Friday, 9 May 2014

Should women fight in combat?

In 'Merdeka', one of the main protagonists is a woman who does just that.  The British Army is now about to (again) review female close combat roles. Details of this can be found on the BBC website.

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says "I think that at a time when the Americans, the Australians, the Canadians, even the French - the Israelis of course for years - have women in their combat arms, this is something we have to look at again...." 

Lord Dannatt, former head of the Army, told the BBC that women should not be in the combat arms as "a matter of principle".  He may have a point.  While there is no question at all that women can act as effectively as men in combat roles (provided they meet the required standards) the reality of battle means that the inclusion of women in close quarter battle units may have two unintended consequences:

1.  The enemy could target the women, knowing that taking out a female combatant could have a disproportionate effect on her male colleagues.

2.  Despite briefing and training to the contrary, male soldiers could be overly protective to their female comrades.

Both would reduce the combat effectiveness of the unit.  Perhaps this is one reason why, prior to the formation of the predominantly female Carcal Battalion in 2000, the Israeli Army barred women from serving in direct combat!

1 comment:

  1. Roles in our armed forces should be determined by ability not gender!! The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) could allow women to apply for ground close-combat roles in 2016.But there is still ambiguity about the health of service women. Hence a research is done to ensure the ability and health of women. It is expected that an initial report will be submitted in 2016.