GI JANE AT WAR

The concept of women entering and completing navy SEAL training has recently been raised by the movie, "GI Jane." Entirely unknown and superfluous to the American public is the fact the film depicts a version of basic underwater demolition(BUDS) training that is totally untrue. I completed BUDS and I know. However, trying to correct this misapprehension is impossible because, after all, the moviegoer has seen it with his own eyes. I might as well quit while I'm ahead and make my point in another way.

What I can do is show how well this gender neutral SEAL force might operate as a seven person(once man) boat crew. Since most of mankind tends to be monogamous, it is likely that our sole female warrior would pair off with a lone male SEAL. On an operation of several days duration, the following could happen.

Picture the seven covertly hidden the night before an inland raid on a bothersome aggressor radar station.

She, "I think I'll reconnoiter the beach area and hinterland to make sure no enemies are lurking nearby." He, "I'll go along in case you bump into something out there." The other five men look up, but say nothing.

Two hours later, the pair returns to the spot where the rest are sleeping, awaiting the 3am wakeup call to begin the night insertion deep into enemy territory. When the point man tries to awaken the male who accompanied the lady SEAL, he doesn't move. Shaken again, he smiles broadly and stirs sleepily. When the point man shakes the female, she murmurs, then reaches up to stroke his cheek. He backs away and says, "Dimi, we've got a war to fight now." The answer comes back, "But I'm so peaceful this way!" Disgusted, he awakens the other members of the crew, whispering "We move out in five minutes. Get your combat gear together."

Every man except the male SEAL who paired off with the female grouses about the meal packet furnished them for breakfast. He eats his with relish, a grin on his face. Asked the question, "Are you ready to bag a few enemies this morning," he looks up with a contented, unstressed expression. "I don't really feel like killing anyone today." An angry, exasperated voice hisses out, "What in hell's wrong with you this morning. For two hours last night I was sure Dimi's moans on the beach would bring down hostile fire, and now I hear you saying you have no interest in our mission."

The group pulled the branches and weeds off their buried rubber boat and dug it out of the sand. Carrying it down to the surf, they quietly launched through a small series of breakers, and paddled smoothly around the bend to the inlet to begin their two mile journey upstream to the radar site.

After half a mile of paddling, a female voice broke the silence and said, "I'm tired of paddling on the right side. Will you trade sides with me so I can sit behind John?"

A muttered, muted OK, almost like a stifled snarl, came back, and two people carefully shuffled positions. She sighed contentedly as she began paddling on the other side, resting her head momentarily on John's back.

When they reached the designated spot opposite the radar site, they stopped paddling and rested on the rubber thwarts. Five tense men began donning their combat harnesses: one man and the woman appeared relaxed, looking up at the stars as they helped each other on with theirs. War is Hell, or is it?

To return to reality and end my little charade, no qualified SEAL of either sex would permit him or herself to act this way. But human nature is very strong, and it would take discipline and control to prevent it. Those kinds of things would occur back at the barracks, language school, weapons refresher, or during jump school. High libidos and hormone counts will not be ignored. The kinds of operations SEALs regularly encounter are dangerous and physically taxing. To conduct them successfully requires total dedication and concentration.

Having a woman along in a boat crew when I was a frogman would have distracted me, and I can't believe I was unique among my teammates. Don't muck it up for our combat troops by burdening them with impractical, idealized, preposterous illusions that the male and female of our species have comparable physical strength and equality in their emotional makeup. They don't. If we must have wars, let us train to win them.


Sam Orr sorr@metrolink.net
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)