No, You Can't Have My Daughter

The military is getting desperate. Morale is at an all time low, enlistments are way down, casualties are way up, more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq than people were killed in the September 11th attacks, and there is no end to the war in sight. My daughter, a high school senior, was just sent in the mail a slick advertisement from the Army National Guard “introducing up to 20,000 new reasons to join the National Guard.” Every one of them is a dollar bill. In addition to the pictures of U.S. currency on the front of the envelope, there are pictures of six smiling Guard members on the back. Inside is a reply card, some information on what the Guard has to offer, and a letter from a colonel who is the Guard’s chief recruiter. On the reply card is a redemption code to get a free iTunes music download and the promise of a free Army National Guard t-shirt and an American Soldier DVD. Inside the envelope there is an information card about the National Guard’s College First Enlistment Option:

  • Have the time and money to focus on college
  • Up to two years of non-deployment following completion of Initial Active Duty Training
  • Up to a $20,000 Enlistment Bonus
  • 100% Tuition Assistance
  • $20,000 Student Loan Repayment for Pre-existing Loans
  • Additional Educational Assistance of up to $350 per month

Sounds like an impressive package, but I afraid that I will have to say no, you can’t have my daughter. Call me old-fashioned, call me traditional, call me chauvinistic, call me over-protective, call me misogynic, but the National Guard is no place for a young woman. I will not waste my time saying that men and women are different and that women have no business being in any branch of the military, but I will say this. I previously wrote about the fifty-four female American soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. Nine of them were in the National Guard. That number is now up to sixty, including a member of the National Guard, Sgt. Denise A. Lannaman, 46, of Bayside, N.Y., who died on October 1 from a non-combat related incident. Of all the places for a young American woman to die, a battlefield in Iraq certainly shouldn’t be one of them. In my previous article I said: “What kind of military do we have that sends women to die overseas? What kind of society do we have that would accept a woman with children flying a military helicopter in Iraq or anywhere else?” I stand behind those two statements. Women now comprise about 16 percent of the enlisted ranks and 19 percent of the officer corps, and those numbers are getting higher. Another reason the National Guard can’t have my daughter is that the Guard is being used as cannon fodder. The opening paragraphs of the letter from the Guard’s chief recruiter say about the Guard: For nearly 370 years, America has relied on its National Guard to defend our shores and serve our citizens in times of need. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, over 41,000 National Guard members from 42 states across America rushed to storm-ravaged areas to save lives, maintain law and order and support recovery efforts. But is this what the National Guard is being used for? An increasing number of Guard members are being sent to the quagmire in Iraq. After the Army recently announced that it would keep the current level of troops in Iraq — about 120,000 — through 2010, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, said that “the Army will have to rely on the National Guard and Reserves to maintain the current level of deployments.” According to Defense Department, the number of members of the Guard and Reserve that have been placed on active duty in support of the partial mobilization for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 80,234. The total number of National Guard and Reserve personnel from all branches of the military is now up to 100,694. A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently mobilized can be seen here. Military analyst William Lind has stated about this misuse of the National Guard: One of the likely effects of the disastrous war in Iraq will be the destruction of an old American institution, the National Guard. Desperate for troops as the situation in Iraq deteriorates, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is using the National Guard in a mission for which it was never intended: carrying on a “war of choice” halfway around the world. Most Guardsmen enlisted expecting to help their neighbors in natural disasters, or perhaps maintain order locally in the event of rioting. They never signed up for Vietnam II. Over one third of the U.S. troops in Iraq are National Guard members. And more than half of the U.S. casualties there were members of either the Guard or Reserve. Still another reason the National Guard can’t have my daughter is because of the number of sexual assaults involving members of the military. An Associated Press investigation in August revealed that “more than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters.” The AP found that “more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistees. The cases occurred across all branches of the military and in all regions of the country.” According to the DOD’s Sexual Assault Report for 2005: “The Services received 2,374 reports of alleged cases of sexual assault involving members of the Armed Forces.” Restricted reports were filed in 327 cases, which means that although victims are allowed “to receive services from sexual assault program staff, healthcare, providers, and chaplains,” no investigation is conducted and no notification is given to command authorities or military criminal investigative organizations. Out of the remaining 2,047 cases that were subject to investigation, 661 were still pending at the end of the year. The number of sexual assaults involving military personnel is evidently a significant problem. The Sexual Assault Report informs us that the military services established sexual assault program offices at all major installations and collaborated with DoD to train more than 1,000 Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates to conduct those programs. They have also trained more than 1,000,000 service members and have integrated sexual assault awareness instruction into initial entry training and professional military education. All of the time and money wasted on this training was only necessary because of the feminization of the military. It is certainly true that any young woman over the age of eighteen has a perfect legal right to enlist in the National Guard. And it is certainly true that those who join do so of their own free will. It is up to us fathers to teach them about the true nature of this war and the U.S. military. And if not fathers, then mothers, brothers, sisters, clergymen, or friends. Someone must look out for these young women. The military recruiters certainly won’t.