Showing posts with label women-in-combat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women-in-combat. Show all posts

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Women in the Afghan Security Forces

The Afghan National Army (ANA) has had trouble meeting the expectations of the international community in recruiting women into its ranks. The donor nations of the world providing money to the Afghan government and Afghan security institutions want to see the inclusion of women in the army and police ranks. However, Afghanistan is not a country culturally receptive to women's rights and there is great resistance among the senior leaders of the army and police to including women in significant numbers. The goal of the international community is to see as many as 5,000 women in the Afghan army yet thus far there are less than 900 women soldiers. Read more in "Women in Afghan army overcome opposition, threats", Reuters, November 4, 2016.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Defense News

U.S. Defense Spending Woes. A recent news story by Matthew Gault examines the national defense stance of the presidential candidates and where they stand on defense spending. And naturally, the F-35 comes under intense criticism. Read "Donald Trump is right about defense spending - and that should scare you"Reuters, March 2, 2016.

Countering Adversaries without War. The Arroyo Center of RAND Corporation has published a new report (52 pages, 2016) that it prepared for the U.S. Army. It is entitled The Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going to WarThis paper explores the space in between hard military power and soft power. Evidently the short acronym for "Power to Coerce" is known as P2C . . . a new acronym for me.

Another Attack on HTS. Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today just can't say enough bad stuff about the Human Terrain System (HTS). His misguided and uniformed attacks are inaccurate and an attack on a very valuable program. Read his latest in "$725M program Army 'killed' found alive, growing", USA Today, March 9, 2016.

F-35 - "Huge Mess". The U.S. Director of Operational Test and Evaluation - DOT&E - recently released a scathing assessment of the F-35 - sometimes referred to as a plane that can do anything but nothing very well. Read "The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Is Still a Huge Mess", War is Boring, March 9, 2016. See also "The F-35: Still Failing to Impress", Project on Government Oversight (POGO), March 7, 2016.

F-35 - "A Great Success". Air Force LTG Christopher Bogdan, the program executive for the F-35 Lighting II joint program office, provided his insight on the F-35. He says that we are having slow, steady progress with the questionable aircraft. If he can fly an airplane as well as he transitions his water bottle from hand to hand then he is quite an aviator. So . . . want to listen to a little spin? Watch a 60-minute long DoD News video posted on March 10, 2016 on DVIDSHUB.

Book Review - Selling War. A new book details how the U.S. military lost in the information war early on in Iraq. For a glimpse of what this book is about read a review by Adam J. Tiffen in "The Information War That the US Lost in Iraq", Task & Purpose, March 7, 2016. The book Selling War: A Critical Look at the Military's PR Machine is now available on

MISO and Marines. The USMC may soon be expanding its psychological operations (PSYOP) capabilities with the use of an expanded Military Information Support Operations (MISO) program. This is certainly a welcome move given the inability of the U.S. government and military to "control the narrative" in recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. Read "Marines May Expand Psychological Operations With New Specialty",, March 11, 2016.

CA Papers. A Civil Affairs Syposium was held in November 2015. Various associations and agencies took part. Five papers are presented in this report entitled 2015-2016 Civil Affairs Issue Papers: A Force for Engagement and Conflict Prevention. The papers cover topics on Counter-Unconventional Warfare, State Partnership Program, Conflict Prevention, International Police Engagement, and Developing Human Networks.

Paper - Enhanced Army Airborne Forces. Several authors have collaborated on a RAND Corporation paper (132 pages) that examines the role of the U.S. Army's airborne forces in the future, the challenges it will likely face, the capabilities that it will need to face those challenges, and how to prioritize those capabilities. (RAND, Mar 2016).

Navy Loosens the Rules. It appears that the Navy is going to be a little lax in the physical fitness category. It seems some are wondering why being able to do those pushups and run fast is important. The Navy's body fat restrictions changed in January and many sailors are getting second, third, and fourth chances to pass their physical fitness test. Read "Navy loosens body fat rules to retain sailors", Military Times, March 7, 2016.

Closing GITMO. Congress required the president to submit a plan for how to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Obama had made this a presidential imperative but up to now has not come up with an alternate plan (other than releasing terrorists) to downsize the population and to continue to detain those deemed too dangerous to release. The White House submitted a plan in early March 2016. You can read the 21 page document posted on entitled Plan for Closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.

Women in the Military

Italian Female Soldier (DVIDS)

New Issue - PRISM. The Center for Complex Operations of the National Defense University (NDU) has posted a new issue of PRISM, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2016. This quarterly publication has a wealth of articles on many topics. This specific issue, 214 pages long, is entitled "Women, Peace, & Inclusive Security". Some of the articles explore the use of Female Engagement Teams (FETs) and Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) as well as female members of the National Guard's Agribusiness Development Teams in Afghanistan. Also profiled are female members of military units from NATO and around the world.

