OK, so I know an 18-year-old young woman who just graduated high school. She'd not related to me, but she's the daughter of a very close friend, I've watched her grow up, and I'm sort of an Honorary Uncle since she has no uncles who are blood relatives. She mostly got good grades, got in some trouble, but not too bad, good kid, tough, friendly, lots of options, including being admitted to some good colleges. Like a lot of people straight out of high school, she wants to do a lot of things and doesn't really know what a lot of them entail, like most of us were at 18. She wants to go to college, take a year off and travel the world, join a World Hunger charity, become an astronaut. I managed to talk her out of joining some organization that goes to old war zones and cleans up old discarded landmines. The WAY I talked her out of it is not one that pleased her mother. I suggested looking at enlisting in the military. You know, at least possibly get TRAINED on how to diffuse bombs before you do it, get that travel time, money for college, learn a trade, etc.

She's basically going for it gung ho. All the college plans, etc, are dropped. She wants to enlist in the army. OK, so I asked her what job she was going for? You know she's a bright kid and I'm all for women in 2016 learning to climb telephone poles and string telephone wire, become electricians, plumbers, mechanics, all those formerly male-only trades that could make here her a lot of money after a three- or four-year stint in the military. She says, "You know, women can do anything men can do?" I say, "They sure can. One might be elected president this year. So, what job are you going for?" She tells me that it is a job that JUST opened up to women and I'll never guess. So we go through the guessing game and I'm guessing, like I said, a bunch of mechanic-type-jobs or firefighter or whatever. I'm not even close.

"I'm gonna be an Eleven-Bravo Infrantrywoman! Isn't that great! Then after I do that I'm gonna join Special Forces!"

Like I said, she's 18 and not a blood relative and I'm only an "honorary" uncle, but in desperation I tried to ground her. Then I told her I'd tell her mother not to sign any papers (not that the mom needs convincing). She reminded me that she was 18 and a responsible adult and could do whatever the hell she wanted.

Anyway, she hasn't signed on the dotted line yet, so I still have time to talk her out of it. I've never rooted for her to fail at anything, but I'm thinking that there is a first time for everything. Here I was preparing myself for her going to college and giving her frat boy dates "the speech". I'm not naive enough to think she'd be 4 years old and innocent forever and I knew she'd go into the big bad world someday and have to fend for herself, but I didn't think that I'd ever have to talk her out of... this. I checked out the US Army website and my nightmare is true. It's no longer a hypothetical. Women can now enlist in the Infantry.

My ace in the hole "nuclear option" is sitting her down for a "I was an 18 year old guy once. Here's how they act when no women are around" speech. I was never in the military, but I've been in plenty of locker rooms and drunk late night poker parties and they were bad enough. And that's not even considering being in a war-zone. That's just being in an austere environment as the lone young female with nothing but young guys around. I've always tried to protect her from that environment. Anyway, if I'm to be called a sexist, fine. I'll admit to a double standard. If she was an 18-year-old guy instead of a woman, I'd obviously be concerned about him getting killed or maimed in a war, but I wouldn't have nearly the same misgivings. And that doesn't even consider the long-term effects of her carrying a 100-lb. rucksack for miles at a time for several years. That can wreck a healthy young MAN's back and knees. I've never heard an orthopedist weigh in on whether a woman's body can take that kind of abuse long term. She's healthy, young, tough, and in great shape. I'd like her to still be that way in four years.

Anybody got any advice for how to talk her out of this, including "Don't try. Mind your own business. It's her life"?

Tell her to google "rape and the US military". When you tuen 18 you are an adult but that doesn't automatically make you responsible.

It sounds like she's very independent so being to direct might just make her dig in deeper. Given her diverse interests I might try arguing that unlike college or NGOs, once you're in the military you can't just change your mind, so she should wait a least a few months to make sure she still wants to do it 100%.

Well, six years ago my nephew wanted to join the Army . I knew where he would be going if he did.
I suggested that he takes test in from other branches of service as well and he did.
My nephew ended up testing very high in cyber security with the Air Force and is loving it.
He's been to Korea twice, he's spent time on the Horn of Africa and now is in Oklohoma .
He plans on making a career out of the Air Force and is really going up in pay grade.
I was in the Army from 1972 to 1975 and will always look back fondly on that tour but I'm glad my nephew tested out with other branches and ended up where he did.

