Women in Frontline Combat Research Paper

Total Length: 1929 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 4

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The number of women in the military has continued to increase over the years to an extent that women account for a significant portion of the military.  The substantial increase in the number of women in the military over the past decades can be attributable to the emergence of the All-Volunteer Force in 1973.  However, women have been traditionally excluded from exposure to combat or frontline combat, which is one of the military occupational specialties. This exclusion can be traced back to the establishment of the risk rule in 1988 by the Pentagon (Strategika, p.6).  While this rule was abolished in 1994 on the premise that all American forces in the battlefield are subject to those risks, there are still concerns regarding whether women should be involved in frontline (forward operating) combat.  This issue has generated a substantial debate that is characterized by numerous arguments and counterarguments.  This paper examines this issue and support the argument that women should be involved in frontline or forward operating combat.

Background of the Issue



The risk rule, which was established in 1988 by the Pentagon contributed to the exclusion of women from serving or engaging in frontline combat (Strategika, p.6).  This rule was established to protect women from exposure to forward operating combat, hostile capture or fire.  Even though the rule was later rescinded in 1994, it has had a significant impact on the role of women in the military and in combat.  Despite its abolishment, the rule has continually provided the framework for women’s exclusion from frontline combat over the past few decades.  Women are continually excluded from engagement in combat regardless of their substantial increase in the military.  While nearly every occupational field has remained opened to women in the military, their engagement in frontline combat has been significantly limited through the number of women in the military has continued to increase.



However, in the past few years, there have been numerous debates and arguments on whether women should be permitted to engage in frontline combat.  These debates have been exacerbated by the increase in the number of women in the various occupational fields in the military.  The debates have questioned whether frontline combat exclusion in the military is essential given that women are adequately trained and prepared like their male counterparts to engage in combat.  Moreover, the debates and controversies surrounding this issue have been fuelled by its consideration as a means of gender discrimination.  Consequently, arguments and counterarguments have been raised in support and opposition of exclusion of women from involvement in frontline (forward operating) combat.

Arguments in Support of the Exclusion



One of the arguments raised to support the exclusion of women from frontline combat is the idea that women are biologically weak in comparison to men.  In this case, women are considered biologically weak and less capable of muscular strength and aerobic endurance as compared to men (Castenfelt et al., par, 24).  Therefore, proponents of the exclusion contend that women are relatively unable to complete and meet the physical requirements for a frontline combat position.  Consequently, excluding women from engaging in frontline combat is seen as a means of protecting them since their relatively weak capacities for endurance and strength in comparison to men.



Secondly, proponents of this idea postulate that exclusion is necessary and suitable since women are unable to match men in management of the realities of frontline combat.  In this regard, women find it difficult to effectively manage these realities, particularly when they are exposed to a combat for a protracted period of time.  Some of these realities of frontline combat that could be difficult for women to manage include lack of hygiene and gender-specific mistreatment if they are captured by the adversary (Castenfelt et al., par, 25). 



Third, proponents of the exclusion of women from frontline combat believe that the effectiveness of a combat unit would be psychological damaged by the presence of women in forward operating combat.
 The psychological damage can occur either the form of sexual relationships or a changed team dynamic.  Therefore, women should be prevented from involvement in frontline combat in order to enhance the effectiveness of the combat unit.

Counterarguments on the Exclusion



Opponents of the exclusion of women from frontline combat have raised several counterarguments to support their position on this issue.  First, these opponents contend that preventing women from involvement in frontline combat is tantamount to gender discrimination.  They consider this practice as prejudice in disguise, particularly in an age where equality is vital.  Opponents of the practice contend that the arguments raised to support the exclusion are based on patriarchal notions of gender and rationalize innate prejudice or discrimination against women.  They refute the ideas raised by proponents of the issue on the basis that the major concern when deciding whether women should engage in frontline combat ought to be whether they (women) will accomplish the job rather than gender.  Therefore, excluding women from participating in frontline combat simply because of their gender advances the patriarchal notions of gender and prejudice.  In essence, the military should be like any other profession/occupation where all opportunities are open to everyone regardless of gender (Moritz par, 5). 



Secondly, opponents of the practice contend that modern welfare has evolved and enhanced the capabilities of women to engage in frontline combat.  The evolution of modern welfare implies that there is need for change in ideas including the idea of allowing women to participate in frontline combat (Evans par, 3).  Concerns regarding women’s capacities for strength and endurance are addressed through the evolution of modern warfare and the development of various tools and measures that would enable women to engage in frontline combat.  For instance, the physical disparity between men and women, which has been used as the premise for excluding women from involvement in frontline combat, can be addressed through integrating technology.  Castenfelt et al. contends that technology enables women to participate in forward operating combat and addresses their physical disparity with men (par, 12).  The advancements in weapons technology provide an opportunity for women to enhance their strengths and capacities to participate in frontline combat.



Third, the exclusion of women from participating in frontline combat is opposed on the basis that the inclusion of women in such roles will help enhance the effectiveness of the combat unit.  Unlike proponents of the practice, opponents of this issue contend that inclusion of women in frontline combat roles does not affect unit cohesion and effectiveness, but instead enhances the overall effectiveness of the unit.  The enhanced effectiveness of the unit is attributable to the diverse viewpoints that are introduced by women when serving in forward operating combat roles.  The diversity of views in turn acts as a premise for enhancing effectiveness through providing different ways for addressing the challenges facing the combat unit from various perspectives.  Since the battlefield is rapidly changing and adversaries are utilizing sophisticated means and weapons in warfare, the diverse viewpoints are beneficial and useful towards the accomplishment of the mission and objectives of the combat unit.  In this regard, these opponents consider the exclusion of women from participation in frontline combat as….....

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Works Cited

Castenfelt, Sabrina, Taonga R. Leslie, William Locke, Reed E. McDonnell, Gaille Teo, and Ren J. Teoh. "Should Women Serve in Military Combat Roles?" The Harvard Crimson. The Harvard Crimson, Inc., 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2017. <http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/2/8/roundtable-women-combat/?page=single>.

Evans, Mark. "Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Line?" The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited, 3 Oct. 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2017. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11896832/Should-women-be-allowed-to-fight-on-the-front-line.html>.

Moritz, Dani. "Women in the Military: Why Can't We Serve on the Front Lines?" The Muse. Daily Muse, Inc, n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2017. <https://www.themuse.com/advice/women-in-the-military-why-cant-we-serve-on-the-front-lines>.

Strategika. "Should Women Serve in Front Line Combat Units?" Strategika - Conflicts of the Past as Lessons for the Present. THE HOOVER INSTITUTION, June 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2017. <https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/issues/resources/strategika_issue_3.pdf>.

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