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Home > Back Issues (Journal) > Journal V27 N4 (Oct - Dec 2001) > Women In Combat: An Indispensible Army 21 Component Or A Simple Case Of Equal Opportunity?

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Women In Combat: An Indispensible Army 21 Component Or A Simple Case Of Equal Opportunity?
by MAJ Alex Tan Tuan Loy


"Your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable ­ it is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight; yours is the profession to arms."

General Douglas A. MacArthur to the
West Point Graduating Class of 1962

Like the United States military, the infusion of women into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) was announced with great fanfare and the proclamation of the politically-correct notion that "women have as much a role to play in the Nation's defence as the men". Thankfully, unlike the US military, the inclusion of women into the SAF did not result in controversies and scandals that the US military faced in recent years as exemplified in the Tailhook1 and Aberdeen2 scandals.

Amidst continued declining birth rates and greater economic opportunities, the participation of women in the SAF has been generally accepted as an inexorable development within the organisation without much ado, trusting that the authorities have performed the necessary analysis. Is this naturally the case? Are there larger issues that we need to grapple with, given our unique circumstances, noting that up till today, the US military is still debating on the wisdom of opening up military career opportunities at such break-neck speed?

This paper will examine the US military's experience as a relevant example, discuss the arguments placed forth by proponents and opponents of this issue and attempt to rise above heated passions to draw the lessons that the SAF can take heed of.

"The military is there to defend the country; it doesn't owe a job to anyone."

Ms Elaine Donnelly, former member of the
PENTAGON's Defence Advisory Committee
on Women in the Services


The issue of women in the military is one of the most important of controversies in the 20th century, with proponents and opponents putting forth their case with equal fervour. History is replete with stories of women in battle. The ancient Greeks, for example, told of Amazons so dedicated to warfare that each cut off one breast to improve her ability to shoot and throw spears. The Americans can point to colonist Magaret Corbin who, during the British attack on Fort Washington in the Revolutionary War, operated a cannon until she was seriously wounded. For the most part, however, the history of women in battle is a combination of myth and exaggeration, mixed in with a few true accounts of unique women. Indeed, throughout history, most societies have banned women from military service. Those women who did fight were often forced by circumstances into positions of military leadership or were conscripted only when men were in short supply, as was the case in the Soviet Union during World War II. In the absence of these extreme circumstances, most societies have restricted women from serving in the military to the same extent that they have restricted women from other male-dominated occupations.

Two major factors led to the expansion of the role of women in the US Armed Forces. First, after the end of the draft and the beginning of the All-Volunteer Force in December 1973, the military services had difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough qualified males, thereby turning attention to recruiting women. Women were recruited in increasing numbers and assigned to a wider variety of occupations as one method of meeting shortfalls in enlistment by qualified men. Second, the movement for equal rights for women led to demands for equal opportunity in all fields, including national defence and a gradual removal of restrictions against them.

Two significant events also projected women onto the pedestal of the military stage.

  • Operation Just Cause

    Just Cause was the largest and the smoothest United States airborne operation since World War II. In one lightning stroke, Manuel Noriega was removed from power, a new democratic government was given a chance to take root, some 12,000 American citizens living in Panama were protected from potential harm, and the crucial Panama Canal was safeguarded. In the wake of the Panama invasion, a headline in the New York Times stated:

    Woman Leads GI's in Panama Combat

    A day earlier, Marlin Fitzwater, President Bush's press secretary, had told White House Correspondents that Army Captain Linda L. Bray, the commander of a military police unit had been ordered to take a group of her male soldiers to capture a dog kennel that was heavily defended by Panamanian troops.

    A flood of stories that portrayed Linda Bray as a present-day Amazon warrior appeared in scores of newspapers in the United States describing in riveting detail how a three-hour firefight erupted when she and her men attacked the dog kennel and how she had crashed through a fence in her jeep to come to grips with the enemy force.

    When the fierce shootout ceased and the kennel had been captured, media report stated, there were many dead Panamanian soldiers strewn about. A post-battle interview with Captain Bray quoted her as saying, "I joined the Army for the excitement, the challenge, and loyalty to my country."3

    Advocates of placing women in combat units were elated over the Linda Bray story. Columnist Anna Quindlen of The New York Times no doubt sought to reinforce the feminist contention that body strength is of no significance in fighting by pointing out that Bray was 1.55m tall and weighed a little more than 45 kg. "Captain Bray gave women in the Army a chance to [do the job]", Quindlen stated. "She came, she saw, she conquered."4

    US House Representative Patricia Schroeder, chairperson of the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, lost no time in appearing before the television cameras to say that the attack led by Captain Bray demonstrated that women should be allowed to carry out direct combat roles. Schroeder disclosed she planned to introduce legislation enabling Army women to assume all military roles, including direct combat.

    A week later, a very different story appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Unnamed Army officers were quoted saying the original report of Bray's heroics was "grossly exaggerated." The kennel was lightly held, the firefight lasted ten minutes and no one was killed or injured. Bray was not present during the firefight but was half a mile away at her command post. Arriving late for the fight, she stood by while her driver used the jeep to force the gate open. By then, the kennel's defenders had fled. The lone Panamanian captured was a harmless civilian who showed up later to check on the dogs.

    This did nothing to quieten calls for the repeal of the combat exclusions, all made in the name of Linda Bray. For the popular press, the case for repeal was finally proven. Shortly afterward, Schroeder introduced a bill to repeal the Army's combat exclusions for a four-year trial period, but at House hearings in March, most military witnesses politely opposed the proposal. Legislators were also lukewarm, praising women but admitting doubts and advising caution. The bill died quietly. It was born a year too early.

  • Operation Desert Storm

    The Gulf War against Iraq was a watershed in the history of women in the military. Shortly after the war, the military's timid arguments against expanding military women's roles were swept away in a gush of media admiration.

    As it happened, the ground war in February was so swift and so successful that it conquered not only the Iraqi defences but all of America's accumulated fears about going to war - the fear of getting involved in distant foreign conflicts, the fear of escalating military actions, the fear of lost and shattered lives - and the fear of sending women to war and losing them in combat.

    The postwar push for the repeal of the combat exclusion did not really begin until after April, when Senator John McCain, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, commented that the sterling performance of women in the Gulf justified a new look at the ban on women in combat roles, particularly aviation roles. McCain's opinion carried weight because he was himself not only a veteran navy pilot but also a former prisoner of war. Many events led to the issue being discussed at the US Senate Armed Services Committee in June. By then, many on the committee gave the impression of being cautious and uncommitted, saying the Gulf War was far too limited an engagement to serve as the basis for drawing any conclusions about the military use of women, good or bad. With each party arguing for their own causes, Congress passed the buck to the White House who promptly formed the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces to address this issue.

  • The Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces

    The Commission consists of a mixed group of people, both civilians, current and ex-military members. The Commission voted on a very mixed bag of 17 recommendations included in its final report: against quotas, for gender-specific physical training standards, for gender-neutral physical job standards, for gender-normed precommissioning standards, against women in ground combat, against women in combat aviation, for women on combat ships, against women in special operations, and detailed recommendations on how to deal with pregnancy, motherhood, single parents and deployment.

    The Gang of Five (a label given to a group of five of the commissioners who were vehemently opposed to women in combat) successfully fought to have the "Alternative Views: The Case Against Women in Combat" included in the final report. In the report, it expanded on the issues of combat aviation and combat ships, basing everything on combat effectiveness, while noting that the drive for change was motivated not by a concern for the good of the military but by the demand for equal rights.

    "The Case Against Women in Combat" was followed by a lengthy dissent on the recommendations against women in combat aviation, signed by all seven commissioners who voted against that recommendation. Three commissioners dissented from the Commission's recommendation against ground combat for women, arguing that women were already serving in ground combat and had thoroughly proved themselves in the Persian Gulf. All in all, there were four sets of dissents made against the Commission's recommendations.

    The report also included personal statements from twelve commissioners, some of them pages long. Most of the statements stuck to the issues addressed by the Commission but bitter complaints were made by the Gang of Five on the influence of the conservative commissioners. At the other spectrum, one wrote that "the work of this Commission has been an insult to all servicewomen".

