Bullets Don't Discriminate

By Jason Aguilar


As of April 1st 2016, Defense Secretary Aston Carter issued a formal order to all branches of the U.S. military to formulate a plan to integrate females in traditionally all male jobs. This means the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps will be forced to change nearly every policy and standard within the respective branches and the affected positions. In the U.S. Military there is a double standard when it comes to physical standards and general treatment of service members. In order to fight as a cohesive element, everyone must be trained, treated and expected to meet the same standard. This is not the case when it comes to integrating females into combat positions. This paper will use data and the opinions of senior military officers to help you understand why females in combat is a dangerous and disastrous situation.
Marine Corps: Women Worse Than Men In Combat


In our time of progressive thought and social issues being the forefront in the news. We turn our attention to a little discussed topic. Allowing woman to occupy and perform in combat roles that would put them directly into combat operations and close quarters with normally all male units. People who have never served in combat or even served at all are making this decisions without any thought to the outcomes. The harsh reality is that allowing women to serve in combat positions puts lives at risk.

The recent order to integrate the branches has been debated and flat out resisted throughout the rank and file of the military. But why? Are our military members misogynists or anti-feminists? Are women physically to the task of training let alone combat? Not at all, our military understand the reality of the situation better than the civilian population. Civilians see it as a wonderful progressive step. The military sees it for what it is, as a potential deadly situation.

Unfortunately, there is limited data showing the success or failure of woman in actual combat. There is however, a generous amount of data showing injury rates and failure to adhere to the set standard by females. Granted this data does not reflect actual combat, it is only data reflecting simulated combat or intense physical scenarios. Opponents believe that this is relevant because if females cannot make it through combat simulations or rise to the physical challenge then they will not survive in actual combat. More than just their survival, they put everyone else's life at risk. Supporters refute this by saying any female that makes it through training will be up to the standard each branch's sets. However, the data collected during recent surveys have concluded with mixed results.

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Research Methods

As stated above, actual combat data does not exist because during the last 15 years of war females were not in a direct or offensive combat operations. However, females have served in the war on terror and in certain situations have fought in combat. There is not just as many instances of combat involving females are males.

Research was conducted into several databases. These databases were chosen because of their reputation for integrity and their differing opinions. The New York Times was searched due to its coverage of the Secretary of Defense and his recent orders. The New York Times covered the story in a unique way. They looked at the issue from the perspective of equality. "The Defense Department's decision to let women serve in every part pf the military has left one major distinction between the roles of men and women. Men are required to sign up for the draft when they turn 18, women are not (APPELBAUM, BINYAMIN. "Economists Against the Draft." New York Times Sunday Review).

The Congressional Research Service was used because of the in depth and unbiased perspective they have. This report was given to congress in December of 2015. It is a unbiased report that shows both sides of the argument by comparing physical fitness data against the current standards set by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. This report also address the question of opening the Selective Service, making it mandatory for women to sign up for the draft.

Like the New York Times, The Washington Post was chosen because of its coverage of the topic and because of it unbiased perspective on the subject. The Washington Post interviewed and took examples from both the Marine Corps and Army studies that reported negative findings while interviewing avid supporters. The Washington Post reported that facts an nothing more, making them a credible resource.


In 2015, the U.S. Marine Corps completed a nine month study to determine if females were up to the physical standards their male counterparts are held to. 400 Marine's volunteered to take part of the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, including 100 females.

This study concluded the following data.

  • Females were six times as likely to be injured during training
  • Less accurate with assigned weapons
  • Struggled removing a casualty from the field
  • 40.5 of the females suffered some skeletal injury vs the 18.8 males

The U.S. Army Surgeon General also conducted research into full integration of women in combat with mixed results.

  • Females suffer more injuries then males during combat training
  • Females suffer from depression at the double the rate of males
  • Women are 4 times more likely to have stress fractures then males
  • Women are at more of a risk for mental disorders when exposed to life transitions or combat
  • Depressions and anxiety could increase anxiety to 62 percent, which could have serious affects on manpower

(Scarborough, Rowan. "Army Women Hurt More Often in Combat Training)

However, the study concluded “there is no medical basis to prohibit any military occupational specialty opening to females.” (Scarborough)

The results of this research would appear to support the idea that women should not be allowed to serve in combat positions. However, there is no data showing an actual combat operation succeeding or failing because of female participation. While females have been in combat operations and have been wounded or killed, they have never filled positions that would normally put them into harm's way. Thus, the results are open for interpretation and are relative.

This social issue has created an interesting side effect. Many members of the military senior staff, senators and congress have consented that women should be allowed to serve in combat jobs. However, upon turning 18 all women will have to sign up for the selective service just like all 18 year old males. This creates an interesting twist on double standards and equality.


Are females physically capable of surviving the brutality of combat? Are females mentally able to withstand the horrors of combat? Should women be forced to sign up for the selective service like the males?

The reality is that nobody can say what they would do or are capable in these situations. It is all based on physical ability, intelligence, training, muscle memory and a little bit of luck. This is opinion that has been echoed up and done the rank and file of the military. For Example, last year the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joe Dunford met with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and asked that the Marine Corps be excluded from Secretary Carter's official order. General Dunford was asking that special units and infantry units would remain all male while opening heavy armor and artillery units to females (Lubold). To date, the Secretary of the Navy has denied General Dunford's request. The Air Force and Navy have not made official requests to delay the integration and the Army has taken steps toward full integration. Due to the structure of the military, the order has come from the highest authority must be obeyed. It is not a question of when but how this order will affect the entire military. The only thing that can be debated is how it affect the military and why it is affecting certain areas. In the coming years, data must be collected in order to fix any issues should they arise.

As a country, we must ask ourselves if we are to start moving toward total equality. This argument of women in combat has a question hiding in the shadows. Does our society believe a woman's life is more important than a males?

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Due the data and opinions of senior military and government officials, the following recommendations should be reviewed:

  1. Double standards must be eliminated in order to sew cohesion within the ranks.
  2. Sensitivity training will not become policy.
  3. There will be no special considerations or accommodations made for females during their primary military occupational speciality training.
  4. Before full integration happens, all branches will submit a 9 to 12 month unbiased scientific study on the effectiveness of females in combat situations.
  5. Checks and balances must be must in place to ensure that females are being to pass without adhering to the same standards as males.
  6. If females are allowed into combat jobs, Congress must pass a law ordering all able body females 18 years or older to register for the selective service.

According to the data presented the combat simulations injure females at double the rate to males making them combat ineffective. In order to mitigate this, the exercises or standards would have to change to accommodate females. This is contrary to the Secretary's original order and would most likely negatively affect good order and discipline. The reality is that the civilian authority has issued a legal and lawful order to the military and it must be obeyed. However, this cannot be an overnight implantation. There must be a plan of action created in order to move ahead smoothly. Equality must be the theme going forward or else this plan will not work.


Winn, Pete. "Gen. Dempsey." Cnsnews.com. 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2016.

French, David. "Women in Combat Endanger Their Fellow Soldiers’ Lives." National Review. 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2016.

APPELBAUM, BINYAMIN. "Economists Against the Draft." New York Times Sunday Review. 6 Feb. 2016. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Kamarck, Kristy N. "Woman In Combat: Issues For Congress." Congressional Research Service (December 3rd 2015): 1-26. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Scarborough, Rowan. "Army Women Hurt More Often in Combat Training, Experience More Mental Health Issues." The Washington Post. Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2015. Web.

11 Apr. 2016.

LUBOLD, GORDON. "Marines Commandant Argues Against Women in All Combat Jobs." The Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

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