Commentary by Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook, USA (ret.)
Today, Thursday, January 24th, 2013, will be remembered as a historic day for the U.S. military. It was on this day that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta proudly announced that the military is now going to allow women to serve in combat units. While most Americans will pay little attention to this news, a few of us will view it with both sadness and alarm. Sadness because our military leaders have caved under the forces of political correctness and alarm because the politicians pushing this change really have no idea what real combat is all about.
Combat is not the place to fight for equal opportunity because combat, all combat, in an equal opportunity killer. Mortar rounds pick no favorite; they do not discriminate. They will tear women apart with equal brutality and efficiency as they tear men apart and somebody will have to put these broken bodies into body bags. It’s hard enough for battle hardened men to put dead men in these bags and zip them up. What happens to these same men when they have to do this to women? Will they think about their sisters and wives and mothers back in the states, the people they think they are fighting for, and realize the enormity of this is too much to handle? Has anything prepared them for this horror? And will their normal instincts to protect women at all cost put them in additional danger? And what are the sleeping arrangements going to be in the incredibly close quarters that define combat on the front lines and the foxholes? And how will the Company Commander react to the inevitable battlefield romances?
These are the considerations that were never considered as our leaders rushed to bring “equality” to the battlefield. Nor did they consult the average female soldier or Marine or Airman who joined the military for a variety of reasons short of direct combat. They joined to make a valuable contribution and they do, every day, in critical military specialties such as intelligence, finance, logistics, and communications, just to list a few. But most did not join to engage in direct combat. The vast majority of these women understand the basic differences between men and women and they are proud of these differences, as they should be. It is these differences, not inequalities, that define us all at a most basic level. And most men understand this as well and know that women occupy a special place because they are different and it is their role to protect them. This basic belief has nothing to do with equality; it has everything to do with humanity.
Of course, this concept will be ridiculed and dismissed by the radicals pushing for this change. They, no doubt, will praise Secretary Panetta’s decision as a courageous one for true equality. The liberal media will also endorse this change as long overdue and will trot out any number of feminists supporting this decision. These feminists have no fear of being in a foxhole when the next round of shooting starts and that’s a pity. They have no concept of what real combat is all about and they really don’t care. They have a political agenda and this is what drives them. It is here that this movement started and they learned early on that the current crop of male leaders in America could be easily intimidated, cowed, and finally subdued. They took their cue from the gay community when gays earned the right to serve openly in the military in late 2011 and decided the time was ripe for their movement. All the pieces were in places, so they went for it. And why not? It was the Obama administration that opened the door for gays so they knew they had a friend in the Commander in Chief.
This gentrification of the military will bear bitter fruit in the future because this is not the place for political experimentation. If this change was directed out of necessity, it would be an entirely different issue, but it wasn’t. This in not the case in America, where the draft can easily be reinstated, if necessary. The military is the last bastion of democracy and freedom for America and what may very well be appropriate for the Department of Transportation or the Department of Commerce does not easily translate to the Department of Defense. Contrary to popular believe, the military has never been an equal opportunity employer, regardless of the hype. Unlike the rest of the government, the military can discriminate and does so routinely and legally. While this may come as a surprise to many, the right to serve in the military is not a constitutional right. It is an honor and a privilege. If you are too old, or too fat or not very bright, or psychologically unbalanced, you will be turned away. However, these distinctions are being constantly blurred in this mad rush to show just how sensitive we are. What is being lost is the rush is a strong dose of reality. Unfortunately, being overly sensitive is the last thing we need in soldiers in combat. The military is serious business. People are routinely killed in the military because the profession is inherently dangerous. This is not the place to pay back political favors from the radical left, even if the administration does, in fact, owe these favors to the radical left. There are other places in the government where these debts can be repaid, with little or no damage.
Of course, these distinctions will be lost in the hysteria that will surround this announcement. It will be hailed as a great victory for equality, with little understanding that this is not the place to demonstrate equality. All of these things should have been seriously considered and, in decades past, they certainly would have been given due consideration. Unfortunately, the top military leaders today achieved their current positions by playing the politically correct game and now all the chickens are coming home to roost. May God have mercy on us.
About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel John Lewis Cook, United States Army (Retired), “served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan, with responsibility for developing the force structure for the entire Afghan National Police. As of 2012, this force totals 157,000. From March 2008 until August 2012, his access and intimate associations with all levels of the Afghan government and coalition forces have provided him with an unprecedented insight into the policies which will determine the outcome of the war. It is this insight, coupled with his contacts and associations throughout Afghanistan that form the basis of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure.
Click to read more about Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook