The Vanishing ‘Man of War’

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The Vanishing ‘Man of War’

How the mightiest military in history is making itself vulnerable to annihilation
From the June 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

The Prophet Isaiah foretold a massive leadership void that would plague the modern nations of Israel and Judah. Perhaps nowhere is this scenario more dramatically and distressingly fulfilled than in the United States military.

Read Isaiah 3:1-3. Among the male leaders prophesied to be absent in our day are the “mighty man,” the “man of war,” and “the captain of fifty”—strong men, valiant men, champions, warriors and generals. Isaiah’s pronouncement clearly includes a softening among military personnel.

Could this dire prophecy actually describe America’s armed forces? The United States has funneled more cash into its military than any nation in history: close to a billion dollars a day, every day, for over 60 years, outpacing the entire rest of the world combined. As a result, its forces have a certain air of invincibility—at least in the minds of many Americans. No one would question the fact that the military bristles with fearsome firepower and tough soldiers.

Unprecedented spending, however, does not guarantee unprecedented combat readiness. Within America’s modern military, many policies are also unprecedented—largely untested within major warfare—and evidence indicates they significantly impair force effectiveness. Among them: redefining what constitutes “the enemy”; shaping strategy based on squeamishness over civilian casualties; over-relying on technology; obligating soldiers to act as policemen and peacekeepers; increasing soldier specialization; abandoning traditional “warrior culture”; relaxing authority in the chain of command; lowering physical standards and discipline.

The “untested” policy that gives the most poignancy to Isaiah’s prophecy, however, is sexual integration. The U.S. Armed Forces include more women, quantitatively and proportionally, than any country in the world. History has no record of a sexually integrated military force on the scale of what the United States is attempting today.

“In other words,” says observer and analyst Stephanie Gutmann, “we are in the middle of a huge social experiment” (The Kinder, Gentler Military). It is an enormous experiment with life-or-death implications. Gutmann concludes: “The returns are beginning to come in … yet the real test is sometime in the future” (emphasis mine throughout).

Exactly right. Not since World War ii has the U.S. fought a first-rate global power. Though Korea and Vietnam enjoyed the support of “second world,” Communist-bloc nations, both were poor and technologically bankrupt. Cuba, Iran, Grenada, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Serbia, Afghanistan—all these have posed historically minor challenges to American power.

But there will come a point—most likely sooner than we expect—when the U.S. will be engaged by a truly top-of-the-line foreign military power and taxed to its limits. At that point—and that point only—will the results of this policy experiment come flooding in.

Women Warriors

With all the advancements in tools, weaponry, transportation and technology, war today is quite different from war 100 years ago.

Even so, the single most transformative change in the U.S. military over the past century—particularly the past generation—has been the massive expansion of the woman’s role.

The story of the metamorphosis of America’s all-male warrior military into an almost completely sex-integrated force has been authored by an aggressive minority of lobbyists and politicians pushing for special privileges for a select group of women. It is a story of politically correct idealists demanding the military atone for its gender-related “sins.” It is a story about buried facts, wishful thinking, duplicity, doublespeak and deliberate deceit.

Before World War i, women in the services essentially functioned only as nurses. With a few specific exceptions, their role expanded only slowly for the next half-century. But what threw the door open for women in uniform was the post-Vietnam War change from a conscripted military to an all-volunteer force.

Ending the draft might have seemed necessary in the face of Vietnam-era public protests, but as far as the military was concerned, it couldn’t have come at a worse time: Patriotism and public confidence in the military were at all-time lows. A primary strategy proposed to ensure enough new recruits in this dismal climate was to bump up the number of women soldiers. Thus, the percentage of women comprising the total force rose from 1.5 percent in 1972 to 9 percent in 1975, and continued to grow.

Soon, the all-male environment of military academies came under attack—despite the fact that the likes of West Point and Annapolis existed primarily to train combat leaders, and women were barred from combat by federal law. Ignoring strong objections from military reps, civilian congressmen overwhelmingly voted to force the academies to open their doors to women posthaste. Thus, 1976 saw the first sexually integrated classes in America’s military academies—in time for America’s bicentennial, as a symbol of how far the nation had progressed in 200 years.

