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Women in Combat Units

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Home > Military Topics  > Women in Combat Units

Information about Women's Integration in Combat Units

In late 2014 the U.S. Army began an experiment to allow women to attend Ranger School. In one of the Army's latest social experiments a small group of women were trained up and then participated in the previously all-male advanced infantry course. This one-time integrated assessment was designed as part of a larger experiment by the U.S. military to determine what role women should play in combat units. By the fall of 2014 three women had successfully completed the requirements of the 60 day long course (although they were recycled numerous times so it tooks a lot longer than two months). In part, this 'success' paved the way for additional pushes by the Department of Defense to fully integrate women into combat positions and units.

Should Women be in Special Operations? In January 2016 the Department of Defense issued a directive that required all military occupational specialties of all the services be open to women. This policy included the special operations community.

History of Women in SOF. There is a history of women participating in SOF. Programs like Project Diane and Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) were repeatedly cited as proof that women are an important addition to SOF units.

Lowering of Standards? There is concern among SOF operators that the high physical standards of the various special operations courses will be lowered.

Should Women Register for Selective Service? Currently all males must register with Selective Service within 30 days after their 18th birthday. Women do not. Many are suggesting, in light of the decision to open all positions within the military to women, to require women to register for Selective Service. 1.  

Papers and Reports about Women in Combat

AMUS, Military Medicine: Women in Combat, International Journal of the Society of Federal Health Professionals (AMSUS), January 2016. This 124-page journal has a series of articles spanning the entire range of health issues for women in combat.

SOFREP, "Integration of Women in SOF Units", Special Operations Report.

Kamarck, Kristy N., Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service (CRS), December 3, 2015. Posted on website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

Videos about Women in Combat

USSOCOM, Statement from USSOCOM on SECDEF's Women in Service Review Decision, United States Special Operations Command, December 3, 2015.

News Articles about Women in Combat

September 21, 2016. "West Point women have a new, bloddy requirement as the Army completes gender integration", The Washington Post. Women required to box other women during plebe year; wrestling other women during second year of academy.

February 10, 2016. "Questions, frustration as women prepare to join combat units", Military Times. Will women be subject draft? What about physical standards?

February 8, 2016. "The Top 10 Realities the First Female Navy SEAL Trainee Will Face", SOFREP.

February 7, 2016. "Draft Registration for Women Would Stir a Sleepy Government Agency", The New York Times.

February 6, 2016. "RAND Studies Help Inform Pentagon Decision to Open Combat Roles to Women", The RAND Blog.

February 3, 2016. "Female Marines may be allowed to bulk up as service opens infantry to women", The Washington Post. So, we are changing the standards.

February 3, 2016. "What mountaineers can teach the Marines about how to integrate women", The Washington Post. A mountaineer says the USMC could learn a lot by looking at women in the mountaineer sport.

February 2, 2016. "Army reveals plan to fully integrate women into all MOS, combat units", Army News Service.

January 20, 2016. "First Female Marines Apply to MARSOC". Military.com.

January 17, 2016. "Navy secretary builds legacy, one controversial brick at a time". Marine Corps Times.

January 14, 2016. "The Truth About Women in Ground Combat Roles", National Interest. Daniel L. Davis, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghan Wars believes it is a mistake to fully integrate women into combat units.

January 11, 2016. "Soldiers Blow UP 5 Myths about Women in Combat", by Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones. This article focuses on some of the 'cultural aspects' of women in combat - PMS, periods, pregnancies, physical strength, strain of combat, cohesion, and morale.

January 10, 2016. "Secretary of the Navy orders gender-neutral Marine Corps boot camp, job titles", United Press International (UPI). A detailed plan to integrate recruit training and Officer Candidate School is due January 15 and will be implemented by April.

January 9, 2016. "Marine Corps debate over women in combat continues to roil", Marine Corps Times. General Kelly, cdr of U.S. Southern Command, comes out with some less than supporting statements.

January 9, 2016. "Now women need to seek those combat jobs", USA Today. A U.S. Army major provides advise to women wanting to go infantry.

January 8, 2016. "Rep. Duncan Hunter: Navy secretary a 'greater threat' to Marines than ISIL". Politico.

January 8,  2016. "Rep. Hunter: Why we must give careful consideration to a 'gender neutral' military", Fox News Opinion. He suggests that the U.S. has been a staging ground for social change.

January 8, 2016. "Navy secretary dismisses SEALs' concerns about integrating women", Navy Times. He stated that as ". . . long as a sailor meets the established operationally relevant, occupation-specific, gender-neutral individual standards, that sailored is qualified to serve." Hmmm . . . who determines what is 'operationally relevant, occupation-specific, gender-neutral . . "?

January 8, 2016. "Department of Defense Press Briefing by General Kelly in the Pentagon Briefing Room", U.S. DoD News Transcript. This presser, in part, reveals the feelings of General kelly and women in combat units.

January 5, 2016. "Including Women Is Not the Right Next Step for Selective Service", Task & Purpose. Carl Forsling argues that it is time to eliminate the requirement to register for selective service for all Americans.

December 30, 2015. "How Not to Integrate Females Into Combat Arms", by Anonymous, Small Wars Journal. An active duty officer, who remains anonymous to protect his/her career, explains why we need to proceed with caution on this issue.

December 22, 2015. "The Vast Majority of Military Women Don't Want to be Fully Integrated into Combat Arms", The Stream.

December 11, 2015. "Women in combat units will prove the naysayers wrong", by Lisa Jaster, The Washington Post. A recent female graduate of the Ranger School says that lowering the standards or fixing quotas is the wrong way to approach integrating women into combat units.

December 4, 2015. "Special Ops Survey Showed 85% Opposed Serving With Women". Defense One. A RAND Corporation study results goes against USSOCOM's leadership stance on the issue.

December 3, 2015. "No Exceptions: Carter Opens all Military Jobs to Women", Defense One.

December 3, 2015. "Carter Opens All Military Occupations, Positions to Women", DoD News Release. All positions open, no exceptions.

December 1, 2015. "Sports Science, Physiology, and the Debate Over Women in Ground Combat Units", by Dr. Paul O. Davis, War on the Rocks, December 1, 2015.

October 29, 2015. "Changing the 'Macho' Male Culture of the US Military", Small Wars Journal. One dissenting voice resists being silenced by the DoD's efforts to ensure 'experiments' are successful in introducing women into the combat arms.

October 2, 2015. "Women Will Likely Have to Register for the Draft, Army Secretary Says", Military.com.

August 24, 2015. "Rangerettes: Just One Man's Opinion", by George E. Hand IV, SOFREP. The female Rangers met the standards but had plenty of help prior to the course.

May 1, 2015. "Why physical standards still dog the fight about women in combat units". The Washington Post. A women might pass the Ranger School but can she hang with special operations units in combat?

February 25, 2014. "Few Army women want combat jobs, survey finds", Army Times. Only a small fraction of Army women say they'd like tomove into one of the newly opening combat jobs according to a survey of the service's nearly 170,000 women.

Side Notes

FUDD. This YouTube video provides more info than you need on the Female Urinary Diversion Device or FUDD. The video is published by the U.S. Army Public Health Command (USAPHC).

Stand-To-Pee. Learn more about the stand-to-pee device at the Wikipedia link below.




1. For answers to FAQs read "Women in combat and the draft: answers to your biggest questions", Military Times, February 16, 2016.


See also
Women in Ranger School




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