The Best Defense

Women in combat in the military: Dudes, where’s the old can-do spirit?

By Brandon Friedman

Best Defense guest columnist

Regarding this discussion about women in combat, I have to say I'm amused by the sudden absence, in some quarters, of the "can-do" spirit that has typically defined America's armed forces.

This directive was signed by the secretary of defense and backed by the commander-in-chief -- after being endorsed unanimously by the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

And instead of, "Roger that, sir, we'll make it happen," we see foot-dragging and explanations for why this won't work and how it's unfair and impractical. Maybe this also happened when women were allowed into West Point and Airborne School. I don't know.

Such arguments would be understandable during the debate, but this is a done deal. The decision has been made. So I'm just surprised there's not more discussion about how to make this work -- as opposed to the hand-wringing about how awful it is.

I would argue that such an attitude is more dangerous to our military than women serving in combat roles.

Brandon Friedman served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an officer with the 101st Airborne Division and is the author of The War I Always Wanted. He is now a vice president at Fleishman-Hillard International Communications in Washington, D.C.


The Best Defense

A reader asks: What’s the best book on WWII from the Russian perspective?

A reader writes with this request for you well-informed BD readers. It reminds me that I read the other day that Russia took more casualties at Stalingrad than the United States suffered during the entire war:

While I've read many books about World War II, they've all been from the Western perspective (and predominantly about the United States' role in the war). I've been reading Dominic Tierney's mediocre but salvageable How We Fight, and he made a particularly interesting note about Russia's more significant role in WWII compared to the US -- more loss of life, greater stakes, and ultimate victory. 

I've never read an account of WWII from the Russian perspective, and I'm not quite sure where to start in my search for one or two good volumes. I was hoping you might either have a suggestion, or be interested in posting to your blog to see what answers may come.