Front Line Ladies

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

It was just a small news item on the blog site, but it had a big impact on me.  It was reported that two female soldiers have filed suit against the Defense Department in an attempt to force the military to allow women soldiers to fight on the front lines along with men.   They are alleging that women soldiers are being denied their Equal Protection rights under the Fifth Amendment by the military holding them back from fighting on the front lines in all military jobs.

“Two female soldiers filed a lawsuit yesterday charging that the military’s ban on women in combat is unconstitutional and violates their equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. Command Sergeant Major Jane Baldwin and Colonel Ellen Haring filed the suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, naming Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Secretary John McHugh among the defendants. ” MS. Magazine  This news item really made me think.  Are women really equal if the military shields them from some of the hazardous duties that men are required to complete?  Are women able to fight in combat on an equal basis with their male counterparts?

The military brass in the Pentagon has recently allowed women into some of the previous male only job descriptions, but women are barred from over 200,000 positions in the military.  “According to the Pentagon, women comprise 14.5 percent of active-duty military personnel. There are 238,000 positions in the military that bar women, according to Vee Penrod, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for military personnel” MS. Magazine  It is hard to imagine that women are truly equal when that many jobs still ban women.

While the military has opened up thousands of positions to women, they are still far behind the men as suggested above.  I understand the old argument that women are not as physically strong as men, but in this modern military, many jobs require more skill than brute strength.  The type of jobs that these two reservists are trying to open up to women will also positively impact on their career advancement and future pensions.

‘ “The linear battlefield no longer exists,” the women said in the complaint, describing as “arbitrary and irrational” the combat restrictions for women.  “Woman are currently engaged in direct combat, even when it is not part of their formally assigned role,” the reservists said. Furthermore, the Army has “deliberately circumvented”its own policies by “attaching” women to ground combat units. “There is no practical difference, in terms of the work that servicewomen do, between ‘assigning’ women to a ground combat unit and ‘attaching’ women to a ground combat unit,” the women said in the complaint.  More than 200 women reported to brigade combat teams as of last week as the Army begins opening more than 13,000 positions to women that previously were restricted to men, General Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said at a May 16 Pentagon news conference.  The case is Baldwin v. Panetta, 12-00832, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia.”  Bloomberg

On this Memorial Day, it is refreshing to see women soldiers attempting to bring equality into the military when it comes to female personnel.  We tend to forget that women have been lost on the battlefield, just like their male counterparts. “At least 144 female troops have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and more than 860 have been wounded, according to the Pentagon. About 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began.” Bloomberg

Isn’t it time for the military to utilize the many strengths and talents that female military members can bring to the front lines?  Do you think the Pentagon should allow women on all the front line positions?  If not, how are their rights not being violated?  Is it a legal question or is it just something that “society” doesn’t want women to get involved in? How can society prevent women military personnel from being truly equal?  What do you think?

On this Memorial Day, I want to honor all members of our military, past and present, male or female.  Your sacrifices are truly appreciated!

Additional Sources:  Huffington Post

59 thoughts on “Front Line Ladies”

  1. idealist707 1, May 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    “Nobody should be dying instead of old men. No one.”

    Do you mean by old men Bush, Cheney, Obama? How about some mano a mano. Bush v bin Laden.. oh, that’s right, Bush went AWOL and then passed on that when he had the weapons. Cheney v bin Laden… oh, he’s chickenhawk with how many deferments? 4 was it? Obama v bin Laden? he sent in the Seals (assuming that really was bin Laden). Can the surrogates ALL come home now?

    “‘War is a Racket’. Well what shall we call it today?”

    More of the same : (

  2. “In the Kuwait war,our infrared sights saw through it all (dust smoke etc)”

    Not to jack the thread but . . . In sandstorms heat signatures tend to turn into blobs which is why one night a M1A unit blew away a fairly large herd of camels.

  3. Does this suit include a petition for the right to register for the draft?

  4. We fight like Napoleon’s army in Russia. And what we need is the troops of Stonewall Jackson. Anything heavier and less mobile than a BlackHawk is dead meat. And they can have all the armored vehicles and mine beating machines they like.
    Find a better war.
    This one was lost from go
    And look at Iraq. The war was won in 45 days. The “cleanup” took years, and it will never be stable until Iran takes over, which they are doing now.

  5. In the Kuwait war,our infrared sights saw through it all (dust smoke etc) and let us pot em easily. that and the superiour range of our weapons. but that was there. in limited range conflicts they are sitting ducks.
    IE afghanistan, except who are they fighting there? Mud huts.

  6. Correction — “BTW, I met one such soldier — she could easily kick the ass of several US active duty combat (i.e., male) soldiers I know. No doubt about it.”

  7. I understand that women serve in combat roles in the Israeli army — how do they handle it?

    BTW, I met one such soldier — she could easily kick the ass of several active US soldiers I know. No doubt about it.

  8. I recall a newzine program on female tankers at Ft. Hood. There was only one notable exception between the sexes, and it occurred on a timed exercise at night. The male commanders got their tanks through the course on time, but none hit all the targets (but a lot of shadows got shot). Most of the female tankers hit all the targets, but none got through the course on time. Translation: the female tankers are dead because they stayed too long in one spot figuring out what to shoot.

