Manning said that women have served in combat capacities already and have proven themselves able in the current wars.
“What the time in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown us is that women do not interfere with male bonding, they just bond right in themselves. The American public does not go berserk if a woman is killed or injured,” Manning said. “I mean it is unfortunate, but they do not see it as a worse thing than if it were a man. They have pulled men out of danger on the battlefield, have been decorated for gallantly for protecting men on the battlefield. Most of the things we were worried about ten years ago have been proved not to be true.”
While Manning denies that women have any effect on male bonding, Kingsley noted that putting women in combat units can be harmful to cohesion. He said that adding a women into the situation brings a sexual element to what before was a singular mission. The addition of women — who will be significantly outnumbered by men — inserts an element of internal competition among the men for the attention of the few women.
“[Internal competition] is always going to be destructive to the cohesiveness of the group and all the things that come with it jealousy, frustration,” Browne said, noting that there is also a question of whether men will be able to trust women to be aggressive fighters as most men are biologically tuned to see women as the weaker sex.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Barbara Lee, from the Alliance for National Defense, responded to the concern that women represent a more compelling tool for the enemy to use as leverage against male soldiers, who are more likely to give into demands in order to save a woman, by saying the situation would be no different than when a man is captured.
“Bad things happen in war and bad things happen to men and they happen to women and I don’t know as though it really knows gender,” she told TheDC
According to Lee, the current policy restricting women from combat is outdated.
“Anything that adds emphasis to ‘let’s examine this policy, adjust it, get rid of it, whatever,’ it is long overdue. So from that standpoint, we are delighted that the commission arrived at the position that we have held for about ten years or so.”
The commission’s final report is expected to be on lawmakers’ desks by spring. While approval from Congress is not needed, Pentagon officials are required to notify lawmakers at least 30 days before a policy change.