Friday, March 04, 2011
Sorry Ladies, Not This Time
To put it more succinctly, not NO, but HELL NO!
I was ambivalent on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell debate because, quite frankly, I have a great deal of confidence in the average military service member to deal with any agent provocateurs that would infiltrate in an attempt to garner some headlines and be a martyr to the gay/lesbian community, but allowing women to be in front line Infantry units is not only a bad idea, it is a deadly one.
Infantrymen are the pointy end of the sword. I was one for 20+ years so it is something I can speak on with a fairly certain amount of expertise. We refer to ourselves as bomb dodgers and bullet stoppers. In the words of one senior NCO I had somewhere during my career, he stated that fully 95% of all weapons and tactics designed by man were developed with one intent. That is to maim or kill the Infantryman. The other 5% that were not specifically designed for that purpose could be quickly modified to do so.
Being an Infantryman comes along with a certain amount of unique characteristics. These are not only physical, but mental and sociological. Yes, the Infantry is the largest collection of good ol' boys you will ever find, but that is exactly what molds them into the most effective force. When you throw females into the equation that delicate balance is upset, and anything which upsets that balance leads to greater chance of injury and death for all. Surviving as an Infantryman, even when nobody is shooting at you, requires a great deal of effort.
A lot people will go on and on about the physical issue, which is very real, and regardless of what a bunch of eggheads want to theorize about, it is immutable and undeniable. But beyond that there is a thing called trust. Trust is the one intangible that receives very little attention, but without it, no front line fighting force can function effectively.
Trust is a reason I was ambivalent on the DADT question. I knew gays in the military, and while they were not in Infantry units, my contact came through the medics assigned to accompany us. I could have cared two flips less that you were gay as long as two truths remained. You could patch me up or get me to safety should something happen and you didn't go around dressed in drag propositioning me or my men. In other words, I could count on you to do your job and all that I had contact with could and did. If they didn't they would not have been around my unit very long.
Women are a completely different story. Infantrymen are macho, testosterone-laden Alpha males complete with an entire set of codes related to ensuring the safety and protection of the weaker sex. In addition to adding to their list of worries about bombs and bullets you now want to add the stress of protecting what used to be known as the kinder and gentler sex? Care to guess what happens when a couple of Alpha males wish to curry favor from the same female? I haven't even come close to what happens when the rumor mill goes into overdrive concerning what Johnny and Jill are doing.
I can tell you a long litany of anecdotal stories related to when units I commanded came into close proximity of women while in field environments and the often negative effects this had on the unit cohesion, but the talking heads would say that these social behaviors can be modified over time. Gentlemen and ladies who argue for this approach I would put this forth as an argument. Time is not an ally.
For much of my career, while stationed stateside I was part of what was then known as the Rapid Deployment Force. It's mission was to have boots on the ground anywhere in the known world within 96 hours. Do you think your high-minded social experiment will be ready for deployment in 96 hours?
Oh, no. Before any of you elitist social engineering snobs want to go tinkering with the front line unit dynamics I would suggest you spend about 30 days with them out in Injun country, far removed from anything approaching civilization. If you want to destroy the greatest military in existence you just go ahead and allow women to join the Infantry.