A Tale of Two Combat Integration Tests: Army v. Marines

As published at The Stream November 8, 2015.

Integrated_Task_Force_infantry_Marines_conduct_squad_attacks_in_Final_Field_Exercise_at_Camp_Lejeune-cropped-compressedWith the January deadline approaching for Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s decision on opening all combat units to women, the contrast between the Marines integration testing and the Army’s Ranger training is telling.

The Marines set out to answer a question: Can women perform at the same level as men in the infantry? While adversaries of the women’s combat exemption have been hard at work trying to discredit the testing and the results, the Marines’ gender integration study was executed according to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) required methodology. It had buy-in and observation from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, the University of Pittsburgh, Michigan State University and Rand Corp. Contrary to the claim that the Marines were biased against the females, participants and overseers say the opposite was true.

The Marines’ Ground Combat Element-Integrated Task Force (GCEITF) was directed “to test the hypothesis that an integrated ground combat arms unit under gender neutral standards will perform just as well as a similar all male unit.” The results disproved the hypothesis. All-male units outperformed coed units in 69 percent of the 134 combat tasks. Women were slower, were less accurate shooters, struggled with tasks requiring upper body strength such as climbing over walls and lifting a 200-pound dummy off the field, and retained more than double the injuries of men, among other things:

“The assessment across all occupational specialties revealed that gender integrated teams, squads or crews demonstrated, with very few exceptions, degraded performance in the time to complete tasks, move under load and achieve timely effects on target as compared to all-male teams, squads or crews.”

The results even showed where standards should be raised for infantry men. This is vital information for a branch whose sole purpose is killing the enemy. We can be proud of the service the participants did by hashing out the details of what direct ground combat really requires and what the limits are for women’s contributions.

Army Ranger school seems to have been a different story. Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were lauded as having “made history” when they graduated on August 22 this year. But shortly after, whistleblowers said that the women got extra training, special treatment, were held to lower standards and the graduation planned in advance. Worse, they’ve said success was the predetermined outcome whether women were successful or not. As People reported on September 25:

“A woman will graduate Ranger School,” a general told shocked subordinates this year while preparing for the first females to attend a “gender integrated assessment” of the grueling combat leadership course starting April 20, sources tell PEOPLE. “At least one will get through. [Emphasis mine]

That directive set the tone for what was to follow, sources say.

“It had a ripple effect” at Fort Benning, where Ranger School is based, says a source with knowledge of events at the sprawling Georgia Army post. “Even though this was supposed to be just an assessment, everyone knew. The results were planned in advance.”

Giving even more credence to the whistleblowers, one of the graduates herself acknowledged special treatment, People also reported:

“I thought we were going to be dropped after we failed Darby [part of Benning] the second time,” Griest said at a press conference before graduation. “We were offered a Day One Recycle.”
The report came just after congressman Steve Russell (R-OK), a former Army Ranger and career military man himself, asked the Army for proof of standards to include the women’s training records. After stalling for a couple of weeks, the Army informed him that the records were destroyed. The supposed living proof that women are just as combat-capable as infantry men and their records were destroyed? It stinks to high heaven.

The Army denies it, but unfortunately lying and concealing data concerning combat-related jobs to women is nothing new for the military (except the Marines). In the 1990s, eager to prove their diversity and women-friendliness post-Tailgate, the Navy and Air Force were competing to be the first to open combat aircraft jobs to women. The Navy gave the same directive to their pilot instructors that the Rangers allegedly got: A woman will pass. And so they did.

And then a female pilot, Kara Hultgreen, killed herself when she crashed her plane into the water doing a routine landing maneuver she’d failed at before. Previously touted as proof that women are just as capable combat pilots, the training records revealed that both Hultgreen and the female she went through training with were passed where men would have failed. They were put in positions for which they didn’t qualify and when it resulted in the death of the female pilot, the Navy lied about it and tried to hide the evidence. All so they could show the administration how diverse and not sexist they supposedly were.

What if Hultgreen been deployed during the Gulf war? How many lives might she have cost in combat action when the pressure was really on? We have no idea how many more women have been “passed” in this way over the years, but we’re expected to see the female Rangers’ graduation as evidence that women strengthen combat readiness.

This is what the Army has done to pass women in their Ranger program. To lie to the American people about these women’s ability to wage combat with and against men is gross deceit, a deceit then used to justify opening all combat units to women. It’s already horrible for the women involved, since it set them up for humiliation when the truth inevitably surfaced, and for future failure on the battlefield. ISIS won’t give those women a day-one recycle.

