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July 10th, 2012
08:01 AM ET

USMC Captain Katie Petronio: Why women shouldn't be in infantry

For the first time ever, the US Marine Corps is allowing women to train as infantry combat officers. It's a move that could open the door for women to fight on the front lines.

Not everyone is on board with this move. One Marine Corps captain warns that women are too weak for the battlefield and putting them on the front lines could damage our military. And, she's a woman, who served in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

This morning on "Early Start," Captain Katie Petronio talks with Ashleigh Banfield about her experience on the battlefield and why she doesn't think women should be in the infantry.

Filed under: Women in combat
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Karina Eckel

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    July 1, 2013 at 7:46 am | Reply
  2. USMC03

    BLUF: There is no tactical or military necessity to have women serving in the Ground Combat Element. There is no shortage of male volunteers serving in combat arms billets. It should be about combat effectiveness and winning the next fight, not about womens' rights.

    To quote Gen Barrow, our 27th CMC, and decorated combat veteran, in speaking to the Senate about his combat service with 1st MARDIV in Korea fighting a tactical withdrawal against 8 Chinese Divisions from the Chosin Reservoir, "Supposed we had 15-20% women? My supposing dare say I wouldn't be here. I guess Kim Il-Sung would be taking care of my bones along with everybody else's in North Korea." See the link to General Barrow's SASC testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy–whDNNKk

    January 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  3. K S

    I'm curious if Captain Petronio has been tested for lupus? The reddened cheeks, muscle atrophy...

    November 28, 2012 at 8:57 am | Reply
  4. slimjim

    she is right 100%

    October 8, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
  5. Eric

    It's funny....all of these women veterans complaining yet I have never seen one woman Marine be able to complete the Marne Corps PFT without failing.....with the male standards. Yup, that's right. They have a lower standard due to the simple fact there are biological/physiological differences between genders. In combat the enemy does not care that you are male or female. In combat if you have to hump 10 miles with 100 lbs in "x" amount of time in order to secure a specific objective the enemy or mother nature does not care. If females can not on a regular continuous basis be held to the same PHYSICAL standards as men they do not belong in what is by any standard, the very best, and very worse of what humanity is.......the Infantry Marine or the Infantry Soldier. God Bless ALL United States warriors.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:51 am | Reply
  6. vardooms

    I am glad to see someone looking at this issue with an open mind. There is so much more to this than the average civilian will understand. The world of the Infantry is very different from other jobs, even those within the military. The Infantry necessitates a different mindset, and physical requirements that the introduction of women would undermine. I am not saying that women do not serve valiantly, they do. They have performed admirably, even in combat. But what people need to understand is that there is more to Infantry than just combat. A lot more. It is my understanding that the standards will not be dropped in Infantry training for anyone. All women attending will be subjected to the exact same standards as men. Good. But before anyone races off and just starts yelling crap about gender equality, I would challenge to look at this issue very closely and consider that the military mindset is supposed to be different than the civilians. I also caution them to realize that to weaken the Infantry unit is to get Americans killed. Maybe its best to not rush into this and think about it some more before we potentially get people killed.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  7. CP

    Not commenting on whether women should or shouldn't be in combat arms job fields, but for Stephanie to make the assumption that the Capt was "Wasting away at a her desk" is completely incorrect. I for a fact know in Afghanistan almost on a daily basis sheand her platoon were exposed to enemy danger. Her being an engineer officer put her out in the field physically working with her Marines. People need to know all the facts about a person before they try to make personal attacks.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  8. Stephanie, Sergeant, USMC

    First of all, in most cases muscle atrophy is caused by not using your muscles enough. So instead of wasting away at her desk in Iraq/Afghanistan, how about she goes to the gym every once in awhile like the rest of us did. So this "muscle atrophy" argument is irrelevant.

    Second of all, she sounds like a weak Captain. Weak for putting herself on CNN in uniform to show off her 3 ribbon rack and weak for degrading her own gender on tv. While she may not have been able to hack it, there are plenty of us that can and did serve combat roles during the deployment. If I have to put my life at risk doing the same job as a grunt anyway, I want the MOS and pride to go with it.