    At the end of the day, all the work came to naught. The final votes on women in combat were taken on Election Day 1992. By the end of the day, with Bill Clinton as the projected winner of the presidential election, it was clear that the Commission's work was superfluous - a new political order had arrived. Two months later, the raging issue was not women in combat - which was a done deal - but homosexuals in the military. The Clinton administration threw out the Presidential Commission recommendations on combat in April 1993 and bulldozed the US military to open combat cockpits, combat ships and certain Army vocations to women. Only Army and Marine units engaged in direct combat with an enemy - infantry, armour and much of field artillery ­ remained closed to women.

    "The vast majority of facts presented were problematic for the integration of women and, as a result, problematic for readiness and combat effectiveness. It also should be noted that no case was made through factual testimony for the military necessity of integrating women into the combat forces or combat positions".

    ­ Dr. Darryl Henderson, Commission member who
    identified some 133 facts established by the
    only two of which supported
    the integration of women on the
    basis of military effectiveness.

The Facts

Despite the failure of the Commission, the efforts were not totally wasted. One of the few good things to have come out of the Commission was the wealth of information with regards to the physiological gender differences between men and women and their military significance.

  • Body Composition / Muscular Strength / Cardio-Respiratory Capacity

    Compared to the average male Army recruit, the average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, weighs 31.7 pounds less, and has 37.4 pounds less muscle mass and 5.7 pounds more fat mass. In general, women are at a distinct disadvantage when performing military tasks requiring muscular strength because of their lower muscle mass. Since fat mass is inversely related to aerobic capacity and heat tolerance, the average woman is also at a disadvantage when performing aerobic activities such as marching with heavy loads (related to the lower cardio-respiratory capacity of women) and working in the heat.

  • Injury

    Research findings have indicated a high risk for injuries during Army basic combat training. During training, 51% of women and 27% of men were injured. The risk of lower extremity injury for women was 2.13 times that of men and for stress fractures, 4.71 times that of men. The higher risk of injury for women was related to a lower level of fitness when compared to men.

    It has also been reported that 54% of women sustained reportable injuries during Army basic training. These injuries resulted in an average time loss of 13 days. During this study, women participated in an integrated conditioning programme and completed extensive road marches wearing combat boots. Incidence of injury was related to greater body weight and body fat and limited leg strength.

  • Environmental Stress

    In general, women are more sensitive to the effects of thermal stress due to several factors which include lower cardio-respiratory fitness, higher body fat content and lower skin surface area. During marches at a set pace, women exercise at a greater percentage of their aerobic capacity than men, resulting in a higher heart rate, oxygen consumption and heat production. Because of this higher metabolic rate, women experience an earlier onset of fatigue and are at greater risk of heat injury then men during forced marches in a hot environment. Studies, however, have not found operationally significant gender differences in heat tolerance among acclimatised men and women of similar fitness. Women's physical advantages are that they are less susceptible to altitude sickness and, normally have a greater tolerance of cold temperature due to their extra body fat.

  • A Poignant Testimony

    The testimony of Army Lieutenant Colonel William Gregor puts the disparities in the physical ability of men and women in sharper perspective. Gregor, a former faculty member at West Point, had compared the performance of 3540 male and 623 female West Point and Army ROTC cadets at summer camp. The study focused on whether women meet the same physical fitness standards as men. His conclusion, broadly stated, is that they do not. Evidence Gregor presented to the Commission include5:

    • Using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, he found that the upper quintile of women at West Point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile of men.

    • From these data, he concluded that if the Army selected those who met a nominal standard on the test, 80% of the women who applied could not get an Army commission.

    • Only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.

    • On the push-up test, only 7% of women can meet a score of 60, while 78% of men exceeded it.

    • Adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70% of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only 3% would be eligible for the RECONDO badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness Badge, because not a single woman achieved a score equal to what men must meet to get the badge.

    • Few women can meet the male mean standard. Men below the standard can improve their scores, whereas the women who have met the standard have already achieved a maximum level beyond which they cannot improve.

    • According to Gregor, women begin losing bone mass at an earlier age than men, meaning that they are more susceptible to orthopaedic injuries, which "leads to the conclusion that women initially selected for the combat arms would not survive to career-end." Adopting a single standard for fitness at mid-career in the Army would eliminate most women for failure to meet the standard.

    "If we can't win a war without our mothers, what kind of a sorry fighting force are we? Even the evil Saddam Hussein doesn't send mothers to fight his war."

