In the United States it is a hot-button issue that women should or should not be allowed to serve in combat. Those against claim women cannot compete with men in combat—that they don’t have the physical strength or proper mindset.
Curious, I decided to discover where women have been allowed to serve in combat and how they performed.
The Washington Post listed countries that allow women in front-line combat positions. “In Europe: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania and Sweden. Elsewhere: Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the Anglosphere; plus Eritrea, Israel, and North Korea.”
It made sense that Israel would need women to serve in combat units, and I decided to focus on this country first. After all, Israel population is less than 8 million, and Israel is a tiny island of democracy in an Arab-Islamic world with constant religious and civil unrest.
In fact, women served alongside men in ground forces in the paramilitary groups that predated Israel’s foundation as a state in 1948. Then for the next 25 years, they were mostly relegated to roles as administrators, medical assistants or trainers, but after the Yom Kipper War in 1973, they started to serve as combat instructors and officers.
The NY Times reported that Arielle Werner, who grew up in Minnesota and immigrated to Israel in order to join a combat unit, said female recruits underwent the same training regimen as men.
“Each year, 1,500 female combat soldiers are drafted into the IDF, a number which has remained consistent in recent years. Female soldiers also play crucial roles in command and control positions.” Source: Israel Defense Forces.com
In fact, a professor at Duke University studied Soviet women in combat during World War II and said she was shocked by the stories and images she came across—stories of Soviet women in combat, images of Soviet women dressed in military uniforms, holding sniper rifles, teaching other solders to kill.
Anna Krylova, associate professor of modern Russian history at Duke University, said, “When it came to paramilitary training, men and women received the same education and, even more important, were expected to perform the same tasks. … Significantly, the Soviet women who became soldiers did not think of themselves as women performing a man’s job.”
For example, Lyudmila Pavlichenko—a Soviet sniper—killed over three hundred Germans during World War II and women in the Red Army also made parachute drops behind enemy lines. Source: History News Network
Therefore, it is obvious to me that the issue isn’t if women can or can’t perform in combat but if the society/country they live in allows them to think they can serve in combat.
And America, promoted as the land of the free, is still a country where the Equal Rights Amendment—first introduced to the United States Congress in 1923—has been repeatedly defeated by conservative members of the GOP (Republican Party), who want to keep women as second class citizens earning less than men and serving in the kitchen to cook and the bedroom for breeding purposes only—without the right to an abortion. Maybe conservative men fear what women might do if they were trained to kill.
What do you think about military women fighting in combat units?
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.
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