This isn’t exactly the Future Force 2020 or Army 2020 post I wished to write but this morning I had a tweet debate with former (yes former he is no longer in active service) Colonel Richard Kemp, the self-proclaimed commander of British Forces in Afghanistan (dubious claim but that is another matter). He was tweeting an article by the Telegraph (or Tory-graph) that said that women could be called for close combat roles. So he wrote on twitter:
“Women in Infantry. No military logic, political correctness. A further move to weaken the Army’s fighting capability”
I launched a short twitter debate (in the time I had–I’m not reposting it here as you can check out either of our accounts) and he from his high end position try to argue what I called non-arguments. These included:
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) may have women in the infantry, and so do the Kurds. I’m talking about the British Army. (Suddenly, the British Army will be weaker than these armies/armed forces if women serve in close combat/the infantry?)
Women in the artillery, CAS (Close in Air Support–either Gunships or piloted aircraft), Engineers are different from Women in the infantry. (He failed to show how so and as if the physical and mental strain for women in these combat/combat support service units make less of a difference than women in the infantry)
Women in the infantry will spoil combat effectiveness. (No definition of Combat effectiveness–see argument above and no examples in comparison to other armed forces)
Have you served in the infantry? (That was a question to me. I hate, extremely hate people challenging others over military service. Serving or having served in a combat unit or armed forces does not mean you are better off than others and have stronger knowledge of the military. Non-argument.)
Serving in the infantry is like a surgeon operating. (Facepalm. A surgeon is a specialist requiring at least two medical degrees. An infantry soldier does not require a specialist degree or is considered a specialist. Conversely, artillerymen/women. pilots, engineers do.)
Kemp cities only the 2014 Gaza Conflict where IDF female soldiers served support roles. (Like in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, women did not served in combat in the IDF? Or quasi-military organisations? Or the Mossad?)
Worst argument of all by Kemp: Women don’t join male football teams, so they shouldn’t join the infantry. (What sort of stupid argument or non-argument is that? Super Facepalm)
If Kemp thinks he owns the British Army or knows the whole combat effectiveness of the Army (he only talks about the infantry which in combat requires CSS and aerial support), I just don’t know.
PS: All this debate is due to the yet to be released UK government investigation/consultation on Women in Ground Close Combat Roles. See this article for example.
PPS: Richard Kemp WAS NOT and never WAS Commander British Forces Afghanistan. He was
!) Only Commander for Operation Fingal from 5 July 2003 to 30 November 2003–a pity few months!!!!
2) He commanded only a force of 300 plus troops!!!!