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Author Topic: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?  (Read 2263 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2013, 04:09:38 PM »
I did mention this would apply on if we had the draft and women were in the Selective Service System and drafted for military duty I would assume in a major war scenario since doing so would be unpopular to say the least.

During wartime there are still regs you can be excluded from service for personal convictions as a CO but that would demand you be opposed to war not opposed to being forced if ordered into a combat role on birth control. They can order soldiers who are devout Jews to fight on the Sabbath and could order a Chaplain to marry two men or women if needed you don't get the same rights in a war. I agree since we are talking volunteers joining in combat and in military service the choice should be there but say China decided to go to war with us and were moving to invade at some point do you think they would allow women in combat the luxury of choice? Or we invade Iran and crap hits the fan and they need to draft to fight a broader war its the same thing your drafted, selected for combat duty and deployed to the front your rights largely are secondary to the needs of the service. Its always been like that.

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2013, 04:53:22 PM »
It's about damn time.

Point the first: Selective service is bull; it would currently be political suicide to bring up a draft, and will continue to be for the forseeable future. Countless studies have been published on the fact that drafted militaries serve poorly as compared to volunteer militaries. I think we should do away with the requirement for registration entirely. However, if there must be a registration, there should be a registration for both men and women. I just personally think, myself, that the "women should have to register, too!" movement is going the wrong way with the selective service. Nobody should have to register.

Point the second: Women have been competing in sports on the same level as men for a long, long time. As Moraline pointed out, women can train and work out to the point where they can do pretty much anything a man can do. Just as there are men with narrow shoulders and broad shoulders, so too are there women. There are many people with different capabilities out there, it's very true. However, those capabilities have little to do with gender specifically and more to do with muscle mass, dedication, and individual genetics.

Point the third: We have these things called hormonal treatments that do away with the necessity for looking after one's menstrual cycle. They are not that difficult to carry, they are easy to administer, and their health risks are individual. Granted, some individuals react very poorly to hormonal treatments, but that is another thing that has to be addressed on a case by case basis. And, again agreeing with Moraline here, menstruation is not more difficult or less sanitary than many other bodily functions that men have.

However, I'm having a hard time supporting this decision personally. The part of me that's a feminist is all "Fuck yeah, betcher ass!", but the part of me that's more humanitarian is asking why the military is taking this step when there is rampant sexual abuse among its ranks. By the statistics, women are more than twice as likely to face sexual assault while serving their country than they are when in the general population. What is the military doing about that? How are they going to protect our women in uniform whether they are in combat situations or non-combat situations? I feel like there has been a lot of attention on sexual assault and the role of women in the military lately, and a jaded part of me wonders if this move is being made so the military can point to it and say "See? We're not sexist!". Call me skeptical. :/

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2013, 05:40:22 PM »
Good points, Callie and Trie. This is an issue where lots of people will want to claim it's their victory, and appearances and real reasons could prove hard to unravel.

I think this measure could only have been passed at a time when wars are no longer fought with mass armies, the actual big numbers of people a country can throw in and keep on the front, or in reserve, isn't the key issue it was from Napoleon to Vietnam. Yes, the U.S. has one of the world's biggest armed forces but actual bloodletting among your own for months and years isn't the factor that decides a war anymore, not for the US and similar advanced countries anyway. The fatalities on the US/coalition side in the Gulf war and the invasion phase of the 2003 Iraq war were minimal compared to Vietnam or (still more) the European west front in '44-45. None of the pilots who bombed Iraq in early 1991 expected to get fired at by enemy aircraft or ground cannon, there was pretty much no such thing around. The ground offensive in 2003 was strenuous but the immediate risk of getting killed from one hour to the next for U.S. soldiers was nothing like the war in Belgium and Germany duirng the winter of 1944-45.  If signing up for military service had carried the expectation of risk that one could be among a hundred thousand killed in combat - on one's own side - no one would have wanted to let women into the combat ranks. It would have been political and moral suicide, and would risk kicking out the population recoup after a war: "do you want to kill our mothers-to-be by the tens of thousands?"

(Okay, Israel has long had female combat soldiers and female draft, but they're a special case: the threat to their existence has been immediate sometimes, and they have a large immigration that could make up to some extent- but even the Israelis are not comfortable with women getting killed in action)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 05:55:26 PM by gaggedLouise »

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2013, 01:16:30 AM »
Rules of war ar different if the woman is a draftee, tested and assigned after boot camp to say a tank crew and trained as a driver or a weapons operator they become a vital combat asset which if lost to pregnancy would hurt that crews ability to kill the enemy. They would have to limit pregnancy and under the military code the can be ordered onto birth control no soldier can usually refuse an order on personal or religious grounds if the military demand is considered superior.

