Would more specially trained female Marines help our chances for succes in Iraq?
Have been grappling with this topic for the past few months and would appreciate any feedback on some thoughts running through my head...
If the people are the center of gravity in Iraq and in COIN in general, how can we succeed if we almost never interact with the women, who are more than 50% of the Iraqi population? More specifically, if succeeding in COIN has historically taken 10 years or so, who do we need to believe in our and the host nation cause? I think part of the "who" are the children and teenagers, who while maybe age 15 now, will be the 20-25 year olds leading security forces, creating businesses, going into politics, etc. as the COIN campaign continues. How do you influence this group? I think the answer is in large measure through their mothers. I'm not an anthropologist or otherwise cultural expert on Islamic and/or Iraqi culture, but based on leading more than 500 patrols in Iraq, I think Iraqi mothers play just as important a role in raising their kids as do American mothers, IF NOT MORE (most don't work outside the home). For example, I'm a USMC infantry officer that's in the field or in another state training roughly 50% of the year (I'm 3000 miles from my family as I write this). When not in the field, I'm preparing for training, PTing, studying, etc. I'm probably home with my daughter and wife maybe 20-30% of their lives. My wife is with my daughter almost 100% of the time. The same will apply when our son is born within the next 3 weeks. That said, if you want to influence my daughter's views on the world, you'd better convince my wife of your cause. Using a similar train of thought for Iraq, if we're trying to sway 5-20 year old boys not to join the insurgency now or over the next 10 years, not to plant or dig holes for IEDs, not to wear suicide vests, not to serve as look-outs, not to tolerate insurgents, etc. I think we need to convince their mothers that this is a bad idea, or at least not in her family's long-term interest.
So then, how do we do this? Given that my Marines almost never spoke to female Iraqis (same applies for every Marine/Soldier that I know) how do we deal with this significant problem? I think the answer is that during COIN/IW/4GW/Small Wars/Whatever you want to call what we're doing in Iraq now, we need women on our patrols. These women must be specially trained in Iraqi culture, language, understand the role of women in Islam, etc. Their mission should not be to persuade Iraqi women to be like American women. They should simply focus their efforts on why our cause is good for the average Iraqi family. My gut says creating a cadre of women PsyOps Marines/Soldiers for this purpose would definitely help our cause, both short and long term.
I understand this idea opens a whole series of questions about integration in infantry units, training, manpower, etc. That said, if fighting an enemy whose center of gravity is a regiment of T-72s, would we simply ignore 100-150 of these tanks because we ran out of ammo?
Last edited by Maximus; 03-30-2007 at 08:30 PM.
Great point. Rather than creating new Psyops structure, consider allowing females into the CI/HUMINT community. Many (especially 0210/0211s) will probably argue that since HETs are often in DS of infantry units, women shouldn't be allowed in the community. However, other MOS's (any MOS in an H&S Co) have successfully figured out ways to appropriately assign male and female Marines to the right units.
WM's In Combat Has Been Decided
The issue of WM's in combat has been decided by the facts on the ground. I agree that they should be in CI and on human exploitation teams. Maximus makes a great point about the limitations of male Marines dealing with females in the current fight. We created the Lioness program where WMs from various units were assigned to infantry units to deal with female civilians. If every Marine is an intell gatherer than an infantry battalion in country without WMs assigned can not gather intel on or from 50% of the population. What is the long term answer though? Increasing the number of WMs in HUMINT/ITT and other intel MOSs is a start.