Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon was largely eliminating restrictions on women serving in combat units. This is perfectly consistent with the egalitarian ideology to which the Obama Administration is committed. However, it ignores the reasons why Western armies have never included women in combat units, apart from a few exceptional circumstances. There was the laudable desire to spare women the horror of combat. There was the pragmatic recognition that the vast majority of women were physically unsuited to combat, because men are physically stronger than women. And there was the desire to preserve the psychological conditions that make for effective fighting units. In many different wars and in many different armies, the reason soldiers have given for what keeps them going in combat is the same: they fight for their comrades. Excluding women from combat meant excluding sexual tensions and jealousy and enhancing unit morale and cohesion. It meant creating bands of brothers who will fight for each other and win wars. By contrast, as Steve Sailer notes in his trenchant post on the topic, the Obama Administration's decision to allow women in combat units "is like gay marriage: a symbolic war on the realities of biology."
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.