Deceitful Debate over Women in Combat


ACRU Staff


December 3, 2012

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published November 30, 2012 on The Washington Times website.

Oblivious to important differences between men and women, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Department of Defense to lift all combat exemptions for women.

Not putting women into combat deprives them of their constitutional rights, the ACLU is arguing on behalf of four servicewomen in a complaint filed Tuesday in a federal court in San Francisco.

“It’s harming women in the field now,” said Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with ACLU Northern California, to U.S. News & World Report. “Significant numbers of women have fought alongside their male counterparts in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and, in fact, are fighting in combat situations.”

Talk about harm. Women are coming home maimed or in body bags. A saner course would be to suggest that the military rethink its decision to put women closer to combat.

In the ACLU’s parallel universe, women are just as aggressive, strong, fast and warlike as men. You know, like in the National Football League, where female linebackers strike terror in the hearts of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Much of the pressure for this march toward barbarism is coming from career feminist military personnel, who argue that lack of combat experience hurts their chances for advancement. In other words, because a few women want to climb the ladder of rank, all women in the military should be put at risk for combat duty, whether they want it or not.

Hundreds of thousands of women have served and do serve honorably in the military and perform crucial jobs. They deserve every American’s gratitude and respect. Some have been killed or wounded while serving bravely in very difficult conditions.

The military has kept women out of direct ground combat for a moral reason: Deliberately putting women in harm’s way is not right; and for practical reasons: Women are not as physically strong, and they have an impact on the men around them. In a civilized society, men are raised to protect women. Now some of America’s elite warrior units train men to be indifferent to women’s screams. That’s what passes for “progress” in a “progressive” military.

It’s not primarily about individual capability but military necessity. Anything that detracts from the military’s mission to win wars and bring troops back alive is not worth it, no matter how fashionable.

In a summary of 30 years of research on women’s suitability for combat and heavy work duty, professor William J. Gregor of the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., concludes, “Few if any women possess the physical capacity to perform in combat or heavy military occupational specialties and none will outperform well-trained men. Training women with men to the same physical occupational standards dramatically increases the skeletal-muscular injury rate among women.”

Recently, the U.S. Marines opened its Infantry Officer Course to women.

“Only two of about 80 eligible female Marines have volunteered for the course — a grueling, three-month advanced regimen conducted at Quantico, Va., that was opened to women to research their performance,” The Washington Times reported. “Of the two female volunteers, one washed out on the first day, along with 26 of the 107 men, and the other dropped out two weeks later for medical reasons, a Marine Corps spokesman said.”

Like it or not, women are far more likely to be injured than men, even in basic training. They are 100 percent more likely to become pregnant.

Under feminist pressure, the military academies have relaxed their physical requirements, despite denials from leaders who also are having to deal with inconvenient love trysts between Cpl. Fred and Sgt. Tom.

Like virtually all other major institutions in America today, the armed forces are operating under the tyrannical fist of political correctness, with truth sacrificed to ideology. Back in October 1992, when the George H.W. Bush administration’s Justice Department went to war with the Virginia Military Institute over VMI’s exclusion of women, the PC veil was lifted for a moment.

Col. Patrick Toffler, head of West Point’s Office of Institutional Research, testified as to whether the U.S. Military Academy had lowered its training standards to accommodate female cadets. After much resistance, Col. Toffler admitted under cross-examination that women were taught self-defense while men were taught boxing and wrestling. Pull-ups, peer ratings, rifle runs and certain obstacle-course elements were scrapped.

The point here is not so much about physical allowances made for women but about the military’s denial of the truth. Smart military men and women learn to pretend or kiss their careers goodbye.

In 2007, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered honestly and affirmatively as to whether he thought homosexuality was immoral and incompatible with military service. Shortly thereafter, George W. Bush’s secretary of defense, Robert Gates, announced that he would recommend that Gen. Pace not be reappointed. Sexual politics trumped honesty, which is why we’re even talking about ending the common-sense combat exemption for women.

Even conservative lawmakers seem too terrified to ask such questions as:

  • What happens to women who are captured? Should we care?
  • If women achieve equal opportunity (and exposure) on the battlefield, do they have an equal ability to survive?
  • Why is there an alarming increase in sexual assaults against women in the armed services?
  • Do people realize that their daughters almost certainly will be subject to any future draft if combat exemptions are lifted?
  • Is it really no more harmful for servicewomen who are mothers to be separated from their infants than when fathers are sent overseas? Should we care?

The left wins by default when political correctness strangles honest inquiry.

In the ACLU lawsuit, the four plaintiffs are joined by the Servicewomen’s Action Network (SWAN).

“This is ironic, since SWAN is the same group pushing the Department of Defense to stop sexual assaults in the military,” notes Elaine Donnelly, president of the pro-exemption Center for Military Readiness. “The organization is against violence against women, unless it happens at the hands of the enemy.”



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