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Women in Combat Arms

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 4/17/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 495 times Debate No: 89736
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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** Closed Debate - comment if you wish to accept **

Full Resolution: Women should be allowed into combat arms if they meet all standards.


Combat Arms: All branches of the US Military previously closed to females, including Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces.

Standards: All performance standards currently set for combat arms jobs, including physical fitness scores, body composition, etc...

Please respond with a comment explaining why I should pick you.

Round 1: Acceptance only
Round 2: Opening arguments (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals/Counter arguments
Round 4: Rebuttals and conclusion (no new arguments)


I accept. En Garde!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting, hoping for a good debate.

== Argument ==

1. Equal standards - There is no question that the average female is physically weaker than the average male. But what are we to make of above average females? If a woman with exceptional athletic ability and toughness can meet and even exceed the standards currently set for male troops, then on what basis should she be denied the job? For example, the current physical standard to be a US Army Ranger involve completing 49 pushups, 59 situps, 6 pullups, and running 5 miles in under 40 minutes. Another US Infantry standard is carrying a 35 pound pack in full combat gear for 12 miles in under 3 hours. There are women who have completed and even exceeded both of these standards. Notably, 3 women to date have passed the US Army Ranger School, by all accounts outperforming many of their male peers. If these standards, which are currently deemed "good enough" to qualify men for combat, are not changed, and women prove they can meet those standards (they already have), then it qualifies as discrimination to exclude those women solely for their chromosomes. Bottom line - if women meet the same standard as men, there is no justification for denying them the job.

2. Women already have proven competence in combat - A big driver in this debate was the fact that women have already been exposed to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it made no sense to officially continue excluding them. There are numerous accounts of women performing with courage and valor under fire. Take, for instance, SPC Monica Brown, who was awarded the Silver Star for running through enemy small arms and mortar fire to protect and treat wounded infantrymen [1]. Or SGT Leigh Hester, also awarded the Silver Star, who personally led an assault to clear enemy positions during an ambush in Iraq resulting in 27 enemy KIA [2]. I challenge Con to justify why these Silver Star winners should be excluded from serving in combat, given that they already have and did so with distinction.

3. Other countries integrate with no problems - many modern armies are already gender integrated, including Canada, Israel, Germany, Australia, and Norway. It seems there are very few, if any, additional problems as a result of their gender integrated ranks, because if there was a noticeable difference in military performance they would cease the policy. In fact, according to National Geographic, "A study on the integration of female combatants in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] between 2002 and 2005 found that women often exhibit 'superior skills' in discipline, motivation, and shooting abilities, yet still face prejudicial treatment stemming from 'a perceived threat to the historical male combat identity.' [3]. If other modern armies (many of them NATO members) have integrated with success, then there is no reason why the United States should be a special exception.



Alright, here's the deal armchair generals like me have with women & combat arms.

If I'm a military commander, I don't want just women or men in combat arms, I want the best. And I don't care who or even what that is; what age, race, color, or gender, computer robot or not a computer robot, doesn't make any difference to me, but when I go to war, I go to win. And I'm taking the best darn, most invincible soldiers ever with me.

Now having said that, I'm forced to reconcile with facts that show that men (and all male units) make the best infantry soldiers.

1) Men are generally physically superior to women, and have more athletic potential. (Scientific fact)
2) Most males are overwhelming stronger than their female counterparts (
3) The most elite female athletes are barely stronger than your average males (
4) Male bodies are generally less prone to injury, have more endurance, stronger skeletal frames, have more muscle mass, and have thicker bone densities.
5) Men can't become pregnant. Mixed units can cause distractions.
6) Men and women are perceived & treated differently both in American society and in the military.
7) The military -and especially ground combat- has traditionally been an all male endeavor, making hopes of successful integration difficult.

Which leads us to make the following contentions:

#1 Admitting women is a bad idea and risks lowering military standards.

The general rule here is this; most women are weaker then men, infantry standards were originally designed with men in mind, and so if these tests are too difficult for most women, then they're probably are. Political pressure from feminists and political action groups will therefore renew pressure on the military to ultimately change their infantry standards to make them more fair to women. Resulting in more women, less men, and weaker soldiers overall.

Known as "The Dempsey Rule" (named after Gen. Dempsey's controversial remarks on fairness & standards;, the scenario looks like this:

Future inquires will happen.

Congress will ask, how many women are in these units?

Why so few?

How many are applying?

Are these tests unfair to women?

Should we change the tests?

Military sets a quota.

New quota + Special tests = Less qualified applicants to fill quota.

