Welcome to the first JKLS Blog for the year 2016. I pray you are refreshed and roaring to get going (the older you get the less important it becomes so enjoy it). I see that some are concerned on women in the military or more importantly, in line units or fighting the enemy. It was all over the newspapers in the last few months. It is a difficult subject, most of us think of women as tender souls, not able to kill and murder and yet, in nature, it is the lioness who kills and in criminal law, we find many female murderers. And they are getting more violent, it used to be poison or hiring someone else to murder the husband / boyfriend but not anymore. We find women now shooting and knifing with the best of them - the woman’s liberation movement, I am sure, will be very excited about this equality between the sexes.
I say the above tongue in cheek. Any murder, violence or crime is a sad occasion, a failure as a decent human being. My point is that not all things are equal in life. Most certainly not in nature - can you really tell me a fully grown African lion is the same, equal, to say a zebra? Nope, that lion will kill and eat the zebra if he fancies himself to do so. So nature is not equal. What about religion? Nope, not really. A Christian is always going to say he is worth more than a Muslim and Muslim will say he is worth more than a Christian and so it goes on. Equality, except where water is concerned, is not natural in concept and even in law although it is supposed to be. Anyone who read my legal books (boring, my word), will know that a rich man is more equal than others. Now I get both sides of the argument and my late wife had a lot to say about such things, she being pro-service. If you wanted to annoy her, tell her she is a woman and hence ranks with your cattle or slightly behind them in our tradition. You would have been a braver man than me and her reaction entirely predictable.
The fact is that the idea of women as warriors (a silly American term but used to explain the point) is not new at all. Through the ages we heard of wild tribes of women fighting in Africa and the Amazon (the Victorians drooled over that, dirty buggers, no doubt) and then we get closer to our time and we look at female saboteurs or spies. Female spies did excellent work and were indeed effective leading men in battle. I know of one group in Occupied France, destroying 400 trains in six months, they were under a woman’s command. The massed Allied Air Forces, thousands of aircraft, could not do the same, not even close and all flown by men. The idea of air power winning a war is plainly ridiculous, never happened before.
I wonder then, why can a girl not shoot as well as a man? No reason, in fact they have better eyes and hand coordination than men or boys at a similar age. Will they pull the trigger? It is a tricky question, a study was done in the 1980s and caused shockwaves in the military. Most men / soldiers, don’t have it in them to kill, they have to learn to hate enough to kill. The author (it was not me), found that even elite units, like the US paratroopers, on many occasions, fired in the general direction of the enemy during World War Two, trying not, repeat not, to kill the enemy. Shocking indeed, you would expect the “one shot, one kill” principle but that never worked for the US Army as far as I can tell. At some stage in Vietnam they fired 150 000 bullets for every kill (yes, you can research this). They shot 70 billion (yes, billion, not million) pounds of high explosive shells into the hills, 85% of this had no target, it was just fired and called H&I (harassment and interdiction) fire. Now if men can be this stupid, what about female warriors?
Well, women are smarter than men. This too is proven fact. They tend to be more capable of withstanding pain also and they are decisive and extremely logical when they want to be. Ask any husband trying to explain his errors in life to an angry wife. Yep, you will know how to apologise and admit she may well be Mrs Always Right. And yet, they are not allowed, in general, in combat units. Of course there were the odd exceptions. We found combat pilots and snipers in the Soviet Union during World War Two and many of them became famous and warriors of note. All nations, as I said, deployed female spies and they did excellent work, so why not combat posts? It has to do with them being women if we get down to it and such thinking is wrong. What about police women? What they face in a place like South Africa is worse than what many combat soldiers see in places like Iraq.
Legally, I just cannot see the military refusing them, everyone is theoretically equal today (yeah sure). It is like gays in the church, legally you cannot discriminate but it stays a stupid argument in the end. God will discriminate, it is written and so you have a rather foolish view that just because your ways are accepted on earth it will be acceptable in heaven, it won’t be. You will never see heaven according to the Apostle Paul even if you are the best preacher known to man but gay. So that means we have no equality in heaven and there is nothing you can do about that either. Back on earth we have more practical problems with women in combat. Women are not as strong as men, they simply cannot be and carry the same weight of equipment over the same distance. This may well lead to disaster. They cannot carry a grown man when wounded (well, a little guy cannot either) and worse, it just doesn’t feel right. They should not be exposed to such things as war and yet they are, this too is a foolish argument when faced with realities of total war which includes murder, rape, theft and child abuse. Nor can they use the same ablutions and so the argument goes, it stays foolish. So my view is simple, let them fight. If they die, they die, their choice. That is what democracy is, freedom of choice and equality before the law if not God. Women should be in combat if they want to be and are trained to be and understand the risks involved. Legally, you cannot prevent them without discrimination.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.