Male-Female Cohesion in the Military: Yes, It’s Possible

November 24, 2014

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Another day, another article arguing why women shouldn’t be allowed to serve in combat units. I’ve already written about it elsewhere, so I’m not going to rehash my arguments in depth, but let’s take a look at the arguments in Anna Simons’ recent War on the Rocks article, “Here’s Why Women In Combat Units is A Bad Idea.”

When Simons argues that “battles are exclamation points: it’s the off duty time that’s a problem,” she undermines the rest of her essay. In doing so, she moves beyond the arguably unique question of ground combat capabilities and into the universal question of what to do with soldiers in their off duty time. She implies that women are actually capable of performing during combat operations, but that (in my words, not hers) putting up with the alleged drama of having females in the unit isn’t worth it. Workplace relationships do, of course, happen in the military and elsewhere. And yes, when they go poorly, it’s weird for everyone around them. But does that awkwardness translate into lost combat effectiveness?

No, for three reasons. First, if one relationship undermines an entire unit’s cohesion, there are bigger, pre-existing problems in that unit. Second, relationships between seniors and subordinates are verboten. Third, if issues between two soldiers get out of hand, they should be dealt with like any other issue that might detract from good order and discipline. In this hypothetical combat unit, if a senior and subordinate are playing the army dating game, there are mechanisms for dealing with that. Leaders are expected to step in and put a stop to it to maintain good order and discipline. But what about squad members? Might it happen? Again, yes. And again, return to good order and discipline and these hypothetical issues are non-starters. If issues arise between two soldiers, deal with them the way you deal with any other problem between two soldiers. However, pointing to sexual tension as a problem in units relies on a flawed premise. Simons presumes that women in these units are automatically bringing problems with them. This false assumption does a disservice to all women who serve in uniform. The requirement to do your job, to be a part of the team, is not gender specific. The issue about sexual attraction is a complete red herring.

Simons argues that excluding women from combat units is not the same as opposing the integration African-Americans into the force or the lifting of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She argues that racism and bigotry are not equivalent to attraction between the sexes. She has acknowledged that women are capable of serving in combat and some combat units – but then says they should not be permitted to because they are women. The problem is, that is discrimination based on gender and therefore of the same category as those who opposed integration and supported the exclusion of homosexuals.

But Simons’ argument against women in combat takes a special turn when she notes that “Heterosexual men like women. They also compete for their attention.” She continues:

Introduce something over which members are bound to compete, that the winner won’t share, and you inject a dangerous dynamic. Worse, introduce the possibility of exclusivity between two individuals and you will have automatically killed cohesion.

Gone are any assumptions that women are people or teammates or capable of making their own dating decisions. In its place is the assumption that women in these units are there as a prize for the men compete for. She argues again that this competition would undermine the “all for one” attitude that is central to cohesive units. By reducing women to prizes, Simmons automatically excludes women from having the potential to be included in the “all for one.” First, she argues for preventing people from achieving their potential based on how they are born, then she reduces women to objects. This smacks of chauvinistic prejudices.

Simons also blames social scientists. On one hand, she asks social scientists to investigate what cohesion means for all combat units:

Don’t social scientists owe it to those who already serve in special operations (and infantry) units to pay attention to what they say (and do), rather than rely on what members of mixed gender noncombat units self-report regarding ‘task cohesion’?

But on the other hand, she writes, “Of course, the idea that there can be any social ‘science’ answer to whether the U.S. military should integrate women into ground combat forces is silly.” So which is it? Do we want to measure cohesion or don’t we? Or is she simply dismissing the social sciences out of hand because they offer an idea that she disagrees with?

Commanders don’t directly and objectively measure cohesion. Instead, commanders measure combat effectiveness: how many qualified on their assigned weapon, how many on medical profile or non deployable, and how many people are qualified on their Mission Essential Task List (METL) tasks: individual, platoon and team level tasks that support the higher headquarters missions. These are quantifiable metrics that generally translate into combat effectiveness. Researchers, however, have a myriad of ways to measure cohesion depending on what field is doing the research. Saying that social scientists measuring cohesion is “silly” undermines the entire argument. Researchers have long been interested in cohesion. Commanders measure effectiveness.