It doesn’t help active duty women to be pushed through and given something they didn’t earn. Frankly, it’s insulting to our intelligence and dignity. It will degrade American ability to fight war on the ground. It will get more men and women killed. And it will inflate costs — the human and the financial — for disabilities upon return from war.

It also diminishes the real achievements of women in both the Army and the Marines. Women that want to push their boundaries and charge hard are exactly the women we want in our military and on deployments. We’ll retain and recruit far fewer of them if the combat units are fully integrated.

While the female Marines were set up for success, the female Rangers were set up for disaster. The female Marines didn’t fail at anything. They helped determine whether women strengthen combat readiness. They helped us to identify standards that needed adjusting and the limits of top-performing female Marines. This, like the data on rates of injury and other results, is information we need.

The Rangers, in contrast, were pawns in a scheme that treats the Army as a laboratory for social engineering. Those tough, high-performing female Marines will go on to do great things and can be proud of what they’ve done. The female Rangers can’t take any pride in their tab and will never be able to assuage doubts in their abilities.

The Army’s deceit is even more reason for congressional scrutiny over the repeal of women’s combat exemption. A decision that affects all active duty women, all draft-age women, all infantrymen and our national security belongs not to one man, not to a political appointee, and not even with the military itself. The decision belongs to the American people whose sons and daughters risk their lives to protect us from our most vicious foreign enemies.


Shut Up, You! SecDef Gags Military on Women In Combat Discussion

Tape-Over-MouthThe results of the Marine Corps’ 9-month “Gender Integration” study for the combat arms are barely out and already the Secretary of the Navy declares he’ll ignore them and the Secretary of Defense releases a gag order on discussing women in combat units until  he makes his decision on the matter.  There’s only a need to stifle debate and hide data: when the facts aren’t in your favor.  If the data supported the case for women in combat units, its supporters would be shouting it from the rooftops instead of hiding it from view.  Congress needs to pull oversight back with them where it rightly belongs so the people have an honest picture of the costs of sending our active duty females into direct ground combat with ISIS.  With speculation about whether the females were passed through Ranger school with special treatment and lowered standards, there’s even more need for investigation and oversight.  Steve Russell (R-OK) has asked the Army for proof of standards to include the training records only to be told they were destroyed.  The supposed living proof that women are just as combat-capable as infantry men and their records were destroyed?  And we’re not supposed to talk about the Marine combat testing showing that male teams outperform coed teams on 69% of tasks and are injured half as much?  How very totalitarian.

On October 15 The Hill reported on a memo from Ashton Carter:

“Until I make the final decision, further public discussion of the [Women in Service Review (WISR)] process is neither helpful or prudent,” said an Oct. 2 memo signed by Carter and obtained by The Hill.

“External communication by any official within the Department of Defense regarding specific WISR deliberations and deliberative documents must be coordinated and approved in advance with the Deputy Secretary of Defense,” the memo said.

The dictum comes after Congress in the latest NDAA abdicated oversight on the women in combat decision by letting Lorretta Sanchez (D-CA) gut the 30-day notification law by changing it from 30 legislative to 30 calendar days.  According to some HASC staffers I spoke to last week, we’re supposed to be glad the notification period wasn’t “vacated” completely per Sanchez’s original amendment.  This is typical Washington cartel corruption: Hide the data, kill discussion, remove time for proper legislative oversight. Push it through over the holidays and New Year’s they’re moving females into direct ground combat units preparing to fight ISIS.

Congress must have the same opportunity as the SecDef  to examine the Marines’ 900 page study in its entirety.  The people must be able to get a clear picture of what this administration is getting our women and men into by fully repealing the combat exemption, especially as we face ISIS abroad and, increasingly, at home.  The study and participants are being attacked even though they did everything according to the DOD’s required methodology, and wanted to show success.  They had buy-in and observation by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, the University of Pittsburgh, Michigan State University and Rand Corp.  We can be very proud of the service the Marines provided by hashing out the details of what direct ground combat really requires.  The results even showed where standards should be raised for infantry men.  Not as eager as the Army to be first in Diversity Metrics, the Marines take combat and the prospect of putting females there very seriously.  They have to.

Photo c/o Marines.Mil

Photo c/o Marines.Mil

When average male Marines outperform top-performing female Marines on nearly 70% of combat tasks, there’s no way one can argue women strengthen combat units.  When strong, athletic, female Marines are still injured at more than twice the men’s rate, there’s no way to argue this adds strength.  Being a bit smarter and more well-behaved (two amongst the five tasks of 134 where coed teams outperformed the men) can never mitigate for the stack of other negatives from significantly higher rates of injury to the extra (and expensive) accommodations needed, to degraded combat readinees and added risk to all.  The study’s findings echo all similar testing from each decade since 1948, every time opening more military jobs and schools to women has come up.  The cons far outweigh the pros, they always have and always will because biology is unchanging.