And shall we do the math here 25% of men are military fit if the draft was started again, add in women that doubles the number of bodies and more women than men have the coveted High School Diploma and College Degreees sought by the services for those technical jobs that are there. That for me is better for our defense planning.

I'm not even really agreeing or disagreeing strongly with your points. All I am saying there isn't a chance modern day feminists or religious right advocates would, draft or no, stand for the military rule against pregnancy, irrespective of their function or the current mil-pol situation. Just won't happen. The stink raised would be smelled from here to Timbuktu. Given the type of language and voracity given the status-quo as it stands? Not a chance.

Online Silk

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2013, 02:20:45 AM »
If I remember correctly the main cause for banning women from front line duties is due to the psychological stress put on males of the team and the reprecussions thereof, if a comrade is wounded, it's just sheer human instinct to help them, when the wounded is a woman, it becomes even more so and the objective becomes skewed, Males will just go out of their way so much more for a hurt woman than a wounded man, and it jeapodises the mission a great deal if the woman was to be hurt in some way. Think like a sniper, you would target the woman first, and when her squad see's her injured, it is just pure instinct to go help, and that's just ripe pickings for said sniper.

It's not the weakness of the woman that has the ban in place, but the moral effect it has on missions and on the squad.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2013, 02:29:39 AM »
If I remember correctly the main cause for banning women from front line duties is due to the psychological stress put on males of the team and the reprecussions thereof, if a comrade is wounded, it's just sheer human instinct to help them, when the wounded is a woman, it becomes even more so and the objective becomes skewed, Males will just go out of their way so much more for a hurt woman than a wounded man, and it jeapodises the mission a great deal if the woman was to be hurt in some way. Think like a sniper, you would target the woman first, and when her squad see's her injured, it is just pure instinct to go help, and that's just ripe pickings for said sniper.

It's not the weakness of the woman that has the ban in place, but the moral effect it has on missions and on the squad.
Something like this was the real reason for why women were 'bad luck' on sailing ships.  It had nothing to do with the women themselves, but rather the effect they had on the men.  We get pretty stupid when a woman is involved.  The 'bad luck' thing was likely something overhead by some superstitious sailors and it went downhill from there.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2013, 04:09:13 AM »
Zeitgeist is right on the money. If matters came to a head over the pregnancy (or an STD) of a female soldier, directly in a combat unit or not, vs her right to keep her job but get taken out of reach from the front for the time being, I'd expect to see a lot of efforts to explain that she must be given special (preferential) treatment but still keep her rank and her chances of career advance. That's the way this kind of debate works today. I don't think anyone who carries weight within feminism these days would advocate that "either she is compelled to have an abortion, stays in her unit, fights and is gagged about the case as a matter of discipline and morale, or she is discharged from her unit for good: she's a soldier and must submit to the rules of soldiers".

(And of course not the christian right either - goes without saying.  ;) )
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 04:22:22 AM by gaggedLouise »

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2013, 08:44:33 AM »
Just conjecturing and thinking off the top of my head largely here:

Would it make sense as perhaps an interim step to have female only combat units. Makes some sense. The camaraderie, the proportional size and weight of each is comparable to one another (i.e. better chance dragging their buddy out of the line of fire and to medical treatment). Would allow everyone to observe and learn how this dynamic would work.

I don't think it should be a rule but rather a stepping stone. Might make sense to do rather than throwing men and women together in a squad and hoping for the best, you know? Just a thought.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 08:46:50 AM by Zeitgeist »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2013, 09:18:41 AM »
If I remember correctly the main cause for banning women from front line duties is due to the psychological stress put on males of the team and the reprecussions thereof, if a comrade is wounded, it's just sheer human instinct to help them, when the wounded is a woman, it becomes even more so and the objective becomes skewed, Males will just go out of their way so much more for a hurt woman than a wounded man, and it jeapodises the mission a great deal if the woman was to be hurt in some way. Think like a sniper, you would target the woman first, and when her squad see's her injured, it is just pure instinct to go help, and that's just ripe pickings for said sniper.