The author makes a big deal about the difference between task cohesion and social cohesion. Research suggests that task cohesion is more important to combat effectiveness than social cohesion. Task cohesion in the military and military social solidarity are actually two separate issues. If there is a lack of social cohesion in these all-male units as Simons suggests there is, it stems from a lack of trust in members of the group. The implication then is that the lack of social cohesion in these groups should negatively affect their ability to accomplish their wartime mission.

Simons is actually raising a larger sociological question beyond task cohesion. According to Emile Durkheim, one of sociology’s founding scholars, social cohesion or solidarity comes in two forms: mechanical and organic. Mechanical solidarity comes from minimizing differences and maximizing devotion to the common cause. This is the way solidarity has been understood as the glue that holds traditional societies together. The non-combat arms military has arguably been integrated into what Durkheim would call organic solidarity – a cohesion which is achieved through mutual dependence and belief in a common orientation toward the world around them. Organic solidarity is the glue that holds modern societies together and is based on interlocking dependencies. It does not depend on group similarity or lack of diversity as in mechanical solidarity. It is better suited to complex groups with high levels of specialization and division of labor, such as the military. By any metric, the all-volunteer force is a more combat effective force than any force that has come before us.

For a modern military unit to be cohesive, we need teammates to trust one another, to be dependent upon one another, and to be united in a common cause. We need organic solidarity and task cohesion. These requirements are not mutually exclusive to homogenous groups such as all-male combat arms units. Historically, the common cause of fighting the nation’s wars has been a predominately male enterprise. It does not follow, however, that just because this domain has been historically male that it is necessarily contingent upon it remaining male for it to exist. There is nothing inherent in being female that negates unit cohesion – not even sexual attraction, which happens and isn’t nearly the crisis that Simons seems to think it is. Simons is right that there is more to being a functional member of a team than meeting a physical standard. But there is also nothing that says women cannot be a strong, functional, integral part of the combat team, either.

We need to stop acting like women are some kind of aliens who cause men to become hormone-driven Neanderthals and expect professionalism out of both our men and women. We need to stop presuming that women in the military are synonymous with problems. We need all soldiers to treat female soldiers based on what they are: soldiers who happen to be female and focus on building trust between teammates regardless of gender. Is it an ideal? Sure. But it’s one that’s both reachable and attainable.


Jessica Scott is an active duty Army officer currently attending graduate school at Duke University where she is working towards a master’s degree in sociology. She will be an instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point next fall. She is the USA Today bestselling author of multiple novels about soldiers returning from war and the challenges they face. The views here are hers alone and do not represent Duke University, the Department of Defense or the United States Army.

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30 thoughts on “Male-Female Cohesion in the Military: Yes, It’s Possible

  1. Your argument for operations based on a sexless society is invalid based upon all of human experience.

    Can they perform some combat tasks effectively? Sure.

    Should they be put into close living quarters in coed units? Only if you first do away with the One Mistake Career Syndrome and just STFU about every possible instance of sexual reality now parading as harassment but in reality is often just a career opportunity.

    1. “Your argument for operations based on a sexless society is invalid based upon all of human experience.”

      She very explicitly acknowledged that sex will happen, and correctly reassured us that it is not the crisis that Scott thinks it is, but that aside, how clueless do you have to be to make this assertion to a human that disagrees with you? Obviously there is at least one in seven billion whose experience diverges from your own.

      The lack of self-awareness that passes for timeless wisdom in U.S. military culture never ceases to amaze me.

  2. Thor, My son,

    There are decent arguments to be made as to whether females should be barred from “combat roles.” Yours, though, is too cynical to be among one of them. Your third paragraph is ironic considering that it is the reason that we continue to have so many SHARP courses. You apparently aren’t getting it.

    Lastly, showering and billeting is about bits and parts, not sexual orientation.

