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Neal W. Jarnagin

Professor Ryan

September 25, 2006

English Composition II, 106-D

The Difference of Sex in War

On June 5th, 2006 Jamie Jaenke was killed in a roadside explosion while on a security detail in

the Al Anbar province in Iraq. On June 11th, 2005 Casey Byers was killed in a roadside

explosion south of Ramadi. While these two individuals had many differences and similarities,

ultimately their sex would be the only one that mattered. While both were members of the armed

forces serving their country in Iraq, having a mother, a father, a sister, a boyfriend, they both had

children that will now have to be raised by someone else. The arguments of women in the

military and in what capacities have been argued since there have been women willing to fight.

When a member of the military, whether male or female has a child and is in a deployable

status, they are required to create a Family Care Plan. Its purpose is to protect the child from

lack of planning and to protect the member’s command from liability issues once a deployment

order is given. The form is eighteen questions long and ultimately ensures that a legal guardian

is designated as well as ensuring a power of attorney and will have been completed in case of the

member’s untimely death. This is one of the primary arguments that come into play regarding

women in the military family. Regardless, women should be given every opportunity afforded to

a man while serving in our countries armed forces.

Jamie was a loving mother to (her daughter), Kayla, and a very loved daughter of Larry and

Susan. She worked as an emergency medical technician back home, and as a hospital
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corpsman. She willingly accepted risks in order to put herself in a better position to help others.

(1)

This article is no different than the one above it except for the service member’s sex.

Casey Byers never got to meet his infant daughter, Hailey. “I will make sure Hailey will

know who the real Casey Byers was,” his mother, Ann, wrote in a letter read at his

funeral. (1)

This brings to light the argument of moral value of the parent’s sex in the military. Which parent

is more valuable, the mother or the father? Which is more expendable? Which does society hold

a greater importance on? I believe it is painfully obvious when reading editorial after editorial

about the importance of the woman in the home. Believing women have no place on the

battlefield only proves that they have never been on one themselves and have never seen what a

woman can do in extreme situations.

Virginia’s Democratic Senator Jim Webb had to recently apologize for statements made as

Secretary of the Navy in 1979 because of the upcoming Senate race, stating that women did not

belong in combat. The ex-Marine wrote in the “Washingtonian magazine article, ‘Women Can’t

Fight,’ of the brutal conditions during the Vietnam War and argued against letting women into

combat. Webb described one of the academy’s coed dorms as ‘a horny woman’s dream’ and said

that he had never met a woman he ‘would trust to provide…combat leadership.’ (1) These

arguments have resurfaced because of the inordinate amount of women being killed in a combat

environment.

According to the National Archives, only eight women were killed in Vietnam from 1966-

1975 out of the 58,193 active duty members killed or .014%. The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
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reports that there were 60 women killed in Iraq from March of 2003 to September of 2006 out of

2,702 active duty members killed or 2.22%. Looking at these figures one would believe the

armed forces were making leaps and bounds in the fight for equality but in truth, and officially,

nothing has changed. According to Army Regulation 600-13, Army Policy for the Assignment of

Female Soldiers:

The Army’s assignment policy for female soldiers allows women to serve in any officer

or enlisted specialty or position except in those specialties, positions, or units (battalion

size or smaller) which are assigned a routine mission to engage in direct combat, or which

collocate routinely with units assigned a direct combat mission. (1)

Once properly assigned, female soldiers are subject to the same utilization policies as

their male counterparts. In event of hostilities, female soldiers will remain with their

assigned units and continue to perform their assigned duties. (2)

According to the above two statements, female soldiers should be able to stay relatively out of

harms way but, that is not the case. Not only are women being placed in formerly all male units

that collocate with infantry and armor battalions, but they are also being “technically” assigned

to brigade level units but are actually attached to forward support companies. While the Army

has not disregarded any of its own policies, it has certainly stretched the limits of the policy.

This however is not foreign territory for any of the armed forces. Whenever logistically possible,

women have been serving in the Navy and Coast Guard since the early 1990’s with few

problems.

The military, Congress, and the American people for the most part have been tight lipped

regarding the use of women in combat units. The American parent for example would rather see
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someone’s daughter die for their country than their own son. While it is still an issue and will be

after the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, Congress will be forced to delve into the rabbit

hole of women in combat units. Currently, the military just doesn’t have enough men to do the

job even with a record number of recruits joining.

The main arguments opponent’s have regarding women are the difficulties women will have

with their own physical capabilities, the logistical ability and cost, and romance among the ranks,

even while in a battlefield environment. They state that often time’s men are required to carry

100 pounds or more of weight while hiking, doing manual labor, or pulling an injured soldier to

safety. In this sense, women are no different than men. They are held to the same standards as

their male counterparts in every aspect of physical fitness. Women who cannot perform, like any

other soldier, are placed into a limited duty status until they can perform or are separated from

service.

Regarding logistics, the military has already made what minimal concessions it has needed to

make sure women have the proper medical support and facilities. Often times, women will not

have the luxury of having their own showers or bathroom facilities but through command

support and patience on everyone’s part, they have scheduled different shower times and

“lookouts” to assist with the transition of an all male fighting force to a coed one.

Romance on the other hand has always and will always be an issue that military analysts and

Dr. Phil will try to figure out for years to come. The military in general has taken a hard stance

on fraternization, on sexual harassment, and has directed it’s efforts to education as prevention

rather than taking the philosophy of hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.
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It has been suggested that women should be allowed entry into the military but should stay on

shore commands far out of reach of danger. The National Guard, the Army, and the Marine

Corps are suggesting their soldiers have one year of shore time between 6 and 18 months of

fighting. This one year time frame allows soldiers time to recoup their thoughts as much as

possible, to get their head back on straight so that they can go to fight another day. But as

quickly as they have suggested it, they are requiring more out of the soldiers due to attrition,

injury, and administrative reasons and sending these same soldiers back to the front in six months

rather than the proposed year. So take for example a new soldier who just came out of boot

camp. He immediately meets his unit in Iraq as is so often the case. He spends anywhere from 6

months to 18 months fighting and returns to the states, or to Japan, or to Germany for six months

of down time. If this young soldier lives through his four year enlistment, he could spend up to

36 months fighting. In turn, wouldn’t it be worth allowing the women to help take the burden of

fighting? They are willing to let lawmakers still turn a blind eye.

Every individual that joins the armed forces knows upon taking the oath of enlistment that

they may have to give up their lives in order to protect and defend the constitution of the United

States. Why would being a woman be any different than being a man when the Constitution they

are defending gives equal rights to both man and woman? Women first enlisted in the military in

1917. The first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor was Dr. Mary E. Walker, a

contract surgeon during the Civil War. The first woman to receive The Purple Heart was Annie

G. Fox during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The list goes on and on but in 1967 a

momentous occasion occurred. Master Sergeant Barbara J. Dulinsky was the first woman ever

ordered into a combat zone. The argument ultimately is one of equality. Are women equal
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enough to fight on the front lines as men have been doing for centuries? Based on the war in

Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe they have proven they are.


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Bibliography

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