Which (more than theoretical) has been the case with nearly all affirmative action cases in the military since the 1970s and is still happening now:

#2 National Security is no place to be running large-scale social experiments

The military is no place to be running large scale social experiments of any kind, especially when social engineering could impact fitness standards and risk operational effectiveness in combat.

American women (as a gender) have not proven themselves in direct-action combat roles or extensive combat training, and society itself has not confirmed its ready for women casualties. To date, women do not even participate alongside men in professional sports, register for the draft, wear the same style of clothes, or share a restroom.

Women are also disproportionately victimized and sexually assaulted, and treated/viewed differently in many areas of work and employment.

Therefore, before we even begin to think about jeopardizing soldiers lives with integration, we should make absolutely sure that women, men, and the country are in fact ready.

#3 Unit Cohesion & Problems with Mixed Units

In a recent Marine Corps survey, 2 out of every 3 male marines were opposed to serving alongside women in combat (including 72% of junior officers). The survey also found that 1 out of every 3 female marines were also opposed to the idea. And despite the hypocrisy of the latter statistic, the Marine Corps is now being forced to undergo mandatory "unconscious bias training" towards women:

In a similar opinions survey, the Rand Corporation found that 85% of the special forces community were also opposed to integrating women:

With statistics like these, morale and unit cohesion in our ground combat units certainly spells disaster.

And this goes without saying the out of control rape and sexual assault cases that the DoD still hasn't been able to solve (affecting 1 out of every 3 women) (

#4 Military Standards should be raised

Contrary to popular belief, the tests that the military requires for its fighting units only represents a minimum standard. Just because you passed your college exams with a C average doesn't mean you've actually excelled, and all biological evidence for that matter, shows that women do not have the same fighting potential as men. For all the women recruits who can pass Rangers school and carry their own weight at an infantry course, a majority of men will always score higher, and at top of the graduating class will always be a man.

Normally this wouldn't matter, but soldiering on the front lines is not a normal occupation. The nation is putting you in harms way and commanders have a duty to ensure that their soldiers can make it out alive. Infantry units are weaker when women and less qualified soldiers are involved, and recent research done by the USMC proves it:

Which is why I'm prepared to argue that the military should consider raising its infantry/fitness standards, and one of the best ways to do that is to have an all-male infantry force.

All things considered, including less qualified soldiers in combat arms is never a good idea, and military issues should not be politicized.

Back over to Con.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you Con.
== Rebuttal ==
Notice that almost all of Con's points contain qualifiers such as "generally," "most," "traditionally," and "average." Such language renders Con's argument irrelevant, because I am not talking about the average, general population of women. I am talking about above average - the women with exceptional strength and toughness, as I made very clear in Round 2. So, let's go through Con's argument line by line:
1) "Men are generally physically superior to women..." - I agree. But I'm not talking about general trends. I'm talking about exceptional individuals who prove they can exceed the standard. When soldiers are measured on individual merit, it's undeniable that some females will prove physically superior to some males. To believe otherwise would be extremely naive.

2) "Most males are overwhelming[ly] stronger than their female counterparts" - Again, I agree. This does not hurt my argument. See above.

3) "Elite female athletes are barely stronger than your average males" - EXACTLY! So why shouldn't that elite female be allowed to join the ranks of fighting men? If there is at least one single "average" male currently serving in the infantry, why shouldn't an elite female also be allowed to serve? Being barely stronger is still stronger, so wouldn't this be an improvement?

4) "Male bodies are generally less prone to injury..." Ok, perhaps that is "generally" true. But there are always exceptions. There are female athletes out there who are less injury prone than males. What about them? Once again, for Con's argument to work, he would have to show that not a single female in the human species has more endurance, muscle mass, and bone density than a male soldier. That would be an absurd claim.

5) "Men can't become pregnant. Mixed units can cause distractions." The concern of pregnancy is at base a concern about physical conditions that can take a soldier out of the fight. It's true, if a female soldier becomes pregnant overseas, she is immediately sent home and can no longer do her job. BUT - this concern applies to every demographic of soldier - male, female, white, black, gay, straight. Only male soldiers can get prostate cancer- should this exclude them? A black soldier might distract a white soldier - should this exclude blacks? A gay infantryman may be sexually attracted to another infantryman - should this exclude him? It's special pleading so say a female should be excluded because of the potential for pregnancy, but all other demographics are acceptable. A better policy is to simply hold individuals accountable for individual choices. If you choose to drink and drive and get a DUI, the army kicks you out. Yes, this hurts unit readiness, especially if that soldier was in a leadership role, but the organization moves on and continues to function just fine. It's ridiculous to think that removing a pregnant female from a unit would destroy unit cohesion and effectiveness. Soldiers are removed from units all the time, and the military continues to do its job.

