As published at Stream.org April 20, 2016.
As a Marine veteran and close follower of the developments on women’s integration into the combat arms, I’ve noticed that women saying they want to join the infantry do so for all sorts of reasons: to make history, break barriers, challenge themselves, prove something, carry on family tradition. With the women’s combat exemption now repealed, the media fawns on the first females going for combat roles as history-makers, even before they’ve finished — or even started — boot camp or officer candidate school. Notably missing from the young women’s motivations is anything about killing the enemy, the raison d’être of the combat arms.
Meanwhile, as the military is gearing up to spend millions of precious defense dollars on additional recruiters to enlist females, more sexual assault response staff, sensitivity trainers to indoctrinate on “unconscious bias” and incalculable amounts of money, time and energy to integrate the combat units with the two females who “want” to join and can make it past initial training, the Marines are having to cannibalize museum pieces to keep their aircrafts running. Fox News reports that only 30% of the Marine Corps’ aircraft are mission ready and that young maintenance techs are leaving the service for better paying private sector jobs, with the ones who are left working 21-hour days to get aircraft repaired and running for deployment operations. Military pay has been cut every year for several years, and personnel numbers are being slashed by tens of thousands. Our planes are ancient and our Navy is smaller than it’s been since the First World War.
Simultaneously our top military leaders are telling Congress we’re not ready for the next war. Defense Newsreported in March that:
Top Army and Marine Corps generals warned lawmakers their combat readiness is ebbing and expressed concern they would be unable to fight and win another war in the midst of budget cuts, two wars and heightened global threats.
These same generals have cited budget cuts as having a deadly domino effect: reducing training has led to an increase in aviation fatalities such as the helicopter crashes in January that killed 12 Marines.
During this time of military breakdown, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ biggest concern is touring Marine Corps bases to reinforce party line on women’s integration into the infantry. AP reports:
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had a simple message for 1,500 Marines and sailors: The decision to let women compete for all military combat positions is as irreversible as earlier edicts to integrate blacks and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve.
Of course, this is incorrect. The repeal of women’s combat exemption is a policy and as such can be reversed just as it was implemented: administratively. Alternately, Congress could actually do its job in creating military policy and reverse the “decision” that was not Ashton Carter’s to make in the first place.
But more importantly, integrating women into combat roles is nothing like racial integration or the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. A black or gay man is still a man with testosterone coursing through his body. The abundance of this hormone is what makes his bones stronger and more dense, and makes his aerobic capacity, speed, muscle mass and capacity to gain muscle mass greater than a woman’s. The combat arms require an abundance of these. He also can’t get pregnant and doesn’t require additional accommodations to maintain hygiene.
Truman struck a blow against an irrational prejudice based on skin color by racially integrating the military, and he did so based on military need with no changes to standards as there are with women’s integration. African-Americans had also served in direct ground combat in all our nation’s wars. Proponents of women in combat would like us to believe the same is true for women, but they are equating deployment to the combat zone in general with engaging in direct ground combat missions in particular — two wildly different things.
There is no military need to put women in our most elite fighting units, and there are mountains of empirical evidence showing that such integration degrades our readiness. Even the most fit military females exhibit weaker physical performance and average two to ten times men’s injuries. That doesn’t even allow us to maintain our current state of readiness, one that is, according to our generals, already alarmingly weak.
Mabus is also repeating the promise that standards won’t be lowered, saying, “Let me repeat that: Standards will not be lowered for any group!” But it rings a bit hollow when in the next breath he said, “Standards may be changed as circumstances in the world change, but they’ll be changed for everybody.” No word on how his demand for 25% female representation can be achieved without lowering standards. It will be masked by removing tests where women don’t succeed or excel.
Calls for such changes have already been made, for example by Col Ellen Haring, one of the women who sued to open the combat units, who calls the Combat Endurance Test, part of the Marines’ Infantry Officer Course, a mere “initiation rite and not a test of occupational qualification.” Stay tuned for calls to remove typical testing maneuvers like climbing the 25’ rope in full kit. The man least qualified for the position he holds, second only perhaps to SecDef Ashton Carter, isn’t fooling anyone.
The Pentagon is fast-forwarding as much social-engineering wreckage as they can in the lame-duck months remaining in Obama’s presidency, from ROTC cadets parading in high heels to programming young warfighters in the art of double-think to ignore the reality of sex differences that are all the more evident when the uniforms are all the same. This is the last thing we should be doing when we’re fighting ISIS and face a more complicated set of foreign challenges than ever.
As George Orwell said in 1946, “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue … the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”