It quickly became clear, as military leaders had predicted, that something would have to change. The traditions and standards of the all-male academies collided head-on with the limitations of the female physique.

The Integrated Academy

The average woman is almost 5 inches shorter and over 30 pounds lighter (with closer to 40 fewer pounds of muscle and 6 more pounds of fat) than the average man. She has less than half of his upper-body strength, 20 percent less aerobic capacity, and lighter, brittler bones. She cannot run or jump as far; last as long; grip as well; push, pull, lift or carry as much.

Thus, the first females joining basic training suffered far higher rates of injury—including stress fractures, shin splints and tendonitis—which meant they visited the medical clinic three to four times more than the men. (And with more medical restrictions, they missed considerably more training.)

Officials responded by implementing separate conditioning standards for women: In lieu of having to do a certain number of pull-ups, female cadets were graded according to how long they could hang on the bar; on the obstacle course, they could use a 2-foot step-stool to climb an 8-foot wall. Academies adopted an “equivalent training” doctrine, striving to elicit from each cadet “equal effort rather than equal accomplishment.”

In some cases, rather than create a double standard, officials eliminated the standard altogether. Certain requirements became optional; certain activities became history. Competition among platoons (which many drill sergeants considered key to galvanizing recruits and developing squadron esprit de corps) was stopped, in part because of the unfair advantage held by all-male platoons. Boxing and wrestling were replaced by karate and self-defense or “interpretive dancing.” Once traditional training methods began to be abandoned, virtually everything came under scrutiny.

As the rigor of physical training decreased, classroom instruction increased. Even the academic emphasis shifted away from the hard sciences, engineering, history and military tactics (subjects in which women generally expressed less interest) and more toward social sciences and humanities. (This trend had been under way for decades; introducing women to academies merely accelerated it.)

Double standards extended beyond physical performance. For example, while male cadets who wanted to quit the academies were treated as being unfit to remain, women who wanted out received counseling intended to persuade them to stay.

Male cadets struggled with bad attitudes over seeing women being measured by a less-exacting yardstick. Upperclassmen, however, could see that standards were being lowered even for the men. At the end of basic training, though the women who finished had felt challenged and gained a sense of pride in accomplishment, male initiates said it had been easier than expected. The fact that women had fulfilled the “same program” diminished their pride in being a cadet. It was hard to shake the sense that they had undergone a watered-down, feminized version of the academy education.

Sex and the Soldier

Another major concern that roared into the academies with the women was sex.

With young women walking the grounds, fraternization became rife, as did public displays of affection and promiscuity. Cadets who were lectured on responsibility and high standards watched their instructors flirt with female plebes, sneaking them away on weekends. Pregnancies quickly became widespread. To solve the problem, the services one by one lifted the policy of dismissing pregnant soldiers. Within a few years, they had saturated military life with sex education, introducing mandatory classes on human sexuality and readily dispensing contraceptives. This change took the time-honored sense of military life being hard, regimented, set apart, cloistered in service to country, dedicated to austere principles of discipline and personal sacrifice—and replaced it with the perfumed atmosphere of flirtation, romance, jealousy, flings and trysts.

Adding women into the mix aggravated some problems and created brand new ones. Charges of sexual harassment proliferated as soldiers adapted to the new reality and many traditions proved wholly inappropriate. Privacy—totally nonexistent in the all-male forces—became a sought-after commodity; however, realities of military life could provide only so much of it, and soldiers had to acclimate. Single parenthood became far more problematic, simply because single mothers are many times more likely than single fathers to have custody of their children. With fully 12.5 percent of servicewomen being single moms (not to mention one third of pregnant servicewomen being unmarried), children by the tens of thousands pay the price. But the problem is hardly better for married service mothers: Two thirds of them are married to servicemen; almost none have husbands who are stay-at-home dads. In-service or dual-service marriages create logistical nightmares over housing and deployment—snags that are compounded when children are involved, which is the case more than half the time.

The utopian feminist ideal is one of “androgynous warriors”—men and women working shoulder to shoulder, interchangeably. When those who espouse this philosophy encounter sex-related problems, they routinely blame men for clinging to outmoded thinking or failing to control their hormones.