The "mixed units cause distractions" argument is extremely weak. Every demographic has the potential to cause "distraction." I'm sure black soldiers were a huge distraction to all-white units in the 1950s. Females caused huge distractions at West Point when it became co-ed in the late 1970s. Gay soldiers undoubtedly cause distraction and discomfort to very culturally conservative soldiers. And yet, none of these cases of "distraction" were enough to justify continued segregation and exclusion. In fact, the military is undoubtedly stronger because of the diversification of its ranks. The potential for distraction has never been enough to justify discrimination, and it should not be in this case either.

6) "Men and women are perceived & treated differently" - I fail to see the relevance here. Every type of person is perceived differently. Officers are treated differently than enlisted soldiers. Marines are perceived differently than sailors. Fighter pilots are perceived differently than supply clerks. This is not a justification for exclusion. If anything, the difference in perception of men and women probably stems from the fact that women aren't allowed to serve in these roles. Once they integrate, that will help change the perception significantly.

7) "The mililtary has traditinally been an all male endeavor..." - again, no relevance here. Before 1950, the military was traditionally a racially segregated endeavor. Before 1980, West Point was traditionally an all male endeavor, and before 1877, an all white male endeavor. Before 2011, the US Military was an all heterosexual endeavor, etc.... All these "traditions" changed over time and the military was better for it. None of these integrations caused the military to self destruct. This one is no different.

Contention #1 - Con claims integrating females will lead to lower standards, citing the infamous "Dempsey Rule." My question would simply be - why would standards need to lower if women are already meeting the current ones? To date, 3 women have passed all MALE standards for US Army Ranger School, and more are sure to follow. It seems then, that these tests are not too difficult for women, and so the Dempsey Rule is defunct. Con suggests quotas of women soldiers will develop, but that has so far not been the case. There are no quotas for how many gay, or black, or hispanic soldiers need to be in infantry units. There's no reason to believe there will be quotas for female soldiers either. Con's cited source talks about raw recruitment quotas for females (this is nothing new btw...), but that is not the same as imposing quotas on females specifically in combat arms. To date, zero female marines have passed the Marine Infantry Officer Course, and so there are currently zero female infantry officers. Doesn't appear to be any quota there... Con's argument here is speculative at best.

Contention #2 - Don't run social experiments in the military. First, I would counter that it is not a social experiment if you merely say "here's the standard. It's the same for everyone. If you meet it, you're in. If you don't, you're out." That's all I'm advoacting. That's not a sinister feminist experiment, it's equality. Second, I once again point to history - black soldiers were first (officially) integrated into white units during the Korean War. Females first graduated West Point in 1980. Gay soldiers first served openly in 2011. All of these could have been considered "social experiments." But that didn't stop them from happening, in fact, it only made the military a stronger and more diverse force.

Con says society isn't ready for women to fill male roles, wear male style clothing, or share restrooms. Has Con's head been in the sand over the past 10 years? Society is OVERWHELMINGLY advocating for gender equality, unisex restrooms, ending gender norms, etc...

Contention #3 - unit cohesion. I have already discussed this. Just because 2/3 of male marines say they disapprove doesn't mean a thing. That's how our system has always worked - the military obeys civilian authority according to the Constitution. Even if the military disagrees, they are legally bound to obey policies and orders issued by civilian leaders (Congress, Secretary of Defense, President, etc...). That's the oath they take.

#4 - standards should be raised. Con seems to believe the military is (or should be) filled with super-athlete Arnold Schwartzenegger types. That's not the case. Google search images of combat soldiers from any historical war. What do you see? They mostly look scrawny, thin, unimpressive. You don't have to be an Olympian to be an effective soldier, you have to be smart, and tough. There are certainly smart and tough females out there who can do the job. If the standard is too high, your military will be very small.
The bottom line: Some men can't meet current standards. Some women can. Why then is gender the discriminator, rather than the standard itself?


Jingle_Bombs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Please do not vote in this debate.

Jingle_Bombs and I have agreed to start over to allow both of us more time to respond.

Please see the new debate here:
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by sengejuri 6 months ago
You got it! Good luck
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 6 months ago
Yeah I'll take it. This ought to be pretty good.
Posted by TheShaun 6 months ago
I pity the fool who tries to argue against it. This comment was not sponsored by Mr. T.
Posted by sengejuri 6 months ago
Yes and yes
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 6 months ago
Considering it. Are we supposing that fitness standards not be lowered, and do you plan on defending all combat jobs?
No votes have been placed for this debate.