Protestant theologian John Stephen Piper
I’m a skeptic and a scoffer, and am generally far more in favor of sin than I am of religion. So I doubt I’d agree with John Piper on too many things (besides voting Republican), but on the subject of women in combat, in an editorial a few years back, he won my admiration and regard by stating so perfectly the views on this subject of any right-thinking man.
If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying that no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. ...
Back in the ‘70s, when I taught in college, feminism was new and cool. So my ideas on manhood were viewed as the social construct of a dying chauvinistic era. I had not yet been enlightened that competencies, not divine wiring, governed the roles we assume. Unfazed, I said no.
Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.
Stephanie Gutman, who wrote a book titled The Kindler, Gentler Military on the Gender Neutral American Military of the Clinton-era 1990s, discusses the possibility that the latest democrat concession to Equality may provoke another great wave of lowered standards, fudging qualifications, hypocrisy, and degradation of operational efficiency and morale.
There is…. one paragraph that I find distinctly ominous. It’s the part about each service being “charged with developing policies to integrate women into every military job.” Army Times quotes a defense official who says, “For instance, it’s likely the Army will establish a set of physical requirements for infantry soldiers. The candidate, man or woman, will have to lift a certain amount of weight in order to qualify. The standards will be gender neutral.”
Erm . . .What’s wrong with current physical requirement standards for infantry soliders? Is this official implying that more woman-friendly standards will have to be developed? The male/female upper-body strength difference is by now tediously well documented. There is no question that the average woman (and yes the average enlistee is often quite average indeed) especially in our overweight times, will have difficulty, say, carrying a wounded comrade to safety and walking for days dressed in full “battle rattle.” Study after study shows that women get injured at at least twice the rate of men — and this is in a military where women are not doing the most physically demanding jobs.
There is more than a whiff of “do it or else” in this little paragraph. Will the services now be expected to “make it work” by moving heaven and earth (changing standards, dumping qualified men) to get women into those previously closed jobs so Chuck Hagel or whoever the sec def turns out to be, can have lots of nice photo-ops to send to NOW and other feminist groups? Recall that in the ’90s, after Congress opened Navy’s combat aircraft to women, the Navy and the Air Force began a very undignified scramble to be the first to get a woman into the cockpit of a fighter jet. Critics blame the hurry-up policy on, for instance, the untimely death of Lieutenant Kara Hultgren who flew her fighter jet into the sea on a clear day during a routine training run.
The usual suspects in the mainstream media are dancing around maypoles and singing Hosannas. Trumpeted the New York Times, “women have long chafed under the restrictions.” Not quite. Some women, high-ranking, West Point and Annapolis-educated, D.C.-residing type military women have “chaffed.” But enlisted women — the women who’d actually have to live in the smelly, crowded tents and schlep all the “battle rattle” — not so much. Several major studies have shown profound apathy about combat roles among the vast majority of enlisted women. For instance, Army staff sergeant Stacey Zinda, a career counselor, told CNN yesterday that “she has yet to have a female soldier approach her about joining a combat unit.”
The other bit of pathos being draped about by mainstream-media reporters is that the Pentagon is merely putting “the official seal” as the U.K. Guardian put it, on something women have been doing for years and not gotten career-advancing credit for. “In reality,” says the New York Times, “women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.”
But that’s not true either and it illustrates a fuzzy civilian’s notion of combat as something to do with bullets whizzing around. Women have been in support roles. Driving supply trucks or flying helicopters, accompanying patrols as interpreters — some of them have come under fire, some of them have undoubtedly fired back, and a few may have engaged in fire-fights spurred by the need to defend themselves. But getting shot at is not “combat” — at least not the way the official military defines it. The Department of Defense defines a combat job as one in which a soldier’s primary duty is to seek out, engage and neutralize the enemy. This is a distinction that should be recognized. Special credit should be given. Operating in a combat zone requires bravery but seeking out and “engaging” an enemy requires even more bravery. Sorry, the U.S. military is — well, used to be — a meritocracy. It makes distinctions.
