Saturday, November 03, 2007

This Is The Army, Ladies

November 3, 2007

For reasons unknown, Marie Claire magazine has decided to run an article chronicling 3 female’s that volunteered for Military Service and their tribulations during this time of war, titled Life as an American Female Soldier.

In the article we read of one who signed up for the College Payment benefit, another who says she joined the Army out of High School because she didn’t fit into any cliques and “started drinking, smoking, and taking tons of meds” because a Master Sergeant tried to place her hand on his penis and an Iraqi Security Guard asked her to become his third wife, which caused severe depression and PTSD and another who says she and her female roommate would hold music and dance parties at night with men from the unit, and then would have to sleep with her back to the wall in case they returned to rape her.

Not exactly what I would refer to as a representative cross section of generations of women who have served in the United States Military Forces and performed magnificently over the years. I still have to give these 3 credit for serving, though, something many men cannot bring themselves to do. And yes, many men will also join for the same wrong reasons these women gave.

Of the three females listed, I did not read of one who said they joined the Army to serve their country or out of a sense of duty and honor. Perhaps that is why the article seemed centered on “female soldiers deal with issues men don't even think about.” The issues? “You can't wear earrings. Makeup can't be excessive. There probably aren't many times you can feel like a girl. You had to wait in long lines no matter where you were: in the mess hall, bathroom, shower”

Welcome to the United States Army, ladies. The fallacy seems to be that some, men and women both, feel that the Military is just a Social Club for easy free benefits from the government. Nothing could be further from the truth. You all were fed a line of bull of an easy free trip somewhere, especially when we are at war.

None of what I have yet to say should be misconstrued to say that women can’t be in the Army or that they must stay at home. Several women have performed magnificently in the past and present, while others seem to feel their gender should matter and it should be easier for them. Tell that to our enemies that only see an American uniform and if a woman in it, easy prey for their pleasures while in captivity.

It is too easy to look back and place blame on the Clinton administration for their push for Gender-Integrated Basic Training on the Army, Air Force, and Navy, but it started long before they were in office. The Clinton’s only accelerated it with only the Marine Corps resisting the push, earning them the label of ''extremists'' who were at risk of ''total disconnection with society'' from Clinton’s former Assistant Secretary of the Army, Sara Lister. That remark led to her premature resignation shortly after.

While I cannot fully place the blame on Clinton for The Feminization of the U.S. Military, it was during his administration that many began seeing the Military as more of a social club for free benefits and less as what it is there for, to fight wars. It was under their administration that the Army began it’s ill-fated “Army of One” advertising concept, replacing the earlier “Be All That You Can Be.”

As General George S. Patton said on June 4, 1944, "An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!"

That old “Brown Boot Army” attitude has been pretty much eliminated from the public psyche throughout the Clinton years and well into the Bush years. Perhaps that is what led the 3 women in the above article to believe they were simply going off to summer camp instead of fighting a war.

We can also see how the fallacy of this attitude towards our Military has affected recruits by looking back to Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the hype launched about her, not by the Army, but by the media eager to prove their liberal notions of a “kinder gentler Army” correct. We also see it in a statement from the parents of Spc. Jamaal Addison, killed in the same ambush where Ms. Lynch was captured, “[Jamaal] enlisted in the Army 18 months after graduating from...high school in 2000. He did not join to fight. He realized his obligations. But he wasn't a fighter.”

Unlike when I went through Basic Training prior to Viet Nam, when we all had training in Infantry tactics to at least some extent, the members of this ill-fated squad didn’t and even in the case of Ms. Lynch, her weapon was so dirty it would have jammed had she tried to use it.

What received nowhere near as much media attention was the Silver Star Awarded to Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester for valor in combat. Although Ms. Hester also entered the National Guard under the Clinton administration, she received a more rigorous training as an M.P. Unlike the 3 in the article, Sgt. Hester says, “Your training kicks in and the soldier kicks in. You've got a job to do, protecting yourself and your fellow comrades.” I might add, provided you receive the training in the first place.

Historically, women have played a very major role during our wars and helped achieve victory. Without their contribution we could not have won any of them. Even though women weren’t previously sent to the front lines in Combat Units, many also paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the wars.

None that I ever heard of or met whined about “not feeling like a girl” as they knew where they were and what they were to do. Many others today similarly ‘suck it up’ knowing their sacrifices are for the protection of their families, friends and fellow citizens and just like their male counterparts, willingly place themselves between our enemies and us.

For those who feel that relaxing training standards to allow more females into Combat Roles brings about equality, don’t be too surprised when our enemies treat you as equals, meaning when you pick a fight, you get a fight.

Welcome to the United States Army, ladies. In achieving your equality, you had to give up your superiority.


Cross posted to A Newt One


u∃∃l!∃ said...

The answer is to toughen the training, not to relax it.

Some people are weaker than others, mentally, physically, emotionally and in many other ways.
There are males and females which do not have what it takes to withstand the mental and physical pressures of war.
But my guess is, that a higher percent of females (not all females) fall into this category (at least related to the physical pressures).

