Book Review: Deadly Consequences
Since 1863 the U.S. government had depended on the draft to fill the ranks during major conflicts. The U.S. has depended on readily available and sufficiently available manpower to fight its wars. In 1973, the U.S. military ended drafting men almost solely because of the political reasons surrounding the Vietnam War.
It wasn’t about equality or inequality that only men were drafted to fight.
It was completely rational, logical, and pragmatic. Men have the requisite strength, endurance and physical potential that the large majority of women do not possess. Conventional, high intensity, sustained combat still requires hand-to-hand combat despite the desires of those to portray modern combat as ‘Star Wars’, push button competition. It’s about brute strength. It’s about genetics.
Since ancient history, armies’ combat forces have been virtually been composed of males for this particular fact. This policy is not about suppressing women’s opportunities but rather on the cold, hard realization that winning in mortal combat does not depend on which side is more “diverse”.
Retired infantry officer, Robert Maginnis writes about indisputable facts, studies, and statistics devoid of emotional arguments about why women should not be put into ground combat maneuver units. His logic and facts back his assertions making this a book that will be highly contentious with those who deny the facts. This issue has been studied extensively over the last forty years and another study won’t change the facts.
Maginnis gives credit and due to the American women who have served in the armed forces in the past. He is not against women serving in the military. He is clearly against putting them on the front lines in conventional, high-intensity, sustained combat for numerous reasons.
Maginnis is no stranger to controversial issues and feels strongly about this issue as much as he does about homosexuals serving openly in the armed forces. When on active duty in the early 1990s, he was part of the DA staff that crafted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Maginnis adeptly points-out that there are many in our society who know little, if nothing about military service, much less about service in maneuver arms where soldiers fight in close combat with the enemy. From a high of 412 members of Congress with military service in the late 1970s, we currently have only 106 that have served.
The numbers are telling in the absolute lack of knowledge of our military forces by those that make our laws and decisions regarding defense. Much of this is due to the fact that without the draft, many people “learn” about the military by playing computer simulations and watching movies. This does not make for an informed populace and gross stereotypes are engendered by fictional movies like “G.I. Jane” that many citizens take as truth.
Additionally, the author cites the misperception by many, including in the military, that COIN is the same as high intensity, conventional combat. Instead, he cautions that the majority of COIN is like heavily armed police work. This is borne-out by the fact that almost half of all U.S. casualties in the last ten years have not been from close combat, but from IEDs.
Of course there are many exceptions at the tactical level, — Ramadi and Falluja stand out — and “high intensity” for a rifle company is not necessarily the same as “high intensity” for a division in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In fact, lack of history knowledge is the cause of much of the misconception since so few understand — much less remember — the combat of Hue, Chosin, or the Hürtgen Forest. Those battles were common to the experience of hundreds of thousands of G.I.s who spent months in the line living in squalor. Just the casualties alone indicate that COIN and conventional sustained combat are very different as the Army suffered over 7,024 dead in the Hürtgen battle alone — more than we have sustained in ten years of COIN operations.
Maginnis examines at the results of other armies that have experimented with women in combat maneuver units as well. The British Army’s recent tests definitively show that this does not work. The tests flatly show that females lack the physical capabilities to meet the harsh standards requiring brute strength required of combat maneuver arms soldiers.
The British dropped the idea.
Many cite the Soviet Army’s experience in WWII as a positive example of women in combat. However, Maginnis states that if it worked so well, why did the Soviets not continue with that policy after WWII?
In fact, the Russian’s use of women soldiers today is very restrictive and it is not because they are not interested in egalitarianism. No women served in Soviet post-war combat units and none serve today in the Russian Army combat units.
There is a very simple reason and as Maginnis points out, it has everything to do with the lack of their physical capabilities and potential that is limited by nature.
Maginnis’ book is not a politically correct view but it is based on facts, not emotion and conjecture.
The bottom line might be best expressed by Kirsten Scharnberg, a Chicago Tribune reporter who sought to prove her abilities to hang with the troops in OIF I. She prepared extensively to be physically prepared.
During the advance on Baghdad she had to relinquish her rucksack to a soldier of the unit in which she was embedded.
She could not continue to carry it. “I had run a marathon not long before the war and worked out almost every day. I grew up on an Iowa farm where manual labor was part of the bargain. But … when I handed my load to that soldier, I admitted that I never could have cut it in the Infantry… Not only had I not been able to pull my own weight, I also had potentially put that young soldier at risk.”