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May 31, 2013  2:32pm

Kate: I'm the Director of Operations for the Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service (ACCTS), a ministry to the military forces of the world. You can learn more about us on our website, www.accts.org, and you may be interested in the archive of "God Stories," the link in the upper right corner of the home page. Many of them focus on the kinds of issues you discuss in this article. In Christ, Pete Prindle

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Bill Shea

February 09, 2013  10:28am

Having served for twenty years in the Army including a tour in Vietnam as an adviser to a South Vietnamese Armor unit, I believe I have something to add. First of all, the idea that all future wars will use high technology and with small units such as special ops is not reality. In two years the Russians will be spending a greater portion of their GDP than the US on their military. Both Russia and China are building large scale land forces that include the three main combat arms, Armor, Infantry, and Artillery. Secondly, anyone who keeps up-to-date on all things military knows that cyber warfare will take center stage in any major conflict. The Chinese already hack into our banking systems and yes, even the DOD networks. Look how easy hackers got into the past presidents' email accounts. Cyber warfare will take down Command and Control, Logistics, GPS, and will eventually be able to take control of our drones and other tools of war.

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February 01, 2013  3:36pm

The article has some good points and there are some good comments here.... Having spent 8 years as an Army NCO (some during Desert Storm), what resonates with me is that despite all the tech we had- the harsh elements, no electricity (drained batteries, etc.) and other things that occur during war eventually made it so that the tech no longer worked (or at least worked as planned), and at the end of the day with an equally-strong enemy destroying each other's tech (including satellites) we'll all be grunting it out. No doubt where intellect is concerned men and women are equivalent, however, men on average have 40% more muscle mass than women (and "mental testosterone" that is more in line with fighting a war) and women are better suited for support roles, not to mention the dynamics of women and men in close quarters present challenges (moral included). Support roles are just (if not more) important than direct-combat roles...

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Kathi Vande Guchte

January 29, 2013  7:14pm

Why is it alright for women to be fire fighters and police officers - both requiring strength and risk to life, yet it's dangerous for women to fight in wars on the frontlines? Not every woman wants to do this, but for those who do, why not let them?

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Ken Bockman

January 26, 2013  1:20am

At least the women aren't pictured pointing their weapons at each other. I think it is regrettable that we a placing women in high risk areas, and this old geezer doesn't think a moral nation would send its women into war just in the name of equality.

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jacob israel

January 25, 2013  12:57pm

Those who live by the sword will die by the sword... Considering that this is supposed to be a christian forum, perhaps someone will answer the following: What else did Jesus Christ say about the use of violence? Did he say how the persecuted should react? Jesus, the apostles and the early christians for the first three centuries were all non-violent. They did not take up arms. They did not go into physical battle.We can even find historical records of Roman centurians and soldiers being executed because they refused to fight because they called themselves christian.They all saw injustice, they all heard and witnessed battle around them. Jesus and his apostles could have formed a military campaign, but they did not. Christian martyrs suffered torture and were killed rather than fight back. Violence breeds violence. God said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. Furious anger is not meant for the christian man or woman. Christian church leaders should have the courage to say this.

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Jessica Thomas

January 25, 2013  7:44am

"When U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced yesterday that the military would drop its ban on women in combat..." I was hoping this day would never come. I'm not against feminism, but definitely gets filed under the category "negative fall out". When our daughters start getting drafted, some might begin to change their tune.

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Steve Skeete

January 25, 2013  6:51am

Thanks Kate! I too, am looking forward to women serving in every area of the military and in the highest ranks. Of course, like you say, they are already flying the choppers, driving the humvees, and getting caught in the cross-fire as they evacuate the wounded etc. Now it is time they walk with the infantry carrying their fair share of the load, wade through swamps, trek through under-growth, walk through dusty villages and avoid booby-traps, trip-wires, snipers and IEDs. I can't wait for the day when, like our male, females deal with everyday war realities like amputation of limbs, and field hospitals full of wounded-for-life female soldiers waiting to be flown home. And, of course, I am looking forward to equal amounts of body-bags flown in from international battlefields, and to the equal treatment female soldiers will receive when they are captured, confined, and 'renditions' etc. Of course, like males, females can also expect to be raped and sexually abused. I am with you, Kate!

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Joe Carter

January 24, 2013  11:49pm

With all due respect, Ms. Shellnutt, you don't seem to know what you are talking about. Yes, there are still "front lines" and that's not what "asymmetrical warfare" means. The fact that woman have been put in harm's way in a warzone does not mean that it's a small change to eliminate all distinctions about combat roles. Americans have no idea just how radical a shift the DOD is making. (Even the Israelis do not allow women to hold the same roles that Panetta just opened up.) If women are *allowed* to serve in combat roles then there is no reason why they can't be drafted to serve in the infantry. A lot of people are going to be in for a big surprise when they find their daughters and granddaughters soon having to register with the Selective Service.

