Freshman Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, an Army veteran who served in Iran and Afghanistan, said that women are physically unfit to serve in front-line combat positions, citing their “nature,” in a radio interview on Laura Ingraham’s show, Think Progress reported.
"To have women serving in infantry, though, could impair the mission-essential tasks of those units," the Republican said on Tuesday in a clip posted on SoundCloud. "And that’s been proven in study after study … It’s nature, upper body strength, and physical movements, and speed, and endurance, and so forth."
Although women are ineligible to serve as infantry troops, those barriers have been gradually easing over time and the Associated Press in a recent article said that the Defense Department could allow women to serve in combat roles in the future. The Pentagon in February announced a series of new regulations that would give female soldiers the opportunity to serve in more than 14,000 combat-related, front line jobs, including tank mechanics, medics, and intelligence analysts.
Although Think Progress reported that Cotton has previously spoken of female accomplishments in noncombat roles, the freshman Congressman does not seem to extend that view toward allowing women into infantry positions.
Cotton is not alone in that view. Last year, former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum drew the ire of many voters when he said that the front line of combat might not be the best place for women because of “the types of emotions involved.” After taking heat, Santorum later clarified his remark.
“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women,” he told ABC News. “I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them.”
“You throw on top of that just simply physical strength and capability and you may be out there on a mission where it’s you and a woman and if you’re injured, the ability to transport that person back. And you know, there’s just, there are physical limitations,” Santorum added.
Cotton’s comments are not the first time he has voiced strong opinions on the military. Earlier this month, he appeared on several news networks, including CNN and ABC, and spoke out against Obama’s choice of Chuck Hagel as U.S. Secretary of Defense.
“The President said that Chuck Hagel is the leader our troops deserve,” Cotton told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “I couldn’t disagree anymore strongly, our troops deserve much better than a man who voted to send them to war when it was popular, and then abandoned those very troops when it was unpopular.”