istory, the consummate teacher, reveals that reductions in military spending and the retirement of combat leaders inevitably follow the end of armed conflict. In the summer of 1950, the poorly trained, poorly led, and poorly equipped Task Force Smith found this out the hard way when they were almost pushed off the Korean peninsula into the Sea of Japan. Following the Vietnam war, the "Watergate Babies" elected in 1974 exacerbated the military’s problems by de-funding defense until what remained was derided as a "hollow" army. 

This repeated and costly mistake results from the fact that Americans view conflict as an aberration, an annoying disturbance in the routine course of events. Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, commenting on Machiavelli, writes, "War, then, and the threat of war, not peace, is the normal condition of mankind. . . . Peace thus paradoxically increases our peril, by making discipline less urgent, encouraging some of our worst instincts and depriving us of some of our best leaders." [1]

History has also shown us that Americans, united in purpose, can quickly mass the materials, men, and support needed to decisively engage and destroy the enemy. The "hot" wars of the past were not the only times, however, that Americans snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Ronald Reagan, inheriting the hollow military of the 1970s, was able to unite the American people behind the notion of peace through strength. Whatever the excesses of the Reagan build-up, it arguably hastened the demise of the Soviet Union, and made possible George Bush’s successful war against Saddam Hussein. 

The end of the Cold War certainly justifies some reduction of defense expenditures, although determining the appropriate level is not the purpose of this article. My concern is for an agenda being forced upon the military that is more insidious than spending cuts; an agenda advocated by the very same people who sought to disarm unilaterally. The gravest danger of this wholly "political" agenda is that no amount of spending and mobilization will rectify the situation once bullets start to fly. This agenda, quite succinctly, is a feminized military culture divorced from its requisite warrior ethic; an agenda the former Secretary of the Navy James Webb fittingly termed "the War on the Military Culture."

Profound social changes injected into a values-laden meritocracy such as the armed forces will manifest themselves, and indeed already have, in such a way as to grievously affect our ability to prepare for and ultimately fight a war. The military is an institution which derives its vigor from tradition, good order, discipline, and morale. Morale is the greatest force multiplier, and is contingent upon leaders of integrity, who punish and reward based on high standards of performance. Morale is a function of the security that comes from serving in a command that places a high value on combat effectiveness and survivability, unit cohesion and camaraderie. Tragically, the social engineers have already done significant damage, as some of our best warriors leave the military in droves. An internal Army report on morale also illustrates a developing culture of mistrust and animosity among the ranks. [2]

Perhaps most disturbing is the paucity of national debate on this issue, and the lack of oversight from a Congress constitutionally charged with "organizing, arming, and disciplining" the armed forces of the United States. Surprisingly, even conservatives who generally break into hysterics if we do not purchase the latest technological wonder weapon seem fearful to address sexual politics in the military. Likewise, generals and admirals, knowing that gender-integration incorrectness is the "third rail" of career advancement, are reluctant to sacrifice their futures for such timeworn principles as "Duty, Honor, Country." 

The foremost duty among military and civilian leaders alike is to ensure the readiness of our forces to fight and win wars with the minimum possible casualties. While weapons procurement is important, personnel policy takes on even greater significance in a shrinking military structure. The smaller, more mobile military of the 21st Century must be imbued with a toughness of spirit, body, and mind that epitomizes the warrior ethic. The phrase "lean, mean, fighting machine" may be hackneyed, but its relevance as a combat multiplier will be even greater in the post-Cold War era than new weapons such as the B-2 Bomber, which didn’t drop so much as a firecracker in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, or Haiti.

As these destructive personnel policies continue to be implemented in the ranks, the anecdotal evidence of their failure becomes commonplace. It is imperative, therefore, to understand how these policies conflict with reality and to recognize the ideology underlying this social experimentation. 

My arguments are not anti-woman, sexist, or chauvinistic. Women do have a place in the military, and, indeed, have had a place to some degree throughout our history. However, serving a role is not equivalent to being essential to the purposes of the military. Women have traditionally served in order to free up more men for combat duty. In fact, women themselves continue to support this division of labor within the military. A survey done by Harvard researcher Laura Miller found that only 3 percent of women believed they "should be treated exactly like men and serve in the combat arms just like men." [3]

With sufficient numbers, men can fight and win wars entirely without women, the reverse is simply not true. The question, then, is one of roles. The problem is the continued expansion and redefinition of certain roles, including those involving combat. The idea that roles should be predicated on the immutable condition of gender is anathema to the radical egalitarians now holding sway over the military. In reality, the issue transcends the military context. James Webb wrote, "To win on the issue of women in combat, the most quintessentially male obligation in any society, would moot all other debates regarding female roles." 

The military has long been viewed by career feminists craving another social trophy as the ultimate challenge. Their contempt is based on the belief that the military is the last of the great male bastions; an archaic, hierarchical boys club ripe for the plucking. In his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Robert H. Bork wrote, "Radical egalitarians necessarily hate hierarchies. They attack institutions that are hierarchical by nature."

