restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Women in Combat: Still a Bad Idea

David Alan Black 

American Woman Captured by Iraq Military. US confirms image is real. Photo/SkyNews Sky.comShe looked terrified and held her arms tightly in her lap during questioning. At one point, the camera panned back, showing a big white bandage around her ankle. She answered questions in a shaky voice, his eyes darting back and forth between the interviewer and another person who couldn’t be seen on camera.

Last month, 30-year-old Shoshana Johnson, known to her family and friends simply as Shana, shipped out from Fort Bliss to the Persian Gulf. She’s a single mom and a cook with the 507th Maintenance Company, who didn’t expect to see any combat. But this past weekend in Iraq, her convoy of support vehicles took a wrong turn and found themselves cut off and under enemy fire. Johnson was among those taken prisoner. Iraqi TV filmed five shaken U.S. soldiers and the bloodied bodies of up to eight uniformed men, all apparently captured or killed near Nassiriya in southern Iraq. At least two of the dead had wounds to the head.

Tuesday night, Shana Johnson’s parents Claude and Eunice were interviewed by NBC’s Stone Phillips. They said they were astonished to hear that their daughter had been captured in the fighting in Iraq. After all, Shana joined up to prepare meals for soldiers, not to fight.

Am I the only person to be concerned that we allow women to serve in combat? U.S. prisoners of war in Iraq risk being beaten, tortured, and worse while being held in dank concrete jails without medical attention, POWs from the 1991 Gulf War said on Sunday based on their own experiences in Iraqi hands.

The 1991 Gulf War was a watershed for women in the U.S. military. More than 40,000 servicewomen went to war, and one out of every five women in uniform was deployed in direct support to the Gulf War, according to the Department of Defense. Capt. Lory Manning (U.S. Navy retired), current director of the Center for Women in Uniform at the Women’s Research and Education Institute, notes that it was “the largest deployment of women to a combat theater.” The number was a steep climb from the 7,000 servicewomen—mostly nurses—who served during the Vietnam War.

Of the 13 U.S. servicewomen killed in the 1991 Gulf War, four of them were from enemy fire, including three servicewomen killed by an Iraqi Scud missile attack. Twenty-one women were wounded in action, and two were taken prisoners of war. Today, one in seven U.S. personnel in the Gulf is female.

Some claim it’s a good idea to allow women to serve in combat roles. But putting women in combat should be a course of last resort. Unfortunately, egalitarian thinking has come to characterize not only our post-Christian culture in general but the military in particular. It’s part and parcel of the New World Order mentality so prevalent in our society. As former Navy Commander Gerald Atkinson writes, The answer to the ubiquitous question, Who is responsible for this? [that] the New Totalitarians are responsible—those eight million or so power elites of the Boomer generation who carried out the counter-culture revolution in the mid-1960s during their young-adulthood years and who have attempted to carry that revolution to completion as they came to political power in the 1990s. They demonstrated against the Vietnam War, formed the New Left and the Women’s Liberation movements in the ‘60s and made secular humanism their foundation for world domination in the 1990s. Indeed, the me, me, me generation is responsible for the decadence and weakness of American civilization today.”

Former Army Spc. Melissa Coleman, one of the female American POWs taken during the First Gulf War, had one piece of advice for Shana Johnson: “Just hold out hope and pray.” Coleman noted how some female POWs from the Gulf War said they were sexually abused by Iraqi soldiers. Thankfully, Coleman was fortunate enough not to be mistreated by her captors. They believed she did not have any useful information because she was a woman, and Coleman “played along” with a “dumb female” routine.

The assignment of women to combat can be justified only in the direst of emergencies where the nation’s very survival is at risk and there is no reasonable alternative. Absent these conditions, there is no military need at any time to place women in harm’s way.

Americans ought to be ashamed of hiding behind the skirts of women while fighting our battles. I call upon Congress to reverse its policy on women in combat. Meanwhile, let us pray for the safety and speedy release of Shana Johnson and all of our allied POWS.

March 27, 2003

David Alan Black is the editor of

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