Today's battlefield is non-linear; there is no "protected" battle space in which women can safely be employed. So women are already in combat -- 139 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand our enemy today is liable to be an enemy that does not respect women. They are an enemy whose teachings show women as chattel with few if any rights. U.S. policy should not be dictated by the enemy but we would be foolish not to consider who our potential enemy is in structuring our forces and how women would most likely be treated were they captured.
We must also consider the lack of privacy that women in mixed units in combat will endure and the impact on them and their fellow soldiers. Thus, I do not support women in a direct combat role where they must attack and fight the enemy. They have successfully done every job I did as a U.S. Army senior officer, but I was not engaging the enemy in close combat.
Clearly we shouldn't engineer job requirements to exclude women but if a soldier can't do the job requirement then they shouldn't get the job. The standards should certainly not be rewritten or weakened. That is what our nation's security demands.
Robert P. McFarlin