by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

As someone who's also served in Iraq, I'm disappointed by your reader who "completely objects" to the Lioness program. Having female search teams is not just a matter of avoiding "offending a local sheik." It is critical to preventing the offending and alienation of the vast majority of the Iraqi population. And that, in turn, is crucial to counter-insurgency efforts, and other long-term U.S. goals in Iraq. You know, the goals which Marine combat operations are designed to support, and for which Marines frequently risk and sometimes lay down their lives.

The risk that one of these Lioness Marines may not be able to carry them to safety would surely be one of the minutest portions of the enormous risks that Marines willingly take for their country. I've signed the death certificates of more than a few Marines killed in Iraq, and I'm strongly in favor of doing all we can to protect them while performing their duties. But to myopically focus on such a small risk, to the clear detriment of the larger military mission in Iraq, is no way to honor or protect the Marines.

Regarding your discussion of Army physical training tests, I'd just like to add that there are not just different standards in place for the two sexes–there are different standards for each of ten different age categories (the Marine Corps also allows slower running times with increasing age, but has only four age categories). Furthermore, those age differences apply to combat and non-combat units alike. It seems to me that the arguments against different standards for females also apply to different standards for older males, but I don't hear anyone arguing that all males who can't meet the minimum standard for 17-21 year-olds should be banned from combat.

(The Army PT charts I consulted in my previous post are here.)