Accommodating Women in SpecOps and Combat Arms: One Man’s Perspective
by Lonnie Watson
This first appeared in The Havok Journal June 17, 2016.
Well the day has finally arrived! The military is ordered by national command authority to allow women in ALL combat arms and special operations forces (SOF) jobs. Yaaaaaaay! Bravo!!!! Hooah! The glass ceiling is shattered! Wait! Not so fast, there are a few accommodations that must be made in order to allow this transition.
But…the accommodations must be made by the women themselves! Yes you heard right, the woman are going to need to adapt as much, if not more than the males to this new environment.
The last time I qualified my statements by giving a bit of my background, I got chided by fellow NCOs and Officers for pushing my resume, so I’ll refrain from that. Suffice it to say I have worked in combat arms units, Airborne units, and worked with conventional and SOF units; so the remarks I make today are educated and based on experience.
- Women will need to meet ONE standard, the MALE standard. Combat doesn’t accommodate to the lowest common denominator. There are two standards in combat: victory or death! Yes I understand that a unit can only move as fast as the slowest individual and this is relative to the whole unit. But where do we draw the line? Since male PT standards have been the standard for infantry for decades, and since females are the newcomer, it only stands to reason that the lowest standard should be the male one by age group.
And while we are on the subject of age group remember that age is not even a sacred cow. In the SOF selection pipeline (at least in the army) the 17-21 age group is the standard. So even if a female is 35 years old, runs like a deer, and can meet the criteria, the 17-21 age group is the standard not the 35 year old group.
And while we are on the subject of standards remember the minimum standard is just that…MINIMUM! Every elite school from Infantry to Rangers to Special Forces to Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUDS) training preaches that if you shoot for the minimum you have about a 85% chance…OF FAILING! In fact the Navy has done extensive studies on their physical assessment test and has found that people who have run and swim times in the top 90% usually have no trouble passing the BUDS course. Well, no trouble passing might be an oversimplification.
So basically stated, if you want to be combat arms you MUST meet the male selection criteria standard.
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