We have been reading of the ancient world of Atlantis where women ruled and we now have women recruits in most armies of the world including the United States, Russia and India. But the question that begets an answer is to how efficient or potent women as soldiers are, compared to men. For centuries women did accompany men into combat but as 'camp followers'. Their purpose was to provide comfort and sex to men after the heat of battle. Camp followers have been seen in the American Civil war as well as the British campaigns in the sub continent. Campfollowers are civilians who follow a military unit from place to place, especially as vendors of supplies or as prostitutes.
But modern armies have done away with this system of camp followers. They are thought to be an anachronism. We have however women recruited as soldiers and airmen to be along with the men. Definitely the women in the absence of 'comfort women' do add a feminine touch. But the fact remains that biologically a woman is unsuited to be a professional soldier.
The limitations given to a woman are a gift of God. Her periodic cycle and general lack of physical strength can be a handicap. Recently when the BSF (Border Security Force) in India recruited a battalion of women and placed them on the Pakistan border the Pakis made snide remarks to the effect that the women soldiers would be 'under' the Indian army.
The experience of the US army in deploying women in a combat role in Iraq was not a big success. In fact in the first gulf war an Iraqi attack carried away a couple of women recruits with resultant effect. In addition the Tailhook incident when 14 women naval officers were stripped and molested by US airmen cannot be wished away as an aberration. It shows the frailty of a woman as a soldier and combatant. We must not forget that an AK 47/56or the American rifle along with a knapsack can be heavy weight for a woman to lug around. It would be wrong to expect then to match the fire power of an opposing enemy.
The question is not whether a woman should be allowed to make a career in the military forces; neither is it whether she will make a good soldier, sailor, or airman. The answer may be anything. But their role has a deeper significance that needs to be evaluated. We must ask ourselves whether the efficiency, morale, and fighting spirit of the combat unit in the trenches or on the warship at sea will be enhanced by recruiting women. This is the crux of the issue. As I have already pointed out in olden times the women were camp followers. Even the British army when campaigning had a retinue of women with them - not as combatants of course.
If the answer to the above is "no," then all arguments concerning the role of women in the armed forces are specious and have no real meaning. But if the answer is yes then women can certainly be part of the armed forces. But what is the answer? The fact remains that the effect of women in the combat zone can be beneficial for the men. May be not for actual combat but for other roles they could be an asset and their presence will fulfill an emotional need of the soldier as well. In that manner their presence will be positive. You could also use women soldiers as guards of POW patients, running military canteens and similar non combatant jobs. But to think that they can shoulder arms or manage themselves as soldiers in battle conditions would be a little farfetched.