Graves Supports Pentagon Decision To Lift Ban On Women Serving In Combat

January 24, 2013 16:00 pm

by Bridget Cantrell · 52 comments

“The new policy is on par with reality” and yields “more  [voluntary] opportunities for promotions and leadership roles.”

There’s Noway I could resist posting this:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) issued the following statement after the Department of Defense announced today that the ban on women serving in certain combat roles would be lifted:

“The Defense Department’s decision, at the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rightly honors the courageous service of our women in uniform. The new policy is on par with reality, as women already serve on dangerous missions all over the world and hundreds of servicewomen have been wounded or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Servicewomen will now have thousands of additional positions to compete for, yielding more opportunities for promotions and leadership roles. I am confident that our military leaders will implement the policy in a way that strengthens our military and guarantees that it will continue to be the greatest in the world. I thank all our servicemembers and their families for serving our country and sacrificing every day to protect our freedoms and keep us safe.”

Well done, Congressman Graves.

Noway January 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Yeah, Tom, great job. Let’s open up the possibilities of more woman getting killed and maimed, since they already are anyway. Love your logic.

Bridget Cantrell January 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

Get on board, Noway – we’re here. A batch of educated, Republican and budget-driven Gloria Steinems. Some theme music for you this morning 😉

Noway January 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

I never said your gender wasn’t capable in all areas, Bridget, in fact I said just the opposite. Never berated women, never said an offensive syllable in our little debate. All I said was that I didn’t approve of sending women off to die on the front lines of war. Or to be brutalized by enemy combatants if captured. I don’t want to see a woman in a future Hanoi Hilton. I’d predict that if a serious poll was done on this a vast majority of the male respondents would agree with me. You and I will just have to agree to disagree.

David Staples January 25, 2013 at 9:41 am

What’s that old quote – “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Maybe this is a smart move after all – we just send all our scorned women over there and the war will be over in an instant. 😉

Harry January 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I guess this means the US loses more future wars.

saltycracker January 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm

The last time I recall we won something was Grenada in the ’80’s and it got us soundly thrashed by the U.N. ………..before then it was….WWII ?

Ladies in combat are more symbolic than statistical in our all volunteeer services.

We’d save more military lives by reducing military accidents & suicides all over the world. We should have the world’s baddest high tech defense, not worldwide deployment of personnel to prop up local economies, foreign aid to our enemies & supporting the U.N.

Bridget Cantrell January 24, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I guess this means Republicans will win more elections. Fixed that for ya. PTL a Republican male was able to get through three paragraphs about women without using the word rape.

So…would the rise in sexual assaults due to the ban as explained by Panetta be considered “legitimate rape” in this case? Yes/No?

gagenx January 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Harry: #musthavegrownupinthe50’s

Better check the upcoming cuts in the federal budgets first before blaming the women.

Bridget Cantrell January 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Gagenx: Harry probably isn’t a hashtag kind of guy, bless his heart.

Kent Kingsley January 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I generally agree with Graves, put to put it mildly he is out to lunch on this one. I don’t know Graves background, but has he served in the military? I doubt it with the logic he has used. Let’s be clear, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have to play the way their politcal masters tell them to play. I wish they would demonstrate moral courage and retire in protest.

Women have and continue to do great work in the military and are a valuable asset. But as a retired infantryman I question the physical strength and stamina required to be in the infantry or more so in special operations. There is a reason men and women have different standards on the physical fitness tests. This is a continuation of our President killing this country and now “conservatives” are assisting?

Most republicans in Congress go along with our massive spending, why not women in the infantry too. God bless us, because we have seen the enemy and it is us.

David Staples January 25, 2013 at 9:43 am

I take it you’ve never seen GI Jane. 😉

Noway January 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

And GI Jane is an accurate portrayal of women in the military? Dang, David, you are hilarious!

atlanta_advocate January 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

@Kent Kingsley:

While I disagree with women in infantry and other combat roles, I do not know if this is the best argument against it. The reason is that several western countries already have women in combat roles: Israel, Canada, New Zealand and Norway. Unless you base your opposition on “gender” roles – the notion that in a civilized, functioning society some things must be reserved for men and some things must be reserved for women for the benefit of society, even if it means some individuals sacrificing personal desires and opportunity for the greater benefit to society – then there really is no basis for opposing women in combat roles. If your argument is that it weakens the military, then the prowess of the IDF makes that argument very difficult to maintain.

Kent Kingsley January 25, 2013 at 8:55 am


Understand your point but as a retired infantryman I strictly care about fighting and winning the next war, battle or engagement. I don’t buy for a second that standards won’t be lowered or other “fixs” will ensure this is “successful”.

