In 1993, while I was on active duty preparing for a year-long assignment to South Korea, I wrote a letter that appeared in the Air Force Times, registering my concerns in what was then a raging debate over the proposition that the combat exclusion for women in the Armed Forces should be lifted. My case centered on four arguments:
1) The utilitarian point that women generally simply do not possess the physical strength and endurance necessary to successfully contribute to the lethal success of those combat units whose missions include close-quarters combat over an extended period of time.
2) The cultural point that integrating women into combat units could introduce unneeded and personal distractions with potentially serious consequences to our combat readiness.
3) The legal point, underscored by the Supreme Court in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981), that it was precisely the combat exclusion which precluded women from having to register for the draft.
4) The moral point that a country which sends its wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters into the meat grinder of combat has preemptively surrendered a vital portion of its own humanity.
I Was Right On All Counts
The utilitarian point was validated most recently by the Marine Corps, which just last September reported on a test comparing the performance of an all-male combat unit with that of a combat unit which included women. The result? All-male units outperformed the integrated units in more than two-thirds of the areas evaluated, including speed, lethality, and strength, and with 26 percent fewer injuries.
That this was news is itself newsworthy, since the results are about as surprising as the fact that no ladies play as defensive linemen in the NFL (or any other position, come to think of it). But in a world where political surrealism is the new normal, self-evident truths become heresy.
The cultural point was conceded several years back, when a 2009 story in the Navy Times allowed as how:
Some shore commands in the Norfolk, VA, area report that up to 34 percent of their billets are filled by pregnant sailors, and commanders are complaining about a ‘lack of proper manning to conduct their mission,’ according to a Naval Inspector General report.
…The spike in pregnant sailors assigned to some units comes after the Navy changed its ruled for handling mothers-to-be. And its compounded by a baby boomlet in the Navy community.
…Now, shore industrial and aviation commands say they are receiving more pregnant sailors — from 15 to 34 percent of authorized billets, in some cases — who are unable to fulfill essential duties because of their pregnancy, according to the IG.
Not to worry, though. We’ll just join hands, celebrate diversity and pray to Heaven above that the enemy is as irredeemably stupid as we are in filling the ranks of its fighting forces. This brings us to the third point I made 23 years ago when the prevailing legal analysis concluded that it was the combat exclusion that prevented government from forcing women to sign up for the draft.
Two generals emphatically endorsed that point last week, when they testified that since the Pentagon had opened all combat roles to women, women should be required to sign up for the draft. To which one responds: This is progress?
Remember: The Draft Means Forced Conscription
At the Senate hearing, Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, opined that “Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft.” Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Missouri) stream of consciousness swerved into the following: “Part of me believes that asking women to register as we ask men to register would maybe possibly open up more recruits as women began to think about, well, the military is an option for me.”
Well, senator, part of me thinks that part of you should consider that the federal government doesn’t “ask” men to register any more than it “asks” anyone to pay his taxes. It demands it, senator, even as it would demand (if you had your way) that our daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters register to be taken forcibly into government service.
Many of us accept that possibility with heavy hearts with respect to our sons, because they are generally endowed with the physical and mental strength required to defend the homeland, but no such case can be made with respect to our daughters. Quite the contrary, as noted above. Under this prescription, senator, the military wouldn’t be merely an option, but rather a mandatory sentence, and if you don’t know the difference, well — you’re in the right political party at least. Besides, how can the military be an option for your fictional young lady if you and your fellow politicians are busy slicing it with all the zeal of Freddy Krueger at the sorority house?
Meanwhile, Dr. Richard Kohn, a professor emeritus of military history at the University of North Carolina (and my old boss in the Air Force) explained that, “Every occupation in the military is open to women, so they should have an equal obligation to serve,” which pretty well cuts to the chase on the legal side of the equation. But to state the logical conclusion from a formulaic perspective leaves unaddressed the question of whether any of this is the moral thing to do in the first instance. Here is where I mean to plant the flag of resistance.
Our All-Volunteer Force Is Physically and Morally Superior
I regard forcing young men to register for the draft as an ugly necessity, and one to which I hope we never have to resort. We have an all-volunteer force that is exquisite in every particular, prompting a French soldier, serving with American forces in Afghanistan, to describe American fighting men thus:
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine – they are all head and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them – we are wimps, even the strongest of us – and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
…And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange as it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seems to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifle, etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the direction of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days.
…And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short. Honor, motherland – everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. …
Leave aside for the moment the suicidal absurdity of poking our meddling paws into the ethos and composition of such an effective fighting force in pursuing a formula the Marines have already tried and found lacking. Leave aside the fact we are as unlikely to prevail against semi-savage Islamic fanatics as we are to strike fear in their black little hearts by throwing prom queens at them, and consider the message conscripting women sends about a society so blinded by political correctness that it will assist in its own destruction.
Making Women Fight Is Barbarism
Are we so swept away in the search for equality among things that are manifestly not equal that we will consign our daughters and granddaughters, our wives and our sisters, unwillingly, to the tender mercies of an enemy that rapes children, crucifies Christians, and saws off the heads of all who hold contrary beliefs? Are we so intimidated by sniveling agitators that we will atone for our very existence by bowing to the superstition that there is no significant difference between the sexes?
Or, conversely, are we so exasperated by the Left’s radical encroachments on reason and reality that we are prepared throw our hands up as if to say, “Fine, then, do what you wish!” and sit back in our rocking chairs to watch the world implode?
No, I say, emphatically no, and add that a society that ignores and overrules the natural capacity and instinct of the male to protect hearth and home, and the unique strength and instinct of the female to bring new life and nurture the family, is a society that has signed its own death warrant.
One of the reasons I spent 20 years in uniform, deploying to any number of the world’s hell holes, was so I could face the monsters over there, rather than having my family face them over here. The concept of protecting what in gentler times was called “the fairer sex” wasn’t antiquated at all, but rather an honor and a duty.
If the idea that gentlemen protect their wives, sisters and daughters has been anachronized, then it would suggest that the “civilization” part of the West has atrophied to the point that it is barely even recognizable, a point greatly to be lamented. It causes me to wonder, in my darker moments, exactly what the hell was I defending?