American Women Are Signing Up for Combat in Unexpected Numbers
Kevin Knodell

It has been more than 10 years since I began considering the topic of women in the military and especially women in combat.

I have come to the conclusion that women would do best, and would be prepared for higher levels leadership and authority within the military, If they began their military service in all-women “Amazon” battalions (Marines and Army), squadrons (Air Force) or crews (Navy and Coast Guard). This initial period should be four to six years.

An Army Ranger and Special Forces officer during the Vietnam era, I enjoyed the company of “real men” in a man’s world. I imagine that women would feel the same.

I truly believe that the sexual tensions brought on by the extended periods of isolated operations of mixed units would end in division of units, formed around or against the women in the unit, and would lead to a deterioration in unit effectiveness.

The first appearance of all-women combat units that I learned about occurred during the last year of Russian involvement in the First World War. There were some extraordinary successes at first; but these could not be sustained.

During the Second World War, the Soviets had some front-line units that were all-women; but, as the war began to turn in their favor, women moved into a more supportive roles. The exception was a squadron of all-women fighter pilots, which performed very well throughout the war.

Thanks to Al Jazeera, I have read several articles on the performance of all-female combat units in the Kurdish armed forces. The articles are very positive.

I have raised a daughter. During that process, I have observed the dynamic -sometimes fearless and almost always supportive- spirit of these girls as they set out to do things together. I have also observed how this cohesion and togetherness breaks down once dating comes into the picture, and how behaviors and manners changed in mixed groups. I have observed that the dynamic in mixed groups is different, when the boys involved are gay or are “wimps”, and when the boys involved act and behave like the young men I grew up with.

I believe that the U.S. military should perform an experiment, lasting at least 6 years, of forming Amazon units in all the services. I believe that we will all be surprised by how effective such all-women units would prove to be. And, furthermore, I believe that the esprit des corps within these units would escalate to such a level that the participants would resist any suggestion to end the experiment.

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