The story surfaced Sept. 10 in The Washington Post, but the best take I saw on it came the next day in a column on National Review Online by David French, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Suppose, French said, the National Football League had conducted a nine-month study on how teams composed of both men and women could perform against professional teams containing only male players.

No one – no one at all – would be surprised to find that the females would suffer far more injuries than the males.

And French added, “First, you’d wonder why the NFL actually had to commission a study to discover a reality obvious to every sentient, rational person in the universe – women aren’t as physically strong as men.

“Then, you’d demand to know what kind of barbarian actually approved a testing process in which real women were injured at wildly disproportionate rates to prove what we all already knew.”

Nevertheless, pushed by their political superiors to demonstrate the equality – if not the superiority – of women to men in infantry combat, the Marine Corps conducted exactly that sort of nine-month test, using mixed-sex units in simulated ground battles.

The results were indeed predictable. Quoting The Post: “Women … were injured twice as often as men, less accurate with infantry weapons and not as good at removing wounded troops from the battlefield … .”

True, a couple of women recently graduated from the highly difficult Army Ranger course, and reportedly Navy SEAL training and other special-ops courses will soon be accepting female candidates as well.

But training, however rigorous, is not combat.

With the best will in the world, and with a full appreciation that many patriotic women want to serve their nation in uniform (they comprise about 14 percent of today’s forces), why are so many people ignoring the obvious physical disparities in women’s endurance, upper-body strength and liability for lower-body injuries in infantry units?

These differences exist not just between average men and women, but between below-average-strength men and above-average-strength women.

French noted that he typically carried a 75-pound load in combat, and many other soldiers carried more.

But as The Post reported, “Researchers hooked men and women alike up to a variety of monitors, and found that the top 25th percentile of women overlapped with the bottom 25th percentile of men when it came to anaerobic power, a measure of strength, Marine officials said.

“The gender-integrated unit’s assessment also found that 40.5 percent of women participating suffered some form of musculoskeletal injury, while 18.8 percent of men did.”

Other studies French cited showed that in entry-level infantry training, women were injured six times more often than men.

Predictably, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Marines’ study wouldn’t halt infantry-unit integration, and he essentially accused professional Marine Corps officers of rigging the test: “When you start out with that mindset (of women’s physical inferiority), you’re almost presupposing the outcome.”

That frustrated one study participant, Sgt. Joe Fromming, who told The Post, “What Mabus said went completely against what the command was saying the whole time. They said, ‘Hey, no matter what your opinion is, go out there and give it your best and let the chips fall where they may.’

“All the work that the task force did, the rounds that we shot, didn’t mean anything if he had already made up his mind.”

Women’s advocates cite the experience of foreign armies that tried to field mixed-sex ground units, but the most prominent example, the Israeli Defense Forces, has mostly limited female infantry combatants to two units primarily involved in border security missions, with minimal integration beyond that.

We have been conditioned by Hollywood, which produces hundreds of movies and TV shows in which women defeat men in hand-to-hand fighting and conduct ground combat as virtual super-soldiers, to see women as at least the equal of men in combat.

However, let’s turn from those choreographed fantasies to actual history books. If women were the equal of men in war, history would be replete with examples of female units decimating male ones.

But there are no such accounts. Is it due to sexism? That seems unlikely, as any society facing total destruction would not have refused to use half its potential soldiers.

No, there are no such stories because they never could have been written. And they won’t be written tomorrow, either.

Meanwhile, our current leaders plan to expose many women to the prospect of ground combat on battlefields where, if we have to fight, we will likely face completely ruthless, hardened enemies from woman-despising cultures.

Yes, the U.S. women will be volunteers, if that’s enough reason to send them into a probable bloodbath.

But, moms and dads, what happens to your daughters if we have to reintroduce the draft?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is an Army veteran of Vietnam. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

filed under: