Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Women in Ground Combat

File:E3 2011 - female soldier from Binary Domain (Sega).jpg
The media archetype of the warrior woman (Source)

This is not just a public policy issue, but one of interest to anyone that is planning on, or thinking about, incorporating women into a defensive plan of a retreat, neighborhood, or community in a post-SHTF incident. Obviously, what prompted this post was the Marine Corps study that determined that women should not be integrated into ground combat units after the data from tests showed that "[a]ll-male ground combat teams outperformed their mixed-gender counterparts in nearly every capacity[.]" Basically, they lacked the stamina and physical strength for combat tasks and adversely affected the performance of the men in their groups. (The article notes poorer weapons accuracy, which I presume to be firing weapons after physical exertion, and thus a stamina issue rather than hand-eye coordination). The SJW types, including the Secretary of the Navy, of course, are throwing a hissy-fit.

The issue here, though, is that this is not the first time these studies and tests have been performed, and there is data from other nations as well. Fred Reed has done a nice summary of some of the historical studies on this subject. He quotes the following from a 1992 report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces: "In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man." It goes into more specific statistics if you are interested.

An 1994 article entitled "Physical Fitness and Occupational Performance of Women in the U.S. Army" by Marilyn A. Sharp of the Occupational Physiology Division, US. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine similarly damns the idea by faint praise, concluding:
On average, women have less physical capacity for exercise than men, with much of the gender differences the result of uncorrectable differences in muscle mass. This does not mean that women soldiers are incapable of adequately performing many physically demanding military tasks. If the intensity of the task does not require a maximal effort, or if she is allowed to self-pace, a woman can perform many tasks and meet the male standard of performance. Tasks that do require a near-maximal effort by women might be redesigned to reduce the physical demands, modified by mechanical performance aids, or performed in teams. If the task cannot be redesigned, an alternative is to recruit personnel for the job who are already capable of performing the task.
In other words, if the work is made easier or a man is around to do the job, women are fine. And this is from a study testing women that were already in the military and had passed the (albeit lower) physical qualifications.

Although I don't have access to the text of the article, I would note the abstract for an article entitled "Differences in physical fitness of male and female recruits in gender-integrated army basic training," which tested men and women soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force before and after basic training (BT) found that "[a]lthough fitness improvement after BT was marginally higher in females than males, resulting in a slight narrowing of the gender differences, a significant gender gap in physical fitness still exists after BT." In other words, physical training is not going to correct the problem.

Another study on IDF troops, which analyzed data from a 13 year period also concluded that women do not belong in combat:
"[A] particularly high percentage of women who served in combat roles suffered physical harm during their service and will suffer for the rest of their lives from ruptured discs, stress fractures in the pelvis, uterine prolapse and more,” Sagi told Maariv/NRG.

While men also suffer injuries during their military service, he said, studies prove that the female rate of injury is much higher and that the seriousness of the average injury is greater, with entire platoons sometimes unable to function because of the physical state of the female soldiers. The injuries referred to are incurred in training and routine deployment – not actual combat.
Moving from the physical to the psychological factors, this article from July 2015 at The National Review observes:
In terms of reflexes and reaction times, men significantly outperform women. When confronted with immediate danger, studies suggest men are “more likely than women to take action.” Women are far more likely to experience motion sickness and vertigo. In the Navy women go on sick call 60 to 70 percent more frequently. For the kind of violent events and situations found on the battlefield, women are far more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder and experience the symptoms for a longer duration than men. Despite the gender-specific ability to handle the pain of childbirth, “study after study” conclusively shows that men have a much higher overall tolerance for pain than women.
Of course, many have argued to the contrary (see here, here and here, for example). However, these seem to be either based on supposition, fairness, or looking at women that are outliers in their physical ability. (See here for a rebuttal of some other arguments).

To me, though, the most telling article on the subject wasn't even one involving women in the infantry or Marines, but one about Ronda Rousey, a highly ranked female MMA fighter, who has refused to fight a transgender MMA fighter, Fallon Fox. From "Ronda Rousey Is Smart To Not Fight A Man" at The Federalist:
When Fallon Fox (born Boyd Burton), a 39-year-old ex-military man and father, came out as transgendered, a storm of controversy was unleashed over whether an athlete who has been born a man should be allowed to compete in a contact sport as a woman. Rousey, along with Invicta Fighting Championships and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), said Fox shouldn’t.

 [sic] can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey said in 2014. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair. . . I’ve tried to research it a lot. I feel like if you go through puberty as a ‘man’ it’s not something you can reverse. . . . There’s no undo button on that.”

UFC President Dana White, who has refused to give Fox the green light to fight Rousey, agreed: “Bone structure is different, hands are bigger, jaw is bigger, everything is bigger. I don’t believe in it.”
Fallon Fox--Not exactly superman.... (Source)
Mixed martial arts fighter Tamikka “Boom Boom” Brents knows what it’s like to face Fox in the ring, and she felt the difference immediately. In just two minutes, Fox knocked her out, fracturing her orbital bone, giving her a concussion, and inflicting extensive soft-tissue injuries. Leading up to the fight, male lesbians in the transgender community rallied around Fox, urging him to spill blood and destroy the “noisy hater” Brents, who is a well-known female lesbian. The furor surrounding the event exposed the bloodlust of some in the transgender community and their bitter hostility toward lesbian women.

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night,” Brents said. “I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.” Fox’s grip was different, Brents continued. “I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”
If Brents--a 27 year old woman that is clearly at the upper edge of female physical strength and endurance--is so badly beat by a 39 year old man, it is suggestive that women are not suited for ground combat.

By this, I'm not saying that women should not train for self-defense (whether hand-to-hand or with firearms), or cannot effectively serve defensive roles. I'm just saying that if your defensive plan or organization is going to use active patrols, or "kinetic" action, you need to be realistic about your member's physical limitations, and consider that even an athletic woman may still not be as effective as you otherwise would think.

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