    I hope she gets reprimanded for the BS. Capt Petronio, I have to say you are an idiot and your face annoys me. And I'm sorry, did they say she wrote something? Would this something happen to be for sale? If it is, I dub her a money-grubber.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • Sean, Captain, USMC

      First, I've been in the infantry for 10 years. Even male Marines suffer from atrophy. When you are at remote patrol bases you can't get enough food, and are usually too tired from patrols to workout. The real issue Capt Petronio is talking about are the physiological problems that come with being a woman. If a woman is willing to suffer through those than I'm sure she can hang with my grunts.
      Second, Female Engagement Teams (FETs) do not do "the same job as a grunt". No MOS does the same job as a grunt. If you've never served in the infantry you'll never understand. FETs are at a patrol base for 2-3 days and then get rotated back to take care of themselves. No woman has suffered like a man for 6 months like a grunt. Find me one who has and I'll accept the FETs as a test of women in combat.
      Finally, the article she wrote was for the Marine Corps Gazette. It's a professional journal for Marines. Educate yourself and pick it up instead of the Marine Corps Times next time you roll through the exchange. Meanwhile look up her article. "Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal!"

      July 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • JLM

      I think it is time for you to make a stand! Write your paper and make your point. If you have a counter point, make it. Many of us would argue that if you made it to the gym daily, you were not actually in the same situation as this Captain. If a someone is a gym rat, we can always call them a base fobbit.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Outstanding way to put it. One thing I notice about training that females and males ,even with the officer side of things, are that many females don't work out there bodies properly on their own. Yes, females are not strong enough in the upper body category but if you look at the regiment it is easy to say, if she can't do X amount of pulls, pushes, fireman carrie a man that weights X amount, we have to really question the work out plan that is given and tailor a plan ,specifically females that are in combat roles, from the beginning at training prior to them getting into combat. This is a avenue of approach that will take time and a well structure plan to develop and maintain, improving females performance in combat. I think a lot of people problems are they are so reactive to issue that prior to deployment the emphases of physically readiness for females are lacking, so once they get their feet on the ground they have to build them selves out there instead of prior beyond deployment dating back to their very first training.

      It enough that everyone and their mother has to complain about females in infantry position. I currently train with a former SF and I use to fight with my father who is a MACV SOG/Green beret. And when we fight ,cause this is how I train, there is no such thing as gender (gender sets limitations and boundaries that tailors women to perform at those limitations, their should be a cap). This is something that from the beginning take times for females to develop into but it is not impossible.

      It is unbelievable that she even made those comments. She needs to be a leader and say here are the issues I faced and here is what I believe needs to be done to resolve them or to increase performance. Like she said corpsmen are out there providing mainly for men, if they can provide for men because they understand men needs than (from a researcher point of view) she need to say here are the needs for women and keep it compact and effective as possible.

      To any one that reads this comment if you reply back I will not respond. These are my own personal beliefs. To clarify Im not saying lets open up infantry to every female, absolutely not. But like previously stated just like how how people see Navy Seals as the cream of the crop category. As of right now Infantry for females should be viewed the same way. And with that being said that training needs to be tailor to effective train female bodies. People shortcomings, in term of genetics or predetermined attributes can all always be made up with hard work and strengthening their weakness. And for those who say well females don't have testosterone. Go look up Chris Cyborg tell me if you can beat her in a mix martial arts fight. Then I want you to look up her training regiment and then on top of that go look up her fights with other men that probably train harder than any average joe. Once again I will not respond to any other message. Because unless you have researched information you do not have a argument to say this is the cause and no. What I did was propose a possible research study bases off of what we know NOW to work an effect course of action the can produce results in a general population and not just individual case studies as we see such as this Cpt. And for those that say," well don't we have answers already so why continue?" No we don't. Because we cannot say that female are incapable of doing it if the females who are out there aren't trained properly and built up properly.

      Thank you guys for you time, I play a very neutral view on things and this is a proposition that if done correctly will produce results that can declare females capabilities as infantry members.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply
      • Dan

        I forgot to add," declare if they are capable or incapable..."