    Some kind of doctor said the result was not unexpected. Women take a more holistic approach in evaluating and responding to their environment, men are more tunnel visioned and tend to resort to no more than three favorite solutions to a problem (hammer, duct tape, WD-40). The expert acknowledged that where time is less of an impediment or the facts easily ascertainable, women (with equal training) tend to make better choices

  9. Darren,
    I believe that their male counterparts would get used to the idea of women in combat. It may take a little while, but their performance in battle will speed up the assimilation process.

  10. Call me a sexist, But to me seeing a woman decked out in BDUs and packing an M-4 Carbine is 5.56 times hotter than one in a skimpy dress.
    Maybe its just me but a gal who can kick ass and take names always scores more points with me.

    From the military point of view I would worry about the POW situation more than anything. Sure some might have more difficulty fighting off the enemy hand to hand but it only takes about 9 pounds of strength to pull a trigger and less than that to “push the button”.

    There is another psychologal device that I don’t think is addressed here. If men know one of their comrads who is trouble is a woman, they will fight harder to rescue her and inflict more damage to the enemy for attacking her. Its certainly a left over from chivalry. I’ve seen this to a lesser degree in LE.

    It is what it is I suppose.

  11. Can they? Yes. Should they? No, IMHO.

    Nobody should be dying instead of old men. No one.
    All should be at home. And we know clearly what they should be doing there, but are prevented from doing because of system perversion.

    “War is a Racket”. Well what shall we call it today?

  12. TalkingDog,
    Scalia could always be a problem if the case gets that far, but remember, without those combat rated positions, those women are prevented from pay raises and career advancement in their chosen fields. It is not just about going to war.

    1. My uncle was a career officer who did not make general either because of his career field. There are LOTS of people not just women who get sidelined because of their past positions. The whole point of the military is to fight and win wars, NOT to advance minorities and women in their military ranks. When women go into a field of work that has only 16% women in it, there should be no expectation that they will make general as a matter of course in their work. Just as any white person joining the EEOC should not expect to make director of that agency either.

  13. And of course they wont win with Scalia on the Fifth Amendment Equal Protection grounds. God and Scalia know that the Framers did not think that women should talk much less vote, work, go to college, or fight in wars. They had enough of Dolly Madison. James would have opposed this lawsuit. Ask Scalia. While you are at it ask Scalia about ScaliaCare.

  14. They are suing under the Equal Protections Clause? This will possibly make it to the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia will be looking to the Original Intent of the Founding Fathers and Founding Framers of the Original Constitution. May those words should be in italics. Scalia does not look to the intent of the Framers of the 14th Amendment when it was framed in that important time after the Civil War when there were 600,000 graves out in the land testifying to some purpose for that war. But the original intent of the Framers of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment might get some scrutiny by some of the other members of the High Court. Dog only knows what they get high on but three members might question Scalia on this question. Then there are true Originalists who would question Scalia’s right to sit on the High Court if the intent of the Original Framers was really considered. What is this Catholic of Italian extraction doing on the High Court Madison might have asked. The right to fight on the front lines and get killed in combat might be a stretch of the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Women could not vote after that Amendment. Voting Rights Amendment? Nah. Why did they not include it in the Equal Rights Amendment? These are some questions to ponder.

    If the litigants are successful here then there might be some activity on behalf of Man’s Best Friend on grounds of the Equal Protection Clause.
    TalkinDog sitting in for BarkinDog

  15. Arthur,

    “So the men got to do the hard work of the women, and had to do our jobs as well, yet they were paid the same as us while they did not do the work.”

    Are you sure they were paid the same? I ask because it would be very unusual.

    In the military as elsewhere, it’s important to have the right person in the right job. No one should be excluded or included on the basis of gender or anything but their abilities. If an individual doesn’t work out in one job, try something different. Stated another way, if one women (or man) doesn’t do well in the job, move her/him to something else and put another woman/man in the job. It’s really too bad that anyone wants the job of killing other people or providing support for those who do. I don’t think pilots, and certainly not drone operators, really understand their impact. They don’t see the death of those they kill in the same way as the ground troops.

    Women in the military are raped for the same reason women (and men) are raped outside the military: power. I can see the nose of some military men being put out of joint by a woman who does her job well. Some being resentful of her being there in the first place. Shows that his machismo isn’t quite what he thinks it is. Unfortunately it happens a lot and the military isn’t standing up for the women.

    Smedley Butler, two-time medal of honor winner, chosen by the banksters and corporatists to lead the ad hoc military in an overthrow of FDR (he turned them in to Congress), wrote “War is a Racket”. The public has always been manipulated into supporting the wars to benefit the corporations.

    Anon, “Lori Piestewa and Jessica Lynch show the truth that women assigned to the rear are often fighting as much as anyone in our modern wars.”

    Lori was the first woman killed in Iraq. Her picture shows a woman who would be great fun to have around. Jessica had the integrity to blow the whistle on the spin machine that tried to make her into the hero she wasn’t and she supported the Iraqi’s who took great care of her. I have no need to look them up. I remember.

  16. If women want to insist on being killed and maimed equally, perhaps they should reconsider their assessment.

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