by Gary North
The 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.
Second, 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.
Today, 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.
December 25, 2004
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