She has just too little experience. Let her make a travel around the world. A small suggestion:Belgium, Greece, Morrocco, Nigeria, India, Japan. After that, she might think different.

Anyway, if I'm to be called a sexist, fine.

You're not sexist for acknowledging that the "system" is still sexist. But for the current generation of young women, it will go over much better if you phrase it as making sure she is prepared for the type of environment and sexism she will face (she will only succeed if she goes in ready and able to deal with it) rather than trying to scare her off from it.

Let her make a travel around the world. A small suggestion:Belgium, Greece, Morrocco, Nigeria, India, Japan.

She has an interesting "places to see" list. She's half-Latina, half-White and has never left the US other than a few touristy places in Mexico and Brazil. She wants to get the "real experience" which she says she can't get if she sticks with the touristy spots. No argument there. But she's 18 and has that simultaneously wonderful and incredibly aggravating sense of innocence, optimism, immortality, and naiveté that many 18 year olds have. For example, she thinks that her being half-Latina will somehow allow her to freely wander around South American slums and other hotspots. She understands that her White American friends can't do this, but thinks that being slightly Brown-skinned will somehow override any animosity towards Americans that poor people in these neighborhood might have. She has Somalia and Sudan on her bucket list. Wants to teach the people how to farm. Basically Peace Corps type-stuff. Hence the attraction to Special Forces, which is in some ways Peace Corps with guns.

she will only succeed if she goes in ready and able to deal with it

I've never understood why any woman would WANT to join the Infantry. Lots of guys WANT to go to war or at least THINK they want to go to war (there's the old saying, "Show me someone who wants to be in a war and I'll show you someone who has never been in a war"). Anyway, we've all (I imagine) as 18-year-olds been at parties where the guys want to fight over something completely stupid. Eventually the girls all leave, disgusted with the guys' immaturity. I know SHE has. At 18, she's already sick of guys wanting to beat up other guys in order to impress her. And 18 year old guys ARE immature and they need their alone time with each other to vent that energy and to be immature. She can't stand "macho jocks beating people up to prove their manhood", so I imagine she'd HATE being in the Infantry day in and day out. And the thought of her being ordered to bayonet someone makes me nauseous.

I sent her this link from a female Marine officer who thinks it's a terrible idea. Hopefully it'll do the trick. And so far the Marines are 0 for 30 as far as women passing the Marines' Infantry Officer Course. We'll she what she thinks.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/12/12684555-women-in-the-infantry-forget-about-it-says-female-marine-officer?lite
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2016/04/26/30th-woman-attempt-marines-infantry-officer-course-has-been-dropped/83555298/

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diafol

Re your sexist concern - no, you're not, not in my book. I'd be concerned about any relative, blood or otherwise, male or female, joining the infantry. Your concerns may be different with regard to her being female, but that's a reflection of reality and the world in which we live. However, we also live in such a PC-dominated world that we're often labelled as sexist for uttering legitimate concerns. While we should strive for gender equality in all spheres of life, regardless of the role. It should be about the ability to fill that role to a high standard, regardless of gender, race, sexual persuasion, religion, etc and not some petty statistical nonsense about having number parity or a number that reflects the % of the population. It may be contentious, but one gender may be more adept at carrying out a certain role than another - that's not being sexist. If you have to be able to carry a 100kg weight for 200m in under a minute, then that may have consequences for gender as well as other sections of the population.

A senior female officer recently came on radio in an interview about the UK ary allowing women into the infantry. I fully expected her to support the measure. To my surprise, she came out with "There's a reason why we have separate male and female events in sport". It did give me pause for thought. My "traditional" upbringing, makes me shudder away from the thought of allowing women to be used as cannon fodder (sorry poor choice of words), but there again, women have the exact same right as men to make that decision for themselves.

My issue is one of age and maturity. Why the hell are we allowing "children" to enlist in the infantry in the first place? So it's not sexism, rather one of trying to justify paedocide.

