Allowing women to serve in combat compromises quality

If America was perfect, everyone would have completely equal rights and opportunities. If the world was perfect, there would be no war. Unfortunately, we live on a planet and in a country fundamentally flawed. And while allowing women to serve in combat roles in the United States army may be a small step in the direction of equal opportunity, it too remains drastically, dangerously imperfect.

The concept of allowing women in combat roles could serve to eliminate a few inequalities and genuinely benefit a small group currently discriminated against. Some women choose to go into the military as a career. But in order to rise through the ranks, a soldier must have experience fighting the enemy for days on end, working under harsh conditions and coping with sleep deprivation. If a soldier is to make a decent military career, she must have experience in the combatant infantry. The government should not deny these soldiers this career opportunity, assuming they meet the physical requirements.

However, instead of just giving these soldiers the equality they deserve, the government is using this as a misguided method of expanding its diminutive military. The United States military currently has 1.4 million active-duty personnel. During World War II, while the United States had a total population just over one-third of today’s, 9.2 million people served in the armed forces.

The draft effectively built up the American army and kept it strong. Today, people would see bringing back the draft as radical and would surely meet it with fury. Instead, the government thought it wiser to appeal to volunteers from the other 50 percent of the population.

The problem the government has created lies in lowering the standards of physical fitness for both men and women in combat roles. In an attempt to make the opportunity equal, they have lowered the bar for fitness and now use a “gender-neutral” test. This will only result in a weaker army.

This change will allow more women to serve their country than under old testing standards. More men could go into combat as well, but a slightly larger military with significantly weaker soldiers cannot act effectively.

If the old fitness requirements would remain in place, not all women who wished to serve in combat would be able to do so. Some may find inequality in this, but war is not about including everyone in battle. If you want to become a lawyer, you must pass the BAR exam. If you want to join the infantry, you must pass the IOC. We should make no allowances for people not strong enough to pass the current test any more than we should make them for law students who do not study enough.

Strong women are out there. There are women, although not as many as the government would like, that can pass the IOC at its original standards. And lowering the standards is only patronizing these women, the only ones who should go into combat roles.

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