I was in the car earlier today shouting back at a local newsreader delivering yet more bad news from my radio, when a military recruiting spot interrupted my deranged soliloquy. The ad was rather uninspiring—learn life skills, be a part of a team, blah, blah, blah—so naturally I assumed it was just another ho-hum plea for warm bodies by Army, Inc. But I about blew a jarhead gasket when I heard the pitchman wrap with “We’re the Marines and we’re looking for a few more to join us.”
A few more to join us? Sounds like an invitation to a party. Which is actually timely given today’s breaking news that the Corps will allow “Marines” to sashay in their Dress Blues in San Diego’s deviant gay pride parade this weekend.
Today there are many—too many—brave Marine warriors in harm’s way. I have no doubt that the young men we’ve sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are as brave and tough as their forefathers at Khe Sanh, the Frozen Chosin, Inchon, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Belleau Wood, the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli. But they are so because they answered the recruiting call of an uncompromising Corps committed to making better men of them—a Corps that epitomizes manliness and the warrior ethos. There is a very distinct reason why the Corps has always attracted the best raw recruits and turned them into the best warriors. And it isn’t because of a commitment to fad, social experimentation or political correctness. The Corps has historically promised nothing more than grueling training and the opportunity to be the “first to fight” in the bloodiest wars—which, in turn, produce an esprit de corps without equal among fighting men.
It has long been claimed—mostly by Marines—that Army Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I—famously inquired, “Why in hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can? They are the same kind of men. Why can’t they be like Marines?” The answer is that the Marines have never looked “for a few more to join us.” They’ve always just needed “a few good men.”
This advice to women soldiers from Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg and syndicated columnist and women-in-combat booster, in her latest treatise on military effectiveness.
And Ms. Carlson is not flying solo. The web-o-sphere is all atwitter over the sexual assault “epidemic” in the military.
So, let’s stipulate that all the recent numbers regarding sexual assault in the U.S. military are accurate—even the outrageous 26,000 guesstimate by the Department of Defense itself—and that all the accusations are legit. And let’s agree, of course, that not one of these incidents should have ever occurred and that all perps are brought to justice. Now, stipulations stipulated and agreements agreed, let’s revisit the notion of women in combat in light of the epidemic.
You can’t go to an action-movie these days without watching a 98-pound lass giving several muscle-heads a proper drubbing, but back in the real world women are still not warriors. Women—including women soldiers—are vulnerable.
The press, the Congress, the military and the women soldiers themselves admit as much. In fact, they insist that women soldiers are vulnerable—not to the enemy, but to their own male comrades. Further, they say that women soldiers are “victims.” And so confirms the DoD, which uses the word “victim” 3,553 time in its 729-page 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.
Now, in my brief stint in the Marine Corps infantry, including combat, I can count on exactly no fingers how many times one of my comrades or I referred to a Marine as a victim. I can only imagine the reaction should any Marine ever claim to be a victim—of anything. The very concept is (or was) anathema. If you read E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed, a grunt’s very honest and gruesome account of Marine warfare on Okinawa and Pelelieu in WWII, you will find the word “victim” only once and it refers to an enemy soldier on the receiving end of a Marine’s bayonet. And let’s not ignore the Army. Scouring Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account by Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. William Dyess you will find “victim” 16 times in 196 pages and the term largely applies to those who died or “fell victim” to dysentery or diphtheria or in horrific accounts such as, “The victim had been bayoneted. His abdomen was open. The bowels had been wrenched loose and were hanging like great grayish purple ropes…” and “During the afternoon the three victims stood naked and shivering in the downpour. The rain cleansed their wounds and bodies at times, but the Japs (sic) opened new wounds with the whip as often as they thought they could do so without killing.”
So, if women soldiers are so vulnerable that they can’t physically fend off men in their own barracks, who presumably are less likely to fight them to the death than, say, Afgani tribesmen or Al Qaeda-in-Iraqis, isn’t it reasonable to reassess the rush to rush women into combat? If women are unsafe walking to their own latrines well behind friendly lines, doesn’t that suggest they will be far less safe a few klicks forward? Why the eagerness to send women into worse harm’s way?
The American public has been continuously assured that as man jobs are opened to women military readiness will never suffer. But this has proven to be the nonsense that men who’d fought in war predicted it would be. Former Virginia Senator and Vietnam combat Marine Jim Webb was dead-on back in 1979 when he wrote Women Can’t Fightfor Washingtonian. “Men fight better,” asserted the Navy Cross recipient. “We can try to intellectualize that reality away, and layer it with debates on role conditioning versus natural traits, but it manifests itself in so many ways that it becomes foolish to deny it.” Gen. Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps and also a recipient of the Navy Cross—for heroism at the Frozen Chosin—was incredulous as he testified in 1991 before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Women in Combat: “It’s uncivilized and women can’t do it!”
