What Kind Of Nation Sends Women Into Combat?

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The
ridiculous spectacle of rescued POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the feisty,
ballyhooed warrior of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, which
was butchered early on in Iraq, occasioned the usual war whoops.
Yet no one asked a simple question: What in heaven’s name was a
hundred-pound girl, barely out of pigtails and high school, doing
in a combat zone?

The
more cosmic abstraction of woman in combat evokes little if any
debate these days, and what little debate we hear isn’t loud enough.
Other women have been killed and captured, including at least one
single mother, and it’s all just part of the modern military. As
one lady columnist for the Washington Post triumphantly pronounced,
the debate over women in combat “is over.”

How
many Americans knew that?

Whatever
the answer, a few days ago in this corner of cyberspace, this
writer suggested
a fine way to stop American wars of conquest:
Conscript the sons of politicians and bureaucrats who start them.
Nearly three dozen letters came in, almost every one posing this
question with the corollary mandate: Why are you excluding the daughters?
Let Bush send his daughters to war.

It’s
a passionate and in some ways understandable reaction.

And
most likely, it won’t be long before women, along with young men,
are required to register for the draft; the explanation for that
observation appears below. But first, an answer for those correspondents:
The debate over women in combat turns on two questions: whether
women can do it (handle the rigors of combat) and whether they should
do it (is it morally acceptable and socially desirable).

In
a word, no. It is un-American, un-Christian, and immoral.

The
Practical Question

As
a practical matter, 99 percent of women are unsuited for combat,
and that includes flying combat aircraft and serving on combatant
ships. That women do these things doesn’t mean they should; it just
means the military has been feminized and civilianized, as any military
man will admit after a few shots of Jack Daniels at the Officers’
Club, and of course, after his commanding officer leaves.

In
the early 1990s, I was a staff member on the Presidential Commission
on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. The evidence the
commission gathered was clear on one thing: Women don’t belong in
combat.

The
evidence showed women lack the necessary physical prowess. The strongest
woman recruit, generally, is only as strong as the weakest man.
Given that the services try to weed out the weakest men, it’s counterproductive
to recruit even the strongest women. And our volunteer military,
remember, doesn’t get the strongest women; it gets average women.

As
well, women suffer higher rates of bone fractures, and other factors
such as menstruation, pregnancy and aging militate against recruiting
women as combat soldiers. The 20-something woman, for instance,
has about the same lungpower as the 50-something man.

Well,
that might be true for ground combat, the feminists insist, but
surely they can fly jets and bombers. It’s all just a Nintendo game
up there. Again, untrue. Flying high-performance jets requires incredible
conditioning and strength, particularly in the neck. Top Gun fighter
pilots told the commission (and news reports later confirmed) that
unqualified lady pilots routinely passed Naval flight training.
At that time at least, officers were rated on the number of women
they promoted. The result in one case? Kara Hultgreen, the first
woman to “qualify” flying an F-14, was killed when her jet crashed
because she couldn’t land it on the carrier Abraham Lincoln.

But
let’s suppose women fly jets as well as men. What happens when one
is shot down? The safety of the high-tech cockpit is gone, and she
is alone on the ground, trying to survive. She is another Jessica
Lynch.

As
for the ships, consider the obvious: You don’t send a few nubile
sailorettes aboard Navy ships with 1,500 horny sailors, no matter
what the Navy says about its “leadership” correcting carnal temptations.
As well, the strength deficit surfaces again in many shipboard tasks
too numerous to mention here.

Military
training is another area where the women fall flat; they cannot
survive the same basic training as men, so it is “gender-normed.”
That means the services (and military academies) have different
standards for women than for men, and not just for hair length.
If women were held to the same standards as men, more than 14 percent
of our armed forces would not be women; they could not attend the
academies. Oddly enough, the feminists aver that scrapping the double
standard would be discriminatory! So much for judging someone on
her true merit.

In
the decade since the commission heard tons of testimony on these
points, nothing has changed unless women have evolved markedly improved
muscle and bone.

In
reply to these unassailable facts, some suggest some women can meet
the same standards with the proper weight training and physical-fitness
regimen. That’s a stretch, but let’s say a few can. That takes us
back to the weakest man vs. the strongest woman. What standard would
these few meet? The lowest among the men? Even if they fell among
men of medium strength, consider the prohibitive cost of selecting
these Amazonian anomalies from among general population. And finding
them assumes they want to be found.

A
friend of mine, a former Green Beret, suggests an experiment: Let’s
train two squads, one all women, the other all men, to peak physical
and combat-ready condition. Then drop them in the woods for a war
game and see who wins.

Point
is, women get by in the military only because of men. As one Internet
wag observed, the equipment one man carries into combat is nearly
as heavy, perhaps heavier, than Jessica Lynch. Lynch and women her
size do not have the strength to carry a fallen 200-pound comrade
out of harm’s way. Forgetting about combat, some women aircraft
mechanics need men to lift their toolboxes. Without men, the armed
forces would collapse, and the more women the military enlists,
the weaker it becomes.

As
one commissioner remarked in exasperation: “Women are not little
men, and men are not big women.”

The
Moral Question

That
leaves the moral and social questions, which commission member and
Vietnam War hero Ron Ray addressed with this remark: “The question
isn’t whether women can do, it’s whether they should do it.”

