Women are physically unfit to serve in combat, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed during a Tuesday appearance on the Laura Ingraham radio show. Cotton, who was last seen suggesting that Iraq might have orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, recognized female accomplishments in non-infantry combat roles like helicopter pilot and that women have fought and performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Cotton nonetheless concludes that women should be legally prohibited from competing with men for infantry combat positions:
To have women serving in infantry, though, could impair the mission-essential tasks of those units. And that’s been proven in study after study, it’s nature, upper body strength, and physical movements, and speed, and endurance, and so forth.
Cotton appears to assume that allowing women to serve in the infantry would necessitate a double standard in physical testing for male and female soldiers, but that’s not so. A Marine pilot program training women as combat officers subjects them to the same grueling physical training as their male classmates. Though the two women in that program didn’t pass (along with 26 of the 107 men enrolled in the course), many women are more than physically capable of performing in combat roles. Indeed, a survey of several NATO allies that allowed women in “frontline roles” in Afghanistan found that female officers caused “no significant problems,” and actually performed better than their male counterparts in intelligence-gathering roles. Preventing women who pass the same physical tests as their male counterparts from serving in the combat infantry is sexism, plain and simple.
When the Department of Defense loosened its prohibition on women in combat in early 2012, then-Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R-PA) said he had “concerns” about women serving in combat roles because of “the emotions that were involved.”