She has Somalia and Sudan on her bucket list.

A friend of mine went to Sudan two years ago with a reputable NGO, doing healthcare-stuff, and had a good experience. According to her the country has rebounded and most places are quite safe. I'd worry about her going there alone but as long as it was with a reputable organization I wouldn't be too concerned.

Women have the exact same right as men to make that decision for themselves.

Exactly, that is the point. Personally I don't understand why anyone (male or female) would want to serve in combat, but I respect their decision whichever way. If it turns out women are not physically capable of serving in some positions then fair enough, but for the military leaders to just assume all women can't make the cut or worse want to "protect them" or think they will be a distraction/disruption is offensive. Nobody in their right mind is arguing for quotas or for standards to be lowered, they should just be arguing for giving women the opportunity to try.

My issue is one of age and maturity. Why the hell are we allowing "children" to enlist in the infantry in the first place?

We could have an entire thread discussing that too. Like I said, I was never in the military. I had a medical condition that kept me out. But at 18/19, I was pretty gung-ho on it about joining up and I didn't particularly care who we invaded or why, I just wanted to fight. By, say, age 25, my thinking was that there are a lot of stupid wars that aren't worth dying in, plus I knew I wasn't immortal by then, so if ordered to charge and take some hill that held no strategic or tactical value in a war that I thought we had no business being in, I might have a few second thoughts, which is a really bad thing when you're about to charge the enemy. From a cynical point of view, 18-year-olds are more easily manipulated into doing exactly what you tell them and asking no questions and being "cannon fodder", as you say, whereas 25 year olds are much more likely to refuse if given a stupid or immoral order. From a non-cynical view, that's exactly what NEEDS to happen when in actual combat: no doubts, no questions, no moral ambiguity, no worrying about dying or getting hurt. At least we don't have actual kids (i.e. 12, 13, 14 year olds) doing the fighting.

or worse want to "protect them"

See, here's where men (and society as a whole) are going through an identity crisis. Lots of us were raised that chivalry and protecting women was a GOOD thing. You're going to see men taking stupid risks to protect their female platoon-mates because they are unwilling to let the women take those risks themselves, just like it was ingrained in me from a young age that if a tire had to be changed or someone had to go up on the roof in the rain and fix something or whatever, that was my job and I wasn't to let a woman do it. Since then, I realize how offensive the "let" part of that statement is, so I now "offer" to do it instead. It took a while to get me to that point and I sure as heck was not at that point at age 18. Maybe it's an age thing or a generational thing or maybe it's timeless and in the male DNA. There's a saying that I've heard quite a few times from combat veterans regarding women in combat: "I don't know if the women can handle it or not, but I KNOW that the men can't handle it." Whatever it is, I predict an increase of men jumping on grenades to save a woman as opposed to yelling "Grenade!" if it's all guys and everyone tries their best to jump out of the way. Again, chivalry. Good? Bad? I don't know anymore.

As for my own personal situation, I've had radio silence from her, which tells me she's mulling it over and taking the decision seriously. If she was mad at me for sending her those links and trying to talk her out of it, her M.O. is normally to tell me immediately and dig in her heels.

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diafol

Personally I don't understand why anyone (male or female) would want to serve in combat, but I respect their decision whichever way

I agree totally with "why". I agree totally with " respect their decision" - if they're old enough and mature enough to make one. However mature an 18 year old appears (as it happens my son is 18 today!!), there is no doubt that they do not have the relevant life experiences to be able to make that - possibly life-ending - decision. We can roll up examples of career soldiers from age 18 to 50+ and say "it did them no harm". I accept that they are capable enough to make many more informed decisions than they were able at, say aged 15, but this is a tricky one.

Do you want your child to kill another person in a foreign country? Do you want your child to be trained in the art of death? Every fibre of my being would scream against such a possibility. As AssertNull intimates, children are far more prone to accept things blindly - they tend not to have dependents or spouses. Their wanderlust is a raw shapeless entity. They tend to trust their "elders and betters" since most will only have been to the relatively benign environment of school. Play dough!