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Jonathan Romaneski

January 24, 2013  11:15pm

Karen- I appreciate your comments! I think we can all agree that Clausewitzian doctrine has been relegated to the 19th century. But that doesn't mean that "troops and strategy" no longer matter. Air power, mobility, intelligence, logistics, and all those efforts bolster combined arms doctrine with amazing efficiency. Examples abound from 1939 to 2003. But, it's a mistake to think that technology will do away with the necessity of putting troops on the ground--troops who will have to walk with heavy packs and carry big guns and, (possibly), close with an enemy and kill him hand-to-hand. Examples of logistics and air power ALONE winning a war are, well, I can't think of one. I also question the assertion that "modern war" = asymmetrical war. Who made that rule? I only hope to say that ground combat entails more than Mrs. Shellnutt has described, and we just need to appreciate those complexities as we make the decision to send women into the infantry.

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Karen Smith

January 24, 2013  9:33pm

@ Jonathon Romaneski I would argue that the familiar combat system of "build a line, or line of people" is obsolete in the modern age; see Vietnam, Iraq I and II, and Afghanistan for how well it works. Are tanks useful? Sure! Drive a few along a road, or cross-country, and you can do a lot of damage - especially to enemy tanks. Drive a line of armor with support troops, as was done in WWII, and you will end up either not finding the enemy (in asymetrical warfare) or eating missiles from a more significant enemy (China, North Korea, etc). Trench warfare, ie traditional tactics, would have similar issues. Modern warfare is about logistics and asymetrical combat - getting ground support in place, then using air power to take down the majority of the hostile forces - much more than it is about troop numbers, it's about the ability to get the necessary troops to a place they can use to take advantage of a given weakness.

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Jonathan Romaneski

January 24, 2013  8:24pm

I'm sorry, just one more comment. It's about the whole there-are-no-front-lines-anymore mantra. Yes. It is true that every person--man, woman, soldier, civilian, etc.--is at a certain level of risk within the borders of Afghanistan. That said, do a Google Image search for "Kandahar Airfield boardwalk" and look around. You should see the T.G.I. Friday's there, and a soccer field, roller hockey rink, and so on. Then pop in the movie "Restrepo" and tell me there's no distinguishing among MOSs anymore. (Of course those are two extreme ends of the spectrum; in the middle are the helicopter pilots, engineers, MPs, logisticians, and so on.) My point is only that it's not so homogeneous as some people want to make it. Even though it's true that there's no defined "line," it is also still true that our combat arms soldiers and Marines are the ones facing the overwhelming majority of the risk in combat. They're the ones whose actual function is to fight.

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Jonathan Romaneski

January 24, 2013  7:17pm

There are two problems as I see them with this article. The first is that, while it's true that we're not quite "bouncing foxhole to foxhole with huge packs" on our backs, let's not understate the amount of physical difficulty ground combat in Afghanistan has required from our fighting men. Walking around in 100-degree weather at high altitude in rocky, mountainous terrain, with heavy armor and, yes, ruck sacks too sometimes, can be very taxing. But never mind, my second problem - the biggest problem with this article, as I read it - is this: "War is no longer dominated by tanks, troops, and traditional military strategy." Oh? War in general is no longer dominated by tanks, troops, or strategy? I grant that the tank has been marginalized in Afghanistan (though not in Iraq) based strictly on terrain considerations, but certainly not the other two. And besides, what about the next war? Is Afghanistan the only war we'll ever fight again? Ever? Are you willing to bet your life on that?

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Tim Fall

January 24, 2013  2:20pm

Nicely done, Kate. I really appreciate how you point out the changing nature of combat, and that women have been on the front lines for a while now. This change is somewhat like the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell, and Truman's integration of the military ranks: it reflects the realities already present. Cheers, Tim (timfall.wordpress.com) P.S. I have a piece on this as well, going up tomorrow 1/25, comparing it all to our roles in the kingdom of God

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January 24, 2013  12:48pm

What the author says is true. Women have been serving in areas of high risk for years. I served in the Army for four years and have mixed feelings about this but also know that there are many factors that went into this decision that many of us aren't privy too. I'm afraid opening up every area for women is more a political move then anything good for female and male troops. Women are very capable. Many are far more capable than many men actually. But which women want this to happen? I am thinking the ones who pushed for it are the ones who want those top military positions that are only open to combat officers.

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Karen Smith

January 24, 2013  11:53am

The change is a welcome one. Now they just need to either add women to selective service or eliminate / revise how it works. I would like to state something that many people are either missing or don't understand - and that is that women have been in the trenches - in combat troops - for a long time. They've just been transgender women. Sure, we are still officially disallowed in the military, but that didn't stop Antonia D'orsay (who now runs "This is H.O.W.", an organization that provides aid to T* people in the Phoenix, AZ area) from being an Army Ranger. Women have stood on the front lines throughout American history; it's just official now.

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