    Sally Quinn, Washington Post, after seeing a picture of an Army specialist single parent cradling her seven-week-old infant daughter before leaving for Fort Benning

The Opinions

Opinions abound on the rights and wrongs of having women in combat and the larger issue of women in the military. There are just two ways to see this issue and two sides to take in the debate. One side believes that men and women are fundamentally different and will always remain so; the other side believes that men and women are very much the same and that their differences are insignificant. One side wants the status quo to remain while the other wants revolutionary changes.

The one side that argues against expanding the role of women in combat does so on the basis of military effectiveness; the other side arguing for the expansion of role for women in the military does so in the interest of equal opportunity. This section will discuss the widely varying views and discuss these from both the proponent's and the opponent's perspectives.

  • Proponent's Views

    Surprisingly, having read about the various arguments put forth by the proponents in expanding the role of women in the military, the constant refrain is the desire to provide for equal opportunity, one of American's most sacred cultural values, a sine qua non of American justice. Proponents liken the current restrictions to that of the discriminations faced by the Afro-Americans in the 60s and 70s. The passion that Americans placed on individual rights and equal opportunity transcends all things and cannot be lightly dismissed.

    Of course, proponents have long maintained that equal opportunities do not imply having differing standards. They believed that gender-neutral strength / endurance and performance-based standards should be adopted as a basis for judging the capability of women for the various military jobs. To this end, the proponent elements of the Commission have indicated that aviation, field artillery, air defence artillery and combat engineers should be opened to women. As to what these qualification standards are to be, the Commissioners are decidedly silent.

    One glaring motive of this great push has to do with the career advancement system in the US Army which puts a premium on soldiers who have chalked up active combat duties. Restricting combat roles to women is tantamount to restricting their career prospects. Hence, it will come as no surprise that the majority of in-service women who were in favour of the role expansion were commissioned officers.

  • Opponent's Views

    Opponents point to several commonly held reasons for not supporting the expansion of women's role in the military. Having mixed-sex institution will severely affect unit cohesion, increase the workload of the men due to non-availability of women through pregnancy and motherhood, increase the risk of sexual fraternisation and increase the risk of women being held prisoners of war. In addition to these factors, the reduction of standards to ensure that women qualify for their commission presents certain morale problems for men which will further reduce unit cohesion, which is of paramount importance in a combat unit.

    To each of these, the proponents argued that unit cohesion is not a single-gender experience, as can be shown by successful civilian mixed-gender institutions like the Police Force. In fact, the proponents argue that mixed-gender units can and have the ability to out perform all-male units; the women worked harder to gain male approval and the men worked harder not to be outdone by the women, thereby increasing unit effectiveness. Parenthood is a shared responsibility which involves both men and women while men account for greater non-availability due to disciplinary problems. On the issue of female prisoners of war, the testimony of flight surgeon, MAJ Rhonda Cornum, served to outline the "occupational hazards" faced by women in combat.

    On 27 Feb, 1991, the last day of the four-day ground war, Cornum and seven other crew members were flying low and fast over the Iraqi desert in a Black Hawk search-and-rescue helicopter. Accompanied by 2 Apache attack helicopters and directed by an AWACS radar plane overhead, they were answering an emergency call to retrieve a downed and injured Air Force pilot. The Black Hawk crew was startled when the seemingly empty desert suddenly erupted into flashes of green light and the crack of anti-aircraft guns. In the end, five of the crew members died as a result of the crash while Cornum and two other crew members were taken POWs by the Iraqis. When they were released on day seven of their captivity, the question on every reporter asked was whether Cornum had been sexually molested by their captors. The Army said no. A year later it turned out that the Army had lied.

    During the Presidential Commission, Cornum confessed that she had been "violated manually, vaginally and rectally." Only Cornum's broken arms and screams of pain kept the Iraqi from consummating the assault. "I would have gotten raped but he couldn't get my flight suit off," says Cornum. Cornum has been least disturbed. "Getting raped or abused or whatever is one more bad thing that can happen to you as a prisoner of war. There're about 400 bad things that I can think of and it's not the worst of them," Cornum had testified, calling her incident an "occupational hazard".6

    Perhaps the most explosive issue is that of sexual fraternisation and harassment. The Tailhook and Aberdeen scandals within the US military go to show that women are vulnerable to harassment by men who are supposedly less susceptible due to their training. Even senior military women in the US are not spared when the first female three-star general in the US military, LT-GEN Claudia Kennedy, the US Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, had accused MAJ-GEN Larry Smith, who ironically was to assume the appointment of deputy inspector general in charge of investigating sexual harassment complaints, for sexually harassing her in 1996.7 Opponents also argued that the men will be vulnerable to false accusations of sexual harassment from disgruntled women colleagues or subordinates, distracting issues the military can ill-afford. Preventing women from entering the military will instantly make this a non-issue. Proponents countered that it takes two hands to clap, hence it was totally unjustifiable to put all the blame on the women.

