Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sexual Integration of Combat Forces

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, guestblogger Kingsely Browne has concluded a series of extremely interesting posts arguing that the integration of women in the military impairs the military's ability to wage war. Here are Professor Browne's closing comments:
In these posts, I have touched upon some of the problems created by sexual integration of combat forces. . ..

A common response . . . is that, yes, these are problems but they can be worked around; the military will “manage” these challenges with more leadership, more training, and more discipline. One could as easily say, however, that during the Battle of the Bulge GIs “managed” one of the coldest winters on record even with the challenge of inadequate clothing. But clearly both the soldiers and the war effort would have been better off if they had not been compelled to manage that particular challenge.

In deciding on rules about combat integration, the ultimate question can’t be how to maximize women’s opportunities. Instead, it has to be how to maximize the military’s power to defeat the enemy. Clausewitz wrote that “everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.” Mixing the sexes together in an integrated combat force adds substantially to what he described as the “friction” of war. The combat environment is difficult enough; we do no one any favors by making it even more so.

Professor Browne makes a powerful case. I would be fascinated to see what military historians such as Mark Grimsely have to say on the subject. Any takers?


  1. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Thanks for the link, this is a very interesting series of posts.


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