With the promise of women and even the transgendered entering into combat ranks, even those of infantry and cavalry, I had the opportunity to remember my failed attempt to get into one of the service academies. I had the grades, I had the varsity letters, and I had the character, but I also had something else; a history of asthma. The DOD wisely declined to accept me for two reasons. First, there was the small, but very real chance that I could have been disabled on the battlefield by an unpredictable asthma attack--that could kill really everyone under my command. My pride was simply not worth the likelihood of 30, 100, or 1000 Gold Star mothers and widows!
Second, the materials I needed to deal with my allergies and asthma--Albuterol inhalers, kenalog injections, prescription antihistamines and the like--would have made the supply chain more complex. "OK, what was that medicine that the 2 Lt. in Company B needed again?" It's hard enough for Amazon and Wal-Mart in peacetime; imagine the difficulty when you're trying to do it in the fog of war. Hence when I was young, the DOD was very, very picky about who they took and who they didn't.
So what does this have to do with women and transgenders in combat? Well, for starters, we're talking about two groups who will not have good levels of natural testosterone and strength generally required for combat--that issue, along with other sex-related differences, has of course been discussed at length. There is also the very real issue--also discussed by many others--of that these new soldiers will do to unit morale, especially when they are sexually active with their fellow soldiers. I'm acquainted with several retired officers who noted they did a LOT of damage control with sex-integrated units.
But perhaps even more importantly, we can count on female soldiers requiring feminine hygiene supplies, feminine undergarments, and a variety of contraceptives. In the same way, transsexual soldiers are going to require different garments and generally various types of hormone treatments as well.
Now it doesn't seem like a huge imposition on the supply chain, but remember that the tradition is to drop a pallet of ammunition, weapons, food, and spare clothing where the unit is fighting--so you would go from a very standardized delivery system to a very customized one that will make mistakes in the fog of war. Suffice it to say that we just might want to shake these things out before risking lives with it.
From physical strength to supply chain, these changes are clear evidence that the FMEAs have not been done well, and we could be filling body bags as a result.
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