        July 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • infantry marine

      MEN in the infantry don't have the nice gyms you pogs (person other then grunts) have in iraq and afghanistan and what she is talking about is how we infantrymen many times waste away from lack of sleep water food and constant physical strain she to me and mind u i am an infantramn serving 2 tours to iraq like a exceptional female mariine as she has one of the tougher female MOS there are for you ladies also keep in mind in the infantry unlike the pog units just because you complete infantry training doesnt mean once you get to the fleet marine force it gets easier in fact it gets harder for us in the infantry field or even those DIRECTLYin an infantry unit for example a field radio operator or Motor T but who is actually in the infantry unit not an attachment for us boot camp and going to the gym on the pog bases is the easy part if women in the military want equality they should start with being able to first successfully complete a physical fitness test on the male standard

      January 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Reply
  9. Opfor6

    Capt. Katie Petronio has a lot of courage

    Her military career is over.

    July 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Reply
    • Baju

      The problem is >> AMERICAN WOMEN.It's not you.Read the pacpebark The Cultural Devastation of American Women: The Strange and Frightening decline of the American Female. by Nancy Levant.That will answer your question perfectly.American women have such an off-the-chart sense of entitlement it's simply unbelievable. I live in Calfornia, and while they seem to grow the most beautiful women here . they are universally the most unattractive . on a GLOBAL scale.I am also non-American and I refuse to date American women. Stick to European, Eastern European, Brazilian, and Asian women. They are much more worth your time.

      September 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  10. SFguy

    Finally a woman who is comfortable with the truth. Than you for seeing what every guy in the infantry and special operations has seen for years. Before sending women into combat with men we need to take gender seperation out of sports and let women play men. At least there will not be lives at risk. The military is no place for social justice, how selfish can women/people be? Is getting people killed worth it to you?

    July 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  11. ex-american/alwaysmarine

    I agree with you totally, M'aam (not to offend that Senator bimbo from Cali). Although it is the system we live under (and the best in the world), the problem will always be that civilians can not operate a military and be effective. This has become more evident with the "new american" leadership which "loathes" the military or, in the current case, our country. Changing the tests for training will never translate into effective battle readiness. But, of course, the last three years have made all this a mute point as we are no longer a factor in the world, rather a "perception". BUT IT'S FAIR!!!!

    July 12, 2012 at 7:56 am | Reply
  12. NateJ

    Somebody needed to say it. I dont like how they call women weak in the article ( I think its there way to get people to get upset about the article). Women are not at all weaker or inferior to man. I belive we are built to perform diffenert task.

    July 12, 2012 at 6:20 am | Reply
  13. Who are you?

    Give me a break.. You should be ashamed of yourself to put all military women in the same category. I am sure there are plenty of women willing to train and fight hard on the front lines right beside the men. Why don't we start with asking for volunteers rather than banning all women?? I think that would be a great diservice to this country to not allow those who are willing to risk it all on the front lines go ahead and do so.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
  14. Scott

    M'am, thanks for putting the Marine Corps first – that has been my biggest problem with the whole push to put females in the infantry. It doesn't put the Marine Corps first. Thanks for your service.

    July 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
  15. RichieP

    Number one: I'm surprised she's allowed to go on the air in uniform and give such an opinion. I have a hard time believing she actually cleared that with Public Affairs and her chain of command. More likely she's planning on getting out of the Corps and is happy to sacrifice her career on national TV.
    Number two: The video cut off right as she was finally making a good point. Women have gender specific medical issues that so far the Marine infantry hasn't had to deal with. They use Navy corpsmen who are specially trained to take care of Marines - specifically, males. The new training and resources they will need to take care of the very few females who might be in the platoon is probably not worth whatever benefit they hope to gain.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  16. FajitaBob

    Common sense over PC??? MAN, only in the army...

    July 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  17. keystnst

    I think the Israeli army might want to hear this opinion since they have had women in combat roles for decades. The Russian women were of the most combat worthy personell in WW2, deadly snipers and fierce fighters

    It is not a job for all women just like all males in the military can't make it as a SEAL, RECON, or Ranger.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:52 am | Reply
  18. Bob Bajema

    Finally, one who's been there so has both the credibility, and honesty, to admit it.

