Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Marine Captain explains her opposition to allowing women to serve in the infantry

Dennis Prager mentioned this must-read article on his radio show on Monday. It is written by a female United States Marine named Katie Petronio, who has served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Marines are above average troops, with much stricter requirements to get in than the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In her article, Captain Petronio explains what serving in the infantry during combat operations did to her body.

Excerpt:

As a young lieutenant, I fit the mold of a female who would have had a shot at completing IOC, and I am sure there was a time in my life where I would have volunteered to be an infantryman. I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007. I completed Officer Candidates School (OCS) ranked 4 of 52 candidates, graduated 48 of 261 from TBS, and finished second at MOS school. I also repeatedly scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests (for example, earning a 292 out of 300 on the Marine physical fitness test). Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry. I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.

I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load, I was diagnosed with a severe case of restless leg syndrome. My spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. While this injury has certainly not been enjoyable, Iraq was a pleasant experience compared to the experiences I endured during my deployment to Afghanistan. At the beginning of my tour in Helmand Province, I was physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations in the heart of Sangin, one of the most kinetic and challenging AOs in the country. There were numerous occasions where I was sent to a grid coordinate and told to build a PB from the ground up, serving not only as the mission commander but also the base commander until the occupants (infantry units) arrived 5 days later. In most of these situations, I had a sergeant as my assistant commander, and the remainder of my platoon consisted of young, motivated NCOs. I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.

By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 PBs later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.

This article is a must-read, and it contains an audio interview and a video clip from CNN. Thank goodness that she spoke out about this, because right now it seems like the Democrats are passing a lot of legislation with a complete disregard to the long-term consequences and the incentives they are introducing. This issue is related to so many of the other issues being pushed by the left. They want to eradicate the differences between men and women – that’s what they mean by feminism. Abortion is there way of making women equal to men, with respect to recreational sex. And pushing women into combat roles is their way of making women equal to men, with respect to war. No one is stopping to ask what women really want, or what men and children need from women.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. I am reminded of the rejoinder when it is argued to lower standards for firefighters: “Fairness won’t carry grandma down the fire-escape.”

  2. Kunoichi says:

    Hmm… I have to wonder if perhaps she had some sort of underlying condition. I know too many women who can physically match males, and none have any greater problems because of it. Physical injuries come with the job, and frankly, men get injured a LOT, and there’s no predicting who is more likely to suffer permanent damage then another. Just as an example, my husband has been suffering from back problems for years, first injuring it during basic training, reinjuring it during a martial arts class, and it’s degenerated to quite debilitating levels of pain. It was only recently that we discovered he has a birth defect in two vertebra. He was a bad twist away from being in a wheelchair his entire life, and no one knew it.

    Extreme levels of fitness is dangerous. Many men suffer similar damage, including things like fertility. This applies to athletes as much as military personnel. Yes, there are anatomical differences that apply, but it’s pretty easy to modify movements to adjust for differently hindged joints. I question her conclusion that her health problems can be attributed to her gender. I especially question attributing her PCOS to her military. PCOS is a whole different ball game.

    She has pointed, but my view is, if someone qualifies for the job, let them do it, with eyes wide open to the risks and dangers as well.

  3. Sig94sig94 says:

    My daughter is on her second deployment (MI unit) to Afghanistan and she has commented on the difficulty of keeping up with male soldiers. She is one tough little nut but providing close support to combat infantry units is no joke.

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    As a Marine, I don’t doubt some women can be stronger than some men but I think it will affect unit cohesion at the infantry level once women is integrated into a Rifle BN and company.

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