  3. First let me say that my bona fides for writing this response are pretty good. CO of a SF, A Det in VN, CO of A Co, 1st Bn, 7th Cav during the battle of LZ-X Ray in the Ia Drang valley in 1965 in VN, three years teaching in the department at West Point where Jessica Scott is going to go teach.
    I have a lot of up close and personal infantry combat, as well as a graduate degree in psychology and, after my retirement,
    have spent a number of years traveling around the Army teaching combat leadership.
    To my point:
    -Those females that are advocating women in infantry units have never been there and have no idea of the physical and emotional stress that soldiers are under when engaged in extended close infantry combat. That stress washes away some of the thin veneer of civilization that we have. That’s why atrocities always happen, to some small degree, in all wars.
    -Recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan prove nothing. I am not aware of any females being at outpost Keating , or Fallujah or the other places where serious infantry took place. The notion, spread by the press, that everyone was in combat because there are no front lines is nonsense. That’s like saying that all the population in London was in combat because they were bombed by the Germans in WWII. There is no similarity between assaulting an enemy position and being in a convoy that has a vehicle that hits an IED.
    -THe physical demands of being in the bush for three weeks at a time , without bathing, carrying heavy loads, to include mortar base plates, radios, etc deteriorate physical, mental and emotional skills, to include self-control.. To say, “The chain of command can handle it” is to show ignorance as to what the chain of command is capable of doing if it doesn’t have the support of its soldiers.There is no need to introduce another distractor for the chain of command to deal when they are already stressed beyond what anyone whom hasn’t been there will understand.
    – AS far as I can tell, putting women in an infantry unit has NO benefits for the unit. THey will be a distractor, will not improve the combat capabilities of the unit, and will likely cause consternation and competition among the troops.Just think what is happening in today’s colleges when young males and females are thrown together in a most benign environment.
    -IF we care about the efficiency, morale

    1. Ramon, While your personal experience in combat is noteworthy and exceptional it was limited in that you never had the opportunity to serve with women combatants. Let me suggest that you read Soviet Women in Combat or Wings, Women and War to expand your knowledge of where, when and how extensively women have successfully served in close combat in equally brutal circumstances.

      1. Soviet women were famously snipers and aircrew, but not as much line infantry, and when Soviet men were taking millions of casualties, the Red Army wasn’t very choosy. Their situation was completely different than what the US military faces today.

        The US military does not need to draft or force anyone into a combat role, we have plenty of volunteers who will compete for most of them. With that competition, it is not enough for a woman to meet the minimum standard, she must outperform all the men who wanted the job.

        Furthermore, she must continue to perform to the same standards as the men doing the same job, ultimately for years. For basic biological reasons, women are at a disadvantage, and while that may not be fair, it is true.

        I will give women the same chance as a man, but no more. If they have lower scores, lower rate of training completion, higher rates of injury or shorter operational careers, than their male counterparts, then the US military would be better off without women in combat roles.

  4. The evidence of the last 40 years is that fraternization is a huge problem and that it has proven impossible to control it through “leadership” “discipline” or administrative means.

    The evidence of the last 40 years is that so few women can perform to the male physical standard that even in branches open to women, standards have had to be lowered to allow enough women to “succeed” to constitute a critical mass (and thus avoid the women being perceived as outliers). Virtually all military women cannot perform all standards combat, casualty evacuation and shipboard damage control tasks to the same level as men, if at all. Instead, there have been work-arounds.

    Exchanging fire in Iraq and Afghanistan, and experiencing danger, against enemies so third rate that the military has been able to rotate whole units stateside without interference, on a schedule, says nothing about combat against a competitive enemy. And, it’s worth noting that the actual war record of the coed, diverse, gay-friendly all-volunteer force is the worst of any military force that we’ve fielded.

    If the author is going to talk about “another article against women serving in combat” I reply, “another article ignoring all the evidence and asking us to double down on it.”

      1. Ellen, please! Let’s stop pretending that it would matter if he did. You know as well as anyone does the vast differences between men and women physically in terms of overall capacity and endurance. Then add in the pregnancy factor along with the injury rates being far higher in females due to a different skeletal frame and you have a recipe for disaster. The facts do not matter to you, people like Jay or anyone at SWAN, it is all about your egos and a cause, nothing to do with combat effectiveness. Nothing to do with improving the military and nothing to do with equality. Heck, if it was about equality you would not have taken all those extra breaks you got as a female right? Oh, wait, you did. So what is it about Ellen?

  5. Jessica, you are weaker than the average male soldier or officer, and in hand-to-hand combat I am confident the average male would beat you to death. You are likely slower and can carry less weight. Any extra resources spent on improving your capabilities to bring you up to a male standard will not be spent preparing for the enemy. If you get pregnant (intentionally or unintentionally), you will be removed from units, lowering their capability. By introducing women into units, the services would be lowering their combat capability. If you want to enter into the services, proponents should argue there should be no extra training for women, the standards should be the same as men, and there should be no allowances for women.

