U.S. military leaders on Thursday formally lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said women have already become an “integral part” of the military.
“The fact is that American women are already serving in harm’s way today all over the world and in every branch of our armed forces,” Panetta said in a statement. “Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, and our nation owes them a deep debt of gratitude.”
But opponents say the decision will affect unit cohesion, the same argument that was made when blacks (and more recently, openly gay service members) were integrated in to the military.
CNN host Soledad O’Brien invited Professor Kingsley Browne, author of “Co-Ed Combat” to her show yesterday. As CNN points out, Browne argues that the military will have to lower physical standards to allow women to compete because of the “very little overlap in physical capacity between men and women.”
At one point during the segment O’Brien referenced a quote by an unnamed colonel that opposed integrating blacks and got Browne to support the argument.
Here’s the exchange:
O’BRIEN: I’m going to read a little bit from this colonel who said this: ‘The army is not a sociological laboratory; to be effective it must be organized and trained according to the principles which will ensure success…Experiments are a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and would result in ultimate defeat.’
BROWNE:* I think that that’s true*. I don’t think it’s true with respect to ultimate defeat of the United States in a war. I think what’s likely to occur though is the defeat of the United States in small battles, which means people are going to die. […]
O’BRIEN: That was from a guy in 1941. And that argument was about not allowing black people in the military. That was his exact argument of why blacks should not be allowed in the military, because it’s a danger to efficiency and discipline and morale and will result in ultimate defeat.