Are the strongest objections to women soldiers the pragmatic ones? Not really. Certainly the pragmatic objections are more than sufficient, but—as feminists would agree—apparent practicality shouldn’t overshadow fundamental principle.
The fundamental principle is that man is symbolic as well as practical. What the world is for us matters more than our projects within the world, and how things are in general is a matter of symbolism. It is loyalty that holds life together, for example, but we are not loyal for a purpose—we are loyal because the object of our loyalty is part of what makes us what we are. And it is symbolism that defines the connections that define us. A flag or wedding ring may seem a small thing, but it is such things that carry the weight of human society.
So what does this have to do with women soldiers? An army is at once the most necessary and most symbolic of things. Dying in combat isn’t practically advantageous to a soldier. If justified at all it’s justified by by how he views himself in connection with the grand scheme of things. And for soldiers like everyone else that scheme is pervaded by sex and gender. Sex has to do with the closest human connections and with new life, gender with making those connections satisfying and durable so that new life can grow and florish. Those functions, however, are inextricably connected to the symbolism of male and female.
The family is therefore the human association with the firmest hold on what we are, the one that joins us with our own flesh and blood. In combat a soldier is called upon to put his own body—quite literally, his own flesh and blood—on the line. For that to be acceptable what he is defending must be at least the equivalent of what he is sacrificing. Soldiers, therefore, must fight for their families. Ideology is unstable and mercenaries untrustworthy. An army that can be relied on is one that fights quite literally for its homeland.
So the question with women soldiers is simply the question of feminism in general: can there be abiding loyalty to home and family if the symbolism of male and female is destroyed, if home and family are voluntary sentimental or practical associations among strictly equal parties? Will someone die for a business partnership or chance companionship? Can our family be flesh and blood to us if male and female are irrelevant to it? If not, then bringing in women soldiers destroys the army by destroying the very understanding of things that makes it possible for it to be what must be. It makes it a bureaucratic organization like any other. And bureaucracies do not win wars.