U.S. Female Soldier in Pre-Ranger Training (DVIDS)

Lower PT Standards for Females in Rangers? According to one news article posted on the Ranger Regiment & school are now adopting different physical fitness standards for men and women who will enter training for Ranger School and once assigned to the Ranger Regiment. Apparently the regiment is moving to an "Army Physical Fitness Test" (APFT) that is not 'one size fits all'.

The new annual requirement for someone assigned to the Ranger Regiment according to is "2 x APFTs (min 60 points in ea. event, scaled by age & gender) IAW Army Regulations". So, at age 17-21, men are required to do the minimum of 53 sit-ups, 42 push-ups, and a 15.54 two-mile run; women are required to do the minimum of 53 sit-ups, 19 push-ups, and a 18:54 two-mile run. See the current "Army Physical Fitness Test Scorecard" for the different physical standards by gender and age group.

If true, this is truly disconcerting news. Read "Proof that standards will be dropped for females entering the 75th Ranger Regiment", March 7, 2016.

Army's Gender Integration Implementation Plan. The U.S. Army's plan is a detailed approach for integrating women into all military occupational specialties (MOSs). The paves the way for female Soldiers to serve in the Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces.

Most Marines Opposed to Women in Combat Units. "A survey of nearly 54,000 members of the Marine Corps found that two out of three male Marines and one out three female Marines were opposed to opening all combat jobs to women." Read more in "How big is opposition to women in combat units among Marines? This report explains.", The Washington Post,  March 10, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Women in Combat

Article - Afghan Women in Conflict. "Popular distortions often applied to women's functions in war can obstruct the peace process." Rosalie Arcala Hall and Julian Smith say that there are several myths about women's roles in conflict and they inform us about them in this article. They look at several international conflicts in their study. "Women in Combat: Both Spoilers and Enablers of Peace", The Diplomat, February 15, 2016. The article is based on a book entitled Women in Conflict and Peace, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2015. Includes case studies from Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Rwanda. The specific chapter (33 pages) on Afghanistan can be read at the following link.

Women and Draft: FAQs. The Selective Service has once again come into the spotlight. The almost forgotten mechanism for inducting men into the military service has not been used since the early 1970s. However, with the recent changes in allowing women to enter the combat arms some are looking to subject women to the draft - should it ever come back. The first step is to require them to sign up with Selective Service. Currently all men must register with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18. Read more on the draft and selective service in "Women in combat and the draft: answers to your biggest questions", Military Times, February 16, 2016.

Adapting Physical Testing - Recruiting More Women. It appears that the U.S. Army is going to modify how it physically evaluates candidates for the military to ensure that the right people get to the right jobs. Read more in "Army Looks to Recruit More Women, Adapt Physical Testing", February 13, 2016.

"Gender-Neutral Boots & Measures Taken to Mitigate Drop in Recruit Quality. It is a well-known fact that the quality of the manpower pool (should I say womenpower?) provided by American society has dropped significantly in terms of physical fitness. To ensure that recruits can handle the physical demands measures are being taken to screen recruits for their physical condition. In addition, there are other societal aspects being closely looked at that are prompting changes in footgear being provided to new recruits. Read more in "Drop in Recruit Quality: Military Now Required to Issue Basic Trainees Lightweight, Gender-Neutral, "Velcro" Boots", Article 107 News, February 16, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Women in Combat Units

Women and the Draft. There was a time when 366 table tennis balls determined the fate of young male Americans each year. Those old enough will remember that this was a time when young men learned if they were to go off to military training and possibly end up in Vietnam or if they would stay at home to go to college, get married, enter the work force, or hang out on the beach. I was one of the last group of young men that participated in the draft lottery and was fortunate to receive the draft number of "312" - too high a number to be drafted. However, I wanted to serve so I enlisted in the Army. The draft is no longer needed as we have switched to "The All Volunteer Army" - paying military members a decent wage and providing long-term career opportunities that are almost competitive with those found in civilian life. With the social experimentation now ongoing (women being integrated into combat units and training) now is the time to reward equal opportunity with equal responsibility. Read more in "Draft Registration for Women Would Stir a Sleepy Government Agency"The New York Times, February 7, 2016.

Draft Them! Amy Schafer, a Research Assistant for the Center for a New American Security says "Of Course Women Should Register for the Draft", War on the Rocks, February 12, 2016.

How Do Women Feel on Draft? Not so Much! A recent polls says that 52 percent of women oppose requiring women to register, while 38 percent favor it and 10 percent are undecided. 61 percent of men thought it was a most excellent idea! Read more in "Poll: Most women oppose registering for draft", The Hill Defense Blog, February 10, 2016.

Women in Combat - a Big Shift. Shawn Snow writes that the "Military's move toward women in combat signals a major paradigm shift", Navy Times, February 7, 2016. Citing the need for qualified personnel to fill high-tech roles within the military Snow believes the military is on the right track in recruiting women for combat jobs.

