The television story about the Marines’ testing of women in combat set me off today.
Armed Service Fitness
An item in the news set me to thinking about what makes a person fit for military service. In this country, we have standards of health for the combat soldier, and these should be followed, but what do we see in the past?
When I was in London, and going through the military museum, I came across a manikin set to represent Horatio Nelson, the hero of many naval battles. To my shock and awe, he was no taller than my 5 foot 4 inches, and was missing his right eye and right arm. Surely the British Navy had better and more fit people to fight the battles against the French? It was his training and brains that counted in the end, not his physical prowess.
Coming forward in time, as the world was looking at the end of WWII, the Army of the U.S. was facing the invasion of the homeland of Japan. From my good friend Bill, who was there, the fact was that the Pentagon knew that all the old men, women and children would turn out and fight to the death if they were faced with an invasion by the U.S. Marines.
They had already proved that with the battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where civilians chose suicide rather than defeat. There was no lack of courage there.
Moving right along, we have the samples of the Viet Nam war, where our tall, robust, healthy American soldiers were chased out of the country by a small, underfed, and poor country’s armed forces, who applied their meager resources quite intelligently.
So how could upper body strength be the measure for our armed services when a person without legs could sit in front of a console and deal death from afar, guiding a drone to the target?
How does health, good dental care, and three meals a day stack up against the hidden dynamite vest on a fanatic Muslim woman, ready to die for her faith?
When we see that women have already achieved the top jobs in aviation, space travel, and business, how can we judge whether or not they are fit to fight in the trenches besides the corn and beef fed men?
All of my Asian in laws are short, my grandson will never be any taller than 5 foot five inches, but his brain can tackle anything, and his mom is even smarter.
When it comes time for the brass in the Pentagon to decide if women can be combat soldiers I hope they remember short, half blind and crippled Nelson.