SethMoultonNajaf_09It’s no surprise that representatives from both parties with real combat experience are the ones demanding oversight and action.  Challenging Sanchez’s amendment to vacate the notification law were Ryan Zinke (R-MT, former Navy SEAL and multi-tour Iraq war veteran) and Steve Russell (Army Ranger and infantry veteran of Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan).  Seth Moulton (D-MA, a 4-tour Marine Infantry Officer and recipient of the Medal of Valor) has called for the release of the study so that the results can be evaluated by the people.  Duncan Hunter (R-CA, a 3-tour Marine Infantry Officer) has called for SecNav Ray Mabus’ resignation over his refusal to even look at the Marine study results and his announced refusal of their exemption request.  John Kline (R-MN) has accused Carter of withholding information on the women in combat studies.  Just as Russell made his request for the Rangers’ training records, People reported that according to sources the women got extra training, special treatment, were held to lower standards and the graduation planned in advance.  Ray Mabus accused the Marines of being biased for women to fail, but by all accounts the opposite was true.  Now those behind the scenes at Ranger school are saying success was the predetermined outcome whether women were successful or not:

“A woman will graduate Ranger School,” a general told shocked subordinates this year while preparing for the first females to attend a “gender integrated assessment” of the grueling combat leadership course starting April 20, sources tell PEOPLE. “At least one will get through.”

That directive set the tone for what was to follow, sources say.

“It had a ripple effect” at Fort Benning, where Ranger School is based, says a source with knowledge of events at the sprawling Georgia Army post. “Even though this was supposed to be just an assessment, everyone knew. The results were planned in advance.” [Emphasis mine]

The Army denies it, but unfortunately lying and concealing data when it comes to opening combat-related jobs to women is nothing new for the military.  In the 1990’s, anxious to prove their diversity and women-friendliness in the post-Tailgate, the Navy and Air Force were competing to be the first to open combat aircraft jobs to women.  The Navy gave the same directive to their pilot instructors that the Rangers allegedly got: A woman will pass.  And so they did.  And then a female pilot, Kara Hultgreen, killed herself when she crashed her plane into the water doing a routine landing maneuver she’d failed at before.  Previously touted as proof that women are just as capable combat pilots, the training records revealed that both Hultgreen and the female she went through training with were passed where men would have failed.  They were put in positions for which they didn’t qualify and when it resulted in the death of the female pilot, the Navy lied about it and tried to hide the evidence.[1]  All so they could show the administration how diverse and not sexist they supposedly were.  What if Hultgreen been deployed during the Gulf war?  How many lives might she have cost in combat action when the pressure was really on?  We have no idea how many more women have been “passed” in this way over the years, but we’re expected to see the female Rangers’ graduation as evidence that women strengthen combat readiness.  We’re just supposed to trust Ashton Carter with this and stop talking.

ranger-school-packs-600Side note: If this what the Army has done with regard to the recently graduated females, what a horrendous thing to do on so many levels.  To essentially lie to the American people about these women’s real ability to wage combat with and against men is gross deceit.  And what a horrible position to put those women in.  It was setting them up for humiliation when the truth inevitably surfaced.  What the women did was actually amazing.  A positive result of the Marines’ approach by testing the hypothesis that coed teams would perform just as well as all-male teams, the female Marines didn’t fail at anything.  They helped us to identify standards that needed adjusting and what the limits are on what top-performing female Marines.  This is, like the data on rates of injury, distractions to men and the other discoveries, this information we need.  The Rangers on the other hand were set up as proving women are interchangeable with infantry men so that more women can follow.

Military women most of all have to be able to rely on a high standard on their training and abilities when positioned at the front.  It doesn’t help them or set them up for success in their coveted direct combat jobs – to be pushed through and given something they didn’t earn.  It will cost them their lives later, and the lives of sons working with them.  It will cost us our ability to fight war on the ground.  There will be no extra hand up when your mission is to go kill ISIS in their home turf.  Presenting women as having met the same standards when they haven’t is an insult to our intelligence and brutish in its disregard for women’s unique concerns.  Passing them on lower standards because the Army’s so anxious to shove through a leftist political policy is absolutely outrageous.  It will get more men and women killed, hamper our fighting ability and skyrocket our costs – the human and the financial – for disabilities upon return from war.

