U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division return fire during a firefight with Taliban forces in Barawala Kalay Valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011. (U.S. Army/Pfc. Cameron Boyd)
150 is about as large a group of people as the human brain can handle in personal relationships, notes a British military commentator.
The story of the importance of stories begins not in leadership, but in anthropology. Robin Dunbar is a British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour. In the 1990s he identified a correlation between the size of the pre-frontal cortex in ape species and the size of the social groups each species could maintain. If you took the size of an ape's brain, you could calculate the size of its social group size. This number – the maximum social group size for a given species, based on pre-frontal cortex size – became known as the Dunbar Number.
Hence the limit on the size of an infantry company, he says, as well as on Stone Age farming villages and new religious sects.
Task & Purpose photo illustration by Aaron Provost/Photos courtesy of Matt Young
Welcome to Confessions Of, a weekly series where Task & Purpose’s James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, deployments, and time in service.