The Case Against Women in the Military

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camaraderie and esprit de corps in a military unit or a police
unit is heavily dependent on shared risk. When women are exposed
to the same degree of risk of life and death, this disrupts the
military-protective function, which is unquestionably masculine.
In this sense, the military is different from the free market, in
which shared risk is economic. In the corporate world, men have
no sense of obligation to protect women. They may be quite happy
to put rival women out of business.

women in general are not as strong physically as men are. A soldier
in the field cannot rely on a woman with the same degree of confidence
that he can rely on a man.

Third, society imposes on men a protective impulse with regard to
women. A soldier in the field will tend to disobey orders in order
to defend a woman in the ranks, when he would not be equally ready
to disobey an order to protect another male. This threatens to disrupt
the chain of command. This is a reason why homosexuality in the
military has been universally condemned in the West and in most
non-Western armies. A combatant may abandon a buddy to his fate
when the battle plan requires it, but he may not abandon a sexual
partner. Homosexuality reduces the predictability of battle plans.

Fourth, women are required to obey orders on threat of court martial,
just as men are. This creates opportunities for men of higher rank
to misuse
their rank for sexual exploitation

Fifth, there is another factor that is rarely discussed in public:
female homosexuality. The primary characteristics of success in
combat are masculine. This subsidizes the careers of those women
who possess masculine characteristics. It rewards certain features
of female homosexuality. The creation of same-sex sexual relationships
within a military chain of command leads to exploitation by rank
and also leads to problems of protective impulses under combat conditions,
and to hierarchical favoritism in peacetime, both of which undermine
military discipline.


Nevertheless, women in technical fields such as meteorology, weapons
development, cryptography, software development, ordinance, navigation,
and so forth may be equally capable as men. Some will be superior.
In an increasingly technological army, the light-switch phenomenon
asserts itself: no special gender advantage for flipping a light
switch on or off. This phenomenon — a product of modern technology
— is the great equalizer of the sexes. Thomas Edison and George
Westinghouse did more for women’s equality than Elizabeth Cady Stanton
ever did.

Modern society has not yet found a way to integrate women’s technical
productivity into a military chain of command. Either the military
is deprived of technical skills, which can be disastrous in today’s
high-tech warfare, or else the performance of battle units is compromised
by the presence of women, who are perceived by men as needing greater
protection and entitled to receive it. It is the life-and-death
risk of participation in a military chain of command that makes
the official equality of the sexes a liability organizationally.

The best solution seems to be the use of specialized civilian support
units behind the lines — units that may include females. Throughout
history, there have been privately organized, highly specialized,
female civilian-support units — camp followers — so the presence
of women close behind the lines is not a radical suggestion, strategically
speaking. Only the services officially performed by women would
be different. The military would have to pay competitive wages to
the members of such technical support units, but that is the cost
of maintaining the integrity of the chain of command.

In the Old Testament, Deborah served as a military commander. She
officially commanded the Israelite army because her second in command,
Barak, refused to go into battle without her presence (Judges 5:8).
This was a disgrace to the men of Israel, as she pointed out to
him (v. 9). Barak commanded the troops (vv. 10, 14). Deborah remained
behind the lines. She was at the pinnacle of the chain of command,
but she faced death only if Israel lost. Her presence in the chain
of command did not threaten the performance of the army. The protective
impulse did not threaten men’s performance on the battlefield. She
was not on the battlefield. In this sense, she was more like a queen
or a president or a prime minister than a general. Her authority
was judicial. We should think of this arrangement as the civilian
control over the military.


Women should be removed from the military chain of command, top
to bottom. There is no justification economically for their presence
in the ranks, since their services can be obtained through contract.
There are numerous reasons against their presence militarily.

where the Internet and satellite communications place information
on the screens of commanders miles away from a battlefield — or
continents away — there is no military justification for placing
female technicians in harm’s way. If men won’t defend their country,
then the country isn’t worth defending.

25, 2004

North [send him mail] is the
author of Mises
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