This is not the SecDef’s decision, and certainly not his to make behind closed doors without discussion.  Support the Marines who, in their execution of the integration study remained always faithful to their two top priorities of combat readiness and troop welfare.  Their study yielded important data vital to women and the combat arms.  Support Seth Moulton’s call to make the results of the study public and grant congress the time they need to conduct oversight.  It’s ISIS we’re next sending our sons and daughters to fight in direct ground combat.  This is not one man’s decision, this is America’s decision.

[1] As covered by Brian Mitchell in Women in the Military: Flirting With Disaster; Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. (223). instructors were ordered to lie:

“ Delivering a statement signed by twenty-one out of twenty-three [Navy] Top Gun instructors opposing women in combat aviation, Lieutenant John Clagett…revealed that in some areas female students were simply “not allowed to fail.”  The word from the top was that the Navy needed more female pilots…instructor pilots were under pressure to go easy on women.  Clagett recalled his experience with a female student at Beeville, Texas:  “She didn’t perform her mission what I considered up to standards.  I chose at that time to try to give her an unsatisfactory for the flight and was told in private quarters that that wasn’t what you did in this situation, that ‘she not only will pass the flight, but it will be an average grading.’” Clagett challenged the commission to ask the Navy for statistics on women attrited from flight training involuntarily, “the ones that are told, ‘You are not good enough to fly this airplane or any airplane from this point on…’…quite frankly, they were zero when I was at Beevile.  It was zero.  And we attrited male candidates left and right.”  Attrition of women was allowed only when there were many women in training and instructors felt safe in saying that not every women performed up to standard…Air Force pilots were [also] under pressure to make women succeed.  As one Air Force captain told David Hackworth, writing for Newsweek, “We are told to evaluate women on a different scale than men.  A woman who is adequate is rated as outstanding, or who is unacceptable is rated as acceptable.” “


What Repealing the Combat Exclusion Means for Our Military

As published at Stream.org October 2, 2015

This week was the deadline for the leaders of the armed services to issue their recommendation for opening all combat units to women, though these have not yet been made public and the major media have hardly mentioned it. Repealing the combat ban will not only harm women but weaken our effectiveness in combat.

Photo c/o Stripes.com

Photo c/o Stripes.com

You may think women are already serving in these roles; but there’s a world of difference between the combat zone and direct ground combat. Women have served honorably and well on deployments, but none who has been injured or died was in direct ground combat or on a combat mission. Performing well and bravely when engaged by the enemy is not the same as qualifying for the infantry. Returning fire isn’t combat, nor is surviving an IED on convoy. Combat is the ferocious, dirty and bloody destruction of the enemy at close quarters, often face to face and hand to hand.

Think about our foreign enemies from al Qaeda to the Taliban to ISIS raping and beheading their way across Iraq. Imagine your daughter there, not in support, but going after these bad guys where they live: hard, fast, with the greatest possible violence.

For infantry to achieve their top priority — victory with the fewest casualties — the combat arms require the best of the best, the toughest, strongest and fastest. When speaking of rates of injury or performance, we’re not comparing civilian averages, or military women to civilian men. We’re talking about trained and fit military women compared with not just military men, but the top one percent of military men.

Photo c/o Marines.Mil

Photo c/o Marines.Mil

This is the reality. The Marine Corps’ recent 9-month combat integration testing showed that the female participants had less strength, speed and shooting accuracy, and were injured more than twice as much as men. Coed teams underperformed on nearly 70% of tasks. Since close combat fights are often won on the margins, such disparity could be catastrophic for the units fighting our bloodiest battles at the front. We should be giving them everything they need, and clearing any hindrances from their path, not hobbling them with egalitarian social experiments.

Military women, as tough, smart and able as they are, are not interchangeable with the men at the infantry level. Before even attempting men’s or infantry standards, military women are already experiencing two to ten times the rate of injury as men: feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, just to name a few.

What does it matter if one or two women can make the lowest men’s standards if they’re prone to more than twice the injuries and we have to break hundreds just to get those two? That means they’ll need to be replaced much more frequently than men, at great expense to both women and taxpayers. With quotas already demanded by General Dempsey, the military has to ensure not just that a few willing women can get the chance. They must guarantee a steady supply of such women.

A U.S. soldier from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment is watched as he fires a squad automatic weapon during a training mission near forward operating base Gamberi, in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 15, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson.

Photo c/o REUTERS/Lucas Jackson.