And worse, not only is readiness suffering, but the warrior culture itself is under attack—by its own brass and the DoD. The aforementioned Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military lists such horrors as:
Male victim alleged that he and female subject were at a farewell party when subject slapped victim on the buttocks.
Multiple male victims alleged that female subject grabbed buttocks of multiple males.
Male victim alleged that male subject touched his buttocks.
Male victim alleged that male subject touched his inner thigh and made suggestive comments then grabbed his buttocks.
And reports Robert O. Work, Undersecretary of the Navy, “Many individuals are now more comfortable reporting long prior sexual assaults, and we see gradual progress in the proportion of male victims now coming forward.”
Oh, joy. The men upon whom we rely to “locate, close with, and destroy the enemy with fire and maneuver, and to repel the enemy assault by fire and close combat” are now much readier for the grist mill of war because we’ve created an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable admitting to the world that they are victims of buttocks-touching.
After a decade plus of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are some indications that the American public might be up for a national discussion about our country’s use of force in the world—perhaps even a closer look at what truly constitutes national security. This is good and overdue. But the U.S. is unlikely to disengage anytime soon. And, alternatively, if men like John McCain and Lindsey Graham have their way, we’ll be at perpetual war in places where American women aren’t typically held in high regard. So, if we really care about women, we’d re-prohibit them from serving not only in combat, but anywhere near combat.
Closing on a note of sanity, here’s a longer excerpt from Gen. Barrow’s riveting testimony:
Those who advocate change have some strange arguments. One of which is the defacto women in combat situation…that women have been shot at, that they’ve heard gunfire…well, exposure to danger is not combat…combat is a lot more than that, it’s a lot more than getting shot at or even getting killed by being shot at. Combat is finding and closing with and killing…the enemy. It’s killing, that’s what it is…It’s uncivilized and women can’t do it…and I may be old-fashioned, but I think the very nature of women disqualifies them from doing it. Women give life, sustain life, nurture life. They don’t take it.
Hear, hear, General! A society that sends its mothers and daughters to war is serious about neither society nor war.
It’s now old news that outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has removed the combat exclusion for women. What is not old news, however, is how one bureaucrat (albeit the top bureaucrat) has the authority to make this decision. Even President Obama has applauded the move in a manner to suggest the Secretary acted without direction from the White House. And has the U.S. Congress once again abdicated? But I’ll leave it to those more scholarly than I to determine the decision’s constitutionality. Instead, let’s explore some of the practical implications of this giant leap for womankind.
Caution: this post is rated R for language (not mine)
“The department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.” So says the departing defense secretary in announcing the end of the combat ban for women. Yep, it’s all about the “mission.” The mission certainly couldn’t be “met” by depriving mothers and daughters of their God-given rights to not just “shoot the bastards, [but] rip out their living g*ddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks.”* Mr. Panetta quickly followed with the reassurance that “I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job — if they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve.”
Riiiiiight. Because we’ve never lowered standards to accommodate the increasing role of women in the military. But, of course, these statements are utter nonsense and the secretary—a nearly 50-year career politician—knows it. And his dependable lapdog Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, enthusiastically admitted as much during the very press conference in which Panetta made those promises:
If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?
So, in reality, the standards that have long been in place to ensure the U.S. is served by “the most capable,” – the qualifications the Secretary is “not talking about reducing” – will come under review if (read: when) the powers that be come to the most reasonable conclusion that they are, after all, too “high.”
But enough about standards. We all know they will be lowered, that diversity quotas will be mandated, etc.
Let’s turn our attention to the natural evolution of this quest for fairness. In 1981, the Supreme Court held in Rostker v. Goldberg that requiring only men to register for the Selective Service System does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment:
The existence of the combat restrictions clearly indicates the basis for Congress’ decision to exempt women from registration. The purpose of registration was to prepare for a draft of combat troops. Since women are excluded from combat, Congress concluded that they would not be needed in the event of a draft, and therefore decided not to register them.
Now that the combat exclusion has been lifted, it only follows that women must be compelled, like men, to register with Selective Service. It’s only fair, right? Which means, that when our wise leaders decide some day in the future that our youth must be forced to die so “we can be free,” 18 year-old women will be drafted and herded to the front line abattoir along with their dads, brothers, husbands and boyfriends. And by this time, it won’t matter that your little 105 lb. angel can’t fight, doesn’t want to fight. No, she will be expected to advance constantly—“we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living sh*t out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing. We’re going to go through the enemy like sh*t through a tinhorn.”* And your little angel better keep up.
A civilization that sends its mothers and daughters into combat is serious about neither civilization nor combat.