Now, (I think we can all stop pretending that there aren’t sex differences here) men like this seeking-out-the-enemy thing. Infantry jobs, jobs involving combat, have to be requested and young men will continue to enthusiastically request these positions. Will women? I doubt they will in great numbers. I think they will continue to swell the ranks of intelligence, management, medical, and logistical jobs, continue to do these jobs admirably, but avoid the combat roles. If so, the impact of this historic policy change may be insignificant. It may go down as more of Obama’s gestural politics.
On the other hand, if implementing this policy looks like a replay of the 1990s when the services were turned inside out to try to achieve a utopian notion of a 50/50 sex ratio force, if women are coerced, bribed, cajoled, and standards are lowered to welcome them, the policy will cost billions, sap morale, and generally degrade military readiness.
Ryan Smith, who served in Iraq as a Marine, explains some of the issues combat soldiers might have about serving directly beside females.
Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.
I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.
Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.
During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.
Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation’s military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
Read the whole thing.
Former Defense Deputy Undersecretary Jed Babbin takes aim at Leon Panetta’s cowardly and disgraceful decision to put women into combat roles.
Panetta’s action will probably complete the destruction of the warrior culture on which the success of our military depends. That culture, developed over the past two thousand years or so, is not uniquely American but our brand of it is. Our warriors take pride in what they do because they do it for America and because they do it better than anyone else. Thus, one of the most important parts of that culture is the objective standards someone has to meet to qualify to join the combat arms.
Every Marine in a rifle platoon, every pilot in a squadron, every special operator has had to meet the standards set for all the others. At least they did until the services began to cave under political pressure to enable women to join combat units. ...
Eleven years ago I wrote about the danger of “gender neutralizing” the objective tests for entry into combat arms. That article reported on a British Ministry of Defence study authored by Brigadier Seymour Monroe. In that study, Monroe reported that when the British were trying to fit women into combat roles, they “gender neutralized” — i.e., lowered — their standards so that women who couldn’t qualify under the men’s standards did so under their own.
Who can doubt that the Obama Pentagon will do exactly the same? Why should the men accept anyone — woman or man — who can’t make the same grade they did? They shouldn’t, and they won’t. It will destroy unit cohesion and pride.
That is the principal objection to what the Obama Pentagon is up to. And it will have two effects, both of which are a threat to our national security.
First, by pushing standards down to enable women to qualify, Obama’s Pentagon will reduce the units’ ability to fight. Our guys — and I use the term with malice aforethought — win because they’re better trained and more capable than the enemy. Whenever you reduce the qualifications, you reduce the level of capability and the unit’s ability to win. To lower standards is to increase the risk of defeat.
Second, whether or not standards are relaxed, allowing women into combat arms will break the spirit of many of our warriors whether they be ground pounders, airmen, or sailors.
Our guys do what they do — and do it so well — in part because they’re guys who are members of the most exclusive club in the world: the warriors, the real 1%’ers. Their club’s membership has been 100% men since before Thermopylae. These men understand that they are different — mentally and physically — from women and want to stay that way. They have wives and girlfriends at home. They don’t have them as fellow warriors who they train and fight alongside.
To put women among them would force them to break with their ancient customs, traditions, and beliefs. In short, it would fundamentally change what they are and how they function in combat. The price will be paid in resignations, in declining re-enlistments, and in lives and battles lost.
There’s one more aspect to this, which is the strain Panetta’s act will put on military families. When he decided to allow women to serve on submarines, a lot of Navy wives were really angry. They know their men, and they know that our elite submarine force would become a fleet of submersible Love Boats, and, in too many instances, they have.
What higher price will more military families pay when women are allowed into the rest of the combat arms, serving in remote places in tough conditions with the men beside them?
Panetta’s decision has to be stopped by House Republicans. They can do it if they bar the use of any authorized or appropriated funds for DoD to implement the Panetta policy, a provision that should be in every bill they pass until it becomes law. If they don’t, we should throw the lot of them out.