Military service is not a right. No one “deserves” to be able to fight. The combat arms’ raison d’être is not to provide career opportunities, but to fight and win wars. The feminist politicians and military brass pushing this policy frame it as an equality issue because they can’t show that women truly benefit and enhance combat readiness. And because they can’t possibly prove that women can do whatever men can do, they dismiss the empirical data as inherently discriminatory. They want us to believe that women are strong enough for combat units, but too weak to pass men’s standards because of men’s (alleged) attitudes.

Their argument is basically this: we just need more leadership, and then women won’t suffer more than twice the injuries, underperform at 70% of tasks, and distract men. They say that men get passed “just because they’re men,” and women are excluded “just because they’re women.” Nonsense. Replace “men” and “women” with the physical ability each represents. Denser, larger bones, greater strength, stamina, speed and accuracy, much greater muscle-building potential vs. smaller, lighter skeletons, less aerobic capacity, upper body strength, speed, accuracy and stiff limits on the ability to build muscle. There’s no amount of leadership or attitude adjustment in the world that can change biology.

Even if it weren’t so, repealing the ban would still be expensive, untenable and deadly. Women on the front lines are at higher risk of capture and torture as high-value targets. They’re more susceptible to infection, need more accommodations to maintain hygiene, and, to state what ought to be obvious, are uniquely capable of getting pregnant.

Sexual tension and dynamics also dramatically weaken unit cohesion. Consensual or not, the spectrum from flirtation to rape is destructive and expensive enough in non-combat units. They spell calamity for the infantry. It’s not that men and women can’t work together. We can, but we’re not robots. Where the sexes are mixed, those dynamics are always in our faces. Relationships, jealousies, favoritism, fraternization, wanted attention, unwanted attention, sex and all its ramifications: these create emotional roller-coasters to units that are often isolated in remote areas with no privacy and no doors to lock. The combat units need this stuff like a hole in the head.

IMG_1150

Photo by Jude Eden, 2004.

War is cruel, demanding and catastrophically dangerous. Women are not excluded out of some arbitrary patriarchal misogyny. It is nature who discriminates. While there may be a few highly atypical women who could pass the elite training, you don’t make policy that affects our national security and the entire population of young females based on the short-term performance of a few individuals.

Military leaders have to make decisions based on the facts on the ground, not on an ideological view of how they would like things to be. There is no job in the combat units that men can’t do, while there are plenty that women can’t do, or can’t do well enough and without lots of injury and other high risks. Where women are needed in the combat zone they are already being utilized and recognized.

Until now, a willingness to face combat reality has kept the combat exclusion in place. In the past the issue has been publicly debated, subject to presidential commissions and congressional oversight. Whenever put to a vote, America has vehemently rejected repeal. Yet all Leon Panetta had to do to enact this policy was to sign a memo. Where’s the outcry in Congress? Our representatives, who have apparently been rolled by political correctness, need to know that we will hold them accountable for subjecting women to conscription and weakening our military in the process.

 


Ray Mabus Just Can’t Stop Insulting The Marines

Photo c/o Wikipedia

Photo c/o Wikipedia

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus just can’t stop insulting the Marines.  He’s declared he will ignore the results of their 9-month infantry testing to assess Marine women in combat units,  saying: the testing was biased, the women weren’t good enough, there were no standards for combat jobs before, we can’t judge based on averages, the testing wasn’t realistic.[1]  He intends to  open combat units to women regardless of the negative impacts shown and even had the gall to say in his most recent Washington Post op-ed: “Women should be among the few and the proud,” referring to the Marine Corps’ motto, as if women and anyone not in the infantry aren’t already real Marines.  Reality-based infantry testing disproves the claims that women can do anything infantry men can do, so the SecNav insults the testers, the tested and the results.  I describe the historical use of this oft-repeated tactic in a previous article for Military Review.  Mabus could not be a more perfect feminist shill for this gender-political agenda if he had a manual.  The SecNav and the Marines are coming from different angles.  The Marines test and operate based on their priority: combat effectiveness and readiness, and Ray Mabus on his: diversity.

MarineCorpsTimes_femaleMarinesCarryingDummy

Photo c/o The Marine Corps Times

The testing results showed that all-male teams outperformed coed teams on nearly 70% of tasks.  The females tended to be slower, shot less accurately, suffered more than twice the injuries and struggled with tasks like lifting a 200lb dummy off the field.  One instance described, for example, “When negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top.”

