Training Women for the Military essay

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In those days prior to 2003, TRADOC gave recruits nut-and-bolt basics, then sent the new Soldiers to their units where the real training started....nTo achieve "Soldier" status, recruits now spend 21 days in the field during basic training. The training focus has changed dramatically from what was primarily a standards, discipline and soldierization process to one of intensive combat skills. (Leipold, 2009)nHowever, such changes have tended to come about without any sort controlled, rigorous study. There is nothing wrong about changes that come from within and that grow organically out of the requirements of an organization. However, a controlled experiment offers certain key advantages because it can cast off old attitudes and biases.nI have already described the control group in this experiment. The three experimental groups add different elements to the equation. The first of these experimental groups is actually one that I predict will reduce the overall fitness of women soldiers and decrease their chances of joining the armed forces. Why would one want to do this as a researcher? The short answer is that all data are useful: Seeking out the factors that make a situation worse is another route to finding out what makes things better. (For example, when trying to understand what makes a car run efficiently, letting the oil get dirty -- which slows efficiency -- tells us something about how to make things better.)nOne strategy that has been tried before in terms of training women soldiers -- although not in the United States -- is treating them exactly as if they were men. This was a relatively short-lived experiment in the British armed services because it lead to a much higher rate of injuries for women. nDuring the gender-fair period of training, which ended in 1998, female trainees suffered 467 injuries per 10,000, compared with 118 among their male colleagues. After gender-free training was introduced, men's injuries rose to 147, but women's injuries went up to 1,113 per 10,000.nAfter the publication of the inspectorate's report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to examine training across the Services, Lieutenant-General Anthony Palmer, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (personnel), said that the issue of gender-free training was being reviewed.nThe report said that the problem of injuries in the Services had been "exacerbated by change from a gender-fair policy, in which women were set training goals appropriate to their physique, to a gender-free approach, prompted erroneously by a conviction that equality of opportunity demands it".nWhen gender-free training was introduced in 1998, the Government declared that it was another step in efforts to provide equality of opportunity for all. The old system, which required men to run 1.5 miles in 13min 15sec but allowed women 15min 15sec, was perceived to be no longer legally defensible on the grounds of discrimination. (Evans, 2005).nIn other words, when women were treated as if they were physically the same as men, they tended to get hurt more often.nExperimental Group #1nThe first experimental group in my research would be to replicate this experiment with American soldiers. I predict that the results would be similar for a number of reasons. The first of these is that women may (or may not) be in less good physical shape than the men when they enter basic training. The second -- and far more important -- is that the exercises are designed for male bodies rather than female bodies. The third is that the overall culture of the training program may be psychologically more hostile to women than to men. nThis last factor may be different in the United States than in England, so the results may be different. However, I predict that the results will be comparable: Women are likely to be injured more often in a gender-blind exercise program, with the result that they will be less fit (being injured is by definition a condition of less fitness). Women are also more likely to drop out of military training and not join the armed forces in a full-time capacity if they are injured in the course of basic training.nThe following table represents this experimental design:nIndependent variablenDependent variablenPredicted outcomenGender-blind regimennFitness of female recruitsnLowered fitness levelnExperimental Group #2nThe second experimental group is one in which conditions are established that I believe will help women achieve their optimum fitness. For this group, women will be given a pre-basic training regimen that includes a range of activities designed to reduce overall psychological stress and anxiety. While it is certainly true that one of the ways in which current military physical regiments tend not to serve women well is the fact that they emphasize upper-body strength, it is also true that women tend not to be well served (or to do well) in current basic training programs because of the stresses that they have to endure that men do not.nThe pre-basic training part of the process would include a regimen of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed specifically to reduce anxiety. This form of psychological treatment is designed to have long-lasting effects so that even when the recruit moved from this pre-treatment phase into basic training, the skills learned to reduce anxiety will remain potent and effective. Here is a description of how cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) id helpful:nThe cognitive part of the therapy refers to thinking or learning and is the part of therapy that can be "taught" to the person. The person then needs to take what has been taught, practice it at home, and through means of repetition, get that new "learning" down into the brain over and over again so that is becomes automatic or habitual.nThis is essentially the same process as school or college learning. You are taught some new information or skills, and then you learn them. When you learn them well enough (through repetition), this affects your memory processes (and physiologically your brain's neural pathways) and allows you to begin thinking, acting, and feeling differently. This takes persistence, practice, and patience, but when a person sticks with this therapy, and does not give up, noticeable progress begins to occur (Richards, n.d.)nThis "immunization" of women to the greater degree of stress that women will face in basic training should increase their ability to become more fit and their chances of staying in the military.nThe following table represents this second experiment:nIndependent variablenDependent variablenPredicted outcomenStress-reduction trainingnFitness of female recruitsnIncreased fitness levelnExperimental Group #3nIn this group, women will train in basic training camps that have been modified to be as free of sexism as possible. This would include sanction of any recruit or officer who engaged in sexist behavior toward women. I realize that this would be extremely hard to do, but it would be possible to put into effect a number of protections that would certainly reduce the overall degree of sexism. Here is one brief description of the rampant sexism that permeates basic training -- and every level of military service after that:nShe described certain sexist army running chants (cadences) called "jodis," in which trainers bark narratives of weak and scheming men having affairs with the soldiers' wives (aggression training that both feminizes civilian men and demonizes soldier's wives). Discussing the recent New York Times series on murder at the hands of Iraq war vets -- an article that upset many veterans -- she notes that a lot of the victims were wives and girlfriends. "I think that's highly related to sexism in the military." She also described shooting practice done in basic training that requires soldiers to shoot "pop-up" targets in three seconds -- no time to distinguish civilian or soldier, let alone women or children -- a description that recalled one panelist who talked about the way soldiers were taught to be suspicious of pregnant women, whose bellies were likely to be bombs. (Segura, 2008)nLimiting -- since eliminating is impossible -- the degree of sexism that women face will, I predict, increase their ability to train harder and more successfully.nThe following table represents the third experimental designed:nIndependent variablenDependent variablenPredicted outcomenReduction in sexismnFitness of female recruitsnIncreased fitness levelnA fourth possible experiment group might combine the parameters of the last two groups to determine if there is a synergistic effect between adding tools to combat anxiety and reducing the sexist atmosphere. (I believe that there would be.) Other variables might be added as well -- for example, having women eat a highly healthy diet for a month (or longer) before beginning basic training, or having women participate in a strength-training program before they enter basic training.nFindingsnThe table below summarizes the findings of a multiple regression analysis performed using the four scenarios outlined above. nThis analysis demonstrates that the worst performing group is that of the gender-neutral trial in which women are measured by the same physical standards as are men. This group performs below the control group. This was predicted. The next best performing group was that in which the members participated in a physical conditioning regimen before basic training, followed in terms of improved performance by the…[continue]

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