RAND Studies on Women & Combat. A bunch of reports by RAND Corporation on the integration of women into combat units. (The RAND Blog, Feb 2016).

Women and Open Questions. With the military opening all jobs to women there is a lot of uncertainty circulating. Two big issues are 1) will standards be lowered (reducing the effectiveness of the fighting force) and 2) will military leaders (and rank and file) be accepting of the new policy. Read more in "Questions, frustration as women prepare to join combat units", Military Times, February 10, 2016.

Women and SEALs - Some Realities. A writer lists "The Top 10 Realities the First Female Navy SEAL Trainee Will Face", SOFREP, February 8, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Integration of Women into Combat Units

Kristen Griest in Ranger School 2015 (Army file photo)
Army Plan for Women Integration. The Army is opening the door to every job a Soldier can hold regardless of gender. Read more in "Army reveals plan to fully integrate women into all MOSs, combat units"Army News Service, February 2, 2016.

Women and Selective Service. All things being equal, women should be required to register for selective service (the system used to induct personnel into the military should the draft be brought back). Equal rights bring equal responsibilities - or so says some of our leading generals. Read "Army, Marine chiefs: Require women to register for draft"The Hill, February 2, 2016.

RAND & Women in Combat Roles. RAND Corporation provided a number of studies to the military that informed the Pentagon on the decision to open combat roles to women. This latest post to The RAND Blog details the various reports. (Feb 6, 2016).

Females Bulking Up. Anyone who has served in the infantry or close to it knows that one of the physical limitations that most women have is their ability to carry heavy loads on their backs or lift heavy objects. For the most part (there are a few exceptions) this is a a fact of life (or nature?). The imposition of height and weight standards within the military services is one measure of ensuring that our service personnel stay fit. If you are fat you are less likely to be a contributor to success on the battlefield. The top brass has been telling us that the standards will not be lowered when women are integrated into combat units. Well . . . here it comes. News flash: we are changing the standards. Women will are now able to exceed the height and weight standards in order to 'bulk up'. So the intent is to let women put on some muscle (which adds weight) giving them a better physique to handle that heavy rucksack and machine gun. Well, my prediction is that there will be a few (hundreds) that use this new policy to bulk up and put on some extra muscle. And there will be thousands who will now have an excuse for those extra pounds of fat because the new standards allow. According to the current standards a male is allowed to have 18% body fat and a women is allowed to have 26% body fat; let's see if that gets modified as well. Read "Female Marines may be allowed to bulk up as service opens infantry to women", The Washington Post, February 3, 2016.

Mountaineering, Women, and the What the Marines Could Learn. A mountaineer and former Marine - Joe Plenzier - thinks the USMC could learn a lot about how women can perform in combat units by looking at how women are performing in the the sport of mountain climbing. Read "What mountaineers can teach the Marines about how to integrate women", The Washington Post, February 3, 2016.

Navy Secretary Scolded by Senate on Women Marines. Ray Mabus had an uncomfortable time before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Feb 2, 2016 explaining why he dissed an extensive USMC study analyzing women in combat units. Read "Senators scold Mabus for causing drama with Marine Corps"Marine Corps Times, Feb 2, 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Women Integrated into Combat

Sec Navy Pushing Gender Neutrality. Navy Secretary Pushing Obama's Social Engineering of Military. President Obama has a steadfast ally in the fight to fully integrate women into all aspects of the military. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has pressured the Navy and Marine Corps to lead the other services in gender neutral uniforms, terminology, and much more. Mabus was a leading figure in the Obama presidential campaign in Mississippi and was rewarded by given the Navy post. Read "Navy secretary builds legacy, one controversial brick at a time", Marine Corps Times,  January 17, 2016.

First Females Opt for Marine Special Ops. The Marine Corps' Special Operations Command (MARSOC) has had its first female applicants. There have been several requests by women to enter the assessment and selection pipeline to become a critical skills operator. Read more in "First Female Marines Apply to MARSOC",, January 20, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Women in Combat

Photo by Micaiah Anthony USAF
Selective Service for Women? With the new policy of opening up all combat arms jobs (to include special operations and aviation) to women some commentators are broaching the topic of mandating selective service registration for women. After all, the argument goes, along with opportunity and equal rights comes equal responsibility! However, there are some (Carl Forsling is one) that feel the Selective Service system is an antiquated relic of a bygone era and should be eliminated for all Americans. Read more in "Including Women Is Not the Right Next Step for Selective Service"Task & Purpose, January 5, 2016.

Women and Special Operations Forces. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced in December 2015 that women are now eligible to enter combat units, training, and occupations - including special operations forces. The success of three females in graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School helped (in part) to pave the way for leadership decisions to allow women into the special operations community. Read more in "Integration of Women in SOF Units", SOFREP, January 14, 2016.