Someone please expalin to me if I am wrong why we segregate so many sports by sex? If this is a good idea then one basketball team, one baseball team, etc. If you aren’t for oneness in sports you can’t logically argue for women in the infantry.

xdog January 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

I’m missing how you think your sports analogy applies. Don’t pretend different male grunts don’t have different physical capabilities. Not everyone is asked to hump heavy machine guns.

Anyway, it’s a moot question. Women have been in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan for years now. A Y chromosome doesn’t offer protection against IEDs and snipers. All that’s changed is that women in combat will have official sanction.

debbie0040 January 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm
mpierce January 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm

There is a difference between being a pilot and being on foot carrying 100lbs where pulling a 220lb wounded soldier out of harms way is an expectation. If women can meet the standards required for the job, I don’t see a big problem in allowing them to take those jobs. But I fully expect those standards to be lowered for political reasons.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the services to update him next month on how women performed in the new jobs and on efforts to develop “gender-neutral physical standards” with an aim toward opening still more positions to women.

mpierce January 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm
debbie0040 January 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm

the standards should not be lowered

Harry January 25, 2013 at 1:04 am

That’s the point.

bowersville January 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

That is a legitimate question for Chuck Hagel, the President’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. As a reminder for the reader. Chuck Hagel is a veteran combat infantry soldier of the Vietnam era. From the Cato Institute:

To answer one of the more ridiculous questions posed during the pre-nomination controversy (and that is saying something), he is not a pacifist. He is, however, a sensible, cautious person who has fought and bled for his country. And he is an independent thinker who is not cowed by Beltway politesse as so many in this town are.

Let’s hope the Republicans drop what Susan Rice said on TV and ask the tough pertinent questions.

Dave Bearse January 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Looks like Graves got the memo that the GOP was losing its War on Women. It remains to be seen whether Graves will be a leader or a follower, this matter being a done deal.

As to naysayers, the armed forces didn’t crash and burn after don’t ask, don’t tell, nor has that happened since that policy was dispensed to the dustbin. In the more distant past the armed forces didn’t collapse after women were permitted outside of the nursing corps.

As to women in combat roles, my understanding is that few women will seek combat roles, and that the few applying will be held to the same rigorous physical fitness standards as men, and that that will likely wash out many that do apply.

Harry January 25, 2013 at 1:06 am

No, I expect the physical standards will be lowered.

Clint Austin January 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Anyone who thinks there won’t be politically-based accomodations to standards because of this has never served a day in uniform in the DoD.

Clint Austin January 25, 2013 at 9:14 am

Outside of the physical standards required to engage in ground combat ( well described above), here is the issue no one is discussing: what do you do about women and the draft now? Men alone have been required to register for the Selective Service because men alone were required to go into combat. On what legal basis do we now exclude women from involuntary conscription for combat duty? No one thinks there will ever be a draft again. Of course, no one could think of people flying airplanes into buildings. And on the political side, some weaker sort of man will soon sue because women are not subject to mandatory registration with the Selective Service, and on the basis of this new policy a judge will almost certainly rule that women must register as well. That will be a fun political story to watch play out.

Bridget Cantrell January 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

If my country needed me – I would go. I would think they’d want my foreign language and techno-skills doing something besides carrying a gun, but I’d go through the full training.

I have multiple former Marine girlfriends, and I’ve spoken with IDF trained women too.

Picking up a gun is different for a woman. Before I got my CCW, I put a good bit of thought into it. If I ever have to pull my gun, I am very clear-minded about what I’m ready to do with it. We would defend the US just as ardently as any man.

bowersville January 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

Women are already serving in combat roles and have for years. This is just one article of many.

“What women have done for the past ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan backs this up. Female Marines carry the same gear, hike the same distances, and handle rough conditions right alongside male Marines. They train, suffer, and wear down, just like men. Yet we still have a Combat Exclusion Policy based primarily on assumptions that date back decades, and on the “average” male or female performance in physical tasks. The average woman is likely not cut out for military service at all, much less the infantry. But neither is the average man.” [US Naval Institute. Independent group to advance…issues critical to national defense…]

Semper Fi

David Staples January 25, 2013 at 9:50 am

I know I’m certainly not cut out for a combat zone. However, like Bridget, if ever needed, I would think my technology and logic skill sets would be called upon instead of my physical abilities. I used to be in much better shape, but currently I don’t think the country wants to rely on my physical abilities to win a war. :-)

Clint Austin January 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Bridget – outstanding sentiments. I have served with some strong sailors/soldiers who happened to be women, so I appreciate what you say. My concern is with the overall blanket policy of “women in front line combat” and how that is handled from both a tactical point of view and from an administrative point of view. Administratively, this will almost certainly subject all women to Selective Service. Can’t not. Tactically, I think people don’t understand what they are talking about when they say “women have been at the front for all of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.” These wars have largely been counterinsurgencies (COIN), where there is no real “front” like there was in WWII or the early days of Iraq II. We tend to think all future wars will be just like the current one. History has refuted that kind of thinking time and again – but if we go ahead and put women in front-line combat roles now based on the COIN experiences of this decade and then end up in a slogging, true battlefront combat situation, the tactical issues with having women in the ranks will be more apparent and more difficult to handle.

