USMC Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning Quantico United States
Recent discussions in Congress have spurred a variety of debates and arguments regarding the ban on women in combat military occupational specialties MOSs, and theviability of lifting that ban. The debates focus mostly on physicality, unit cohesion, and logistics. After a recent review of the literature, I found that the surveyed texts overall support the claim that women can and do serve well in combat roles. However, the sample of combatants documented was likely selected for individual augments there were no mixed battalions that could be evaluated, and there were no mixed combat units that officially allowed women in combat roles. In this regard, there appears to be a significant lack of rigorous long term or large scale studies that investigate the roles and performance of women in combat units, even as individual augments. My own experience, while embedded with the Army and Marines in Iraq throughout 2008-2009, found no instances of women serving in direct line of fire roles. However, I heard plenty of stories from female soldiers who either had experienced or had returned combat fire and who felt that the ban was outdated and did not take into account the lack of a frontline in todays war zones. I saw no logistical issues of the sort noted in the literature while on Marine Corps bases the Marines were quite adept at making do with the supplies they had, but did see a variety of Marines with various body types of both sexes who performed well in all physical activities either with or without the use of a buddy. To me, it seemed that should the ban be lifted, individual performance-based selection for combat-related MOSs might be a potential solution to the sensitive topic of integrating women into traditionally all male MOSs and units.