By Colonel (USA.,Ret.) Richard Strube
Greek mythology tells of the Amazons, women warriors who were unconquerable. Amazon Queen Hippolyta was said to wear a magical girdle, the capture of which was one of the seven labors of Hercules. These are myths. They are not real events. Today only the United States Army is moving towards making that myth into a reality. No serious modern army in the world has women as frontline combat soldiers, yet that is where the current administration is taking us. Why? To what end? I believe it may safely be said that the goal of this effort is not increased military readiness. Rather it is social engineering wrapped in political correctness. Political correctness run amok in that by pandering to the left in order to garner some additional votes come election day the administration has decided it is ok to weaken our military, reduce our defense capabilities, and subject our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and grandmothers to the utmost in physical danger and the horrors of having to kill or be killed.
This is only an additional arrow in the body of our military. What is the imperative to military readiness that requires homosexual and transgendered individuals a role in providing a strong, powerful military capable of defending the nation? Their previous exclusion was not based on a politically and socially incorrect philosophy. It was based on providing an army that was focused on war fighting and not one that had to manage serious issues of morale; that believed in a unity and brotherhood not weakened by concerns about the attitudes, mores and interests of the person sharing your foxhole. War is horrible and victory in battle requires a full out warrior ethos that mandates brutality on a scale the politicians and progressives who are pushing this agenda cannot fathom. When did we determine that a nation which has more than 150 million males cannot field an armed force of less than one million without having to rely upon women? Whether or not there are women who are physically able to be an infantry “person” is not a question of “can”. It is a question of “should”. Why should they be put into that position? How does that bolster our defenses? How does this enhance readiness? Those of us from a certain generation (1967-1995 in my case) can relate anecdote after anecdote of how having women in the ranks caused unit readiness to suffer. Who will fill in the holes to perform the work of a pregnant soldier, or of one who has just given birth? Who will carry that machine gun, operate that mortar, shoot that rifle, drive that tank? There are no “extras” sitting around waiting. The current administration is using the Department of Defense as a social engineering testbed, although they have already reached the conclusions they want.
This is all hand in glove with the assertion of former Army Chief of Staff George Casey’s statement that “diversity is our greatest strength”. That “diversity” in the name of Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 soldiers and wounded more than 30 others. He apparently was allowed to remain on active duty, despite fitness reports stating he should be removed, because of the Army’s need for diversity. And of course the administration categorized the mass killing of 13 soldiers, by a Muslim shouting “Allah is great”, on an Army Post, as “work place violence”. It’s a good thing this administration was not in office on 7 December 1941 as they would have probably described the attack on Pearl Harbor as work place violence also. After all, those sailors were attacked and killed while at work, not on a battlefield.
As part of this political correctness pandering to the left the armed services were directed to conduct tests to determine whether or not women could successfully perform as combat soldiers. When the results of the Marine Corps study were released the administration was not happy. There had to be a flaw in the study to produce the results obtained on the ground. Females injured at nearly twice the rate as males. Females unable to perform some of the physically challenging tasks to the required standard. Secretary Mabus came to the administration’s rescue. He dismissed the findings. The results were a function of the design of the study. Some of the people who designed the study and some of those who conducted it must have believed that the women would not perform as well as men and that they would be injured at a higher rate. The study is flawed therefore the results are not valid. The injuries must not have occurred. Actually, Secretary Mabus may have discovered something remarkable here, a new capability so powerful that it may eliminate the need for soldiers entirely. If the designers of the study can actually make people become injured and perform at less than full capability, then all we need to do is direct these “thought warriors” at our enemies and we can cause them to be defeated merely by designing a study that assumes they will lose! Eureka!
Mabus argues (as Casey did) that diversity is the strength of our armed forces. That as long as one can meet “the standard” then all is ok. This all makes me think about something the American humorist Josh Billings once said: “It is better to know less than to know so much that is not right”. Our armed forces must be capable of defeating those who wish us harm. That requires soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are trained, equipped and led by people who understand how to fight and kill and defeat enemies. The qualities needed to do that may exclude diversity. Hanging ones hat on the wall of standards can be problematic, because there is nothing to preclude the “standards setter” from changing them in order to achieve the desired result. When two female officers recently graduated from the Army Ranger School the Army Chief of Staff announced that the graduates of this class had demonstrated over the past 63 days that they had satisfied the standards to wear the Ranger Tab. Well, that was a false statement. One of the women was allowed to recycle two times and the other was recycled three times. That means neither of them met “the 63 day standard”. They were allowed to repeat as many times as necessary for them to get through the course. My Ranger class in 1968 started with nearly 200 candidates and we graduated with less than 40 earning the Ranger Tab. I don’t recall any recycles in that group. As a SSG (E6) Lane Instructor (LI) at the Mountain Ranger Camp near Dahlonega, Georgia for the next year or so I don’t recall any recycles in any of the classes that came through the Camp, though in my position I may not have been privy to that data. I do remember a re-cycle candidate in my Officer Candidate Class, and he was the son of a Cabinet officer at the time. There may have been more re-cycled officer candidates than Ranger candidates. When our senior officials make these statements it is important that they state the true facts, not the politically correct and convenient ones. If the Army policy now is that anyone can be recycled through the Ranger Course numerous times, then so be it. But then don’t make the claim that the standards have not changed.