Mabus said that prior to this testing, “There weren’t any standards.”  Actually, he went back and forth on this, first saying there were no standards, then that men were passed who couldn’t make the standards, but when pressed that that should mean we need to raise standards, back-peddled again to say, “No, they need to be set, which they have been now, not necessarily higher.”  He’d have us believe that shooting accurately, scaling walls and long marches with heavy gear, pulling a comrade off the battlefield and other infantry tasks are new measurements of what the infantry has to do, that these standards don’t need to be harder if some men are passed without making them, but other standards should be set so that women can make them… I’m getting dizzy just trying to follow.  These Marines were tested based on current demands made of the combat units and typical tasks they have to perform.  All they did was say, “This is what’s required of us now, see if you can do it.”

Since the female participants couldn’t, Mabus insulted them, saying, “…in terms of the women that volunteered, probably should’ve been a higher bar to cross to get into the experiment.”  To further disqualify the data he said, “…they talk about averages, and the average woman is slower, the average woman can’t carry as much, the average woman isn’t quite as quick on some jobs or some tasks. The other way to look at it is, we’re not looking for average.”  But the female participants certainly weren’t average females, and they were not just average female Marines.  They were top performers who had at least if not better than a third-class men’s PFT (physical fitness test), and with few exceptions had passed the Marines’ enlisted infantry – an accomplishment touted as proving women are equal to infantry men and ready for combat.  The Marine Corps Times reported that the female participants “tended to be athletic, with high scores on the PFT and combat fitness tests.”  Watch this video about one of them and tell me if she looks average to you.

It’s not that these women weren’t good enough, it’s that they couldn’t prove a lie.  We can be very proud of these women for their ability and accomplishments.  They are inspirational.  They are the sorts of women we want and want more of in our military and on deployments.  They are already utilized where they’re needed most, moving up the ranks, and recognized for their achievements.  But military women, even top performers, aren’t interchangeable with infantry men.  Averaging more than twice the injuries means they’ll have to be replaced much more frequently than men as this policy is implemented and women have to maintain combat standards over months of continuous training and deployments.   CaptureCplJenniferRocha1It’s not enough to make the lowest men’s standard, or even to pass the enlisted infantry or the Ranger’s leadership course.  Mabus said, “Averages have no relevance to the abilities and performance of individual Marines,” but the opposite is true.  They’re absolutely relevant when you have to not only prove one or two can do it, but guarantee a predictable, continuing stream of qualified females who can make and maintain those standards in order to fill the quotas mandated by General Dempsey.[2]  Right now we have to break hundreds of women just to get one or two who can make it through finite training evolutions.  We can assume that these negative results will be multiplied many times in the heat of actual battle.  What does it matter if one or two can make the lowest of the men’s standards if they have more than twice the rate of injury, many more high risks besides, and a limit on how much muscle mass they can gain to improve their strength?  It’s simply a bad investment.

“…[T]here are ways to mitigate this so you can have the same combat effectiveness, the same lethality,” Mabus tells us.  But how do you offset failure in 70% of required tasks? On a combat mission, if someone gets injured or killed, his brothers have to get him off the field and assume his duties.  Brute strength, especially upper body strength, is at a premium, and men are basically limitless in the muscle mass they can gain.  While the results showed women were a benefit to decision-making, can they really relegate women to the couple of cerebral tasks at which they tend to excel?  It won’t work, and hardly makes up for the many other negative impacts.  The results also showed that – surprise!  Women were distracting to the men.  As a Marine infantryman with three tours put it to me, “The only purpose of the infantry unit is to win battles and all other things are at best of secondary importance.  What ever policies maximize unit combat effectiveness, no matter how politically inconvenient, are the policies that should be in place.  When push comes to shove, that 5-10-30% extra combat efficiency may mean the difference between our nation facing a future threat or being defeated by it.”

Capture3Mabus tells us a diverse force is a stronger one.  “When we talk about diversity, we mean the full spectrum of demographics, but even more important, we mean diversity of thinking.”  Assuming all men think the same is its own misconception.  Regardless, putting women in these units guarantees diversity in the spectrum of ability, from able to unable.  Diversity in the spectrum of more to fewer injuries, and greater to less risk.  This is going to get more of both sexes killed.

Policy of this magnitude should not be made based on the performance of one or two individuals, especially when it affects not just all military women who volunteered for service, but all of America’s young able women who haven’t.  The combat exclusion is what makes drafting women unconstitutional, because the draft is specifically for preparing combat troops.  Those who scoff that enactment of the draft is unlikely should look to all the other unprecedented things the Obama administration has done.  That is why in the past this issue has been the subject of presidential commissions, hearings and congressional oversight.  Our representatives should be held accountable for subjecting our daughters to conscription.  All Leon Panetta had to do was sign a memo.  Whenever Americans have been faced with this question before, they’ve voted No.  Will we let some Obama-appointed bureaucrats determine this for all women?