  6. Jessica, if I may say, your arguments come down to ‘why not’ and ‘I’m sure women can’.

    The point of fielding a military force is to win as quickly as possible. Historically combat has been the most harrowing test men have ever experienced. No surprise that most ‘combat fatigue’ is experienced by combat troops. Over time in combat, moral and cohesion tend to go down in a unit, disintegrate. Your argument should be that women will make a unit more effective, more cohesive than present; do you have hard evidence in this area?

    The Russians used some 800,000 women in forward positions in WWII but afterwards stopped the practice. The Israeli’s don’t, the North Vietnamese did not; for what compelling reason should we do so?

    Boys and girls fall in ‘like’ with each other and history is replete with instances where a couple flaunting all social mores as far as clan, class, marriage, etc., cling even unto death causing in some cases incredible social disruptions. If you are wrong in you estimates by even 10%, the cost will be in measured in lives; why should males want to be part of your experiment?

    You blithely suggest that the company commander can handle any social problems but how many combat companies have you commanded in combat?
    Pregnancy? Shouldn’t you be showing that coed naval vessels do not suffer inordinate numbers of mission degrading pregnancies? Perhaps because that would be pretty difficult to show, right? What hard evidence do you have that a unit would become a better killer with females? What do you bring to the table in this discussion other than opinion?

    (1) Cohesion: The Human Element in Combat. by Wm. Darryl Henderson.

    1. Peter, Actually a million Soviet women served in WWII in many combat roles. More than 120,000 served as direct combatants in the field Army. It is true that when the war was over the survivors were discharged and told to go home and rebuild and repopulate the mother land but they weren’t sent home because they weren’t good or had harmed unit cohesion. They were sent home because the Soviet military elite just couldn’t contemplate allowing women to remain permanently within their ranks.

      1. “They were sent home because the Soviet military elite just couldn’t contemplate allowing women to remain permanently within their ranks”

        Do you have any data to support this statement? Anything whatsoever? I have to believe that if Soviet generals had realized they cracked the code on warfare by allowing women to serve in frontline combat units, they probably wouldn’t have sent them home.

        Nearly 1/3 of the Soviet Union was invaded in WWII. The generals had no choice – women were going to serve whether they wanted them to or not. They needed bodies. Old people and children also served, and I’m sure many of them served with distinction. Is that progress too?

  7. I believe that women in the military should go through the same certifications as men. If someone can bench 200 pounds or 100 pushups, does it matter if its a man or a women doing it? If the certifications and requirements are met, then it’s perfectly possible for women to join the military.

  8. As a young man I spent three years of my life as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

    One of my most distinct memories of my time at Fort Bragg was seeing non-combat arms units doing their quarterly road marches. Invariably you would see a male soldier with all of his equipment carrying an extra rifle, and another male soldier would be carrying an extra ruck-sack, and finally a third soldier would be helping a female soldier unable to carry herself forward, or her own equipment.

    Our military doesn’t hold women to the same standards as men. Physical fitness standards have been driven down for women. Given that females currently only serve in non-combat arms units it’s not really an issue. Infantry soldiers are expected to take care of themselves, to carry their own load, which can often exceed sixty or seventy pounds, and to do this under the worst of conditions. Day and night, rain and shine. There are plenty of strong young men who buckle under this pressure. Putting women in a combat arms unit, without requiring them to meet the same physical fitness standards of male soldiers is unfair to them and even more unfair to the male soldiers they’d be expected to serve with.

  9. Odin…too cynical…

    World weariness comes from watching bad things happen, indeed being implemented on purpose, and seeing that those who demand that change and won’t be affected by it don’t care.

    The people implementing these policies are doing it as a grand social experiment in their eyes. Never mind how many times this will end up bad those bad outcomes are just statistics for their next study.

    Cynicism does not make an argument invalid. I have spent a career watching these misguided policies play out to our detriment. My cynicism was earned. And I’m glad I had my career when I did because it would be hard recommending the path of the Guinea Pig to today’s youth.

    I suggest the author go spend a rotation as the loader in a MBT and tell us how relevant her decree in sociology, and current perspective, is to the real world. Is there “a” girl that can do it? No doubt. Can the “average” girl do it? Nope.

  10. As as addendum, I do ‘get’ it. Those SHARP classes are a perfect example of an ineffective response trying to change an irrevocable reality. When you step out of that classroom you are back in the real world where policy and instruction only go so far.

    It’s just like those stupid Sensitivity Training sessions…for soldiers…because we all need to be in touch with our feelings and understand where our enemies are coming from while we kill them.

