DAVID ROSMAN: Sorry, Karl, women must be equal partners in the military

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | 3:45 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

COLUMBIA — Congressional liberals and conservatives. Oil and Water. Miller and Rosman.

Like the others, Karl and I mix well under the right circumstances. We honor and support the other’s opinion while still disagreeing about the politics. There are also times we don’t. Karl’s May 9 column is the second time this year when we disagreed on the same issue — women serving in the military.

On Feb. 6, Karl claimed that the inclusion of women into combat roles would somehow destroy the U.S. armed forces. “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.”

I am politically offended by the accusation that my liberal ideas of gender equality are somehow “irrational” and a “pipe dream.” I have a number of social contacts with women who proudly serve in the Israeli armed forces, including a fighter pilot or two. Ask them if the idea of women’s equality and serving in combat roles is an irrational pipe dream.

Last week Karl wrote that there should be no change to Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The controversy stems from Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin’s dismissal of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson’s court martial conviction for sexual assault.

Karl’s position on permitting a commanding officer to simply vacate a conviction by a military tribunal for sexual assault is indefensible. Karl seems to believe that any change to Article 60 is unnecessary and contrary to the discipline of the military. Unfortunately, others agree with Karl, and I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

No one questions the nature of sexual assaults in the military. This could not be better demonstrated than by the arrest of Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski for groping a woman in a parking lot. This matter becomes more scandalous; Krusinski is the “Air Force official in charge of its sexual-assault prevention program.”

Some information about sexual abuse in the military: It is estimated that in 2012 more than 26,000 men and women experienced sexual discriminationand/or abuse in the armed forces. Of those, men represent 53 percent. Those who did make formal accusations of unwanted sexual contact or abuse, including rape, in 2012 increased about 6 percent from 2011.

I wonder if Karl’s position would be different if it were a man who was sexually assaulted and the case was dismissed.

To me, the conservative (I am not speaking political conservative here) position in support of a “men-only club” is outdated and screams for change. More accurately, the “straight-men-only” club. It is nothing more than belittling women and gays who serve in our military than telling them that they do not belong based solely on gender or sexual orientation.

Women and gays have been involved in combat roles (though unofficially) in every American war and conflict since 1770. In World War I, women entered combat zones as nurses. In World War II, women ferried fighter planes and transports across the Atlantic to American front line pilots. In Korea and Vietnam, women were on the front lines as medical professionals, mechanics and operations officers. Women and gays have proven themselves competent in combat roles in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as Air Force helicopter and fighter pilots, Army and Marine combat soldiers and members of the Navy.

The U.S. military came into the second half of the 20th century kicking and screaming when Harry S. Truman said that there will be no discrimination in the armed forces, that blacks and whites were to serve in the same units, sleep in the same barracks and fight side-by-side. They screamed through Korea and into Vietnam. Four decades later, we honor our military leaders of African heritage as we would those of Latino, Pacific Rim or European heritage.

Now is the time when the U.S. Armed Forces fully integrate women and gays into every role of the service. To say someone is incapable to serve because of gender or orientation, to say that reporting sexual assaults might lead to punishment of the victim by noncommissioned officers and officers, to say the Unified Code of Military Justice cannot change with the times, is short-sighted and unworthy of the American ideal of universal equality.

It takes time for change to happen and it will, even with Karl kicking and screaming that it can’t.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Ellis Smith May 15, 2013 | 6:43 p.m.

The Missourian is fortunate to have so many military experts; the New York Times or a major TV network might be envious.

Years ago in school our teachers worked hard just to make do, given what resources they had. In 5th and 6th Grades one exercise they came up with was called "dictionary drills." Each student was issued a copy of the same dictionary.

The teacher would announce a word, then students would simultaneously attempt to locate the word in the dictionary, raisung their hands when they had done so. Then the teacher would select one student to spell the word and another to read its meaning(s).

Let's try playing that game: you may use either an actual dictionary or computer software version.