It's not the weakness of the woman that has the ban in place, but the moral effect it has on missions and on the squad.

From a raw sociological perspective, it's beneficial because of - as mentioned upthread - the loss of potential mothers. If two equal-sized tribes went to war against each other, one using a 100% male army and the other a 50% male/female army, the one that only sent males to fight would be able to recoup its losses twice as fast.

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2013, 11:31:46 AM »
Just conjecturing and thinking off the top of my head largely here:

Would it make sense as perhaps an interim step to have female only combat units. Makes some sense. The camaraderie, the proportional size and weight of each is comparable to one another (i.e. better chance dragging their buddy out of the line of fire and to medical treatment). Would allow everyone to observe and learn how this dynamic would work.

I don't think it should be a rule but rather a stepping stone. Might make sense to do rather than throwing men and women together in a squad and hoping for the best, you know? Just a thought.

And when they all synchronize, the enemy flees in terror.  ;D

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2013, 11:54:56 AM »
And when they all synchronize, the enemy flees in terror.  ;D

You know it! Hell hath no greater fury. And what fabulous irony would it be, an all female squad taking out a house full of rabid fundamentalists who think of women as nothing more than property? That would seriously rock.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2013, 01:55:46 PM »
The enemy flees? Hell, I think most sympathetic forces would flee, too. >.>;;;

As far as mixed units being less effective because guys can't ... concentrate or whatever, take 'em out. If a guy can't stop thinking with his pecker long enough to do his job, it's not anyone else's issue but his own. He can go to the naughty corner or whatever the military does with other people who can't do their jobs.

Speaking of.

Zeitgeist is right on the money. If matters came to a head over the pregnancy (or an STD) of a female soldier, directly in a combat unit or not, vs her right to keep her job but get taken out of reach from the front for the time being, I'd expect to see a lot of efforts to explain that she must be given special (preferential) treatment but still keep her rank and her chances of career advance. That's the way this kind of debate works today. I don't think anyone who carries weight within feminism these days would advocate that "either she is compelled to have an abortion, stays in her unit, fights and is gagged about the case as a matter of discipline and morale, or she is discharged from her unit for good: she's a soldier and must submit to the rules of soldiers".

(And of course not the christian right either - goes without saying.  ;) )

What do they do with folks who are seriously injured? I mean, I'm sure that there will be a bunch of people who are all "Pregnancy is a blessing, not an injury!" but the fact remains that it is a medical condition that makes someone unable to fight, although I would question the idea that a woman can't continue to do her job during the first trimester or so. What do they do with someone who gets a leg injury and can't run or whatever, and will need a year of PT to recover? 'Cause it seems to me that if that dude loses rank, then it's pretty much fair that a woman who falls pregnant also loses rank. If the injured guy wouldn't lose rank, then neither should she. I would be shocked if the military didn't already have a system in place for that, so ... follow it?

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2013, 02:11:13 PM »
The enemy flees? Hell, I think most sympathetic forces would flee, too. >.>;;;

As far as mixed units being less effective because guys can't ... concentrate or whatever, take 'em out. If a guy can't stop thinking with his pecker long enough to do his job, it's not anyone else's issue but his own. He can go to the naughty corner or whatever the military does with other people who can't do their jobs.

Speaking of.

What do they do with folks who are seriously injured? I mean, I'm sure that there will be a bunch of people who are all "Pregnancy is a blessing, not an injury!" but the fact remains that it is a medical condition that makes someone unable to fight, although I would question the idea that a woman can't continue to do her job during the first trimester or so. What do they do with someone who gets a leg injury and can't run or whatever, and will need a year of PT to recover? 'Cause it seems to me that if that dude loses rank, then it's pretty much fair that a woman who falls pregnant also loses rank. If the injured guy wouldn't lose rank, then neither should she. I would be shocked if the military didn't already have a system in place for that, so ... follow it?

This may just be semantics but losing rank as a result of being injured or pregnant, would be extraordinary. Being reassigned to another job detail would be more likely. Losing rank means losing a pay grade.

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2013, 02:14:13 PM »
This may just be semantics but losing rank as a result of being injured or pregnant, would be extraordinary. Being reassigned to another job detail would be more likely. Losing rank means losing a pay grade.

Thanks for the correction. I don't know the terminology or whatever and I think someone had mentioned losing rank previously, so that's what I went with.  :-)

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2013, 02:20:23 PM »
Thanks for the correction. I don't know the terminology or whatever and I think someone had mentioned losing rank previously, so that's what I went with.  :-)

For sure, I kind of figured that was the case.

