Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Smith, a retired Marine infantryman who fought in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, urges caution about the Pentagon's new directive to allow woment to fight as combat infantry. Smith describes his experience in 2003:
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.
Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
Read the whole thing here.
Meanwhile, former Republican congressman Allen West, who served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel in the Army, expressed his opposition to the change on his Twitter page:
Women in combat billets? Another misconceived lib vision of fairness and equality.
— Allen West (@AllenWest) January 24, 2013