Article - "Truth about Women in Combat". One veteran, Daniel L. Davis, of both Iraq and Afghanistan says there are good reasons not to fully integrate women into combat units. Read "The Truth About Women in Ground Combat Roles", National Interest, January 14, 2016.

Panel Discussion - "Women Soldiers on the Battlefield". The Hoover Institution's National Security, Technology, and Law Working Group will be holding a discussion on the growing role of women soldiers in special operations and beyond in America's post-9/11 wars. The author of Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, will be present during the event. Event takes place in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 19th.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Women in Combat

Member of a Female Engagement Team
(FET) in Afghanistan. Photo by DVIDS.
8% of Army Women Want Combat Arms. In 2013 the Army conducted a survey of women in the active duty, reserves, and Army National Guard ranks on their feelings toward entering the combat arms. Of the 30,000 women who responded less than 7.5% said they would want one of the infantry, armor, artillery or combat engineer jobs. Most women who would opt for the combat arms would go with aviation. Certainly flying above the fray rather than slogging along the ground with 60 pounds of rucksack, body armor, radio, medic kit, ammo, helmet, water, food, etc. is much more preferable. But, at some point in the future, women might not get a choice. They may find themselves assigned to combat units whether they like it or not. Read more in "Few Army women want combat jobs, survey finds", USA Today, February 25, 2014.

Women and Navy SEALs. The Navy is looking to recruit more women for the SEAL teams. Read "Admiral outlines push to integrate Navy SEALs, recruit women"Navy Times, January 4, 2016.

"Infantryperson". Nope. Sorry. Not as the same as "Infantryman". Not going to have anyone quivering in fear. Read more in "Marine Corps boot camp, job titles to be gender neutral by April", Marine Corps Times, January 6, 2016.

Marines Not Quite on Board. It appears that there are some high-level 'discussions' going on between the USMC and DoD on the topic of fully integrating women into combat units and in its recruit training. In addition, General John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, came out with some statements that would lead you to believe he doesn't fully endorse the recent changes in regard to integrating women. Read more in "Marine Corps debate over women in combat continues to roil", Marine Corps Times, January 9, 2015.

Women in Combat. A dissenting view is provided by Jude Eden about the full integration of women into the combat arms of the military. Read "The Vast Majority of Military Women Don't Want to be Fully Integrated into the Combat Arms"The Stream, December 22, 2015.

Advice for Women Seeking the Infantry. A U.S. Army infantry officer has some advice for females seeking the thrill (and agony) of the infantry. "Now women need to seek those combat jobs", USA Today, January 9, 2016.

Army Plan to Integrate Women. The Army has submitted its plan to open its infantry, armor, and special operations ranks to women to the Defense Department. (Army Times, Jan 4, 2015).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

SOF News

ANASF Trains ALP Recruit
SOF and Helmand Province. The fight for Helmand province is still ongoing despite the end of the fighting season. The Taliban control a number of the provincial districts (see what constitutes 'control of district') and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are barely holding on to some district centers. The United States has supported the ANDSF with air strikes and with SOF teams on the ground working with Afghan SOF units. Read more in "Afghan Province, Teetering to the Taliban, Draws In Extra U.S. Forces", The New York Times, December 13, 2015.

Book Review - Relentless Strike. Dr. J. Paul De B. Taillon reviews a book about the secret history of the Joint Special Operations Command. (Mackenzie Institute, Dec 1, 2015).

Tip of the Spear - Dec 15. The latest issue of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Tip of the Spear magazine has been posted online.

Homeless Man Lives in 3rd SFGA Barracks. According to one news report - "Almost Valor: Homeless Man Gets Away Living in the 3rd Special Forces Group Barracks as Fake Soldier",, December 22, 2015 - a civilian got a free ride for a few months living rent free (no doubt he had a meal card for the dining facility as well). Not so hard to do. Just square away your uniform, buzz cut your hair, be on time for morning formations, and the SGMs will leave you alone. Kind of reminds me of my four-month long backpacking trip through Europe in the 70s - I ran out of money at the end of the trip and spent some time in the transient barracks at Vicenza, Italy. Nice place.

UW Fills Gap b/t Peace and War. David Maxwell, a retired SF colonel explains Unconventional Warfare to us and says we need to develop a strategy to counter UW being conducted by our adversaries. Read his article "Congress Has Embraced Unconventional Warfare: Will the US Military and the Rest of the US Government?", Small Wars Journal, December 29, 2015. Learn more about unconventional warfare.

SOF and Global Deployments. Special Operations forces have been deployed to many countries over the past several decades. This has not changed under the Obama administration - especially given that the Global War on Terrorism (yes, some folks still use the term GWOT) has expanded in the last decade. Read more in "Obama's 'Boots on the Ground': U.S. Special Forces Are Sent to Tackle Global Threats", The New York Times, December 27, 2015.

Origins of Women in SOF History. A profile of a women who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. The OSS was the fore-runner to the CIA and U.S. Army Special Forces. An 8-min video posted on on December 9, 2015.

