Leadership: January 1, 2003

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Britain did yet another study on the issue of women in infantry and tank units. They found that about one percent of current women troops could meet the physical requirements for combat (mainly the ability to carry heavy loads for long periods and handle weapons weighing ten to fifty pounds.) The major problem was introducing one woman into a ten man infantry section. Putting one woman into a unit of this size was found to have a disruptive influence on cohesion, cooperation and performance. Since unit cohesion is a critical aspect of infantry combat, this was considered a major problem. Moreover, fewer women than men have expressed interest in joining the infantry. Historically, women have served successfully in infantry units, but this has always been in units that have had their organization and mission modified to deal with lower strength of women and possible disruptive effects to cohesion and discipline. In most cases, these mixed gender units were guerillas, where actual fighting occupied much less of the units time. But for full time ground combat units, especially all volunteer units that are found in the British army, the introduction of those few women who want to be in the infantry, is not worth the potential problems.

 


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