Michael's Dispatches

Sisters at War


29 February 2012

This is a small tribute to our women in harm’s way.

We constantly argue about whether or not women should be allowed in combat.  Reality is that they have been in combat for longer than anyone reading this has been alive, and they were in combat before any of our great grandmothers were born.

I’ve personally seen women in infantry combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That includes British and American.  Often they are in severe firefights.  They do all sorts of jobs, such as medics, intelligence, public affairs (that’s right), “female engagement teams,” civil affairs, pilots, or sometimes they go on missions just to search women.  Bottom line is that they end up encountering a lot of bombs and firefights.

It’s saddening for this American to see women so often not appreciated for what they do.  Granted, there is not a huge number of women who do these things, but those who do have my respect and admiration.

Subsequent the recent Koran burning, most Afghans did nothing, but many lost their minds as some are inclined to do.  There was much violence.  Several dozen people have been killed so far.  On Monday, the Taliban attributed a substantial car bomb at FOB Fenty in Jalalabad to the Koran burning.  Nine were killed and about a dozen of ours were wounded.  (No US were killed in that attack to my knowledge.)

One of our wounded Soldiers was one of our Sisters at war.  Her father told me via email:

“Ok.  Just talked to her Mom. She's been evac'd to Bagram to the CSH [Combat Support Hospital].  She was in the turret of the MRAP when a black SUV came popped out of traffic and went barreling toward the gate.  Before anyone could do anything, it detonated.  She was blown backward into the rear of the turret and injured her back as well as having both eardrums blown out. Another kid, just arrived, was with her.  He took some fragments but will be OK.  Said she woke up on the ground and the gate was gone.  Apparently they secured it quickly enough that there was no further drama.

“Her Mom said she sounded as good as can be expected. She'll be there a couple of weeks then back to her unit to redeploy.”

And with that I will close with a big Thank You, and with respect and admiration for all of our warriors who serve honorably.  Today is a special thanks to women, but every day I say a “Thank You” to all of them.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    scarface · 9 years ago
    God Bless the sisters that make daily sacrifices at the altar of liberty; we owe the all a huge debt.
    Semper Fi!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry · 9 years ago
    Thank you to all our brave men and women doing their job. And once again, thanks to you Michael for doing a job well done and highlighting things that important to us all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    peter · 9 years ago
    Whew. Reminds me of a friend of the family, a female medic, who was in combat in Iraq. An amazing young woman. She is now in nursing school here in MN. I once heard a construction boss say he would rather higher a woman any day over a man--they followed orders, and were more dependable. I am also reminded that the Red Army's best sniper in the Battle of Stalingrad was a woman. This why men never want to have women learn to shoot--
    • This commment is unpublished.
      owlhoot · 9 years ago
      When I was in ROTC, the girls outshot the guys by an average of 5 points at the rifle range. They tend to be gentler on the trigger.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Barnett · 9 years ago
    I must admit that the chauvinistic Neanderthal components of my being want women as far from combat as possible. That part of me considers war as "man's work". Not because we're tougher, but because I find women innately beautiful, precious beyond any logical reason, and I want to keep them from any harm. But my logical and reasoning side knows that women can be just as effective as men in combat roles. Sure, maybe they aren't all as strong as their male counterparts, but I often find their reaction times to be quicker than men, and the slight differences in thought processes makes our overall force more adaptable to changing circumstances. Then, of course, there is the "Sarah Connor Fixation"... a female warrior doing her job well is inspiring indeed.

    Most importantly, I want to state my thanks to our female warriors loudly, proudly, and often. Thank you all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott H. · 9 years ago
    A special thank you to all of the women serving our country.
    And as always my hat is off to all of our members of our armed forces.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Julia · 9 years ago
    Thank you so much for posting this. I don't even understand how this day in age there could still be a debate as to whether women 'should' be in combat or not. As you said, women have been fighting in combat before any of us were born. In truth, they are needed- and there is no reason why they cannot. (Assuming they pass equal physical requirements.) Thank you for bringing recognition and hopefully added support. Women aren't or should not be asking for any special treatment- only recognition of equality.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Randy · 9 years ago
    So proud of all of them, especially the one Michael mentioned.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul H. · 9 years ago
    A sharp salute to all the women in the military, on the front lines or not. The US military establishment wouldn't be the powerful force it is without all the dedicated strong women members.