Included in this politically correct rush to emasculate our military in the name of diversity and gender equality is the unfathomable movement to preclude Chaplains from talking about their Christian faith. We now have a military consisting of homosexuals and transgendered individuals, people whose preferences and identity are opposed by many Christian faiths, and those service members who are opposed are denied the right to have their faith discussed for fear of offending the minority. Add to this mix the fact that many cases of sexual assault are now male on male assaults and one can see that our military has created a monster that it cannot appease because of political correctness.
Reams of press are spent to present Climate Change as the biggest threat to our national security in the coming decades, and significant defense department resources are diverted to fight this threat. The President, when invited to present the Commencement Address at the Coast Guard Academy earlier this year, declined to address the graduates. Instead he lectured them about climate change and how it is the largest threat they would face as Coast Guard Officers. I wonder how many of those Ensigns approached their faculty that afternoon and asked why they were taught so many other things over the previous four years. Nowhere have I seen a senior DoD official state that it may be difficult to fight the sun and its cycles which have presented great climate swings throughout the billions of years of our planet’s existence. It is interesting that the former Senior Commander of Ft Bliss, Texas stated in a press interview that his predecessors actions, or lack thereof, were “criminal” because he did not take action to fight climate change at Ft Bliss; and now that same officer is under investigation for alleged contract fraud for the way in which he awarded contracts to fight climate change to his West Point classmates. More political correctness run amok? Or merely greed?
There is no doubt that this administration, like the Clinton administration, has no respect for the military, and it may be said there is even contempt for the military. One example of this lack of respect was seen in the White House following the murders of 4 marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, TN this past July. They were murdered on Thursday and immediately the US Capitol lowered its flag to half-staff. Donald Trump even directed that flags on all of his properties lower their flags. The White house did nothing until 5 days later when the President was addressing an organization of Veterans, and after the White house had received a considerable amount of criticism about not lowering their flags. Contrast this with the recent killings at a community college in Oregon where the President ordered all US flags lowered for a week, the same day as the incident. No one denies the respect shown to these civilians, but one does have to wonder at the lack of respect shown to uniformed service men gunned down while at their place of duty.
And now here is my question. Where are the flag officers, the generals and admirals, who oppose this? Why have there been no general officers resigning over these policies? Do all of our senior leaders, those specifically responsible for mission accomplishment and taking care of soldiers, agree with these policies? Has every single one of them capitulated to political correctness? Do none of them see the potential dangers and harm that may result from these policies? Are they all willing to risk our national survival in the name of diversity, bowing at the altar of gender equality and climate change? Where is the one voice crying “STOP”?
We have an ineffective strategy for fighting ISIS; we are mired without any coherent way forward in Syria; our training and support of the Afghan forces has proven to be ineffective; there does not seem to be any national strategy for managing the interests of the United States across the Middle East, much less Africa or Asia, and all we seem to be focused on is managing diversity and gender inequality so that when we next have to fight we can watch images of our women being maimed and mutilated and placed in body bags play across our TV screens every night. Are there no generals who oppose this stuff? The service secretaries will not oppose it nor will any high level civilian authorities because they are the ones pushing the agenda. There are none in that group who seem to be truly concerned about national defense. They have a political agenda to enforce which will truly change the shape of our defense establishment. Pity the soldiers who will pay the ultimate price for this folly.
Colonel (USA, RET) Richard Strube was drafted in 1967 and achieved the rank of SSG (E6) before entering OCS at Ft. Benning, Georgia. A member of the Infantry OCS Hall of Fame, Colonel Strube commanded two companies and two battalions. He served with the 25 th Infantry Division, the 2d Infantry Division and the Big Red One. Prior to retiring in 1995 he worked for the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs. He has been a government contractor for the past 20 years, and currently manages a program in support of the Veterans Administration.