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It was a coincidence ripe with irony. On the same day the main section of the Washington Post was trumpeting Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision to allow women in combat, the sports section was featuring an analysis of the “epidemic” of torn knee ligaments in women’s basketball and soccer.
Reporter Preston Williams wrote: “Young female athletes are two to eight times more likely than young males to tear their anterior cruciate ligaments, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Area girls’ basketball players are doing their part to validate a statistic that one local orthopaedic surgeon considers “a national epidemic.”
What’s more, statistics originating with the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine reveal 70 percent of the tears result from “no contact.”
The Fairfax County, VA school system, writes Williams, started tracking knee injuries. After football — an incubator for all problems knee–wise — the three leading sports for complete ACL tears were girls’ lacrosse, girls’ soccer and girls’ basketball. This looks like a trend to me and might point one toward a belief that men’s and women’s bodies are fundamentally different, but what do I know? I’m certainly not a “gender” expert.
Of course those injuries are taking place in a sports setting where women prance around in the equivalent of pajamas or bikini bottoms with nary a jihadi in sight. What possible relevance could those statistics have to combat situations where women are carrying 60–lb. packs and running for their lives?
Can’t ideology overcome physiology? Military brass certainly thinks so. The WaPost says they are on board in a big way. Sounding a lot like Pres. George H. W. Bush after his first encounter with a grocery store scanner, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, enthused: ‘The most eye-opening moment, he said, came in Iraq in 2003. As the commander of the 1st Armored Division, he hopped into an armored vehicle and slapped the gunner’s leg, asking the soldier to introduce himself.
“I’m Amanda,” the gunner said, poking her head down from the turret.
“So, female turret gunner protecting a division commander,” Dempsey recalled, beaming. “And it’s from that point on that I realized something had changed and it was time to do something about it.”’
Of course Dempsey could have been buttering Amanda up in an effort to head off a sexual harassment complaint after groping her thigh. But not to worry, even though female knee ligaments are popping like small arms fire in Fallujah, Dempsey can hardly wait for full integration.
Sen. Carl Levin (D–Never Served Himself) also approves. “The reality is that so many women have been, in effect, in combat or quasi-combat,” he said. “This is catching up with reality.” This is actually lying through inference. What the left refers to as combat deaths for women are in the main deaths in a combat or war zone, which is vastly different. It’s like counting the woman who injures her knee in a fall down the stairs at FedEx Field as one of the knee injuries occurring in the NFL. (Note to professional apology demanders: I am in no way denigrating the deaths of these women. I am instead protesting the left’s exploitation of their passing.)
The problem with women in combat roles is not mental (although I have my doubts about a female who demands to be a grunt) but physical. Women lack upper body strength and aerobic capacity because they basically aren’t men. If a woman’s performance in a combat unit is sub–par then one of the men is going to have to do her job and his, with the resulting decline in the unit’s performance.
Bowling and golf — both pastimes Obama is familiar with — award handicaps to equalize performance during competition. War, on the other hand, penalizes those who handicap themselves through the adoption of personnel policies that only make sense in faculty lounges.
The Marines have already had a field test of women in combat and the women surrendered. Last September they opened the Infantry Officer Course to women. It’s three months of physical punishment that molds Marine officers. Of the 80 women potentially able to volunteer, two did so. On the first day one quit and the other washed out two weeks later for medical reasons.
Marine Capt. Katie Petronio wrote a detailed account of her deployment to Afghanistan titled, “Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal.” Her conclusion, based on personal experience, is that women are not physically able to take the punishment of extended combat conditions in the field.
But facts make no difference in this debate. Women in combat is not a reality–based policy, and reality isn’t going to influence implementation. Panetta says women will be integrated into combat units “expeditiously” So “Damn the Knee Ligaments. Full speed ahead.”
Gen. Robert W. Cone attempts to reassure skeptics when he explains, ““Women do not want standards changed for them. If a standard is valid, they want to be able to meet that standard.” The key word being “valid.” And what is “valid” is going to be subject to strict interpretation, for as an anonymous official notes, “The onus is going to be on them to justify why a woman can’t serve in a particular role.”
In plain language this means if a unit doesn’t have women serving, questions are going to be raised. Pentagon pencil–pushers are going to want to know why those officers aren’t meeting the “metrics” (another word for quotas) for women in combat roles. Come performance review or fitness report time, strict officers and drill instructors are going to be asked why they aren’t team players? Promotion and advancement are going to hinge on the answers.
Even before Panetta announced his policy, Army units — prior to deployment to Afghanistan — were requesting officers based on merit and being told the slot would be filled by a female, based on quotas.
It will only get worse in the future. Too many women will learn too late that “being on the right side of history” puts one on the wrong side of knee surgery. And yet again the elites that impose a destructive policy on unwilling recipients won’t suffer the consequences of their bad decision.