Perils of allowing women in combat
The July 2 cover story, "Up in arms," includes some convincing points for why women should be allowed in US military combat positions. Before forming an opinion on this issue, I implore readers to study Capt. Katie Petronio's June 2012 article in the Marine Corps Gazette.
Ms. Petronio served valiantly during combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, attached to Marine infantry units as a Female Engagement Team operator, and graduated at the top of her Marine Officer Training class. After five years in the corps, she had this to say: "As a combat-experienced Marine officer, and a female, I am here to tell you that we are not all created equal, and attempting to place females in the infantry will not improve the Marine Corps...."
Petronio describes myriad injuries she endured in three short years with the infantry, including some that doctors believe to be the cause of her infertility. She goes on to say: "I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females."
Will more American women want to join the military, especially on an open contract, knowing they may be assigned to the infantry? The expected result will be fewer females volunteering to serve.
The Monitor's story cites the argument that women should be included in the infantry in order for more women to be competitive for promotion. But if women are in the infantry, it is only fair to apply one physical fitness standard to all, regardless of gender. This will likely lead to women ranking lower than their male counterparts – thus becoming less competitive for promotion.
If women serve in the infantry, Congress must also amend the Selective Service law to require all US women to register for the draft. Congress's reasoning (which the Supreme Court upheld) would disintegrate: Because women are excluded from direct combat, their service wouldn't be needed in the event of a draft.
Some of the most professional marines I have served with, especially on my two tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps attack helicopter pilot, were women. If a woman can meet the standard demands of the infantry, she should be given the opportunity, and I would gladly fight alongside my sister in arms. However, this policy decision should only be made after diligent consideration of the long-term effects.