It apparently doesn’t enter their minds to reconsider the integration policy that introduced all those problems. It is beyond them to question their own unrealistic expectations of how men and women—human beings possessing emotions and weaknesses—will act toward one another in quite intimate quarters, in a stressful and often very physical environment. As Edward Luttwak told the New York Times Magazine in 1997, “The Army can’t do something that eluded the Franciscans. It can’t run a mixed monastery.”

Nevertheless, even the feminists see that a sexualized climate, with all its attendant problems, hurts the effectiveness of a fighting force.

Recruitment Troubles, Selfish Soldiers

Ironically, President Bill Clinton was apparently one who believed that men and women should be able to conduct themselves responsibly in a unisex setting: He strongly favored expanding the female force. Instead of turning the biggest, strongest, toughest young men in the country into soldiers, Clinton sought “a force that looks like America.” To draw more women, recruiting budgets doubled, and the percentage of women recruits promptly mushroomed from 12 percent to 22 percent. (Today, that figure has settled down to 16.5 percent.)

To make these numbers happen, however, requires a regrettable amount of game playing. At times recruiters must actually reject better-qualified males in order to secure the arbitrarily determined “right” number of females. Military officials insist that such quotas (they call them “goals”) do nothing to impair force effectiveness. This defies logic. Any criterion for the job that trumps raw mental and physical qualifications will ensure that less-qualified individuals will win through. It unabashedly sacrifices readiness in favor of politics.

Studies and recruiting efforts repeatedly prove that women are simply less interested in the military than men. Though there exists an exceptional minority, those women who join are generally more likely to think negatively about the harsh demands of military duty. They tend to view it as a short-term choice, a stepping stone to a better life as a civilian with a family. For example, whereas getting married tends to make a man more stable, solidifying his careerist goals in the service, it has the opposite effect on a woman. Attrition rates are consistently many times higher among women than men.

Nevertheless, feminists in the Pentagon are intent on ensuring plenty of career opportunities for female soldiers. Such thinking was typified by this statement from Antonia Handler Chayes, undersecretary of the Air Force, during 1979 Defense Department hearings: “There must be policy changes to assure women that they can satisfy personal career goals and ambitions by moving up the ladder to senior management. What we achieve by barring women from combat roles is an obstacle to career advancement.” Yes, in the new military, satisfying personal career ambitions ranks higher in priority than maximizing combat readiness—as if the military’s primary purpose is not to wage war, but to make people feel self-fulfilled.

This sense that somehow women—or any people, for that matter—are entitled to military careers, even if they lack the skills and qualifications, represents a seismic shift in traditional thinking. As Brian Mitchell said in his testimony before the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, “To obligate the military to employ certain people is to make the military the servant of its members, a complete reversal of the natural relationship between the service and the serviceman” (May 4, 1992).

Contributing to this trend is the fact that, in order to lure volunteers, the military must make duty more attractive using inducements such as higher pay, shorter tours, more comfortable accommodations, bonuses and other benefits (not to mention playing down the untidy fact that you may be shipped off to war, which could involve killing). Appeals to potential enlistees all play to self-interest.

In a way, then, it is hard to fault recruits for coming in feeling a sense of entitlement—but, of course, that doesn’t exactly make for the most committed combatants. Thus, holding on to these individuals has necessitated that the whole culture of the services get a face-lift and a makeover—better suiting it to its new members’ tastes.

Declining Standards

In the past, boot camp was intended, in the words of ex-Marine Lieutenant Adam Mesereau, “to simulate the stresses and strains of war.” First it broke civilian recruits down through intense pressure and punishment, then gradually built them up into something decidedly different: a strong, cohesive fighting force of professional killers.

This “transformative” approach is out. Today’s army is much more about personal empowerment: building self-confidence and self-esteem, and doing everything possible to keep each soldier feeling positive about his or her endeavors. (There are even companies that offer a personalized video of the boot-camp experience to each soldier.)

From the beginning of sexual integration, harsh discipline for women recruits took a back seat to “positive motivation,” a policy later extended to all soldiers. Rather than shouting at recruits, drill sergeants were told to use “eyeball to eyeball instructing in a firm voice.” They have changed from disciplinarians into counselors. One former drill sergeant complains that, in following the new rules, “You’re not being a soldier, you’re being a mama.”