SOF and the Push for Women in Combat. A RAND study conducted on behalf of USSOCOM found that 85% of SOF operators were not in favor of fully integrating women onto the SOF teams. Many advocates of the push to have women fully integrated into special operations combat units are discounting the views of these SOF operators saying they lack experience with working with women and that they are only interested in preserving their "male-only domain". This viewpoint sells these very experienced SOF operators short. In fact, the SOF community was way ahead of most of the military with its use of female Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) as enablers with Special Force ODAs, SEAL platoons, and MARSOC units in Afghanistan. Read more on this issue in "Pentagon's women-in-combat push faces chilly headwinds", The Hill Blog, December 30, 2015.

More on Women and Combat Arms. It appears that the move to fully integrate women into the combat arms will see lots of attention put on SOF units. Read "How Not to Integrate Females into Combat Arms", Small Wars Journal, December 30, 2015. And what about the 'draft thing'? Is it time for women to register for the draft - I mean equal rights and equal opportunity should equate to equal responsibility.

JSOC Secrets. The Joint Special Operations Command, commonly called JSOC, is busy around the world. The personnel of the secret and lethal organization work in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other conflict-ridden areas. Read more in "The not-so-secret history of JSOC", The Washington Post, December 15, 2015.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Paper on NTM-A. Nick Barley has penned an informative history about the training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). He traces the training programs implemented by the U.S. and NATO partners in "The NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan: A Game-Changer; Lest We Forget", Small Arms Journal, December 5, 2015.

"The Breadwinner". An Afghan film is receiving support from the American actress Angelina Jolie. (Khaama Press, Dec 6, 2015).

Moscow: From Kabul to Damascus. Ryan Evans reviews the history of the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and puts the Russian intervention in Syria today in perspective. He says not to worry but keep a careful eye on the big bad bear. See his (very long) analysis in "Moscow's Clients From Kabul to Damascus: Strength and Strategy in International Politics", War on the Rocks, December 9, 2015.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The new catch-word for those fighting terrorism is CVE. Some are discrediting it as a flawed concept while others say that it gets to the root causes of terrorism. The term is also a factor in the political arena as well. Shannon N. Green, a senior fellow and director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. provides her perspective on CVE in Preventing Violent Extremism: Promise and Pitfalls, CSIS, December 2, 2015.

Divisions Within the Taliban? Recent reports of shooting of Taliban leader reveals serious divisions within the Taliban. See "The Implications of the Taliban Shootout", The Diplomat, December 9, 2015.

Afghan Health Gains? Questionable. Rod Nordland of the NYT writes that the reported gains in health care for women in Afghanistan are under scrutiny. Read "Reported Gains in Afghan Maternal Health Are Found to Be Implausible", The New York Times, December 4, 2015.

PTSD and War Contractors. "Despite increased rates of post-traumatic stress among private contractors, little has been discussed about prevention and treatment. More and more contractors entering into combat environments are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress when they return home". See "Why We Should Be Talking About Military Contractors With PTSD", Task & Purpose, December 9, 2015.

Time to Leave Afghanistan? Tom Mockaitis, an international security analyst and military historian, thinks the time has arrived to adjust our strategy and objectives. (The Huffington Post, December 26, 2015).

Dismal Mood in Kabul. A writer compares his visit to Kabul in 2008 with a more recent visit. The situation for many of the city residents is not hopeful. Almost everyone knows someone who has fled to Europe. Read more in "Desperation Rules Afghanistan", by Sanjay Kumar, The Diplomat, December 10, 2015.

Looking at Afghanistan Conundrum. Dr. Manoj Kuma Mishra, the program coordinator of the School of International Studies at Ravenshaw University in India provides his thoughts on Afghanistan in "Evolving a Coordinated Response to the Afghan Conundrum", Eurasia Review, December 10, 2015.

SSR, Gender Equality, and Local Ownership. ". . . it is increasingly recognized that mainstreaming gender issues and promoting gender equality in SSR programming is essential to success and is a key factor in developing meaningful local ownership." Read more about gender issues and Security Sector Reform (SSR) in "Security Sector Reform and the Paradoxical Tension between Local Ownership and Gender Equality", Security Sector Reform Resource Centre, December 2015.

Research on Women and Terrorism. Laura Sjoberg has penned an essay entitled The Women of Daesh: Thinking about a Decade of Research on Women, Gender, and Terrorism, E-International Relations, December 6, 2015.

General Order No. 1. Time to Update this asinine regulation. Finally a dose of common sense from an observer! While all our allies in Afghanistan can have a brew or two daily members of the American military can only look on with envy. Read "Reevaluating General Order 1X"Small Wars Journal, December 5, 2015.