Were a serviceman or woman to become injured violating orders, or say theoretically, becoming pregnant against direct orders not to, then perhaps they could lose rank. But not for being injured or pregnant but for violating orders.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2013, 02:50:01 PM »
The enemy flees? Hell, I think most sympathetic forces would flee, too. >.>;;;

What do they do with folks who are seriously injured? I mean, I'm sure that there will be a bunch of people who are all "Pregnancy is a blessing, not an injury!" but the fact remains that it is a medical condition that makes someone unable to fight, although I would question the idea that a woman can't continue to do her job during the first trimester or so. What do they do with someone who gets a leg injury and can't run or whatever, and will need a year of PT to recover? 'Cause it seems to me that if that dude loses rank, then it's pretty much fair that a woman who falls pregnant also loses rank. If the injured guy wouldn't lose rank, then neither should she. I would be shocked if the military didn't already have a system in place for that, so ... follow it?


Pregnancy isn't a disease, but it affects the female body powerfully and over a much longer time than a sprained ankle or a few broken ribs. It lasts much longer than most quick, temporary diseases, too.  And you can lighten some of the effects, some of the time, but not the main ones - the body growing bigger, increased needs for food, drink and sleep, stomach unease (in many pregnant women) - the only way to really bring an end to those are to end the pregnancy by abortion.

Plus it takes time for most women to get back to their earlier shape and full level of fitness after a pregnancy. Some just find it impossible to push all the way - it's no accident that many women elite athletes stop competing after they had their first child. The body has been through changes that make it that bit less supple, it loses that extra edge. And in some war zone conditions, it really counts if you are able to endure for days and nights on end, with dodgy sleep and insufficient food, carrying eighty pounds of burden through a wasteland for sixteen hours and so on.

I agree male and female soldiers who serve in the same kind of (mixed) units should be treated the same way, by the same principles and to the same standards. A male soldier who was through something as lengthy and physically challenging and draining as pregnancy, well, he'd probably have to be moved to another unit, for 1 years or for good. If he had put his signature on a promise not to enter into said condition as a basic precondition of getting into the unit, then he could have been in breach of discipline. Same event, same treatment. But I don't think that  line - serve according to the rules or accept to be moved out - would be accepted in good cheer by some of the people who will hail this as a big victory for women (though I agree that with female soldiers who are heavily pregnant, the first and reasonable thing to do would be to move them some way behind the front at once: a five or six months pregnant woman can't be a fighting G.I. or marine in a frontline sense, that's plain enough...)

For sure, I kind of figured that was the case.

Were a serviceman or woman to become injured violating orders, or say theoretically, becoming pregnant against direct orders not to, then perhaps they could lose rank. But not for being injured or pregnant but for violating orders.

I'll have to admit to the same blurriness as Trie here. When I was talking about keeping or losing rank, I was thinking of moving them to another job within the same force - and perhaps losing a pay grade., Someone pointed out early in the discussion that even for military people who spend most of their careers behind a desk, frontline service (in "combat units") has often been the place where you're promoted the fastest: it's where the real talents are often recognized. That's another reason why the drive to get into the fighting units has been so hot: it's not just about "I wanna fight!" but "I want the same options to make a career as the guys".
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 04:11:21 PM by gaggedLouise »

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2013, 02:54:09 PM »
I think it is important even as people are pumping their fists, hoo-raying and shouting: "Yeah! It is about time!" we remember that women have served admirably and capably for a long, long time. Be they as nurses, truck drivers, etc. I dare say wading into a hospital tent full of wailing, bleeding and wounded humanity took at least as much courage as say charging a hill. Untold numbers of women lent their skills and comfort to masses of wounded and dying men, men that could be their husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers, whoever. This was true of women all around the world on both sides of conflicts. Russian women known to the Germans as Night Witches flew bombing raids, at night and with no or very rudimentary radar.

And so celebrate, be glad, but do so with the knowledge women have been risking their lives and giving all they had throughout history. They surely should be recognized for it.

« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 02:55:20 PM by Zeitgeist »

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2013, 03:24:55 PM »
I dare say wading into a hospital tent full of wailing, bleeding and wounded humanity took at least as much courage as say charging a hill.

