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“The military viewpoint was that under the conditions of a high intensity close-quarter battle, group cohesion becomes of much greater significance to team performance and, in such an environment, the consequences of failure can have far-reaching and grave consequences,” the report stated. “To admit women would, therefore, involve a risk with no gains in terms of combat effectiveness to offset it.”

In 2010, the British government reviewed its policies and opted to retain the ban on women in combat.

That year, a group of U.S. Army physicians studied one brigade combat team deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Their study, published in the journal Military Medicine, examined the number of soldiers who sustained a disease or noncombat injury. Of 4,122 soldiers (325 women in support roles), 1,324 had a disease or injury that forced them to miss time or be evacuated.

“Females, compared with males, had a significantly increased incident-rate ratio for becoming a [disease or noncombat] casualty,” the doctors found.

Of 47 female soldiers evacuated from the brigade, 35 — or 74 percent — were for “pregnancy-related issues.” Women had more than triple the evacuation rate of men.

“I infer from this that women are twice as likely to suffer non-battle injuries in current specialties,” William Gregor, a professor of social sciences at the Army’s Command and Staff College, told The Times. “They will probably have a greater injury rate in heavy physical occupational specialties and the combat arms. The British experience with gender-free or neutral training standards suggests the injury rate will dramatically increase.”

Fight load and body bags

Last year, Mr. Gregor presented a lengthy paper at an armed forces seminar in Chicago that concluded: “The physical capacity of women is significantly less than that of men and even more difficult to sustain. Women are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to performing military physical tasks because they have a significantly higher percentage of body fat and generally much lower total lean mass.”

As an example, Mr. Gregor examined physical fitness test results from Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) dating back to 1992 and 74,000 records of male and female commissioned officers. Looking at pushups and the two-mile run, he found that only 2.9 percent of women were able to attain the men’s mean score.

The “fight load” — the gear an infantryman carries on patrol — is 35 percent of the average man’s body weight but 50 percent of the average Army woman’s weight, Mr. Gregor found.

“The increased weight of the combat load combined with the high altitude in Afghanistan has placed a premium on strength and aerobic capacity and presents a significant challenge to sustaining performance in continuous operations,” Mr. Gregor said.

In tests of aerobic capacity, the records show, only 74 of 8,385 ROTC women attained the level of the lowest 16 percent of men.

“No training system can close this gap,” he said. “The reason men and women cannot truly be trained together is not a matter of attitude. It is physical.

“The difference in male and female body composition and the components of strength and endurance training are firm obstacles to designing mutually beneficial training events.”

Story Continues →