    Regardless of the arguments and counter-arguments, the statement of Charles Moskos, a fiercely neutral member serving the commission, to his fellow commissioners is poignant:

    "You raised a question, Mr Chair[man], where the burden of proof should lie. Other things being equal, you say, well, then let equal opportunity triumph. Well, most evidence that we've heard here ­ and there will be some debate about the degree ­ is that mixed-gender units, particularly as it gets closer to the combat area, have lower deployment rates, higher attrition, less physical strength, more sexual activity, higher costs, et cetera, et cetera. It would seem to me the burden of proof would be on the side of saying equal opportunity is of such significance that we're going to override some of these costs."

    "A soldier needs physical and moral courage, ingenuity and integrity, determination and loyalty, a sense of humour, and of course luck, to be successful in combat. I do not believe and did not see any evidence that these qualities are distributed on the basis of gender or race."

    MAJ Rhonda Cornum,
    former POW during the Gulf War.


The truth of the matter is that if there were an abundance of men clamouring to join the military services in Singapore, there would not have been a push to target the recruitment of women into the SAF.

Much of the problems encountered in integrating women into a male-dominated organisation are caused by men as much as they are by women. The key issue is transparency. In handling changes, the typical human reaction has always been to view changes with suspicion. Hence it is imperative that the Army clearly articulates the rationale for policies especially that applied to women in the Army. The lack of transparency and consistency will cause misunderstanding and resentment by the men towards their women counterpart. This will counter any good intentions that the Army may have to integrate women into the Army. The situation within the Army is clearly benign due to the relatively small percentage of women that compete with men for the same resource pool. However, the current situation should not lure us to complacency as the individual soldier who gets side-stepped in his career advancement due to perceived injustice will not take it too kindly. Some of the issues that need to be debated include:

  • Defining the Principal Purpose for Women in the Army

    The Army needs to clearly articulate the purpose for the recruitment of women into the Army despite the potential challenges. Is it a simple case of granting equal opportunities to women or does it firmly believe that it is the case of the best person for the job? Is there a combat exclusion policy banning the deployment of female Army personnel in times of war as the case in Germany, France, Israel and Russia8? If indeed there is, are the women who join the Army to contribute in combat aware of such a policy? The point is that we do not have a consistent interpretation on what we expect of our women who join the Army hoping to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the men. If women are not expected to participate in war, then they should not be combat officers.

    Whether it is policy's direction or over-protective commanders, articulating clearly the policy on women in the Army will go a long way to address two potentially explosive issues. First, it will allow the servicewomen to understand their exact role within the Army and, hence to be able to better contribute to the ultimate cause. Secondly, it will alleviate apprehension amongst the servicemen that indeed, the integration of women into the Army has been a well thought-through process culminating towards a win-win arrangement.

  • Qualification Standards

    The success of a policy depends on the implementation process as much as on the policy itself. The lesser physical ability of women is tacitly acknowledged through the lower standards in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and other related selection tests that has been gender-normed to allow women to be able to meaningfully participate in the various military courses. If indeed, women are deemed as capable as men to do the job, why have two separate standards? Why disallow servicemen the opportunity to participate in the airborne course when they could easily clear the qualification tests that has been modified for women and NCC members? Unlike the case of IPPT where it is pegged to a standard expected of the individual service personnel, the purpose of qualification tests is unambiguous. The differing standards simply do not make sense unless the motivation is to ensure that women do not lose out. What's more, why exempt women from IPPT indefinitely the moment they become mothers, if they continue to hold on to combat appointments? Why, too, are women participating in a modified Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) if it is deemed as an important gauge of a unit's operational readiness? We have clearly a long way to go in formulating a consistent standard for combat personnel, regardless of whether they are men or women.