    America owes a special dept to the women who take the fight to the enemy and directly support our missions around the world.

    Be careful out there, we'll need you back here to carry on when the current mission ends.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Evans · 9 years ago
    No woman belongs in combat at any time for any reason. Shame on any man who believes they should. "This day and age" has nothing to do with it. Women have been the same since Creation, and God created men to protect women, not the other way around. This is truly an abomination and is not as intended by our Creator. Same goes for civilian women police officers. The fall of man occurred because the man didn't protect the woman. Men and women will never be equal no matter how much you wish it to be true. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; MALE and FEMALE He created them." - Genesis 1:27. God created two different types of human beings, not one type. Men and women are equal in that God gave them both the same inalienable rights. Being placed into combat to protect men is NOT one of those inalienable rights. Praising women for going to combat is enabling them in the same way not confronting a friend who is doing wrong is enabling him or her. If you believe women belong in combat, then you don't know what God's intention for women was when He created them.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Julia · 9 years ago
      I am a 19 year old woman who was raised to defend all that I stand for. Though God has not called me individually to the battlefield, I highly caution anyone who would seek to question the role of women in combat on Biblical terms. God created male and female differently but they are still just as competent; and there is no biblical mandate that says women cannot participate in combat. If anything, by example, it is encouraged as in the case of Deborah. How can you say that by thanking women in combat, you are enabling bad behavior? Do you blame the women who want to be in combat of being in sin or are you expressing that this world has fallen from God's original plan and you see that as being part of it.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Amy · 9 years ago
      Have you even read your Bible? What about Jael and Sisera (you know, the tent peg through his skull?). Or the prophetess Deborah who lead the armies of Israel to victory (there was that whole thing with Barak who didn't even want to go into battle without her).

      Oh, and that part in Genesis 2:18? The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

      That word helper? It's ezer in Hebrew and it's used 21 other times in the Old Testament. It mainly refers to GOD and means strength or shield, and is also used in a MILITARY context (corresponding Hebrew word ezer is capitalized):

      “Hear, O LORD, the cry of Judah; bring him to his people. With his own hands he defends his cause. Oh be his HELP against his foes.” Deuteronomy :7

      “There is no God like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to HELP you, and on the clouds of His majesty.” Deuteronomy :26

      Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and HELPER and your glorious sword. Deuteronomy :29a

      “I have bestowed STRENGTH (ezer) on a warrior; I have exalted a young man among the people.” Psalm 89:17

      I will scatter to the winds all those around him – his STAFF (ezer) and all his troops – and I will pursue them with a drawn sword. Ezekiel 12:14

      Reflect on that the next time you want to use your bible to say that women need to always be "protected" by men.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Army Mom · 9 years ago
      Am at a loss for words..... other than thanks for the laugh Scott!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Paul H. · 9 years ago

      Religious reasoning belongs to the ignorant. Perhaps you should consider opening your mind and thinking for yourself. Not basing your decisions on the writings of folks 2,000 years past.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      owlhoot · 9 years ago
      My daughter can shoot accurately and field strip and clean my AR15. She does not cringe at the thought of self defense, and is a good shot with a pistol as well. Women are better able to defend themselves when they are encouraged not to shrink away from the idea that it might become necessary. I would not like to see her endure combat, but by the same standard, I would not like to see her avoid duty or dodge necessity simply due to her gender or its perceived role. In a more perfect world, women would not need to be anywhere near a conflict, but in a more perfect world, there would not be a military conflict to endanger them. As long as there is war in the world, women need to be ready to fight. Sometimes men will not be there to protect them, and it is usually men who will be the ones who endanger them.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Tommy Barrios · 9 years ago
      If you didn't have your head so far up your male ego and REALLY read the Bible you would know that Jewish women fought along side their men many times.

      Female warriors are dispersed throughout!

      Get truly educated before you show folks how much your are not so!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris R · 9 years ago
    Thanks Michael for this very timely report; my daughter was just this week deployed to Afghanistan. God Bless you for the good work you have done.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 9 years ago
    As far as I am aware, American fighting women are proscribed from only three roles: Armor, Infantry and Special Forces.