Whereas the old military set a standard and demanded everyone meet it or get out, the new military sounds more like a flight attendant: Join us and stick around. If you don’t like something, let us know and we’ll change it for you. Rather than requiring the same physical exertion from everyone, people are divided into “activity groups,” and only asked to perform to the level of their group. Great care is taken to avoid humiliating anyone; self-esteem is more important than fitness. To avoid direct comparisons of the capabilities of men versus women, the military has fallen in love with a “teamwork” approach: Forget two men hauling a stretcher with a wounded soldier; the new military wants a whole cluster of grunts doing it. Scrupulous attention is devoted to managing the stress levels of recruits. Individual safety has become a big concern: Harnesses and safety lines are now in common use in potentially hazardous exercises—conveniences altogether absent on the battlefield.

This is the new United States military.

The latest bevy of boot-camp lifestyle enhancements intended to reduce attrition and increase graduation levels was implemented last fall. Recruits now sleep more, run less, and eat more desserts than ever before. Unsurprisingly, this confluence of factors—fewer physical demands, more personal freedoms, pressure on officers to keep weak recruits in the program—has introduced a new problem: Weight standards for soldiers have had to creep up, and now many soldiers are overweight.

All these changes have obliterated any notion of boot camp simulating “the stresses and strains of war.” In fact, in some cases it apparently doesn’t even simulate the stresses and strains of routine military responsibilities, particularly among women.

Soft physical training standards, coupled with a refusal to acknowledge female performance problems, create nightmares in the field. “The gao [Government Accountability Office] found that 62 of 97 female aircraft mechanics could not perform required tasks such as changing aircraft tires and brakes, removing batteries and crew seats, closing drag chute doors, breaking torque on bolts, and lifting heavy stands. Female missile mechanics often lacked the strength and physical confidence to harness and move warheads and to maneuver large pieces of machinery. Some had trouble carrying their own tool boxes” (Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military).

Such lack of capability can seriously complicate the job of a military leader and compromise a mission. In other words, it imperils lives.

The old, meet-our-standard-or-quit military training produced a specific type of soldier. “Just like McDonald’s hamburger, anywhere you find it, the package would be expected to contain certain predictable elements …” wrote Gutmann. “The idea was that a general standing over one of those topographical table maps with the little flags and the pushpins could say, ‘We’ll send the 187th Armor over here,’ and be fairly confident that he didn’t have to think too much about human variables—just variables like weather, equipment and terrain” (op. cit.).

By stark contrast, in today’s gender-integrated soldiery, the “personalized” training, activity groups, sliding standards—not to mention factors such as pregnancy or increased injuries—all compromise the predictability and reliability of deployed forces.

To avowed believers in the integration doctrine, however, such dangers are hardly worth worrying about.

Accept It or Else

In the midst of all this compromise and weakness, there is some force to be found: feminists strong-arming their ideology through the Pentagon.

Evidence of the increased costs and reduced combat effectiveness of a mixed-sex military is plenteous—but because it rubs the feminist lobby the wrong way, it is ignored. Policy makers disregard problems for “lack of documented evidence,” when simple observation and common sense would do. At the same time, proposed studies that would document the evidence are avoided. With contrary facts quashed, then, the Department of Defense continues to insist that the influx of women into the military has created zero decline in combat capability.

In addition to routinely ignoring problems associated with women’s physical limitations, the military has repeatedly proven itself too shackled by political correctness to answer this simple question truthfully: Do psychological differences between men and women exist—and if so, how do they influence their effectiveness as soldiers?

Feminists simply can’t decide what to believe. Feminism has traditionally been a pacifist movement. The whole of human history shows that males tend to be more aggressive than females. Many feminists say aggressiveness is a deficiency in men and contend that putting more women in charge would bring more peace to the world. Other feminists reject that idea, insisting that if society didn’t indoctrinate them to be softer, women would be just as warlike as men. Whichever view one takes, in the end, male aggressiveness is denounced while female aggressiveness is celebrated. Case in point: the new American military.

