Women in Combat. Benefits and Requirements

Master's Thesis, 2011

41 Pages, Grade: NA


Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: Literature Review

Chapter III: Methodology

Chapter IV: Results and Analysis

Chapter V: Discussions, Conclusions and Recommendations


Chapter I: Introduction

Background of the Study

On December 3rd, 2009 President Obama announced that 30,000 United States troops and an additional 16,000 non-US forces will be deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The total number of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and troops participating in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) increased from 80,000 in early 2009 to 150,000 in summer of 2010 and down to 100,000 in 2011 (Radin, 2011). This year has been the deadliest yet with 117 US Military personnel killed in action. The Department of Defense and other allied Military Forces are beginning to realize how difficult it will be to win this war without half their population, the Afghan women. Many argue that Pashtun women have no influence or knowledge to be valuable allies. On the contrary, the women raise the children, farm the land, water and feed the livestock and hold great influence over their husbands. “The women pass all the news in the villages,” says an Afghan National Army colonel who cautions against ignoring half the country’s population. “They know who is doing what, who should and should not be in the area. They talk around the well or while they are collecting firewood about the news they have heard from their husbands [and their kids]” (Pottinger, 20l0). Due to cultural and religious restrictions male troops are not allowed to communicate with these women.

Problem Statement

The National Defense Act of 1993 repealed the prohibition on the assignment of women to combat aircraft in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. In 1994 the Secretary of Defense stated, “Service Members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignments to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground or units that be collocated with a direct ground combat unit” (Henderson, 2006).

According to the Department of Defense there are four exceptions to this rule:

1) Costs of appropriate berthing and privacy arrangements are prohibitive.

2) Units or positions are doctrinally required to physically collocate and remain with direct ground combat units.

3) Units are engaged in long-range reconnaissance operations or Special Operations Forces missions.

4) Job related physical requirements would necessarily exclude a vast majority of women service members (Henderson, 2006).

DOD has closed 221,000 of its’ 1.4 million positions to women, who represent 14 percent of the armed services. Out of the 221,000 jobs 101,700 were closed based on DOD’s policy of banning women from units that require engagement in Ground combat. The remaining 119,300 positions were closed due to collocation or operating with Ground Combat Units, living arrangements in ships where separate living quarters were not afforded, or in units which units conduct special operation and long-range reconnaissance missions. There have been no positions closed to women due only to physical requirements (Gebicke, 1998).

There are many arguments behind the reasoning of excluding women from Combat. Because of this there are roughly 14 million female Afghans that we are not able to reach. Restrictions enforced by the Department of Defense are denying millions of possible allies. If America’s female military members were allowed to serve in these closed positions more Afghan women would be accessible.

Purpose and objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to discover if the United States Military would benefit from allowing women into certain closed jobs, as well as the ability of women to perform in them. To do so research will be performed by studying (a) the cultural restrictions brought upon us in Afghanistan, (b) the physical requirements demanded in units closed to women, (c) the physical abilities of women, (d) the psychological requirements and capabilities, (e)and the affect women have on the cohesion and moral of the men they serve with.

The objectives of this study to (a) provide specific facts demonstrating the need for women, (b) medical proof that women are capable of filling these needed positions, (c) stating the requirements demanded to serve in these units, (d) demonstrate the psychological requirements and capabilities, (e) and test the impact women have on units that were previously closed to them.

Rationale of the Study

As Ground Combat Units patrol through the cities of Afghanistan they are constantly running into problems. Due to strict culture issues the women are not allowed to be spoken to or searched. Experts say in order to win this war we need to win the hearts and minds of the people (Slaikeu, 2009). How is this possible when our male soldiers are not able to even look at an Afghan Woman? Another issue is the safety of our troops and the citizens of Afghanistan. Our enemy has realized this vulnerability and capitalized on it, hiding weapons, contraband and valuable information with the women. The main rationale of this study is to gain a greater knowledge on what it is our military needs and gain a better understanding of what women are capable or are not capable of doing.

Definition of Terms

Cohesion- The relationship that develops in a unit or group

Gray Matter- Information processing Centers in the brain

Mahram- Close male relative, husband or brother

Pashtun- a member of the mountain people living in the eastern regions of Afghanistan

Shari’ah- The combined set of individual and social duties prescribed on every believer by the Islamic faith is Shari'ah, or the sacred law. This sacred law gives to the Muslim world a unity and coherence to society not found in any other major world religion.