Our first word will be "dilettante."

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller May 15, 2013 | 9:10 p.m.


I have always stood by my belief that reaonable people can agree to disagree--and I do not intend to stray from that principle. I won't waste a lot of time stating my non agreement with your opinion piece--I believe you sincerely believe you are right.

However David, We are from two different worlds, Your opinions, sincere as they may be, are based on hearsay, wishful thinking, and outright misinformation.

You have no concept of the rigors and horror of combat, the 100 pound plus loads carried by Marines and Soldiers, the primitive sanitary conditions in the field and, particularly of the sight of maimed and dead young men.

You also have no concept of the workings of military justice--Article 60 is necessary--if we are to hold commanders responsible, they must have the authority. Do you really advocate tossing out something that has worked well over one, yes one overturning of a Court Martial conviction out of virtually hundreds of thousands? That is tantamount to changing shortstops after each error.

You may not be aware of this David but, the Marines have opened the Marine Officer's Infantry Training School to female officers. So far, every one has failed the training along with 20-25 percent of the male Marine Officers.

I don't know where you get the notion that there is an adversary relationship between men and women in the armed forces. In my 30 years plus, I never saw any real evidence of same--quite frankly, I never met one who aspired to serve in a combat arms MOS. You may believe it or not--but men and women have been equal partners in the military for quite some time.

Sexual assaults cannot be tolerated--I can think of nothing more dehumanizing and vile. Some 3,000 plus were reported in 2012--how and where did the estimate of 26,000 obtain?

I doubt you have read the record of trial of LtCol Wilkerson nor are you conversant with the reasoning behind General Franklin's overturing the conviction. Making judgments without all the pertinent facts and information is hardly recommended.

Finally David, the last time the Israeli Army deployed women as infantry soldiers was 1949. They were found to be a distraction in addition to not being able to soldier along with their male counterparts.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 15, 2013 | 11:31 p.m.


If recollection hasn't failed me, 1n 1948 and 1949 the Israelis were desperate and accepted anyone who would volunteer. In fact Jewish volunteers from the United States were employed. Isreali forces then were more like a partisan army than a national military force. Women serving in combat with irregular forces (such as partisans) is hardly new.

Is everyone ready to look up our next word [see my post, above]? You'll love it.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates May 16, 2013 | 5:27 a.m.

Thanks Karl, you saved me from writing a lengthy response. He probably got the 26,000 from a Military Times article, a number thrown up in the air by those with an agenda. They could have easily said 46,000 because a WAG is just that. He simply doesn't really understand.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 16, 2013 | 8:40 a.m.

So where did the 26K come from?

First, note the "blue" color of Rosman's statement. That means it's a link. Click on it and you get a DOD document entitled "Sexual Assault and Prevention Report".

There's lots of facts and figures in there that support both Rosman and Col. Miller. Note, however, that Col. Miller is discussing how many incidents were REPORTED. Rosman is discussing an "ESTIMATE".

The 26K "estimate" comes from Figure 6, pg 24, which estimates the number of active duty members experiencing unwanted sexual contact. The figure is constructed using surveys of active duty members. The superscript on the 26K number says this: "This estimate is computed using weighted population estimates of the 6.1 percent of Active Duty women and 1.2 percent of Active Duty men who indicated they experienced an incident of unwanted sexual contact in the 12 months prior to the 2012 WGRA."

I saw no estimate of the standard deviation, tho. Given what was reported in 2006 and 2010, I'd say it was rather large. The actual value would certainly be more than is reported, a feature in common with civilian incidents. In fact, it would be interesting to know if civilian percentages differed much from military if for no other reason than determining if the hated military is a hotbed of sexual assault far exceeding civilian experiences.

I did chuckle at the "politically offended" part, tho. What the hell does THAT mean? Are we creating new offenses out of thin air? Or does it simply support my notion that the way to really get under the skin of a progressive is to label him/her as "irrational". For folks claiming the mantle of absolute rationality, such a claim is a horrible spear to the heart...........