In the past, the strongest, most masculine “warrior” soldiers tended to come from more conservative backgrounds—these were the men recruiters sought most aggressively and who were most interested in enlisting. Trouble is, their traditional thinking is unacceptable in the new military. Ideas contrary to feminist orthodoxy are forcibly rooted out from incoming males via sensitivity training, sexual harassment sensitivity training, values training, and conscientious monitoring. New beliefs are crammed down their throats; resistance can jeopardize a man’s job.

Simple logic tells you that, in general, the more a man is trained to be sensitive to his female unit-mates, the less his mind is being conditioned to effectively fight enemies who seek to kill him. Though many soldiers—of all ranks and both genders—readily acknowledge that sensitivity training stifles fighting spirit, the party line is that the two are absolutely compatible.

Embracing such conflicted, oxymoronic thinking has produced a military culture of doublespeak. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, officials consistently deny that women cannot perform at the same level as men. They have publicly praised women as being their top performers, their most indispensable soldiers. Then the same leaders will say that women discharged from active duty for getting pregnant have no negative effect on combat readiness. Above all—in blatant contradiction to all reality—the official line is that integrating women has not substantially changed the military at all.

It simply cannot all be true.

“It’s becoming like Mao’s Cultural Revolution,” ex-Army officer John Hillen says. “Everybody knows it’s a system built on a thousand little lies, but everybody’s waiting for someone that’s high-ranking who’s not a complete moral coward to come out and say so.”

Over the years, thousands of qualified men—whose training cost untold billions of dollars—have been let go for failing to embrace the new military order wholeheartedly enough. Those who see legitimate problems have learned simply to shut their mouths. Gutmann makes this observation: “The really sad thing, of course, is that it never had to be like this. If we had had sensible, plainspoken, morally courageous leaders, we could have had a force that continued to be appreciative of the women who … qualify to serve, without alienating (and in too many cases actively persecuting) the men who make up—and will always make up—the majority of the armed forces” (op. cit.).

Alas—those sensible, plainspoken, morally courageous leaders have been taken away. In their place are admirals and generals who have either become true believers in the feminist cause, or who cravenly punish the men under them in order to further their own careers.

Placing Women in Danger

One of the biggest lies foisted upon an American public—which, on the whole, opposes putting women into combat—is that the military is loaded with “non-combat” jobs.

The irrefutable fact is, the military is a combat organization. Its mission is war.

The designation of a position as “non-combat” serves essentially one purpose: to open up more jobs to women. The line separating combat from non-combat is arbitrary and in flux: The harder the lobbying to expand opportunities for women, the narrower the definition of “combat” becomes.

Current law, passed by the Bush Pentagon, allows women to serve virtually anywhere—even directly alongside combat units, as long as combat is not occurring at that moment. The bizarre promise is, they will be evacuated if combat starts. Once the enemy telephones and announces that it is ready for hostilities, the battlefield will have a time-out until the necessary cavalcade of combat and transport helicopters, armored personnel carriers and tanks reaches the scene and escorts the battleground’s lady guests away—or so the thinking seems to go. This policy would devote pilots and drivers, combat equipment and vehicles—during combat, when they would be most fiercely needed—to the idiotic chore of moving women who shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

But even the idea of fielding a select group of strong, efficient, disciplined, maximally effective “combat” troops, supported by weak, gender-normed “non-combat” troops, is inherently flawed. A war front can shift in a flash: If a supply line is attacked, or a bomb goes off in the “rear,” suddenly that is a new “front.” The fact that American women in uniform are being killed and captured is all the proof one needs that the military is not honoring—nor can it honorthe law restricting women from serving in combat. “Women in combat is not really an issue,” says Lt. Dawn Halfaker, who lost an arm in Iraq last year. “It is happening.”

Though civilian leaders constantly speak of the “new warfare” being a tidy, push-button, technology-driven business, reality has never matched that fiction. War is brutal, physical, demanding and deadly. Politicians can easily overlook that fact in the midst of relative peace. But their eagerness to plunge women into the nightmare of warfare is, in fact, disregard for women masquerading as support for women.

Some female soldiers recognize this—too late—and are not impressed. As one of them said, “Those feminists back home who say we have a right to fight are not out here sitting in the heat, carrying an m16 and a gas mask, spending 16 hours on the road every day and sleeping in fear you’re gonna get gassed.”