The Marines have always been the hold-outs on opening combat and combat-related jobs to women, and for good reason.  It’s not because they’re sexist, it’s because they know what killing the enemy face to face on the ground requires.  Many support the idea of women in combat because they are supportive of women in general.  Until they watch their own daughters register for service, they won’t put much thought into what ground combat requires and what the additional costs and risks to women are that make this not just an unsound investment, but one that puts women, men, and our national defense, at greater peril.

General Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps testimony before the SASC on Women in Combat. June 1991.

Footnotes

[1] http://www.npr.org/2015/09/11/439381272/navy-secretary-ray-mabus-takes-issue-with-marine-combat-study and http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/09/16/mabus-no-exceptions-to-keep-women-out-of-marines-seals.html

[2] “[The combat units] must make sure that there are a sufficient number of females entering the career field and already assigned to the related commands and leadership positions.” http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5183

MeJude Eden served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008 as an 0651, Data Communications, and was stationed at Camp Lejeune.  She deployed with 8th Communications Bn to support Camp Fallujah’s computer communications for 8 months in 2005-6, and was also assigned checkpoint duty working with the Marine Infantry frisking women for explosives outside the wire.


Wolves Among the Sheep

Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Syrian refugees entering Turkey

The open-border and refugee crises and our handling of them is not a question of loving vs. hateful, it’s suicide vs. self-preservation.  Where there is opportunity, the bad will come with the good.  That’s why our immigration process and enforcing legal immigration laws are so critical.  If the Obama administration is demanding now that we take in however many tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, how will we vet them?  Where will they stay while they’re being vetted?  Add to this Obama’s next round of executive-ordered amnesty for the however-many tens of thousands of illegal immigrants already here.  It’s a big uncompassionate mess.

When I think of the immigration process my husband went through to become a citizen, he had a background check to ensure he wasn’t a criminal; he was medically tested and immunized to ensure he wasn’t carrying disease; he had to declare his intention of embracing America’s constitution, language and values (taking an oath much similar to the one our military and representatives take).  When you immigrate to any country, you must prove you’re not a threat and that you’re there for the right reasons.  This is good.  It’s compassionate.  It protects both citizen and immigrant.  It sets both up for success.

Much as we may want to help, to throw open the doors to our communities without care and consideration would be reckless.  For all the hard-working illegal immigrants or the sincere, authentic refugees seeking asylum, there are bad actors.  We don’t know why any new-comer is here until we ask them and verify.  All it takes is one bad actor to reap disaster.  A radical with a machine-gun on a train, for example.  Legal immigration and enforcing our laws protects citizen and immigrant alike.  The Syrian refugee crisis requires some similar process.  There’s only one way to welcome the good and sift out the bad: by controlling the flow and vetting all who enter.

The legal immigration system is only broken in the sense that the current laws aren’t enforced, our border is a sieve, and the government bureaucracy can’t handle the numbers it has now, letting in the likes of the Tsarnaev brothers (who were refugees, by the way) despite repeated warnings and red flags.  If our government alternately refuses to or can’t deal with our current illegal immigration problem, what’s going to happen when we add tens of thousands of Syrian refugees?


Women and Hand-to-Hand Combat: Thoughts From a Female Black Belt Marine Iraq Veteran

The author practicing with Marine black belt instructor in Fallujah, 2005.

Being in direct combat units means being the ones who take the fight to the enemy.  Deploying in itself is not combat, and neither is returning fire when getting shot at on convoy.  Real combat, the kind the infantry and Special Forces wage, is bloody, vicious and offensive.  When we’re talking about opening the combat units to women, we’re talking direct ground combat units who don’t have the comfort and distance of the fighter-plane cockpit.  Marine Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer describes being attacked by an insurgent, fighting and killing him with his bare hands.  In Baghdad they were hand-to-hand, men facing each other with knives.

I’ve fought many men over the years as I trained to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and dabbled in Kapoeira and Krav Maga before the Marines, and achieved three of the five levels of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program which incorporates the best of all forms for hand-to-hand combat.  This isn’t a lot in terms of learning to fight for your life.  Training by fighting men before the Marines helped me to be a better fighter against women of my own weight and rank.  But women are at a disadvantage fighting men, especially those that actually want to capture or kill them.

