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Let the best soldiers fight!

February 07, 2012 | Lieutenant Colonel Amy Young

There is no doubt that the Army is entering a massive paradigm shift, with severe troop cuts, budget crises, and a strategic shift toward decisive operations.   We are all used to doing more with less but this sets historic precedence.

Now more than ever, it is urgent that we recruit and retain the most talented and agile of soldiers.  Failure to do so equates to mission failure.

In the repeal of the DADT act, we have moved in the right direction.  We put actions to words in stating that we need to pull from the largest pool of talent to recruit and retain the best.

We should not stop there.  There is a large pool of current and potential soldiers that we are categorically excluding  for career opportunities, based on an irrelevant trait.   There are intelligent, motivated, loyal professionals who are being denied the chance to serve in key positions based solely on the fact that they have two X chromosomes.

While there are some initial logistical issues to work through, removing these exclusionary bans will exponentially improve our Army.   Recommendation: maintain the single standard that is necessary for mission accomplishment for schools and branches and select the best individuals.   No one refutes that the average male is physically stronger than the average female.  But there are some weak men and some strong women.   This would allow the best soldiers to select for schools such as Ranger school, Special Forces Selection, Combat Dive School and for fields such as Infantry, Armor, and Artillery.   Yes, it will require some adjustment but this will eventually resolve.  And yes, there will likely be a small percentage of male soldiers who may feel less special or elite by allowing all soldiers to apply for these schools and specialities.  But I imagine that those soldiers who want the best for this Army will welcome this.

Im looking forward to the time when all qualified soldiers, regardless of chromosomal makeup, can be considered for all schools and specialties.   I have confidence that our leaders will eventually look at all qualified soldiers and pick the very best.  


LTC Amy Young


*The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


  • brandon w
    2/8/2012 7:51 PM
    You mention the repeal of DADT and letting women serve in combat roles. If both of those are allowed based on fairness, equality, etc. then reasonable arguements can be made to support that position. However, to be fair, it must alos be realized there are also some reasonable concerns many people have to not allowing both of those that go beyond "physical ability".

    However, If you're going to advocate the Army let the best, most qualified people in combat roles, (or any roles for that matter), you should also point out the issue with the age limit policy for enlistment set at 35. There's no reasonable excuse to not allow someone to enlist who is 43 years old if they can meet the same physical standards of those in their 20's. The fact is that many people in their late 30's and 40's could not meet the physical standards and demand. Yet, undoubtedly, many, many people 35, 45, or older can meet the physical standards set forth by the Army, and should be allowed to enlist if they can demonstrate such.

    thanks for your service
  • AY
    2/8/2012 11:34 PM
    Thank you for your comments. I stand by that line and logic and agree with you. The goal should be to put the most qualified people in these critical slots.
    And yes, I am aware of other concerns beyond physical ability. Most of those require small logistical changes and/or the willingness to be professional and mature around each other. My last position was serving in a special operations unit with a vast predominance of men and it was very refreshing. I didnt ask for any special considerations, in fact I demanded it. On multiple occassions, I lived in tight living conditions as the only female and had no issues. The female engagement teams are showing it can be done when all involved can simply work and coexist professionally. There are some who cannot, but by caving in to those who choose not to, we are again categorically excluding a population of soldiers unnecessarily.

    I truly do have faith that the worlds best Army can eventually see these benefits for females and individuals from all qualified groups. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Brandon W
      2/9/2012 10:25 AM
      LTC Amy Young,

      Thanks for the reply and your insight.

      As the Army faces changes, budget cuts, changes in strategy, etc., I would agree that it only makes sense that they should make sure they are getting the best, most qualified soldiers in all areas. And while they have to carefully think about all factors involved, increasing the pool of where the Army can select these soldiers from, (as you mentioned), would be an obvious way to help them reach this objective.

      That said, (even as someone over 35), I would concede that the vast majority of the "best, most qualified" soldiers (specifically for Special Operations, combat, etc.), would probably come from males, ages 20-35. However, in regards to age specifically, many people over 35 have no major health concerns, and can meet (or exceed), the physical standards of the Army. Yet, they are not allowed to enlist per current policy. Not allowing people over 35 to enlist, eliminates a large portion of the population that the Army could choose from. And while those over 35 undoubtedly would not make up the's also safe to say some 35, 45, or maybe even older, would contribute to the pool of the best, most qualified soldiers, if given the opportunity.

      Thanks again very much for your service and bringing attention to this topic
  • charles farmer
    2/17/2012 3:37 PM
    in my opinion, we should cut some of the troops but only the disabled, or the not so qualified, like the soldiers who join for no reason. the Army should recruit people who really want to join and who are physically active.but leave out the ones who get cocky.

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