The number of women accepting more-combat-related jobs is just a fraction of the number of such jobs that have been made available to them. They don’t want those jobs. Army surveys show that 85 to 90 percent of enlisted women strongly oppose policies aimed at thrusting women into combat. The drive to open those positions to women has come from a small group of hard-core careerist women and feminist civilian leaders.

In essence, the feminist dream is to see women viciously tortured and killed alongside men.

Sally Quinn wrote in the Washington Post, “If we can’t win a war without our mothers, what kind of a sorry fighting force are we? Even the evil Saddam Hussein doesn’t send his mothers to fight his war.” Some see women warriors as a sign of progressiveness. In truth, it is a sign of barbarity.

Women face greater danger than men in most combat situations. Physical limitations make them likelier to be injured, captured or killed. This reality also endangers the men who are forced to fight alongside them. (Elaine Donnelly says bluntly, “No one’s injured son should have to die on the streets of a future Fallujah because the only soldier near enough to carry him to safety was a 5’2”, 110-pound woman.”) And when women are captured, experience has shown that they are treated far worse—unimaginably worse—than male prisoners of war. Though feminists lobby hard against rape generally, they “bravely” insist that, since women are duty-bound to serve as combat soldiers, rape in war cannot be stopped. Jessica Lynch, a poster child for women in combat, was allegedly beaten, raped and sodomized in captivity.

Shame on those decision-makers who would purposefully subject women to such abuse—only to serve their own twisted ideology!

Consider soberly: The military agency that trains pilots in survival, evasion, resistance and escape as prisoners of war actually includes a component to desensitize male soldiers to the screams of their women cohorts.

Of course, these same men are then expected to treat women soldiers with utmost respect and dignity, in keeping with all of the sensitivity training they have had forced upon them!

In the “brutish,” non-politically correct world of yesteryear, the strong were obligated to serve the weak. A traditional-thinking male seeks to protect a woman. An honorable man shields a female from danger and hurt. This attitude, to the feminist, is contemptible. And on a gender-integrated theater of combat, it introduces a host of complications. A leader is expected to view that woman not as a woman, but simply as a soldier—a grunt whom he must be able to send into harm’s way. In the up-is-down moral climate of today’s military, his reluctance to pitch her into the lion’s den is considered backward!

Laughing Stock

It is hard to overstate the costs associated with the transformation of the U.S. Armed Forces to integrated forces. Of course there are the physical costs—plusher accommodations; more child-care facilities; greater hospital capacity; special clothing, equipment, weapons and tools. There are the costs associated with higher medical nonavailability among women, as well as attrition rates that average 36 percent higher than those of men.

But the real costs cannot be measured in dollars. They must be measured in how severely sex-integration has downgraded force preparedness and combat effectiveness. And given the unrealistic, “you’re doing great—it’s all right to cry” environment of today’s military, how can we possibly know just how weak the U.S. has become? Only when the military is forced to defend itself against a truly capable, determined aggressor will we know.

Ponder these words—a plaintive voice from within a nation that already relies on its military for daily survival. Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld says that the woman’s central roles in the U.S. Armed Forces “shows that you really don’t take the military seriously. For you, the military is not a question of life and death”—at least, we could add, not yet. “So you can afford to make all kinds of social experiments, which we [Israel] cannot. … The very fact that you have this debate may itself be construed as proof that it’s not serious. It’s a game. It’s a joke.”

The military is the most respected institution in America. It possesses some of the finest, most dedicated and self-sacrificing individuals the nation has produced. But woe be unto us if we fail to recognize how its effectiveness is being fatally undermined by a failure to beat back and restrain the virulent and invasive forces of feminization that enfeeble our modern society.

The Bible prophesies that this experiment in sexually integrating our military is going to fail cataclysmically. (Read, for example, Leviticus 26:14-21.)

All the money and manpower expended on trying to turn women into warriors hasn’t been merely squandered. It has also made America’s stout warrior heart faint.It has sapped America’s raw will to wage war.

Not only that: It has broadened the grin and tightened the curl of contempt on the lips of America’s enemies. As Phyllis Schlafly said in 1979, “What a way to run the armed forces! We must be the laughing stock of the world.”

Next month, we will examine some of the broader issues currently hampering U.S. military effectiveness.