    Women serve in the Military Police, and this often puts them in harm's way, including in quasi-infantry roles. A woman has been decorated with the Silver Star for gallantry in action for clearing a trench line of Iraqi insurgents at close range.

    Women serve as medics. A female medic has been decorated with the Silver Star. A surprising number of servicewomen have received the Bronze Star Medal with V for valor.

    Women fly helicopters, including Apache attack helicopters. Grunts in contact can attest to their mettle. A female helicopter pilot was shot down and captured by the enemy during the first Desert war against Saddam. She was tortured before she was liberated.

    Female pilots fly Spectre gunships, arguably our most lethal battlefield weapon system, and they have racked up big body counts. I can tell you that it feels good to call for fires from an orbiting gunship, and to hear a calm, soothing feminine voice in reply.

    It is doubly satisfying to know that the doom of our enemies has been sealed by American women, laying down the hate.

    I think that the next career field that should open up to women is that of tanker. I think that they can do the job--if they want to. It is not an easy job, or clean or comfortable or glamorous. Well, maybe it looks glamorous, but in practice it really is not. But I think that there are a number of reasons why it makes sense to open up that career field to women, should they wish to serve within it .

    Armor is combat arms. Yes, tank treads are heavy. Pulling maintenance on tanks requires great strength. If you need to swap out a tread, it requires muscle. If women can do it it, they should be permitted to fight in tanks.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ed · 9 years ago
      Stalin had them runninig his tanks against the German Panzers in WWII
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 9 years ago
    If my wife was in the military, even @ 56, she could run circles around most of the men!

    She has taken on tasks many men would quiver @ in fear and trepidation.

    Anyone who says women are weak needs to meet my Deborah :-*
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ed · 9 years ago
    And let's not leave out the Transporters! A large part of why I went to Iraq in 2004 as a civilian (too old to recycle back in the Armed Forces) was because I knew my daughter, a 1st LT then, was being transferred over from Korea where she'd been on the DMZ in charge of a HET platoon. Hitching rides around the Sunni Triangle with transports while doing CA work for the Army lets you know real quick that Transporters WERE the front line in Iraq--even in Baghdad, daily trips up RPG ALLEY, 7 days a week.

    And here's to one fallen Sister, April, who was serving at the CMOC in Baqubah then and was blown up by an IED. May Her Memory Be Eternal!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Soren Sjogren · 9 years ago
    In some countries women are allowed in the infantry as well. The Danish Army is such an example.
    I have been an infantry platoon leader in Iraq and in Helmand province in Afghanistan. I had women in my platoon on both tours. Not many; one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

    The women met the same physical requirements as their male piers. They fought alongside the males enduring the same hardships in Iraq and Afghanistan, and got along just fine.
    I cannot understand how sex can predetermine how well you are suited for battle. In my mind only skills count.

    And by the way: After having seen my wife give birth to my son I find the myth about "the weak woman" very hard to believe in.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Realist · 9 years ago
    I serve in an Army that allows women in combat trades. I have seen women in combat situations. There are many that do an excellent job. There are many that do not. From personal experience, about half of the women I have seen in combat service should not have been there. Period. I have never heard a man start to cry on the radio during a contact, but I've heard a woman do it. I've never seen a male medic leave morphine and drugs behind because it was too heavy to take on patrol, but I've seen a woman do it (we fired her). I have never seen a man leave a machine gun behind during an attack, but I've seen a woman do it because it was too heavy (luckily in training). I have seen at least cases of females in command developing intimate relationships with their subordinates. The fact is that by percentage the risks outweigh the benefits. Many women can do well, but more than half in my experience are mediocre to detrimental when things get rough. It's not about theoretical can't- it's about realistic doesn't. I was a proponent before I joined the military- now many years later I think it's a failed policy. For EVERY SINGLE story that I've heard about a woman stepping up- I have heard AT LEAST TWO about a woman that couldn't handle it. It's not a PC opinion- but war is not PC. Current standards in almost all western militaries set minimum standards that most men in combat situations will surpass- most women I have seen will not. There are in my experience notable exceptions- but they are just that- exceptions. Western armies need to greatly improve and change their standards before fully integrating women.

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