Women in Combat

Member of a Coalition Support Team
(CST)  interacts with Afghan child
Women in Service Studies. The U.S. Department of Defense wants you to 'feel good' about the integration of women into special operations forces and infantry units. Read up on a bunch of studies about the integration of women into combat units and infantry / special forces training. The documents are posted on the DoD website - "Women in Service Studies". One study posted on this site conducted by RAND Corporation found that 85% of the special operators assigned to tactical SOF units did not want women integrated into their units. The general belief was that women don't have the physical strength or mental toughness to do the grueling jobs (Military Times, Dec 10, 2015). But hey, what do those combat vets with multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Panama, and a few other places that can't be mentioned know about . . . well, combat, anyway? After all, if the D.C. folks say its okay . . .

Report on Women in Combat. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a paper for Congress entitled Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, December 3, 2015. Posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

Female Ranger Grad Comments on WIC. Lisa Jaster, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a recent graduate of the U.S. Army's Ranger School has some comments about not letting our standards fall or forcing quotas on our combat units. Read "Women in combat units will prove the naysayers wrong", The Washington Post, December 11, 2015.

Women and the Draft. Now that women are free to enter any occupation, job or profession in any of the military services to include infantry and special operations it is probably time to require females to register for the draft. I mean . . . why not? What is fair is fair! ". . . rights and responsibilities go hand in hand". Read more in "Now Women Should Register for the Draft", December 7, 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SOF News

VSO, Gant, Water, Crops, and COIN. One writer, Doyle Quiggle, manages to combine a variety of topics (although related) into an essay on how to win a small war! He tells us of the failures of the Village Stability Operations (VSO) program of U.S. special operations in Afghanistan, of how Jim Gant was doing VSO right, and the importance of water in counterinsurgency at the village level. Read "Small Farms and Small Wars: Planting The Garden in Village Stability Operations", Small Wars Journal, November 29, 2015.

Event - "Lessons from VSO and ALP". Dr. Corey Lofdahl is presenting a lecture on the topic of Implementing  Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Lessons from Village Stability Operations and Afghan Local Police (VSO/ALP). He is a senior scientist with Charles River Analytics who worked in 2011 and 2012 at the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A). The presentation is on Thursday, December 10th in Washington, D.C. and is hosted by The Institute of World Politics. (Note: CFSOCC-A is now known as the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan or SOJTF-A).

DoDIG Investigation on ANASOF TAA. The Inspector General for the Department of Defense intends on conducting an assessment on U.S. and Coalition efforts to Train, Advise, Assist, and Equip the Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces (ANASOF). The objective is to determine whether U.S. government and coalition goals, objectives, plans and resources to train the ANASOF are sufficient, operative, and relevant. Read the memo from DoDIG, November 25, 2015.

Joint U.S. - Afghan SOF Raid Frees 40 from Prison. A prison rescue mission successfully liberated at least 40 Afghan security personnel from a Taliban prison in Nawzad district of southern Helmand province in an operation that began on Thursday night. (Tolo News, Dec 4, 2015). See also an NBC News report dated December 4, 2015.

"Project Gray" - Fighting in the Gray Zone. Warfare has changed over the past few decades. The advent of Hybrid Warfare, Irregular Warfare (IW), and the use of Unconventional Warfare (UW) by our adversaries (Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda, Russia, and others) has forced the U.S. military to take a long look on how to operate in this new environment. The UW experts at Fort Bragg (that would be the Green Berets) are learning to fight in what is now being referred to as the "Gray Zone".  The initial Special Forces training that Green Berets undergo goes a long way to prepare its members for this kind of fight; yet the learning never stops. As part of this never-ending learning process the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence has started "Project Gray" and published a website that reflects the work in this area.

Advocating a "Human Warfighting Domain". One writer is strongly proposing that a Human Warfighting be established and that the proponent should be those in the U.S. Army who are the most proficient in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare - that would be the 1st Special Forces Command. Read "Should There Be a Human Warfighting Domain?", by Thomas Doherty, Small Wars Journal, December 3, 2015.

5th Group Reviving Vietnam Era Flash. The solid black flash worn on the berets of members of the 5th Special Forces Group will be giving way to a bit of history. The new (or old) flash will be the one worn by 5th Group Soldiers while serving in Vietnam (and also stateside). Read more on the perplexing move by 5th SFGA and Special Forces Command in "Army's 5th Special Forces Group to Resurrect Vietnam-Era Beret Flash",, December 1, 2015.

'Targeting Force' to Iraq / Syria. In testimony before Congress SECDEF Carter stated that more U.S. military forces will be headed to the Middle East to fight against ISIS. The number of airstrikes will increase as well as on-the-ground intelligence gathering and special operations raids. Carter also said that a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" will assist Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State. Sounds very JSOC-like! Read more in "DoD to deploy 'targeting force' to hunt down ISIS leaders"Military Times, December 1, 2015. See also Kim Dozier's article - "Obama Unleashes Hunter-Killers on ISIS", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

USSF Fighting with Kurds for Months. Kurdish fights say that US Special Forces have been fighting ISIS for months in northern Iraq. The Obama administration continues to maintain that there are 'No Boots on the Ground"; however, perhaps that is because the SF dudes (in another era they were referred to as "Sneaky Petes") are all wearing sneakers. (The Guardian, Nov 30, 2015).

