Richard Ames

"... according to Navy Personnel Command statistics, 9.6 percent of women stationed aboard ships are lost each year due to pregnancy."

I had NO IDEA pregnancy maded women lose their sense of direction. I hope they were eventually found.


I've found your articles on this very interesting. You're right that we shouldn't assume combat readiness is more of a problem for women than for men - and it's a shame that there isn't any good data on it.

There's also the broader issue of women soldiers being able to get pregnant in order to avoid combat. I'm sure this is an issue that has to be dealt with somehow. Personel who don't deploy because of disciplinary problems are presumably in a lot of trouble.

Enlisted soldiers should be expected to not do things which render them unready for combat, but I'm not sure how pregnancy is or should be dealt with. On the one hand you could not take action and just remove pregnant soldiers from combatant positions - which seems unjust. On the other hand you could treat it as a disciplinary offence, like a self-inflicted wound, but that also seems unjust.


Interesting article. I would be interested in seeing the stats broken down on all the other reasons they lose people and what those "offences" are. I'm thinking the issue with addictions is probably pretty high.

THF - Great post. I am putting something together, which I will definitely link to this. I'm just waiting for some information directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak. The career management office for women in ships is getting the latest stats for me. Unfortunately, I keep hitting up the Senior Chief for details just when a holiday season hits.

Nik - Pregnancy is not really self-inflicted... and I would hesitate to call it a wound. I see your point, but the truth is, if a man doesn't want to go to sea or into a field position, he has several ways to pull it off. Getting pregnant as a deliberate attempt to avoid duty is actually very rare, but it extreme enough to give a leader other reasons not to have her there anyway.

The Galloping Beaver

The above is mine, by the way. Is Typepad all screwed up again?


Anon - I agree that getting pregnant is not totally comparable to shooting yourself in the foot, or going AWOL, or committing a military crime, but I hope everyone can see what I'm trying to get at.

I'm not sure it matters that getting pregnant as a deliberate attempt to avoid duty is rare. Other ways of avoiding duty are also rare, but are still taken very seriously. Stopping soldiers from getting out of combat is important for the military. There's a difference between breaking your leg accidently and becoming unfit for duty and breaking it on purpose.

I'm not sure how pregnancy fits it to all of this. It renders you unfit for duty and can both accidently and deliberately, but it's also not a misfortune which people will want to avoid - like a broken leg.

The Happy Feminist

Regardless of whether women actually get pregnant on purpose to avoid unpleasant military duties, the PERCEPTION that women have an easy out is likely to pose a morale problem.

Looking forward to whatever info. you can get, Galloping Beaver!




Jolly the Fleet Sailor

Unplanned loses are a major issue of the Navy, always have been since you operate from homeport, and crew rotation and recruiting a planned years in advance for manning the ships, normal sea duty assignment 3-5 years, which means there is overlap between enlistments. Many of the older ships, such as the Perry class Frigates had never been designed for both sexes. That had been a major issue in years past, just simple logistics and basic warship design of the post WWII era, this left the limited crew berthing assignments to larger repair ship class vessels open to women. Its been a back and forth issue for decades. Another side effect during this period of the 70's and 80's women taking positions in job paths which they had been unable to go to sea thus shore assignments not available for men with over FIVE years at sea to rotate to a shore assignment. Not fair for anyone, Sec. Webb order all women to convert to non seagoing jobs, since this crisis had lead to fleet sailors leaving the service in mass, and family breakups. Whats so painful about the Navy was again the Ships designed from earlier years, these things are designed to run for 20-40 years, and it takes time to replace ships. With the Reagan buildup, and post cold war cuts in both Bush (1) and Clinton administrations you are seeing the newest ships retained and more of a balanced of sexes within the crew, and much better living conditions. But the bottom line whatever the Navy board comes up with for the future decades, the first duty of the Navy is sail in harms way and to FIGHT! These are not cruise ships. Now whats killing the Navy is the high prices for shipyard construction.

Jolly the fleet sailor

Remember also you civilian types when you enlist your government property. Get a sun burn, a tattoo is infected, etc.... THAT IS CALLED Destruction of government property, you are charged accordingly. Bet you folks hadn't a clue on that one. Pregnancy isn't so much an issue as long as there are replacements available well in advance. Normally you desire such loses months before the Battle Group deploys in order for training and combat readiness exercises. I had seen unplanned loses run vacant as long as three years. Lets a senior petty officer of Chief is removed because of a pregnancy, then you just lost the supervisor, leadership, and knowledge expert for about 50 - 150 sailors. This is a military structure

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