Considering that in 'Nam and Korea, the 'front line' was very poorly defined (occasionally, 'the enemy' was just as poorly defined), some of those nurses were wading into hospital tents that were probably a lot closer to combat than modern field hospitals.

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2013, 05:47:57 PM »
Lieutenant Lane received the Gallantry Cross with Palm and the Bronze Star for Heroism. She was the only American servicewoman to die under direct fire from the enemy in Vietnam.

http://www.virtualwall.org/dl/LaneSA01a.htm

Who knows what she would think about this ruling. In the tradition of service she'd likely forgo any accolades to her own meritorious service. Yet she was a warrior in her own right. What is the definition of a warrior but someone who pushes on, though they've already given everything they had?

So my point is let's not act as though some long held egregious wrong has been righted, for it overshadows the sacrifices already made by these women.


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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2013, 06:03:47 PM »
I don't think it overshadows their sacrifices at all. Up until now, there has been essentially an institutionalized view that women couldn't be in combat. The institution didn't necessarily say whether it was a physical thing, whether it was due to others' behavior, or what - but up until now the official stance of the military has been that women shouldn't be in combat. I think that, in part, this change in policy is celebrating those women who have seen combat, have seen awful conditions, and who have acted bravely and served their country well. They have been the exception that proves there should not be a rule. I think that it celebrates those women, and future women no longer have to feel like they have to stumble into combat almost accidentally or approach it sideways. It's no longer "Oops, I got lost on the way to the hair salon and there was a war going on!"

Not to mention the aforementioned opportunities for advancement now available to women that were not previously open to them.

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2013, 06:10:55 PM »
I don't think it overshadows their sacrifices at all. Up until now, there has been essentially an institutionalized view that women couldn't be in combat. The institution didn't necessarily say whether it was a physical thing, whether it was due to others' behavior, or what - but up until now the official stance of the military has been that women shouldn't be in combat. I think that, in part, this change in policy is celebrating those women who have seen combat, have seen awful conditions, and who have acted bravely and served their country well. They have been the exception that proves there should not be a rule. I think that it celebrates those women, and future women no longer have to feel like they have to stumble into combat almost accidentally or approach it sideways. It's no longer "Oops, I got lost on the way to the hair salon and there was a war going on!"

Not to mention the aforementioned opportunities for advancement now available to women that were not previously open to them.

The new opportunities for advancement, commendation and combat pay is indeed something over due. I just feel like taking an angle that overly celebrates this change threatens to overshadow what is well known, that women have served well and given much already. I hope that makes sense. At the end of it I would just hope people took a second look at how women have served historically and not forget it, even as we look forward to a new normal.

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2013, 06:26:25 PM »
It probably comes down to the definition of 'egregious'. Is it a wrong? Yes. I don't think that anyone (except maybe my great-uncle Lamar, who has thankfully shuffled off this coil or he would have an apoplectic fit at the idea of condoning women in combat while they could be making babies and taking care of their man - god rest him, but he was definitely from a different generation) would debate the fact that a wrong has been righted. It's definitely up to the individual, however, to determine whether it's an egregious wrong. For me - I don't think it is. I have never had aspirations to the military. For the young woman whose childhood dream it was to grow up and be in that sort of role, though, it probably does feel pretty egregious. It depends, like most things, on your perspective. But again, I don't think that my hypothetical young woman with those aspirations would forget the sacrifices that other women have made before her. In fact, she's more likely to idolize those women.

Does that make sense?

Online Zeitgeist

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2013, 06:32:11 PM »

Does that make sense?

It does and I agree!

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #48 on: January 26, 2013, 07:40:53 PM »
My father and his peers did have one huge issue with this - women get to choose whether or not to enter into combat heavy specialties and if that is the case its still an unfair biase against men who enlist or serve as officers.

Seriously say John Doe enlists he unlikely will have a say in what he is trained in her can put in for one and if he is very capable as in tested well and there is a demand likely might get that but he could also get trained in anything where its filling a need - this now often includes combat specialties like Rifleman. If his sister Jane Doe does the same thing she will not be placed in a combat speciailty unless she requests it even if there is a need for say more Rifleman infantry troops and she tested well for that.

You have to see the issue one rule for men and one for women is not equal!

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Re: Panetta Opens Up Combat Duties to Women - Bad or Good?
« Reply #49 on: January 26, 2013, 07:45:17 PM »
Are you seriously arguing that women are the privileged group in the U.S. military? Like, did you seriously just imply that? I mean, really?