An Army officer writing in a prestigious journal says the services should not overemphasize physical strength when deciding whether a woman qualifies for direct ground combat.
Col. Ellen Haring, on the staff of the U.S. Army War College, says commanders need to downplay obstacle courses and judge a service member’s ability to stay calm and think quickly.
“Perhaps it is time to take a hard look at what really makes a competent combat soldier and not rely on traditional notions of masculine brawn that celebrate strength over other qualities,” Col. Haring says in the current issue of Armed Forces Journal.
In focusing only on physical strength in violent situations, she said: “We diminish the importance of what are probably more important traits in soldiers: the ability to remain calm, focused, creative and quick-thinking in times of extreme duress. These are the traits that we should be measuring as we assess soldiers for combat specialties. Physical strength is important, but it shouldn’t be the most important trait that we assess, and it certainly shouldn’t become a way to filter out the Audie Murphys of our population.”
We'll leave aside the vile comment about the size of the Vietnamese race and concentrate on Audie Murphy, who used all of his 5'5" frame to the greatest physical prowess possible:
As part of Operation Torch on November 8, 1942, the United States seized Port Lyautey in French Morocco. The 3rd Infantry Division was sent to this Port Lyautey on March 7, 1943, coming under the command of Major General Lucian Truscott, who took them through rigorous training at Arzew, Algeria, for an amphibious landing at Sicily. Private Murphy participated with his division in 30 mile (48 km) 8-hour marches, known as the "Truscott Trot". For the first hour, the men marched at a pace of 5 mph (8.0 km/h), and slowed to 4 mph (6.4 km/h) for the second hour, taking the final 21 miles (34 km) at a pace of 3.5 mph (5.6 km/h). They also performed bayonet and land mine drills, obstacle course training and other exercises.
Having taken part in numerous campaigns, Murphy had persevered amidst hardship and danger, winning the admiration of his men, which led to the next phase of his military career:
From its peak of 235 men, disease, injuries and casualties had reduced Company B's fighting strength to 18 men. Murphy being the only officer remaining on January 26 was made the company commander. The company awaited reinforcements as Murphy watched the approaching Germans, "I see the Germans lining up for an attack. Six tanks rumble to the outskirts of Holtzwihr, split into groups of threes, and fan out toward either side of the clearing. Then wave after wave of white dots, barely discernible against the background of snow, start across the field. They are enemy infantrymen..." Other eyewitness accounts also attest to the counterattack consisting of artillery fire, six Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf.E tanks pulling 88 mm anti-tank artillery guns and hundreds of foot soldiers. The Germans made a direct hit into a M10 tank destroyer, setting it on fire and causing its crew to abandon it. Murphy ordered his men to retreat to positions in the woods. He remained at his post alone shooting his M1 carbine and relaying orders with his telephone, all the while the Germans aimed fire directly at his position. Murphy mounted the abandoned, burning tank destroyer and began firing its .50 caliber machine gun at the advancing Germans, killing a squad crawling through a ditch towards him.It was like standing on top of a time bomb ... he was standing on the TD chassis, exposed to enemy fire from his ankles to his head and silhouetted against the trees and the snow behind him.—Eyewitness account of Pvt. Anthony V. Abramski
For an hour, Murphy stood on the tank returning German fire from foot soldiers and advancing tanks, during which he sustained a leg wound. He stopped only after he ran out of ammunition.As if under the influence of some drug, I slide off the tank destroyer and, without once looking back, walk down the road through the forest. If the Germans want to shoot me, let them. I am too weak from fear and exhaustion to care.—Audie Murphy, To Hell and Back
He rejoined his men with complete disregard for his own wound, leading them back to successfully repel the Germans. Only afterwards would he allow treatment of his leg wound, and still insisted on remaining with his men....during his indomitable one-man struggle, Lieutenant Murphy broke the entire attack of the Germans and held hard-won ground that it would have been disastrous to lose.—Eyewitness account of Sergeant Elmer C. Brawley
Colonel Haring might suggest that a female soldier could command troops by means of sheer intellect and tactical calm, but that's not the way that wars are fought. And the troops wouldn't follow such a leader into battle--not a leader who couldn't carry her weight or keep up with them as they slogged from battle to battle.
Unfortunately, it is increasingly difficult for career officers to call this feminist bluff--either to speak plainly about homosexual troops or women being attached to their numbers who have benefited by lesser standards. And the fact that this unserious opinion was published in a serious journal shows how far we've gone along the path of farce.