Noway January 27, 2013 at 8:18 am

Damn, Clint, that point is huge. Ok, now lets have all of our daughters, nieces, etc run down to the post office and register!! I know I’ll feel more ‘hip’, ‘with-it’ and less of a troglodyte if this happens!!! And the law of unintended consequences, it might give the beleagured post office something to do!

bowersville January 25, 2013 at 10:05 am

I would think my technology and logic skill sets would be called upon

Many of those skills women possess too and they (women) are augmented into or attached to combat units. There is no front line or rear area in Afghanistan and wasn’t one in Iraq either. I found this statement by America’s top soldier as a premier example of women in combat. General Martin Dempsey:

Dempsey took command of the Army’s 1st Armored Division in June 2003, when Iraqi insurgents were starting to target American troops with sniper fire, grenades and roadside bombs….”I slapped the turret gunner on the leg and I said, ‘Who are you?’ And she leaned down and said, I’m Amanda.’ And I said, ‘Ah, OK,’ ” Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon.

“So, female turret-gunner protecting division commander. It’s from that point on that I realized something had changed, and it was time to do something about it.”

David Staples January 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

“Many of those skills women possess too and they (women) are augmented into or attached to combat units.”

Yep, which is where the part comes in where I said “if ever needed”. I hope I’m never actually needed by the military. :-)

Clint Austin January 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Bowersville – this makes my point. The next war may not be COIN. We shouldn’t make strategic decisions for the future based on one specific experience.

bowersville January 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Here’s a DoD document you may be interested in. I apologize for the length of the link. Nobody, not even the DoD nor any branch of the military is talking of changing strategic missions based on COIN. Nor is any branch speaking of lowering standards. In fact when you read the document, which was DoD’s report to Congress, you will find that not all units or assignments will automatically open for women. And that some assignments may be restricted. The document contains references where the various branches have already augmented/attached women to units engaged in direct combat. I can furnish several news articles also. There is a study time to be conducted by the military based on experiences encountered before opening all units. The law was designed to keep women out of combat arms (infantry, armor & artillery) but women are on the front lines with those type units. USMC Lionesses to name one unit. A rule or law change should reflect it.

mpierce January 27, 2013 at 1:15 am

Nor is any branch speaking of lowering standards.

No, they are speaking of new gender neutral standards. Any guess on how those new standards will compare to the current ones?

mpierce January 27, 2013 at 1:56 am

What current physical standards are not gender-neutral and thus must be replaced?

bowersville January 27, 2013 at 9:50 am

Read the report. It’s self explanatory.

mpierce January 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

Then why couldn’t you answer the question?

What current physical standards are not gender-neutral and thus must be replaced?

bowersville January 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I’m not predisposed to answer your questions.

mpierce January 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I think your lack of an answer speaks for itself.

bowersville January 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

You are predisposed to think as you please.

joe January 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I find the statements “if my country really needed me…” to be completely disingenuous. The US military has been at war for the last 10+ years, and the military has a use for every skill set imaginable. Where have YOU been?

I am retired Army, and have been in a support role since retirement.

Bridget Cantrell January 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm


For context, our thread was talking about a draft – not routine logistics and data analysis. That’s not to downplay your Army career. Thank you very much for your service. My comment was to say if all eligible men were drafted for a war, I would be willing to go fight also… if my country really needed me. You’re entitled to your opinion on whether or not you think my comments are genuine.

saltycracker January 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

Deploying men & women around the world in great numbers raises another interesting prognostication and a case for long distance technology:

Military personnel are the odds on favorite to spread pandemic diseases.

xdog January 27, 2013 at 11:10 am

I’d say the daily international movement of business people is more likely to get Disease X out among the masses.

saltycracker January 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

We could blame illegals or charitable workers too. I’d rate business contact pretty low in the probability scale.

CBS this morning discussed the highly resistant viruses brought back from Iraq/Afganistan.

saltycracker January 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

To Clarify:…. brought back by the military.

xdog January 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I believe ‘patient zero’ for AIDS in the West was IDed as a flight attendant for a European airline.

saltycracker January 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

As this was starting to get silly I was moving on but got curious about your anecdotal case. Turns out it is another AIDS myth.

xdog January 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I didn’t think it was silly. Anyway thanks for the link. I was relying on my recollection of Shilts’ book. But your link says the vector for spread was “lots and lots of people moving around from New York to San Francisco, and the rest of the world.” My guess (not for AIDS but for the next pandemic) was that includes both business travellers and military people.

Harry January 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm

If Women Can’t Meet Military Standard, Pentagon Will Ask ‘Does It Really Have to Be That High?’

Harry January 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

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