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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Grunts & Gruntettes?

U.S., Political, Quality of Life

The latest discussion of women in combat units has commenced and there are many opinions on the subject.  We have women serving in various roles in combat support units that expose them to direct fire battle area situations.  Women serve in the air force and the navy in frontline environments at virtually every level.  Women die in such roles every year during extended conflict times such as we have known for seemingly decades.  I don't think there can be any question about the dedication of these women or about their patriotism.

This conversation by Pentagon and military leaders has included the prospect of roles in all units from infantry up to and including the elite fighting teams we know as Delta, and Navy SEALs.

I have listened over the past couple of days to the opinions of many on this subject, and that has included both men and women expressing their opinions.

We have known infantrymen as ‘grunts’ for many years.  They live in a tough environment and they train hard and fight even harder.  They carry weight that would bring me down just trying to carry it let alone fight while carrying it.  That brought to mind the feminine version of the term to come up with ‘gruntettes’, meaning absolutely no slur and slam.

If this is an exercise in sexual equality, then those doing that ought to be ashamed.  Yet, in this day and age, we need be suspicious of such things because they are commonplace.  If there are women who are the equals of men in a true ugly combat situation that is fine from a purely tactical point of view.  Every person in an infantry unit has to be able to depend upon every other person in that unit.  Unit integrity and cohesiveness is critical to the mission of those units.  If there is a man without the necessary physical or mental attributes, he does not belong in combat as an infantryman.  The same would be true of a woman in that same setting.  I have no doubt there are women who would serve very ably in such settings, but I am not sure this would be good for either the person or the unit.

There is another issue that must be addressed and that is the difference between men and women.  There is a physical difference and there is the sexual attraction of men to women and of women to men.  I can see that a physical attraction could be detrimental at a critical point during a combat engagement in the infantry setting.  I don’t know if the dynamics between men and women is something that can be made to work in the world of grunts.

We have experience from the navy and from the air force where men and women are serving in combat roles, typically, however, not in face-to-face or hand-to-hand combat.  Piloting a fighter aircraft or a chopper is quite different from looking at the person who is trying to kill you and whom you are trying to kill.  Serving in a field artillery unit typically deployed some distance behind the line of combat is a different case.  Except in cases where such a unit would have its position overrun, there is not much likelihood of face-to-face combat.

I hope this is not simply a political correctness ploy.  There is too much at stake.  This is not where we ought to permit political correctness to be deployed.  Lives are at stake.

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