Second Obama Administration Gathers Steam: Pentagon To Lift More Bans On Women In Combat

The Second Obama Administration gathers steam. It should be quite a ride.

Plenty of surveys have been done over the years of the views of women in the military on this question. Enlisted women have been overwhelmingly against this change, although some of the most ambitious women officers see restrictions on women in combat as an impediment to promotion.

Since the early 1990s, the Pentagon has tried to put the kibosh on active duty personnel speaking frankly about sex role questions. We saw in the 2003 Saving Private Lynch fraud how hard the military wants to promote the myth of the buttkicking babe.

Fortunately, law professor Kingsley Browne  assembled a huge amount of evidence in his 2007 book Co-ed Combat derived from both studies and, crucially, soldiers' anonymous online discussion groups to find out what was really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I try to keep an eye out for dogs that don't bark. A pretty big dog at the moment is film director Kathryn Bigelow, who has made two movies about 21st Century combat, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. I watched both movies with an eye out for Bigelow's views on women in combat, and didn't see anything suggesting she thinks sending women into combat is a dandy idea. Indeed, the emphasis in Zero Dark Thirty on the huge amount of heavy gear contemporary American warriors lug into battle subtly suggests that the percentage of women who could shoulder a fair share of their platoon's burden is negligible.

But, so what? It's not like any of this matters in a practical sense. If more co-ed combat degrades American military performance, it's not like the Axis is going to win WWII, it's that a few more brave Americans will get killed in some inconclusive puttering around in Mali or wherever.

This kind of thing is like gay marriage: a symbolic war on the realities of biology.