It is interesting that of those killed in Vietnam, 61% were younger than 21; 11,465 (out of 58,148) of those killed were younger than 20 years old. 61% - okay, not all were infantry and this was over 40 years ago.

http://www.uswings.com/about-us-wings/vietnam-war-facts/

Anyway - that's the age issue. This is a "tricky" issue since we allow 18 year olds to do pretty much everything - except you guys in the US have a healthy law about alcohol - so it seems a little inconsistent, if we do not allow them to make this choice for themselves.

A strange situation seems to exist with regard to the USA's Selective Service System. Is appears that all males need to register, whereas females do not.

In the United States all male US citizens, US nationals, dual nationals of the US, and non-citizens living in the US who are between 18 and 26 years old must register with the Selective Service System (SSS). Men already in the military at the time of their 18th birthday are not required to register unless they are still under the age of 26 when they are leave the military service. To date, females are not required to register. Failure to comply with the national law to register can result in a criminal conviction with a fine up to a quarter million dollars and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed five years.

Law Dictionary: Finding Selective Service Registration Number Online: http://thelawdictionary.org/article/finding-selective-service-registration-number-online/

So, in the name of equality, females should also be required by law to register with the SSS. It is unfair (sexist?!) to discriminate in this way. Preferrably, nobody would have to register until they were 26.

So, in the name of equality, females should also be required by law to register with the SSS. It is unfair (sexist?!) to discriminate in this way.

Things might become "fair" very soon. Not sure when the quote you linked was written, but a House Committee member (Duncan Hunter Jr.) who did NOT want women to have to register proposed that they SHOULD have to register in order to spark debate. Well, it passed even though he voted against his own idea (note to politicians playing games. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. Brexit anyone?). And it looks like it passed the Senate as well. It's not law yet I don't think, but they're pitching it around back-and-forth. This link is from a month and a half ago, so perhaps it's out of date. But it appears that people are finally tackling that issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/us/politics/congress-women-military-draft.html?_r=0

It's still largely hypothetical since we haven't actually had a draft since Vietnam and no one is seriously proposing it now. The devil is in the details. As for "fairness" and the draft, well it still won't be fair. RIght now women can VOLUNTEER for the Infantry. I don't think anyone is proposing that they get DRAFTED into the Infantry. Thus you get two potential draftees, one male, one female, who need to be placed in a job. Let's say they both prefer to be, say, Computer Programmers. Let's say the guy performs higher on the aptitude test for that training. Let's say there's one job opening for Computer Programming and one for Infantry. The woman can't be forced into the Infantry and the guy can, so the woman will get the Computer Programming and the guy will get Infantry.

Regardless, they are going to have to get a lot of kinks out of the system. Here's a big one. Currently Boot Camp and Advanced Individual Training are combined for the Infantry. They'll either have to separate the training or make Boot Camp Co-Ed, which I don't think has ever been done. We'll see how this all works. It occurs to me that this experiment has already occurred. We just need to look at our adversaries, not ourselves. The Viet Cong had lots of women and I've never heard an American Vietnam Vet say they couldn't do the job as well as their male counterparts.

This is now a hypothetical for me. The young lady in question has changed her mind. Wants to study wildlife in the rainforest now. That seems cool. No clue how one goes about doing that.

The young lady in question has changed her mind. Wants to study wildlife in the rainforest now. That seems cool. No clue how one goes about doing that.

That's excellent news, I'm only familiar with Operation Wallacea who run expeditions for college students during the summer, but presuably there are many others with more diverse remits.

However mature an 18 year old appears (as it happens my son is 18 today!!), there is no doubt that they do not have the relevant life experiences to be able to make that - possibly life-ending - decision.

I fully agree, but I also acknowledge that there may be practical benefits to opening it up to youths - though I'd prefer parental permission to be required for under 21 year olds.

Preferrably, nobody would have to register until they were 26.

Coming from a much less militaristic culture, I find it horrifying that anyboby has to register. Forcing someone to kill another person against their will is one of the most evil things people can do, in my books.

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diafol

Good news AN.

Coming from a much less militaristic culture, I find it horrifying that anyboby has to register. Forcing someone to kill another person against their will is one of the most evil things people can do, in my books.

Here here