Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Lt. William R. Cauley, active male serviceman, responds to Col. Brook re: women in combat

Lieutenant William R. Cauley, an active infantry officer in the US Army debunks the myths of womens inferior physical capability, low female retention, and the primal urges of male soldiers that Colonel Brooks bases his argument against the inclusion of women in combat (

  • ON RETENTION: The issue of female retention in combat units is a misnomer, as retention and motiviation are issues for men in the defence force.
  • ON PHYSICAL CAPABILITY: Cauley writes that “Neither gender had a monopoly on success or failure when faced with harsh and rigorous training. I will not dwell on the tired arguments about physical ability.”

ON PRIMAL URGES OF MEN: Cauley concedes that sexual violence and harassment are serious issues in the US defence force, but argues that there needs to be a cultural shift in attitudes towards women and sex akin to the shift when African-american soldiers were integrated into the white US army.

SOURCE: Thomas E. Ricks, 2015, ‘Col. Brooks, about women in the Army: I don’t think you know today’s force,’ Foreign Policy, March 31,

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