For some time, I believed the most potentially debilitating social engineering project affecting combat readiness was the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, thus enabling gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces. Over the objections of the two services most grievously affected, the Marines and the Army, "don't ask, don't tell" passed on.
The unit esprit, brotherhood and standards of morale, cohesion and good order of discipline were ignored.
However, upon debarking from a Caribbean cruise on Jan. 24, I learned of the most egregiously absurd example of social experimentation — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's opening of all combat arms' Military Occupational Specialties to women. Panetta's "not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance" is typical of one who has never faced the enemy "up close and personal."
This unwise act of piling "political correctness" on our military is the result of nonstop lobbying by feminist and progressive special interest groups with one thing in common — that of being too old to serve at all, much less in combat arms units. The notion of a lady "G.I. Jane" engaging in mortal combat with seasoned male soldiers is a pipe dream — a fantasy of the left's irrational agenda of total gender equality.
Call me chauvinistic if you must, but I don't even want to know a woman who would volunteer to occupy a foxhole, go for periods of up to 30 days without a shower and accomplish the most fundamental of hygienic functions alongside their male partners. I realize there are females who aspire to such a role and, just perhaps, are able to physically endure. However, their presence in an infantry squad would be disruptive and disastrous — desire and intent do not alter reality.
I am also privy to the fact that females have increasingly served in harm's way, particularly as pilots, but also with units in close proximity to front lines. Nevertheless, being shot at or shelled does not equal the rigors of infantry close combat — the requirement to close with (attack) and destroy (kill) the enemy and his will to fight.
The mission of the U.S. Marine rifle (and Army) squad, platoon or battalion is to locate and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and/or repel enemy assault by fire and close combat in the cause of national defense or national interests. It has nothing to do with fairness, political correctness or gender equality in terms of promotion or command eligibility. Wars are won by the best trained, the most highly motivated, the strongest, the most fit and the most cohesive units — any distraction can and will be fatal.
A former commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Barrow, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and a vocal opponent of women serving in combat, had this perspective: "They give life, sustain and nurture it — they don't take life and they should not be required to do so."
Today's feminists and other proponents of combat fantasy have falsely assumed that engaging enemy forces can be gender neutral, that males and females are interchangeable on the battlefield.
Additionally, those adherents of gender parity are clueless about the horrors of close combat and the absolutely miserable day-to-day conditions experienced by "grunts" in the field of battle. Contrary to popular opinion, wars are not now, nor will they ever be, decided by unmanned drones, special operations forces or the laser-guided gadgetry of pushing buttons.
All of those plus artillery, air and naval gunfire are effective solely as combat support for the "Queen of Battle" as the infantry is known, and no war has been or will be carried to decision without "boots on the ground" occupying the enemy territory.
Chief among the fears of those realists made uneasy by the Defense Department's decree is that the training, strength and endurance requirements for combat assignment will be "watered down" to accommodate females. All of the services have toed the line in attesting that this will not be permitted to happen; however, who among us is so naive as to believe the feminists who claim that equal rights demands a gender neutral composition of the armed forces will accept anything less.
The best illustration of this is a recent quote by usually moderate and bipartisan syndicated columnist, Kathleen Parker, in answer to General Martin Dempsey's statement that:
"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?"
Parker wrote in response, "Translation: If women can't meet the standards, we'll just 'gender norm' them."
The only service that has not integrated its entry level basic training (boot camp) is the Marine Corps with its insistence of separate training units for men and women. Anyone who believes that the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force have not relaxed strength and endurance requirements to accommodate female recruits is either delusional or extremely gullible.
As one who has not only served in combat as an infantry unit leader but also has scores of close friends and acquaintances who have done likewise, I reject the notion that combat can be feminized or become a kinder, gentler method of fighting wars. The unintended consequences of such lunacy include denigration of combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, military readiness and that undefinable esprit and brotherhood peculiar to those who have served in combat units.
The Department of Defense decree of opening all Military Occupational Specialties to women begs an answer to two questions: 1. Why? 2. Will combat readiness/effectiveness be materially enhanced?
I believe the answers to be self-evident.