    July 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  19. JM

    She is so wrong it's not funny. There are women who are capable of serving in the infantry and plenty of men who are not, as well. Either way, women will keep making strides to show we are equal in the military.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Reply
    • infantry marine

      ha equal so do u do the same fitness test as your brethren? can you carry 120 pounds for 16 hours without slowing down or stopping? can can you then get 4 hours of sleep and do it again? can you take the fact that when you get to the infantry unit your ordered to that the first thing your nco says to you is stfu u boot ass bitch no ull cry sexual harrassment or say i cant hump(excuse me hike i wouldnt want to offend u ms) today sorry i have cramps or its not fair that i have to do pull ups im a girl its not fair that i have to run that fast im a girl guess what sweetheart we dont care and neither will the enemy

      January 25, 2013 at 8:57 am | Reply
  20. USMC Chris

    2nd, what is she doing in uniform speaking her personal opinion in a public forum? Whether or not I agree with her, she shouldn't be on television, in uniform, speaking on any matter, unless representing the US Marine Corps.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  21. N Valerio

    If she really did anything than she would be able to support that women should be given the chance to be on the front lines. As much as everyone hates it. We are able to do it. I loved my time on the ground out in Fallujah and Al Asad with my MP unit and there was not one thing I couldnt do that was required. Show some support for your fellow Women
    Marines. Even if you are a Captain with your ac desk job

    July 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • infantry marine

      once again you sound dumb are you actually comparing MP (military police) work at al asad AIR base an air force base to going into the worst spots in afghanistan or iraq as an infantrymen you know what if they do allow female marines to join infantry units i especially hope you go:)

      January 25, 2013 at 9:01 am | Reply
  22. Sgt Weber

    Good on her, way to speak up. And to finally hear something from someone who has the experience to speak on.

    July 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  23. Veteran

    First off, why is this Marine in uniform?

    Second, it is correct that we are not all created equal; this is exactly why we shouldn't bar all women from the infantry based on the sole aspect of their gender- they are not all the same just because they are women. Not all women are cut out for the infantry, neither are all men cut out for the infantry.
    This Marine's physical problems might be personal (genetics, choices, past injuries) but they certainly might be attributable to a lack of women specific medical knowledge and properly sized gear. Her physical problems should be brought to light so they can be studied, addressed, and ultimately benefit women- not so they can be used as an excuse to continue to deny women the opportunity to serve to their fullest potential.

    Perhaps the Captain should visit the VA and take a minute to see how physically challenged men become due to their time in service.

    July 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Oorah. Well said.

      July 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  24. Dave

    We have lowered the bar for firefighters and cops and the military over the years all in the name of gender equality. Now they want to lower it some more. Some woman can do it, but most cannot. It is simply genetics and is in no way bigotted.

    The bottom line is men and woman are NOT equal. We both do thinks better and worse than the other gender.

    This notion of "equality" is slowly destroying us. We need to wake up and realize we are all different and not equal on every level.

    July 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  25. Mark in Phoenix

    Has Ashleigh Banfield ever been near combat? Has she ever trained for combat? Does she have any concept of the rigors of combat? And what about the rules that the military will come up with? How long will the rules last in combat?

    July 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • Mirelly

      I find the timing of this very sspuect, Grant. How come something like this wasn\'t done right after 9/11? Oh that\'s right! George Bush, Dick Cheney and others allowed 9/11 to happen (or helped in orchestrating it), so to them we weren\'t really under a threat. The threat the Pigs see today is a Democrat in the White House to see what they\'ve done over the last 8 years! They need a very large diversion! Spit. I hate them.Okay, going to work. Have a great day!

      September 3, 2012 at 12:35 am | Reply
  26. H. Bailey

    Thanks Capt. Petronio for setting us back once again! You have managed to prove the axiom that "women are their own worst enemy". From a woman and military veteran.

    July 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • J

      I think you are missing the point of the interview and articles. I recommend you read and hear everything before you make a comment. It is not about putting you back it is all about "if the risk out weights the benefits!" A leader needs to make a stand and look out for all the people below them. She is placing the institution and fellow Marines above all.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  27. lanoom

    As far as I'm concerned, it should be a high standard that needs to be met, and anybody that signs-up and can meet that standard should be selected: man, woman, straight, gay, don't care.

    July 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Reply

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