PS: And I think Rosman's claims of "honor and support the other's positions" is just so much crap. You don't write in public with those words and tone when you are in an "honoring" mood. I don't believe it for a second. Your editors make you put that in there?

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller May 16, 2013 | 9:14 a.m.

The military has a mission--to defend the nation by atttacking and destroying its enemies when necessary e.g. to "break things and kill people." Contrary to the theories of uninformed idealists, the milItary was never intended nor can it be a mirror image of the population.

Unfortunately, the U S Armed forces have been made recently guinnea pigs for social experimentations at the expense of combat readiness.

As a student of warfare, I don't remember Sun Tzu nor Karl von Clauswitz recommending a "kinder,gentler, more feminine and more inclusive military in their rules of war. Contrary also to popular belief, there is no "right" to serve in our armed forces--obesity, criminal background, lack of education, lack of physical strength and psychological issues are disqualifying.

Mission accomplishment must not be held hostage to social engineering.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman May 16, 2013 | 11:01 a.m.

Once again, Karl, I respectfully disagree. I am not the "idealist" as you believe, but a realist. Women can "break things and kill people" as well as men -- sometimes better.

Skip and Michael -

As for the numbers, they came from the United States Department of Defense.

"I am politically offended" as opposed to personally. this is not about me, but about a specific political position. If you want to try to make it personal, please, waste your time.

One last thing, Michael. The percentages of men to female reports are based on the actually number of formal reports, not the estimate. Good try, though.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller May 16, 2013 | 11:12 a.m.


One experiences realism rather than imagining it.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates May 16, 2013 | 6:07 p.m.

Yes, Mr Rosman, the study came from a DOD report/survey and then imagined a possibility of another number. I know a significant number of persons in the active military that never saw that survey. Similar to the "gay's in the Military survey" never went to the right people and when it did, it was designed to get the answer the Administration and DOD wanted. Any student at MIZZOU that passed PSY 101, could write a survey that gave the needed response. Sexual abuse has NEVER been tolerated in the military since the first WAC joined up in WWI.

As for your "knowing Israeli female fighter pilots" that correspond with you. I don't think you are telling the truth. is just not something that I'd believe that they would write to a nondescript liberal that does a bi-monthly article to a school newspaper, That being said, I have flown with the IAF in a couple of combat missions in around l974. To debunk the myth, there is a common misconception that Israel allows girls in combat units. In fact, they are barred from that. A review of by their own service showed how harmful their presence could be. Not without serious thought, yes, they do serve in "combat" where they could be killed...i.e...MP's at a check-point, etc. Yes, so do we, Does the IAF have female fighter pilots, well, yes, a couple...which, accordingly to you, write you... but, the IAF has not fought an air battle since the Egptian which, the kill ratio was so great, the Western world thought the IAF fighter pilots were the best in the world... Duh, the Egyptians were so poor, it would be like MIZZOU playing Hickman.

Other part of which I think Karl and I are about. Read a couple of "We were Soldiers one and Young" and another by Nolan, on Operation Buffalo....both describe what happens when an organized, professional enemy engages and in both cases, a company was overrun and slaughtered. That hasn't happened in the 10 years wars we have had in the Middle East. Granted, in Fallaugh and Najif, (pardon spelling) and in the initial wars taking the central city, there was fierce combat. No women were involved. There was a battle in the Afgan highlands where a battalion went against a dug in enemy without supporting arms, the first since Buna in WWII...and they got their pee-pee slapped, but when winning the enemy went away. Everyone understands why women don't play in the NFL, or in Gymnastics, don't have to do some of the physical things men do, but, why do you think combat is less? Read the books I mentioned, and if you still think women should be in all combat arms, join our Senator McCaskill, and you'd both be idi

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates May 16, 2013 | 6:28 p.m.


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