SOCOM Cdr Likely Choice for CENTCOM. General Votel is a top candidate to succeed General Austin for command of Central Command. Given the importance of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria he is a good choice. Read more in "SOCOM's Votel is Top Choice to Take Over CENTCOM", Defense One, December 3, 2015.

How Does SOCOM Feel about the Gender Integration Order? - He is all for it! The commander, General Votel, seems to think it is a good idea. (The feedback I hear from those on the SF teams is quite different.) Listen to a 8-minute long video of the leader of SOCOM justifying his decision to support the SECDEF in the full integration of women into all special operations organizations. (USSOCOM, December 3, 2015).

How Do SOF Operators Feel about Women in SOF Units? Not So Much! The RAND Corporation conducted a study that special operations leadership commissioned on the integration of women into SOF units. 85% of the rank and file said "NO!, Don't Do IT". But with the proper 'career guidance', 'gender integration seminars', 'focus groups', 'safe space discussions', and more I am sure the steely-eyed combat veterans with multiple deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will come around. Read "Special Ops Survey Showed 85% Opposed Serving With Women", Defense One, December 4, 2015.

Book - Relentless Strike. I just finished reading Sean Naylor's recent book about the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Very informative read with perhaps more information than USSOCOM would have wanted published. I am sure there was more than one former 'operator' talking out of school. The book is available on


Counter-IED Capabilities Need Investments. Over the last few years the U.S. military has attempted, unsuccessfully, to put Afghanistan and Iraq (and things like COIN, C-IED, JIEDDO, etc.) into the rear view mirror. Unfortunately conflicts like these will continue to pop up over the horizon and the use of IEDs by the combatants that we will oppose will stay just as prevalent as they were on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more in "Growing Terrorist Threat Requires New U.S. Investments in Counter-IED Capabilities", by Daniel Goure, Real Clear Defense, November 30, 2015.

Deobandi Islam, Pashtunwali, and the Taliban. "The Taliban are arguably more powerful now than at any point since they were ousted in 2001." This power comes not just from the support the Pakistan state provides but from the civilian population of Afghanistan tired of an ineffective and corrupt national government. The Taliban's more moderate approach and ". . . increasingly resurgent narrative of stability through reverting to Afghanistan's past . . . " is generating ever-growing support from the rural Afghan population. Peter Storey provides us with his view of the Taliban in "The Roots of the Taliban", The Bridge, December 1, 2015.

Pivoting From Pakistan. When President Ghani took office he made a deliberate effort to revitalize the Afghan- Pakistan relationship . . . but it wasn't reciprocated. Now it would appear he is reaching out to India at the risk of weakening ties with Pakistan. Read more in "Ghani's Pivot Away From Pakistan", by Shawn Snow, Foreign Policy, November 25, 2015.

Fighting a War in a Land-Locked Country Like Afghanistan. A U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft commander provides his perspective on the difficulties of fighting a war in a country that is remote and bordered by less than reliable allies. His paper describes exactly how difficult it is to get the Pakistan government to stop its support of the Taliban given the overflight requirements needed to prosecute the war. "Pakistan Catch-22: The Trouble with Wars in Landlocked Countries", The Bridge, December 2, 2015.

Fractured Taliban? Tamim Hamid provides us with an explanation of the current state of the Taliban leadership in "A Divided Taliban Explained", Tolo News, December 3, 2015.

Corruption Hindering the Fight. Corruption in Afghanistan has had a corrosive impact on military operations. It undermines the legitimacy of the Afghan government, provides fodder for recruitment into the Taliban (and ISIS), and has rendered ineffective the Afghan National Police (and to a lesser degree the Afghan National Army). The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) undermined its own objective of creating security in the country with its initial inattention to the problem. Read "How Corruption Undermines NATO Operations", Defense One, December 2, 2015.

Kagan on Afghanistan. Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and a observer of the Afghan conflict provides his thoughts on what the US needs to do in Afghanistan. He sees the insurgent groups gaining more territory and capability as time goes on and a weak ANDSF that is seeing its international support slowly diminish. He advocates for more US troops and expanded authorities for those currently stationed there. He believes that the appropriate troop level is likely around 20,000 to 30,000. Read The Afghanistan Conundrum: How Should the US Approach the Rise of Insurgent Groups?, AEI, December 2, 2015.