  11. There is a solution that is have all female units with no men in the unit because then they can focus on the training and mission and not be distracted. There is such thing happening in the platoons or squad. Sometimes we let the females stick together that is the solution why have temptation it’s a lot more safer and men can do there job’s without being accused of bad behavior and women would not have to feel as they are sheep’s amongst the wolf’s. There should be open segregation in the military but its does all the time happen even when they say it’s not people only hang out with there own kind I see it all the time. I was active duty stationed at 10th MTN at FT.Drum, NY. I switched over to reserves in CA and I see they need to have a better structure set up its kinda like the white house it’s a mess.

  12. I think you’re wrong on both sides. The issue is not an either or. There is a way to utilize women in ‘combat’, which isn’t any longer largely bayonets and clubbing. Our high tech combat today involves information systems, drones―even small ones―preparation to do something and so forth. Sure, stamina is a big part of it. Some women have that, but not every woman surely. We can use the right women for the right tasks―even in combat.
    For a realistic, if fictional, example read my book
    Sorry, had to get a little plug in.

    1. Infantry combat, which is honestly where about 99.99% of the issues will be, still involves combat at the level of fists and knives. Furthermore, it involves lots of walking with heavy loads, which is much harder if you start off smaller and less muscular.

  13. Great Article / now when will you advocate all sexes registering for selective service on their 18th birthday – once you say to America every daughter in now required to register – and put it on the ballot for a vote – people will not want this (period).

  14. Having “lived through” the integration of both “gays” and “women” into the military, my observation is that those units where the commander’s attitude was “This is going to happen and there WILL BE NO PROBLEMS.” had one hell of a lot fewer problems (and less severe problems [and problems resolved more quickly {and problems resolved at a lower level}]) than there were in units where the command attitude consisted of exceedingly public wailing, moaning, and wringing of hands over the problems which were going to happen.

  15. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, USA, “On Killing, the Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society”, page 175:
    The Israelis have consistently refused to put women in combat since their experiences in 1948. I have been told by several Israeli officers that this is because in 1948 they experienced recurring incidences of uncontrolled violence among male Israeli soldiers who had had their female combatants killed or injured in combat, and because the Arabs were extremely reluctant to surrender to women.
    [So all that is necessary is to unwire tens of thousands of years of instinct. No big deal.]

  16. Many good comments and perspectives here. Let me address an inaccuracy and clarify a few points.

    1. There were absolutely women at Fallujah during intense combat fighting. US Army EOD Team Members in Direct Support of combat units and operations.

    2. Bonefides are most helpful by men who have actually worked with women in combat during combat operations / action. Not men who have been in all male combat units who haven’t had day to day contact with women who are exceptional performers and key members of combat operations.

    3. I concur that Women in combat units must meet the same standards as men; and there should be no cost to resources (either time or money) to get them there. And, I placed a female EOD Team Leader and male Team Members with a SOF unit…and they executed operations in Afghanistan in combat with SOF during SOF direct action. Already done.

    4. Most women will not meet the standards. Some don’t want to meet the standards. But, there are are small select group of women who have the desire, the physical attributes and mental toughness to executes the standards. They should be allowed entry on the basis of meeting the standards. Not limited by gender. As we certaintly wouldn’t limit based on race, creed, or color etc. Success in the United States of America and Military Services is based on excellence and the drive to succeed. It’s how we roll and what we do…we don’t limit individuals who demonstrate quantitative and qualitative ability due to gender (or anything else).

    5. Personal intimate relationships are not authorized in the same unit or with Soldiers of different ranks. The concern that women will have relationships and interrupt the cohesion of units is valid. It is just as valid however…that men in intimate relationships will do the same (homosexuals assigned / authorized in SOF, Ranger, and other all-male infantry / combat units — and must certainly be assigned now). So, it is likely that same sex relationships are already occurring within those units. So, the argument that messy male/female relationships are the only relationships to cause turmoil in small tactical units is quite unacceptable.

    6. I urge you to consider what are likely emotional responses. Open service of homosexual and gay individuals in the Service was an absolute non-issue. The service of women in combat units will likely also be a non-issue. Those that qualify will execute their duties as required or be removed.

    7. The benefit for “Putting” females in an infantry unit…Well, The United States of America doesn’t limit anyone based on their gender, race, creed, color. It’s not what we do. An individual is only limited by their own abilities.

