During a recent posture hearing, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that the Army’s plan to successfully integrate women into combat units rests on the shoulders of women.  The Army is banking on a “Leaders First” policy whereby they will assign mid-grade servicewomen to combat units before they assign entry level women.  Apparently, these mid-grade officers and NCOs will know how to integrate all-male units and they will serve as advisers and mentors to their peers and to entry level women when they join combat units.  The problem with this approach is that it is male leaders who will make or break combat integration not the women.

Last summer I interviewed 25 women who had served as cultural support team members and were assigned to Ranger and Special Forces teams. These women, carefully screened and trained officers and NCOs, reported struggling to integrate their teams. Many went on to describe how their reception was wholly dependent upon their leadership.  If the leadership was against their presence, they were rarely used and poorly integrated.  If their leadership supported their presence, or at least was ambivalent, then they had an easier time integrating their teams, gaining acceptance and contributing to the mission.  “They taught us how to interact with the Afghan culture and they kinda didn’t really teach us how to navigate the all-male, very dominant alpha environment,” one CW4 said.

Read More- Army Times

Image courtesy of US Army