RhondaRouseyEven the toughest female fighter in the world, UFC Bantamweight champion Rhonda Rousey said as much when the issue came up of fighting Fallon Fox, formerly a man, citing “the bone structure, the muscular structure of a man [after puberty]. There’s no ‘undo’ button for that.”  Tamikka Brents, a female who actually did fight Fox, said, “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”  To put females at the front where they are much more likely to have to engage in hand to hand combat with men is barbaric, not empowering to women.  When I joined, I wanted to go to the front.  Being outside the wire the reality of having to fight in close contact looms large, and the enemy we were facing then seems somewhat docile compared to ISIS today.  There was a chance I would face them. In the combat roles, it’s not a chance, it’s probable, and today’s enemy uses meth.  Fighting ISIS on meth hand-to-hand.  It’s every girl’s dream, right?

“Shouldn’t taking that risk be a woman’s choice?” I hear this question a lot.  A woman in this position is not isolated, she is not just taking a risk for herself.  She’s putting everyone around her at greater risk, in no small part because her torture can be used against the men in a way it can’t with other men.  They’re natural instinct to protect her can distract him from the mission resulting in disaster.  This is exactly what the Israelis found out in 1948 when they included women on the front lines of combat.  The men dropped everything at the women’s screams, and the Israelis declared the experiment a disaster and a failure. Contrary to the myth that radical Islamists are averse to fighting women, the Israelis found that their enemy fought more viciously because the prospect of defeat by women was so abjectly humiliating.

Capture and torture is every deploying woman’s worst nightmare, and all that advocates for women in combat can say is that it’s not fair we want to protect women more than men at the front, that we’re wrong to consider a woman being tortured worse than a man being tortured.  It may not be fair that women are more vulnerable than men, but we are.  It may not be fair that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to brute strength, but we are.  These warrant added protection, and there’s nothing feminism can do to change it.  Regardless, the policy will get more of both killed.  It’s not that we’re weak, shrinking violets.  Rhonda Rousey sure isn’t, and neither am I.  But it’s not enlightened, sophisticated or evolved to ignore our differences, differences that can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.


CNN Spot: 2 Females Graduate Ranger School – Why Maintain the Combat Exclusion?

I had the opportunity to discuss why putting women into the combat units is bad policy on CNN today:

Let me count the ways in brief. (I go in depth on many of these here.)

When one group predictably has the lowest upper body strength and a much higher rate of injury, putting them in the combat units adds weakness, not strength.  When standards have been consistently lowered every time military jobs are opened to women, we can trust they will continue to be, formally or informally, as active duty men and women are pressured to show the success the top brass demands in order to fulfill their gender politics agenda.  Needless to say, lowering our military training standards adds weakness, not strength.  When adding one group to the other creates sexual dynamics that are distracting at the least and destructive at the worst and that don’t exist for men by themselves, that’s adding weakness, not strength.  When one group needs many more accommodations that cost additional money, material and resources and add on to standard operating procedures, it adds weakness, not strength.  When one group has much higher potential to be yanked from the field for non-war related issues from infection to pregnancy, adding them to the combat units adds weakness, not strength.  When one group is a higher value target to the enemy, putting them into the units raises the risk for everyone, adding weakness, not strength.  When men are naturally more protective of those high-value targets – a wonderful primal instinct we do NOT want to curb – adding women to the units adds weakness, not strength.

These are all things that activists for women in combat and those who think they are forward-thinking good feminists brush off as nothing, myths, remnants of archaic patriarchal misogyny in need of re-education and attitude adjustment.  They studiously ignore the concerns voiced by infantry veterans who know what it takes to win at ground combat, and what hinders their success. They studiously ignore the harm to women and the fact that most enlisted women do not want to be assigned to the combat units.  The standards aren’t set high to purposely keep women out, they are high to sift out all weakness that obstructs the goal: victory in war with the least casualties possible.  Opposition to women in combat units is not about traditional roles, suppressing women or hanging on to a bygone era.  Women don’t strengthen combat, they weaken it, obviously and predictably. Our men want the strongest combat units possible with the least amount of unnecessary risk so they and their brethren are more likely to come home alive in victory.  They naturally balk at being told that weakness is strength, that it’s just their attitude that needs adjusting.

Ironically, the Diversity commission and other women-in-combat activists pushing gender politics in the military will defeat their own purpose by opening the combat units.  Fewer and fewer women will have long-term military careers as they suffer more and more injuries and have to medically retire out of service.  Fewer will re-enlist in order to preserve their health and well being.  Because of the prospect of being assigned to a combat unit, especially as we’re seeing what ISIS is doing to Christians, women, children, and anyone who doesn’t share their zealotry, women who could otherwise be of great service to the military in non-combat roles will no longer consider joining, and the left will lose its battle of equal representation for women anyway.

Morning Convoy, Fallujah 2005.

Morning Convoy, Fallujah 2005.


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