Women
should only be used in combat, Ray argued, if national survival
demands it; i.e., when the Indians are circling the ranch and the
men are dead and wounded. Even then, using women would be a last
resort. It would not become a policy. Such an emergency isn’t likely
to happen here unless Saddam Hussein’s vaunted Republican Guards
make a spectacular comeback and march into Jonah Goldberg’s and
Sean Hannity’s neighborhoods. In that case, we know all the women
will be fighting.

The
kidding aside, the moral and social argument is one of “rights”
vs. what is right. The feminists claim combat service is a “right.”
Nonsense.

A
battlefield is not a boardroom, a courtroom or an operating room,
and the contrary notion is hyperegalitarianism rooted in feminist
fantasies that women “will have made it” when they have commanded
troops in battle. Women do not have a “right” to serve. Military
service for volunteers is a privilege; for draftees, it is a duty.
No one has a “right” to serve, a civilian idea equivalent to having
the “right” to be a doctor or lawyer that has no place in the military,
whose principal purpose is to kill the enemy and destroy his capacity
to fight.

In
“Crimson Tide,” Gene Hackman’s submarine skipper explained the point:
The armed forces defend democracy, they do not practice it.

So
much for “rights.” Now, as to whether women in combat is right:

At
one commission hearing, Col. John Ripley, one of the most famous
Marines who fought in Vietnam, explained combat for the largely
civilian audience. A good picture of real combat, he said, is walking
down a path to find your best friend nailed to a tree, or his private
parts in his mouth. The feminists and military women in the audience
gnashed their teeth.

Then
again, they don’t understand that until Bill Clinton’s war minister
Les Aspin changed it, the law excluding women from combat was always
considered a privileged exemption, not sex discrimination. It was
the thoughtful recognition that women should be spared the carnage
and cruelty of war.

Why?

Because
turning a woman into the kind of person who views such gore without
blinking an eye, or who participates in the wanton killing war requires,
is a step down to pagan barbarism and cultural suicide. In some
sense, given what we’ve seen in the Gulf, we’ve already taken that
step. But the feminists won’t quit until they get women into ground
combat units. As recent events prove, no one seems to care what
all this means not only culturally but also psychologically.

It
will require training men and women to regard the brutalization
of women, and a woman’s brutalization of others, as normal and acceptable.
To train the men properly, a woman commissioner observed, we must
erase everything their mothers taught them about chivalry; i.e.,
that a real man protects a woman from harm. Instead, they must be
trained to brain a woman with a pugil stick in training. This truth
raises two paradoxes.

On
one hand, to completely desensitize the men, such training would
be required. But the feminists don’t want that because women can’t
meet the same standards as men; they won’t survive it. Yet how are
these women to survive combat if they cannot survive real, not gender-normed,
basic training? The men would have to protect them. Successfully
integrating women in combat means this: A soldier must ignore the
screams of a woman POW being tortured and raped.

On
the other hand, while the feminists never stop the finger-wagging
about “domestic abuse,” they importune us to inure men to the wartime
abuse of women. Again, to some degree, we’re already there. The
capture and torture of Jessica Lynch and Shoshana Johnson, the single
mother, was just another day in the war. But then again, the society
that sent these young women to war is the same one that has steroidally-fortified
men and women bashing each other senseless in television’s faux
wrestling, which presents the illusion that women really can fight
against men, as well as preposterous movies about women Navy SEALS,
or women who receive the Medal of Honor while the men cower in fear.

Lastly,
assigning women to combat, or even combat support units like the
507th, purposely subjects them to trials and tribulations for which
nature has not prepared them. Such assignments endanger not only
the women but also the men around them, who will redirect their
attention from fighting toward protecting or helping the women.
Men will do that because they are men, because regardless of feminist
propaganda, good parents teach their sons about chivalry and honor.
The Steinem brigade doesn’t like it, but it’s true nonetheless.
Thus, men will die unnecessarily. That is immoral and unjust, as
is ordering married men and women to live in close quarters where
they are tempted to adultery. Some observers even question the legality
of orders sending women into combat. But that is a debate for another
day.

Ray’s
point? Civilized Christians don’t send women and mothers to fight
the wars. Chronicles editor Tom Fleming has observed that our nation
has become anti-Christian. The saga of Pfc. Lynch and other military
women proves him right.

The
Final Answer

Back
to that draft.

Don’t
be surprised if women are required to register. Legally speaking,
the draft exemption for women is tied to their exemption from combat.
Now women serve in aerial and naval action. And given the proximity
to combat of women in “maintenance” and other units, it won’t be
long before the politicians, and bemedaled generals in the Army
and Marines, hoist the white flag and put women in ground combat.
Then, some young man will file the inevitable “equal protection”
lawsuit and the exemption will fall, its legal rationale having
been dropped.

Oddly
enough, the silly clamor for women in combat assumes most military
women want combat assignments. The commission found that they don’t.
Only a few aging feminists do, and of course, they won’t be subject
to the combat assignments or the draft. When you join the military,
you join voluntarily, but you go where they need you. When women
get their “right” to fight, they won’t have the “right” to refuse.
And why would they? After that, again, comes the draft for women.

The
answer to the many folks who suggest conscripting women is this:
Real Americans don’t send women to war. Neither do real men. A genuine
Christian wouldn’t contemplate it. The story of Jessica Lynch reveals
an awful truth: All three are in short supply, particularly among
American political and military leaders.

April
11, 2003

Syndicated
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail
] served on the Presidential Commission on the
Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.


     

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