Women in Combat: Reconsidering the Case Against the Deployment of Women in Combat-Support and Combat Units



The issue of women serving in the military has repeatedly been subject to much debate and controversy. There are essentially two fundamentally opposing positions on the issue. One position holds that any form of exclusion of women in the military constitutes an act of discrimination or sexism, the sole objective of which is to irrationally defend a ‘man’s domain’.1 The central intellectual flaw in this line of argumentation seems to be that it turns a point of fact into a point of motive. It tends to trivialize or even ignore the overwhelming biological and sociological evidence stacked against women gaining unlimited access to all facets of military life, while simultaneously alleging a discriminatory agenda on the part of those objecting. The opposing view holds that the full inclusion of women, particularly access to combat roles, results in force degradation and a general lowering of standards to the point where modern militaries largely stand to forfeit their sustained deploy-ability and war fighting capabilities. To substantiate this allegation, the case against women in combat-support or combat roles tends to emphasize biological and sociological limitations.


Sexual Harassment Boot Camp General Account Office Unit Cohesion Daily Telegraph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beddiscombe, Perry (1998): Werwolf. The History of the National Socialist Guerilla Movement 1944–1946. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bourke, Joanna (1999): An Intimate History of Killing. Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth Century Warfare. London: Granta Books.Google Scholar
  3. Creveld, Martin van (2001): Men, Women and War: Do Women Belong in the Frontline? London: Cassel.Google Scholar
  4. Davies, Catriona (2005): Sex Equality is the First Casualty of War. In: Daily Telegraph, 2 September.Google Scholar
  5. Deutscher Bundestag (2006): Antrag der Fraktionen der CDU/CSU und SPD — UN-Resolution 1325 — Frauen, Frieden und Sicherheit — Konsequent umsetzen (Drucksache 16/3501, Deutscher Bundestag, 16. Wahlperiode, 21 November 2006. Berlin: Deutscher Bundestag.Google Scholar
  6. Fehrenbach, Terence (2003): Comanche. The Demise of a People. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  7. Field, Kim/ Nagl, John (2001): Combat for Women: A Modest Proposal. In: Parameters, Summer, 74–88.Google Scholar
  8. Freedman, Carl (1985): Manhood Redux. Standing up to Feminism. New York: Samson Publications.Google Scholar
  9. General Accounting Office (GAO), National Security and International Affairs Division (1999): Gender Issues. Trends in the Occupational Distribution of Military Women. Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate (GAO/NSIAD-99-212). Washington, D.C.: GAO.Google Scholar
  10. Goodrich, Thomas (1997): Scalp Dance — Indian Warfare on the High Plains 186572-1879. Mechaniksburg: Stackpole Books.Google Scholar
  11. Grenkevich, Leonid (1999): The Soviet Partisan Movement 1941–1944. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  12. Grossman, David (1996): On Killing. The Psychological Cost of Killing in War. London: Little, Brown & Co.Google Scholar
  13. Gutmann, Stephanie (2000): The Kinder, Gentler Military. Can America’s Gender-Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars? New York: Scribner’s.Google Scholar
  14. Hanson, Victor Davis (2001): Why the West Has Won. Nine Landmark Battles in the Brutal History of Western Victory. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  15. Hodierne, Robert (2004): Women’s, Men’s Views Differ on War and Bush. In: Military Times 2005.Google Scholar
  16. http.//; accessed 13 September 2007.Google Scholar
  17.; accessed 12 May 2007.Google Scholar
  18.; accessed 12 May 2007.Google Scholar
  19. Keeley, Lawrence (1996): War Before Civilization. The Myth of the Noble Savage. Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  20. Military Times (2005): Annual Year-End Poll 2004. Online:; accessed 12 May 2007.Google Scholar
  21. Moskos, Charles (1990): Army Women. In: The Atlantic Monthly, 266:2, 71–78.Google Scholar
  22. O’Hanlon, Michael (2002): A Flawed Masterpiece. In: Foreign Affairs, 81:3, 47–63.Google Scholar
  23. Pegler, Martin (2004): Out of Nowhere. A History of the Military Sniper. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Sidell, Frederick/ Takafuji, Ernest/ Franz, David (Eds.) (1997): Textbook of Military Medicine, Part 1, Warfare, Weaponry and the Casualty. Washington, D.C.: Borden Institute, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.Google Scholar
  25. Scarborough, Rowan (2004): Pregnant Troops Leave the War. Central Command not Counting. In: The Washington Times, 16 June.Google Scholar
  26. Simons, Anna (2001): Women in Combat Units: It’s Still a Bad Idea. In: Parameters, Summer, 89–100.Google Scholar
  27. Wilson, Barbara, A. USAF (Ret.): Debunking Rumors, Myths, Fallacies, Legends, Gossip, Fables, Nonsense. Online:; accessed 29 August 2007.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Historical InstituteJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations