The decision regarding women in combat arms occupational specialties has been made. It’s happening. Why not embrace it? Let’s make the Marine Corps stronger by efficiently employing the benefits that women bring to the table instead of fighting the issue.

Women are capable of serving in combat, they are physically and mentally resilient enough to sustain prolonged misery, and from personal experience, they have the same desire to serve. Women want to be treated equally, so let’s start applying all the rules and requirements without preference.

But first, a bit of why we have been so distracted.

Cultural Combat

Emotional advocates from the left and right cloud the whole debate. Some religions dictate roles for men and women and extremists extend these arguments to bolster their cultural beliefs. Human rights advocates scream bloody murder when women are not allowed the opportunity to pee standing up.

But let’s get down to the real issue: every decision must sustain or increase military readiness and capability. The enemy is not concerned with equal treatment and individual rights and therefore combat requirements do not care either. We exist to support and defend the constitution, not for personal careers, monetary gain, or to seek fun and exciting missions.

I’ve heard many arguments for and against women in combat arms roles. Most of them boil down to two opposing viewpoints. The first goes something like this: for true equality and career mobility, women must serve in combat units. This selfish argument advocates for women in combat arms specialties primarily for career advancement and gender equality, not to strengthen the military. Allowing women in these roles might strengthen the military, but that has not been proven; we dove in without testing the waters.

The opposing view claims women are incapable of doing what men can. This flippant argument generalizes woman as incapable of the tough lifestyle or the harsh requirements – something that thousands of women have proven wrong in the last ten years. This video shows the Female Engagement Team that was attached to my platoon on occasion in Afghanistan. They lived, patrolled, and stood guard with us for days at a time – in the same austere environment in which we lived.

Strength and Readiness of the Corps, Not Personal Gain

This is a highly contentious debate that is drawn largely on generational, geographic, and political party lines. The debate is about perception, and for me – though the issue of women’s rights is important – nothing compares to having a military that is increasingly stronger and more ready. Not women’s rights or personal career advancement. Why? Because our enemies do not care about those issues. They care about killing me and my Marines. The military is for those that are selfless, humble, and ruthlessly determined to kill the enemy if it comes down to that. Unfortunately, there are many in the military that only care about their careers and whether their lack of combat unit command time prevents them from advancing to the highest levels of power.