  17. No. The issue that military professionals have is not that women will destroy cohesion through competition for sex. The primary issue is that the military has two standards of fitness, one for men and one for women. This is because women cannot measure up to the physical capabilities of men. Yes, there are outliers. Yes there are women who practice CrossFit regularly who can outperform me and many other men. Like another commenter wrote, can they hump an 81mm mortar baseplate for 20 miles? Can they conduct a long-range patrol in Kunar Province? Can they defecate in a bag for a week and not shower because they are in the field? Because that’s what a combat arms professional is thinking about. If they can, welcome to the team. All female candidates to date have failed the Marines’ infantry officer basic course. It’s not because they’re bad leaders, less-then-patriotic Americans, or bad for unit cohesion. They were simply physically incapable of the task, despite what I would assume are years of dedicated training. Keep the standards the same, this is not a game. A gay, black 11B must pass the same training as a straight white one. That is the difference.

  18. I believe the standards which allow assessment and training into combat units should be applied to woman…the exact same standard.

    No it’s not done today because women are only assessed into Combat Support and Combat Service Support units.

    Yes many have failed when attempting to meet the male standard. Many more may fail. So what. Let the few who can pass the same standard be assessed and execute combat operations in direct combat units as they volunteer. Let them determine their own future based on demonstrated execution of the identified standard.

    Yes! I’ve had a female EOD Soldier execute a 10 hr long foot patrol with infantry in Afghanistan. If carrying an 81mm base plate for a specified distance is crucial then make it a standard for all.

    Those who can meet the single standard have the abilities to execute the mission. Past failures do not determine future successes!

    Let’s not limit the future of America’s daughters by our own prejudices!

  19. I had a old Army guy as a professor who used the adgae “perfect is the enemy of good enough”. That means, it does not matter if it can be done, what is the cost and is it worth doing? We have elected representatives to whom we entrust this decision.

  20. This non-stop parade of obtuseness never seems to end.

    Frat? You cannot end this and we already lose between 9-15% of females for up to two years operationally due to this. Have you read anything on the actual topic that did not embrace your premise? Go look up what happened to MG Cucolo when he tried to act professionally on just that subject. Below are some other examples in terms of physical differences and abilities that have been well documented for decades.

    I will start out with some highlights though-
    1.) Does this make us more combat effective? How so?

    2.) Is this cost effective in terms of injuries and unplanned losses? Adaption of ship for different treatment of females?

    3.) Is it fair to men to have quotas, as they currently do for females at the academies and in enlistment goals (Quotas)?

    4.) Have we ever held females to the same standards? If we have not, then how will we now?

    5.) If people were really serious then they would be paying attention to and monitoring the amount of losses due to pregnancy in theater and out of females and address it. Instead they shut down a MG who tried to stem the tide on that issue of losses.

    The author and his apparent “defender” from SWAN, ignore the huge amount of pregnancies that occur every year and prevent female troops from deploying at a rate of 9-15% every year. Those females are taken out of the line and not returned to duty (full) for almost two years. Does the author think this will decrease or increase with the combat arms?

    The author also does not know what he is talking about with regard to the use of females in SOF. The only place they were even touched on was in what was called Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) and they were almost useless. They had no real language, medical or cultural training that would have made them useful and they were not being used as combatants. The program was a failure, despite what many try to put forth and has been DC’d. They were just a SOF copy of the FETs and those too were plagued by the same problems, not to mention the huge amount of frat that went on in country.

    Lastly, the issue of frat is and will continue to be an issue in the non-combat arms and the fleet, introducing it into the combat arms is a recipe of waster man hours, losses to pregnancy and lack of focus on the mission. Anyone who thinks 18-22 year old kids, in their physical prime, in austere environments and working closely day in and day out are not going to have serious frat issues is either selling something or smoking something.

    Here are some more tidbits cut and pasted from others on why this is a bad idea:

    -1982, Women in the Army Policy Review reported only 8 per cent of women were capable of performing heavy work category jobs and recommended establishing a Military Enlistment Physical Strength Capacity Test (MEPSCAT). Army never implemented test because it would reduce the women eligible for those occupational specialties.

    -1992, James A. Vogel in an article, “Obesity and Its Relationship to Physical Fitness,” reported Natick Laboratory research results noting that aerobic capacity is a function of body fat percentage and strength is a function of lean muscle mass. A lean muscle mass of 50 kilograms is required if an individual is to perform heavy work jobs. Because woman are smaller in stature and have a high body fat percentage, few women will have the physical stature to train to the physical requirements of heavy work jobs.