Taliban- An Islamic group following a strict interpretation of Shari’ah that took over Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal.

White Matter- Networking or the connections between the processing centers in the brain

Limitations of the Study

All though many changes have been made allowing women to serve in more combat related roles, they are still restricted. There are no limitations in this study however; the original data was obtained through Military data, scientific journals, the 1992 Presidential Commission by the Center for Military Readiness, The 1997 RAND Study, and data from United States Marathons and Olympic weight-lifting results.

Research Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: Ending the ban of women in currently closed units is a necessity.

Hypothesis 2: Integrating women into male units will not lower the readiness or moral of the unit.

Hypothesis 3: Women will be found physically capable of meeting the requirements of these closed units.

Hypothesis 4: When tested women will be found mentally able to perform in these units.

Summary of Remaining Chapters

Chapter II will review literature on the cultural restrictions that we are facing in Afghanistan and the issues that have arisen because of this. An in depth discussion of what jobs are closed to women and the reasoning behind this will be done, as well as the requirements of these jobs. This chapter will also demonstrate what women in the Marine Corps are required to do.

Chapter III will provide the source of the data collected and how it is analyzed in order to reach a decision to accept or reject each research hypothesis.

Chapter IV will present the results of this study. It will provide statistics, facts, tables, and charts on all data collected and will present it in a non-biased manner.

Chapter V will discuss the data and findings. It will cover what the research conclusions were and how they are relative to four research hypothesis showed and a recommendation for future studies.

Chapter II: Literature Review

Afghanistan Culture

On September 27th, 1996 the Taliban broadcasted a decree over the radio, “The Prophet told his disciples that their work was to forbid evil and promote virtue. We have come to restore order. Laws will be established by religious authorities. Previous governments did not respect religion. We have driven them out and they have fled” (Latifa, 2001). The Radio Shari’ah broadcasted daily, announcing new laws and regulations prior to the Taliban’s fall in 2001. There were pages of outrageous restrictions and law but only several that had relevance to this study are listed below:

1. Complete ban on women’s work outside the home. Many families began struggling financially due to the income of the household changing from two incomes to one. The schools lost their teachers and the children were no longer being educated. The hospitals lost most of their nurses and several doctors, creating understaffed chaos.
2. Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother, or husband).
3. Ban on women being treated by male doctors. There were no female doctors on staff causing there to be no healthcare for women. Many had to travel to Pakistan in order to receive treatment.
4. Ban on women studying at schools, universities, or any other educational institution.
5. Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can’t be seen from outside their homes (Latifa, 2001).

Despite the fall of the Taliban, religious fundamentalism is still the predominate law of the land. The unwavering loyalty to their religion has caused many to hold to their previous beliefs. In 2004 they refined their Constitution stating that all Afghan citizens, men and women alike, have equal rights and duties before the law. However, this is open to interpretation due to the fact that “the law” also includes religious law (Tortajada, 2004).

The restoration of equal rights in post-Taliban Afghanistan has been a slow and often arduous process. However, these amazing women have refused to give up. They have returned to school, taken up jobs, and most importantly returned back to a public life. Females now make up one third of the three million children that have returned to schools, and for the first time in years, female students and faculty are present at the Nation’s Universities (Latiifa, 2001). Out of a population of 23.6 million 48.9 percent are female. The war has left 50,000 widows in Kabul alone and they support an average of six dependants (Shabot, 2002). Women play a key role in Afghanistan. They raise the children, support their husbands, teach in the schools, and are beginning to hold key positions in the government. They are also farmers producing 30 percent of the Nations agricultural product (Shabot, 2002).

Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Anders Fogh Ramussen, delivered a lecture at the University of Edinburgh on November 25th, 2009. He called for a greater involvement of women in the international communities’ approach to arresting and preventing conflicts. “Women play a key role in maintaining their families, they play a key role in children’s education, they are key to preventing conflicts of the past being transferred to the next generation,” he told the audience (Moore, 2009).

The issue of the rights of modern Afghan women is a constant dilemma to which no solution is readily available. Changing religious views of an entire country does not happen overnight. The women of Afghanistan represent possible hidden allies and they need to be reached. As infantry units patrol through the villages the women are hidden away. These infantry units have the most direct contact with the citizens of this country, but all of these units are comprised of all men. Women are not allowed to serve in these units, which means that none of the women are being reached.