    "Decisions on what roles women should play in war must be based on military standards, not women's rights."

    GEN (Ret) Norman Schwarzkopf,
    and Commander of Operations
    Desert Shield and Desert Storm


On one hand, opponents argue that no one is courageous enough to approach the issue of women in the military as one would with any other issue, analysing it with cold rationality in the simple terms of costs versus benefits. The problem with weighing the pros and cons of using women in the military is that there are too many cons. These include higher rate of attrition, greater need for medical care, higher rate of non-availability, lesser physical ability, aggravated problems of single-parenthood, dual-service marriage, fraternisation, sexual harassment and promiscuity, all of which have the potential to affect unit cohesion and morale. Against these disadvantages, women offer the military one single advantage: they are better behaved. They lose less time for disciplinary reasons and are less prone to substance abuses. The reason for using women in the military is not a military reason. It is a political reason driven by an ideology that, under the euphemism of "equal opportunity" trumps the needs of the military and the cause of national defence.

On the other hand, proponents argue that the experiences of the Gulf War conclusively prove that women can contribute credibly to the war effort as well as men. The purported problems are cut-and-dry disciplinary issues rather than problems caused uniquely by integrating women into the military. It is about women's struggle to break through the attitudinal and societal barriers shaped by old but strongly-maintained traditions and myths about the military institution and women's proper roles in it. That struggle was never about women seeking special privileges or double standards. It was about being allowed to compete based on ability and not gender. It was never about proving that women can do anything a man can do, but about being judged as individuals by the same standards as men in any job for which they can qualify. It has always been about being allowed to pursue a career based on their individual qualifications rather than sex stereotypes and male norms unrelated to the job. In short, the proponents argue that women's struggle for a place in the armed forces has been about seeking the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Regardless of which side of the fence one sits on, the issue of women, like euthanasia and abortion, will remain a deeply divided issue with no end in sight. What the Army can do to avoid similar pitfalls in the US is to have a clear, concise and transparent approach, in terms of policy and implementation process both at the leadership level as well as on the ground. This will ensure that men and women in the Army can come to a common understanding and work together hand in hand, be it at the frontline or in a mutually supporting role.


1 The Tailhook symposiums, held annually, are professional meetings, offering briefings on aviation safety, advances in aviation technology, air operations, personnel issues and other professional topics. The symposiums are peppered with informal parties. Approximately 25 women, 13 of them naval officers, reportedly were forced to run a gauntlet of men and encountered various assaults. This resulted in the reduction in rank of one retired admiral and actions against 30 other admirals. Another 140 Navy and Marine officers were also disciplined.

2 The case involved the charging of 5 soldiers assigned to the Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, with various sex crimes including rape, adultery, sexual assault, fraternisation and sexual harassment.. When the dust settled, the end result was a single conviction for rape, several convictions for sexual misconduct and 1 suicide.

3 The New York Time, January 7, 1990.

4 The New York Time, January 10, 1990.

5 Gregor, William, LTC, USA. Testimony before the Commission, Sep 12, 1992.

6 Testimony of Rhonda Cornum to the Presidential Commission, June 8, 1992.

7 The Straits Times, April 1, 2000. According to defence sources, the incident took place in 1996 when a fellow general groped her in her Pentagon office. Lt-Gen Kennedy tried to handle it discreetly, on a "peer-to-peer" basis, and was satisfied that she had resolved the problem. But, more recently, when the accused groper was promoted, she became concerned and sought the investigation.

8 The Netherlands and Great Britain bar women from combat as a policy though it is not enshrined in the law. Amongst those countries that grant women free access in the military include Canada, Denmark and Norway.


1 United States, Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, Women in Combat: Report to the President, Nov 15, 1992.

2 Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military ­ Flirting with Disaster, Regnery Publishing, 1997.

3 Linda Bird Francke, Ground Zero: The Gender Wars in the Military, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

4 Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm, USAF(Ret.), Women in the Military ­ An Unfinished Revolution, Presidio Press, 1992.

MAJ Alex Tan Tuan Loy is an Artillery officer by vocation. His previous appointment was as a staff officer in G5 Army and he is currently in the 33rd CSC. MAJ Tan graduated with a BSc (2nd Upper Hons) in Physics and an MSc (Defence Technology), Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, UK.

Last updated: 03-Jul-2006






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