MONOSEX BOOT CAMP
There are articles which to be accepted today must be written only by women
or men who have not served in America's military. Unfortunately, being
born a male, and having served decades ago as a navy frogman, I fit neither
category. In spite of that horrendous drawback, the topic just seems too
important to ignore simply because I lack the qualifications. I am
speaking of commentary on the recommendations recently given by an eleven
person panel that studied in-depth the integration of women into our armed
forces. The panel, composed of six women and five men, conducted nearly
two thousand interviews with active duty personnel at seventeen sites.
Nancy Kassebaum Baker, a former senator and woman of uncompromising
integrity, chaired it.
The study arrived at several recommendations, of which perhaps the most
controversial was the segregation of males and females through basic
training, and housing them in separate barracks during that period. The
panel's findings will be circulated to our senior military officers for
their concurrence or opposition. If there is general agreement, they will
be adopted and implemented.
From what I have read of the panel's suggested changes, they all make
sense, would improve the quality of basic training, and I believe they
should be incorporated as standard procedure in our armed forces.
Not surprisingly, some of the media have responded indignantly to the
panel's conclusions. Titles of "About Face," and "Retrenchment," were
applied to its findings. It seems to me the media are more concerned about
their agenda of gender equalization in our armed forces than they are about
insuring that America has a military capable of successfully defending the
Faced with the complexity of modern life in all its ambiguities, few moral
absolutes, a relative lack of theological imperatives, and the emphasis on
expediency over truth, conscience and honor, we often opt for compromise.
Sometimes that just doesn't work. Let me make the matter clear. It is
wrong to forget the purpose of the military is to defend America from all
enemies, foreign and domestic. Our priority never was, and never should
be, to promote equal opportunity for men and women in our armed services.
Our priority was, and should be, to find the surest and least expensive
means to create and sustain a military that is the best trained and best
equipped in the world. Whatever it takes to obtain that kind of military
organization should be implemented. All other goals, and there can be
many, are incidental.
To draw back and add a little historical perspective, having women in
America's military is nothing new. WACS, WAVES, WAFS, and SPARS served in
WWII. They were given non-combatant, logistical billets in order to free
men for combat or combat theater duty. They were added as an augmenting
force, and they did their job well.
Most of the men like myself who object to women attempting to obtain full
equality in America's military do so because they feel introducing women
across the board will adversely affect military readiness. Training them
as physical equals is impossible, because the male in our species is
physically much stronger than the female. I am not concerned with the
exceptional woman who may be stronger than the average man, nor the
exceptional man who may be weaker than the average woman. Such things
exist, but they are rare. I can assure everyone from the president on down
that, having years ago completed frogman training, we were compelled to
exert ourselves fully. Most of the men did not complete it, and only a
most unusual woman might have done so. Had we admitted women to the
training class and attempted to insure that a representative number
completed training, almost all the men entering BUDS would also have made
it through. The purpose of training, which was to allow only the most
tenacious and capable of the men to graduate, would have been totally
defeated. I am not saying that to be sexist or to denigrate women, but it
is true. If it is an unpleasant and politically incorrect truth, why then
I answer that during wartime we live in an unpleasant and politically
incorrect world. And let me repeat, the real purpose of our military is to
keep us out of wars and, when involved, to win them.
To elaborate on the panel's findings, admitting women into a coed basic
training format diminishes the degree of physical conditioning imposed on
all trainees. A combat army is not a social club. Pulling a trigger
doesn't take strength: carrying the gun and getting to where it must be
fired does. It can be grueling, physically demanding, exhausting work.
Men who take basic training with women, men who will later do the fighting,
never find out just how much punishment they can endure and still function
effectively. They do not learn the most important lesson: their own
physical resilliency and capability under great stress. Combat troops had
better be tough warriors who are sure they can totally rely on their
comrades and believe their own capabilities are limitless. If not, they
will lose battles. America cannot afford to do that.
Sam Orr email@example.com