    -1992, Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces unanimously recommended Services adopt gender-neutral muscular strength/endurance and cardiovascular standards for relevant specialties. Never adopted.

    -1997, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine study, Effects of a Specially Designed Physical Conditioning Program on the Load Carriage and Lifting Performance of Female Soldiers, reports that in 24 weeks the women in the study increased their lifting capacity to 82 percent of that of average males but gained less than a pound of muscle mass limiting the potential for additional improvement.

    -1998, because the British Army had found women in heavy work occupational specialties were physically incapable of performing the assigned job, the British Army instituted a standard set of physical test scores in relation to career specialties. The British Army expected that the number of women qualifying for heavy work jobs would decline but discovered that during training the injury rate among women

    -1998′, Dr. William J. Gregor testifies to the Congressional Commission on Military Basic Training and Gender Related Issues that because of the physiological differences, men training with women do not increase their aerobic capacity. British Army study in 2009 observed the same results.

    -2000′, “The rate of unplanned losses is 2.5 times greater for women than for men—25 and 10 percent, respectively. That is, a quarter of women and a tenth of men are lost from ships every year for unplanned rea- sons. The rate of losses due to pregnancy is 11 percent.”

    “The loss rates of women exceed those of men for medical, family care, and honorable discharge reasons. Men’s disciplinary rate is higher than women’s.”

    -2002′, (Reviewed) 2010′, UK MoD-“The Women in the Armed Forces report examined the differences in the physical abilities of men and women which are relevant to military performance and observed, unsurprisingly, that they differ significantly. Differences between women and men in their capacity to develop muscle strength and aerobic fitness are such that only approximately 1% of women can equal the performance of the average man. In lifting, carrying and similar tasks performed routinely by the British Army, this means that, on average, women have a lower work capacity than men and, when exposed to the same physical workload as men, have to work 50-80% harder to achieve the same results. This puts them at greater risk of injury. In load marching, another fundamental military task, and in all other simulated combat tasks, women were found to perform worse than men, and the greater the load, the greater the discrepancy. The study concluded that about 0.1% of female applicants and 1 % of trained female soldiers would reach the required standards to meet the demands of these roles.”

    -2006′, Daniel W. Trone, MA, in a study of the first term outcomes of female Marine Corps recruits observed that 44 percent of female recruits suffer lower extremity injuries and that those who experienced those injuries were less likely to complete their first term enlistment.

    -2010′, Military Medicine (Journal)-LTC Philip J. Belmont Jr. and others report findings of a study of disease and non-battle injuries sustained by an Army BCT during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The non-battle injury rate for women is 167 percent higher than men, and the skeletal-muscular injury is almost equal to that of men from all causes. (Read the report and how many pregnancies there were too, shocking.)

    -2011, Laurel Wentz,, report in Military Medicine a systematic review of medical studies of U.S. and foreign militaries and athletic teams that females have a greater incidence of stress fractures. The greater incidence of stress fractures results from anatomical differences regardless of general fitness and training.

    -2011, Dr. William J. Gregor reports the results of a study of cadet physical performance of all Army ROTC cadets from 1992 to 2011. The report observes that over that period only 72 women bested the lowest 16 percent of men in aerobic capacity and that the 72 women stood four standard deviations above the female mean. Such women are exceptional and their performance cannot be replicated through training the general population of women. Additionally, male aerobic capacity exceeds female capacity regardless of the weight to height ratio, BMI.

  21. Simons is absolutely right, which is why, it seems, Scott alternately mischaracterizes and dismisses Simons’ very strong arguments in order to make her case. Like all advocates for women in combat, Scott ignores reality on the ground in favor of the utopian “ungendered” view. The only place in which there’s no sexual tension is where the sexes are segregated (although not anymore since the repeal of DADT). They cannot grapple with the fact that sexual dynamics between the sexes is never NOT present. It’s intensified by close quarters and the violence of warfare. They can never show that women are as strong as our strongest fighting men, and they can never show that sex doesn’t matter in the most dangerous job in the world. So they mislead and mischaracterize. Fraternization is a rampant problem in the military. We shouldn’t pile those problems on our already overburdened combat commanders.
    Jude, female, USMC, OIF 04-06