, 1989, p. 570). Any female that can pass the 10 -week infantry course can serve in the Canadian infantry. The Canadians have not lowered their standards for allowing women in combat but set rigorous standards and applied them to both sexes (Harvard International Review, 1992, p. 53). DISCUSSION The Canadian military has taken the first step toward allowing women to serve in ground combat (Editorial Research Reports, p. 576). The vast majority of women are unable to handle the physical demands of combat but there are many that can function in various combat environments (Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, 1991, p. 217).
To determine if women are suited for ground combat the military should conduct field testing. Females have to be able to do everything their male counterparts can do. A female in an infantry unit should not only be able to carry the standard M 16 A 2 service rifle but every weapon in the company. If the machine gunner or mortar man is killed a female should be able to carry his weapon.
The whole team concept that is vital to a combat units effectiveness and is called unit-cohesion (Editorial Research Reports, 1989, p. 582). Maintaining unit cohesion is vital for any leader to lead...
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Research essay sample on Congressional Quarterly Weekly Combat Units