I have always thought that a better solution, than not allowing females into various fields, was to filter the weak out through training.
If this filter made it so that only a very small percentage of females could make it through, that is not gender discrimination.
If the nature of the job justifies a certain level of physical ability, training should reflect that.

I was in the Military, and do not think I would have made it through more rigorous training.
I also would have been a likely early casualty if I had to go to war.

I almost quit the Army in Basic Training.
I then made a decision that I didn't want to start a life pattern of quiting because something was more difficult than I had expected it to be, and that commitment meant something.

I barely made it through the physical part of leadership school, (although I was distinguished graduate in the academic part).
And while this training was more difficult that Basic, it was still far easier than going to war.

I was out of the Army before the first Gulf war stated. I have often asked myself how I would have reacted to the reality of war.
Would my sense of obligation superseded my fears or would I have looked for excuses to not be sent?
I will never know for sure.

Gary Fouse said...

My Army Reunion

This September, I was fortunate to attend the 2nd annual reunion of my old Army unit-the 404th Military Police Company (4th Armored Division). I had served in this unit in Germany from 1966-1968. (It no longer exists.) Everyone who attended (along with their wives) were in their 60s or 70s. We spent a weekend together in Hollywood, Maryland, telling old stories about our good times in Germany (some that cannot be repeated here) and looking over old photos. It was striking to compare our pictures taken back in the 60s, when we were young, strong and in good shape with the way we look now.

Most of us, like me, only served for two or three years, and though the Viet Nam War was in progress, were sent to Germany instead of Viet Nam. A few of the others were career military, and thus, served a tour of duty in Viet Nam, either before or after their tours in Germany.

Because we are veterans and because we served during the Viet Nam era, I think each of us had to be thinking of those our age who had gone to Viet Nam and not returned. I knew two from high school who had been killed in Viet Nam, each before their 21st birthday. (I attended the funeral of one of them while I was home on leave from Germany.) I still visit his grave from time to time.

We also had to be thinking of those who are serving today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. I know I was. Being back with my old Army buddies could not but reinforce my respect and admiration for those young men and women who are serving in uniform today, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. When I served, we had the draft; one way or another, I was going to be in the military in those days. Today, there is no such compulsion. A young man or woman can choose to serve or not to serve in uniform. All the more reason to respect those who choose to put on the uniform of our country. They are the best our nation has to offer. It sickens me to think of those elements in our society that denigrate those in uniform or question what they do in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was rampant during Viet Nam, less so today, but still present in places such as college campuses. It is a disgrace.

My three-day reunion reinforced my belief that my country, with all its faults, is still the greatest country on earth-largely due to our military.

God bless them all.

gary fouse

LewWaters said...

I agree, Coboble, training needs to be toughened. That is sort of the point.

Still, I am hesitant to place young men and women together in such high stress situations. Not because some women can’t handle it, but because of nature. In Viet Nam, I often found my thoughts wandering to more amorous thoughts on Perimeter Guard, often to stay awake. Place two young people in that situation alone during the night, with similar thoughts and who ends up watching the perimeter.

I can’t say a lot would fall into that, but can’t say none would either.

Maybe it is the old fashioned chauvinism in me, but I still regard men as the protectors of women, not the protected. I will grant you that too many don’t live up to that, but I try my best to.

I find it very strange that you said, “I almost quit the Army in Basic Training.” Strange, because none of us had that option when I was in. Many didn’t make it through Basic and even more failed to finish Airborne or stronger training they volunteered for, but we couldn’t just quit. If we couldn’t adequately complete basic after a few retrys, they were mustered out as unfit. But, that was back then.

Still, and you told me before, you did serve and stuck it out and my guess is you are better off because of that decision.

Don’t ever feel bad about not serving in war, it isn’t as glorious as shown in the movies. Still, your service was just as important as anyone else’s. A definition that was recently sent to me, “A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' “

u∃∃l!∃ said...

Thank you,

Of course quitting was not an option when you were in. It was a Draft, a whole different situation.

When I was in Basic Training some applied for discharge and usually it was granted.
But it was not immediate.
It was an all volunteer force, and we were not at war.
A few applied and got discharges.
One was a very similar case to mine (lack of maturity and barely cutting it physically);
Then there is always the "fail basic" option.

I am not certain what the best answer is, as far as allowing females the exact same access to training and service as men.
IF they make it as physically tough, as it would be if it were only men, then I don't see the problem.

But in the end, what is best for the many may out weigh what is fair to the few. If having females in combat decreases the ability of the force to perform, then that has to be considered. Israel has a model that combines males and females that is worth looking at.
I believe that both males and females are required to serve.

But we do agree that the standards should NOT be decreased so females can meet them.

LewWaters said...

Yes, both sexes are required to serve in Israel. However, women in combat units if fairly new for them and with women having to volunteer for combat. Most don't.

Israel's Army Eyes Female Role in Battle

There too, the focus being more on how the few women feel instead of the good of the Army. I don't know that they have lowered any training standards, I hope not. Israel is too small and threatened by too many to fudge their military.