Numbers and Types of Assignments Currently Closed to Women

There are approximately 221,000 positions, or 15 percent, of the 1.4 million positions in the DOD that are closed to servicewomen. Half of these are closed due to DOD’s policy excluding women from serving in direct ground combat. The remainder of positions closed to women is attributed to the collocation exclusion policy. This policy prohibits women from serving in units that collocate within or as part of units during combat operations (Gibieke, 2010). The United States General Accounting Office researched and wrote a Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate titled “Information on DOD’s Assignment Policy and Direct Ground Combat Definition” (GAO, 1998).

To discover the true rationale for the exclusion of women from direct ground combat positions research was conducted on documents, policy memorandums, congressional correspondence, and press briefings from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Reports were also read on interviews conducted with officials from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who helped provide useful information regarding the historical origins of the prohibition of women in direct ground combat.

1992 Presidential Commission

In 1990 Congress was debating on a legislation that would allow women in combat units. They began a $4 million commission to study what this would entail. President George H. W. Bush designated fifteen members to perform this study on the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. They were assigned the duty of studying all aspects of the issue regarding women in combat from March till November of 1992. They received testimonies, detailed documents form representatives of the DOD, all service communities, officers and enlisted men and women, family support professionals, combat professionals, combat veterans, religious and cultural leaders, training instructors, physiologists, military historians, and active duty men and women who spoke to commissioners during numerous field trips (CMR, 1992).

Their main task was to define what Combat is. The definition of Combat was necessary in order to fully understand the issue of women in combat. Other factors studied include: unit cohesion, military readiness, physical strength and stamina, living in close-quarters, and equal opportunity vs. military necessity (CMR, 1992). This study covered the following:

Gear: There are several different positions in a Rifle Platoon and each have different specialized gear to carry. A squad leader, for example, doesn’t carry the M240G machine gun which will add extra weight to the load. This study gives a description of what each member of the group will carry and the total weight of their load (USAC, 2003).

Job Description: Each job has specific tasks they are assigned. It is important to know the requirements of each job to grasp a better understanding of what an individual is required to do. One must be able to take on the task of the rank or position above them. War brings casualties and the importance of knowing and being able to perform at the next level is crucial (USAC, 2003).

Listed below are results taken from each branch.

Army: Out of the 495,000 positions 142,000, or 29 percent, are closed to women. Occupations closed due to ground combat include infantry, armor related jobs, and special-forces. Occupations such as combat engineering, field artillery, and air defense artillery are also closed due to collocation restrictions. Jobs working with petroleum and water, maintenance, and transportation career fields are also closed at certain unit levels because they collocate with direct ground combat units (Gibieke, 2010).

Marine Corps: Women serving in the Marine Corps are restricted from 43,400 positions, or about 25 percent. Infantry, artillery and tank, and assault amphibious vehicles, low-altitude air defense gunners, landing support specialists, and engineering officers are a few of the occupational fields closed (Gibieke, 2010).

Navy: The Navy has more jobs opened to women due to the fact that there are fewer ground combat units. There are 33,300 positions about 9 percent closed. These positions include positions on submarines and small surface vessels, special-forces, and those requiring collocation with Marine special-forces (Gibieke, 2010).

Air Force: There are 2,300 jobs closed to women serving in the Air Force. Occupations in tactical air command and control, combat controller, pararescue, aircrew positions in helicopters that conduct special force operations, and certain weather and radio communications occupations because they collocate with ground combat units or special operations forces (Gibieke, 2010).

Physical requirements and skills required in occupations closed to Women

Research has been done extensively on the requirements and basic combat loads carried by different occupations.

Squad leaders: This individual’s key role is leadership and control. Their job requires them to move as members of a Rifle Platoon, control movement of two M240B Machine Gun Teams, engage targets, establish support by fire positions, lead security Checkpoint Operations as the leader of a Rifle Squad, and supervise placement of crew-served weapons positions. Their Combat load weighs approximately 62.66 pounds. Their missions range from 48 to 72 hours long.

M240B Machine Gunner: Requires the individual to move as a member of a Rifle Platoon, engage targets with direct automatic fire, provide target suppression, provide over-watch, and perform security checkpoint operations as a member of a Rifle Platoon. Their basic combat load weighs approximately 81.38 pounds and their average mission lasts anywhere from 48 to 72 hours.

Radio Operators: Their main priority is establishing and maintaining communications. They operate the radio, maintain continuous communications with Headquarters, maintain the radio and its’ components, employs expedient antennae as require to improve communications, emplaces wire communications as required, and provides local security to the Platoon Leader. Their combat load weighs around 64.98 pounds depending on type of radio they carry (USAC, 2003).

Physical requirements and skills in occupations open to women in the Marine Corps

Basic Training: This training is required of all Marines regardless of gender. Males that live on the west coast receive their training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Males that live on the east coast and all females attend training on Paris Island, South Carolina. Changes have been made to this basic training schedule over the years, but the most current training matrix was used for this research. Basic training is 13 weeks long covering the following:

Weeks 1-3: Recruits receive instruction on military history, customs and courtesies, basic first aid, uniforms, and leadership and core values. Recruits learn hand-to-hand combat skills through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), which is made up of various martial arts styles.

Week 4: Swim qualification There are four levels of swim/water survival qualification in recruit training. The Marines are an amphibious service, and water survival training is designed to increase their competence and survivability in an amphibious environment.

Week 5: Initial Written Testing, Initial Drill, Rappel Tower, and Gas Chamber.

Week 6: Grass week/rifle range. The recruits learn the fundamentals of Marine Corps marksmanship, how to sight in on the targets and learn how to make adjustments to the M16 A2 service rifle.

Week 7: Firing week/rifle range

The recruits have three days to practice the KD course of fire, a pre-qualification day and a qualification day, firing the M16 A2 service rifle.

Week 8: Team Week

The recruits will spend the week working in various areas of Parris Island, maintaining the appearance of the Depot, and practicing for Final Drill. They will learn to work together and depend on each other.

Week 9: A-Line/Basic Warrior Training

The recruits will conduct various exercises to begin developing basic field and combat skills. Some of the events they will execute are: Day Movement Course, firing at multiple targets, firing at targets from unknown distances, and combat shooting.

Week 10: Practical Application Evaluation

Week 11: Final drill

Recruits and Drill Instructors are evaluated on their knowledge and application of Marine Corps drill and rifle manual. Written testing: Recruits are evaluated on their knowledge of basic military education.

Week 12: Completion Ceremony practices, Liberty Brief, and Graduation (USMC Recruit Training, 2010).

Marine Combat Training (MCT): This training is mandatory for all Marines to complete. It consists of 29-day course in which entry-level Marines are taught the common skills needed in combat. Every Marine both Male and Female will learn and be tested on the basics of combat marksmanship, grenades,M203 Grenade Launcher, AT-4 Rocket Launcher, M240B Medium Machine Gun, Improvised Explosive Devices, defensive fundamentals, convoy operations, offensive fundamentals, patrolling, Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT), tactical communications, Combat Hunter, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and land navigation. They will also undergo combat conditioning through the use of obstacle courses, conditioning hikes, combat fitness runs, and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). Upon completion of Marine Combat Training every Marine will have the knowledge and ability to successfully operate in a combat environment as a basic rifleman (USMC Combat Training, 2010).

Mandatory annual Training: A Marine’s training does not stop after completion of the above schools. All are required to run a physical fitness test (PFT) which consists of a three mile run, crunches, pull-ups, and the flex arm hang for females. Qualification on the rifle range is conducted annually as well basic skills tests that examine the knowledge of everything from history to weapon systems.

A new addition to physical fitness testing is the Combat Fitness Test (CFT). The CFT consists of three events: an 880 yard run, ammo can lifts, and maneuver under fire.

1. 880 Yard Run: Marines will run for 880 yards while wearing boots and camouflage uniform (pants and t-shirt).

2. Ammo Can Lift: Marines will lift a 30 pound ammo can from the ground, over their heads as many times as they can in two minutes.

3. Maneuver Under Fire: Marines must move through a 300 yard course, and perform designated tasks, in the time limit authorized. The tasks include: Moving in a quick scurry for 10 yards, then a high craw for another 15 yards. Drag a casualty for 10 yards, while zigzagging through several cones. Then lift the casualty and carry him/her at a run for 65 yards. Carry two 30-pound ammo cans for 75 yards, while zigzagging through a series of cones. Toss a dummy grenade 22 1/2 yards and land it in a marked target circle. Perform three push-ups, pick up the two 30-pound cans and sprint to the finish line (USMC Annual Training, 2010).


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Women in Combat. Benefits and Requirements
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Rebekah Hall (Author), 2011, Women in Combat. Benefits and Requirements, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/208777


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