French COIN. The vast majority of our senior level general officers would like to put the counterinsurgency years of Iraq and Afghanistan behind us - well, . . . they can't. COIN is not going away. While folks are painting the conflict in Syria and Iraq with ISIS as counterterrorism there is still many aspects of the fight that is a counterinsurgency. And in Afghanistan, the Afghan security forces are conducting counterinsurgency (while U.S. and NATO advisors busy themselves with advising the Afghan security institutions and corps-level organizations on 'systems', 'functions', and 'processes'). Many U.S. "COIN experts" draw upon the experiences of the French pacification of Algeria for 'lessons learned'. In particular, they read the tracts provided to us by two noted French officers - David Galula and Roger Trinquier. However, one student of French strategy suggests that a truer picture of the French COIN effort in Algeria can be gained by digging deeper into French military historical writings. Read "Myth-Busting French Counterinsurgency", by Terrence Peterson, War on the Rocks, December 3, 2015.

Is the U.S. Army's Personnel System Broke? YES! A 1LT who spent two years studying at Oxford instead of holding standard military jobs expected of junior officers was almost forced out of the Army. Besides being a Rhodes Scholar he was at the top of his ROTC class. And although over 90% of his peers were getting promoted he was being left behind. Read more about some of the systemic problems the Army's personnel bureaucracy is experiencing in "First Steps Towards the Force of the Future"War on the Rocks, December 1, 2015.

PowerPoint in Armored Vehicles - Really? OMG, so it finally happened. The Army's officers have figured out a way to display PowerPoint slides in an armored. Trust me - this is not a good thing. My experience with creating PowerPoint slides to convey a message to senior level officers is that the font type, size, and color is much more important than the content. Read "This armored vehicle lets you use PowerPoint on the battlefield"The Washington Post, December 1, 2015. For more info see "I Corps validates new mobile command post proof-of-concept", November 29, 2015.

All Military Occupations Open to Women - SECDEF. Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense, announced that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations and positions will be open to women, without exception. This includes all units and organizations in the infantry and in special operations. So far in 2015 two women passed the very tough Ranger Course at Fort Benning; perhaps we will see some women enter Special Forces training at Fort Bragg in 2016. Let's hope that a advance in "fairness" and "political correctness" will not result in the implementation of quotas, a lowering of standards, the erosion of unit cohesiveness, and a decrease in combat effectiveness. Read more in "Carter Opens all Military Occupations, Positions to Women", DoD News Release, December 3, 2015.

Women in the Marine Corps Infantry? RAND Corporation conducted a study for the U.S. Marine Corps that reviewed the literature on the integration of women in combat units, conducted interviews with members of organizations with physically demanding occupations, estimated the costs of potential initiatives to promote successful gender integration, and develop an approach for monitoring implementation of gender integration of the infantry. Read "Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry", Rand Corporation, November 2015.

Women in Ground Combat Units? A doctor very familiar with sports science adds his voice to this topic. Read "Sports Science, Physiology, and the Debate over Women in Ground Combat Units", by Dr. Paul O. Davis, War on the Rocks, December 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Women Integration into Combat

Females in Field Artillery. A memorandum about the assignment of female Soldiers to MOS 13B (Cannon Crewmember) and 13D (FA ATDS Specialist) has been published (28 Oct 15) by the Secretary of the Army. The directive cited by the memo, Army Directive 2015-41, opens up over 19,000 positions to female Soldiers. The Army is hell-bent in fully integrating women into the combat arms and special operations fields. Presumably there are 19,000 women in the Army that have the strength to lift the heavy cannon shells (the M795 155mm round weighs 103 lbs) to load into the howitzer and artillery pieces. Read the memo outlining the opening up of the field artillery positions to women.

New 'Gender Neutral' Latrines for Field. In an effort to fully-support the rush to gender neutrality and the full integration of women into combat formations the DoD is instituting new requirements for field training exercises. Pentagon officials have ". . . announced the acquisition of new gender neutral porta-potties specifically designed to only be used while a seated position." The new field latrines will ". . . not highlight or given and advantage to any specific gender." The new latrines, shortened from the standard 88-inch height to almost 50 inches will require (force) the occupant to sit in order to use the restroom. Senior officials insist that the new porta-potties will not result in lower standards and will reduce arguments over 'seat up or seat down'. Read more in "New"Gender Neutral" Latrines Will Require Troops to Sit While They Pee"Duffel Blog, October 27, 2015.

Military Must Evolve! Two female officers offer their perspective on how the military needs to evolve when it comes to gender integration. Read "The Dangerous Non-Evolution of the Military", by Kate Germano and Jeannette Haynie, Small Wars Journal, November 3, 2015.

10 Most Asinine Questions About Women in Military. An interesting perspective by M.B. posted on Havok Journal, Nov 4, 2015. If you are offended by females using graphic language pass this one by.

Army Ranger School Now Fully Integrated. Women are now officially integrated into the Army Ranger School. The first class with women as regular students started on Monday, November 2nd. Five women started the class and they failed out during the first week. 19 women started the Ranger Class last April and three graduated (after recycling a few times). Read more in a news report by Army Times, November 6, 2015.