With the Equal Rights Amendment having gone down to defeat, the feminist left waited patiently through the Reagan and Bush years, with its concurrent flag waving and military bravado, until October 1, 1994. Then, under the Clinton administration’s direction, the Department of Defense dropped the Risk Rule which prevented women from being exposed to combat, opening a plethora of "career opportunities" to women. These opportunities (for some strange reason experiencing the horror of combat is viewed as opportune) may or may not be made voluntary for all women, and qualifications for such would have to be revised. Although Togo West, the Secretary of the Army, wanted even infantry, armor, and artillery opened to women, he settled for redefining specific combat roles as a good first step toward exposing women to the full deprivation and violence of war. The Navy, for its part, opened all surface warships to women, and combat aviation became an opportunity in all the services. Opportunity, equality, and, what one consultant to Togo West has called the "ungendered vision" for the military, are now catchwords at the Pentagon. Apparently missing from their lexicon are words like readiness, combat efficiency, discipline, and morale. 

Out of the forced cultural intervention being advanced by the radical feminists rose the very real issue of "qualifications" as they pertain to military specialties. Most Americans rightly accept principles such as equality and fairness in employment. Thus, the sales pitch for opening all military specialties to women was reduced to the accepted notion of fairness: "If they’re qualified, women should be allowed to do the same jobs as men." However, one obstacle remained in the path to full equality—those annoyingly high physical and disciplinary standards inherent in the military.

Reworking standards to accommodate physically weaker female recruits is attained through either "gender-norming"—known as double standards in the ranks—or by eliminating some standards altogether, at least for females. Different gender requirements for physical fitness tests have long been the norm in the military, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are now even gender-normed standards for the throwing of hand grenades! In the Navy, sailors in the bowels of a ship used to be required to perform a two-man stretcher carry in order to evacuate the wounded. Now, with women on board, the standard has been lowered to four sailors per stretcher. [4] The radical feminists’ response to these physiological realities was to enlist Rep. Pat Schroeder’s support in passing a $144,000 appropriation to have a select group of women lift weights for 24 weeks to see how their strength improved in relation to men. [5] Are we going to request that future enemies delay their offensive for six months while our female recruits pump iron? 

The list of double and lowered standards is virtually endless, with each anecdote as egregious as the next. Sometimes, however, the dual standards are anything but amusing. Lt. Kara Hultgreen was one of a group of eight women who were to become the Navy’s first female F-14 pilots. After Lt. Hultgreen’s fiery death aboard the carrier AbrahamLincoln in 1994, mounting evidence indicated that Hultgreen was a substandard aviator who was given extraordinary concessions in training, concessions that would normally have disqualified any male. Navy public relations seemed to want a female fighter pilot on deck at any cost. In fact, a Navy Inspector General’s report on the assignment of these eight women showed that during their initial cruise one was killed (Hultgreen), three were grounded, and one left the Navy due to unsafe landings. Elaine Donnelly, of the Center for Military Readiness, writes that "political considerations must not corrupt or degrade the aviation training process." [6] She couldn’t be more right.

Most reasoned arguments for women serving in combat roles rest on whether they meet minimum physical requirements. The difficulty of that proposition, however, ignores the more fundamental problems of maintaining good order and discipline in mixed gender units. Even if certain females can meet or exceed high physical standards, this will not negate the complications that assuredly occur when males and females are forced to live together in close quarters. Men and women—boys and girls for the most part—are now assigned to coed tents and barracks on deployments and in training. Even chaplains in the field are not exempt from this requirement. The result of this social experimentation has been an abundance of consensual sex—relations which would normally only hinder a male's career; hundreds of pregnancies resulting in evacuations from warships and places such as Bosnia, leaving others to perform the duties of the vacated billet; unsubstantiated sexual harassment claims which destroy promising careers and foster sexual animosity. This creates a corrosive environment for males and females alike and entails untold financial and logistical burdens on a military already suffering deep cuts. 

Strained sexual relations are not the only negative aspect of forced gender-integration. Coed basic training, for example, has been an abysmal failure, just as it was the last time it was tried from 1978 to 1982. To accommodate females, the war-fighting skills, physical standards, discipline, and overall toughness of training has been radically altered. One drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, South Carolina said, "We’ve stopped being a military as people think of it." A trainee who came from a military family complained to a congressional task force that "there is no military bearing in today’s military." What the social engineers don’t realize is that basic training is the vital first step in the "soldierization" process. Even for today's young men "boot camp" remains a rite of passage. Sadly, many young men in the mixed-gender units do not feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from being profoundly tested and, therefore, their identity with the service is tenuous. Richard Holmes, author of Acts of War: The Behavior of Men in Battle, wrote of the importance for men to undergo a rigorous initiation, "There is a direct link between the harshness of basic training and the cohesiveness of the group which emerges from it." [7]

The Department of Defense’s response to the dual standards and disintegration of good order and discipline has been to 1) stifle and punish all those who even mention the existence of a problem, 2) allocate more time and funds for sensitivity and human relations training, and 3) study the feasibility of opening the remaining combat specialties to women. Too many times "consultants," who have often never even seen a seventy pound rucksack, suggest that all discipline problems stem from the fact that women are disrespected because they don’t serve in ground combat. 

Notwithstanding the deleterious effects of lower standards and discipline, the issue of exposing women to the violence of combat raises even more profound questions about the broader culture. Societies that have occasionally forced women onto the field of battle have often been tyrannical regimes of the socialistic model, for whom the goal was not equality but the disintegration of natural roles in order to fortify the power of the state. Richard Holmes wrote that "those armies which have used women in the combat role have, like the Republican militias in Spain, the Soviet army or the North Vietnamese army, usually been the products of far-reaching social revolutions which affected the role of women generally." The old-fashioned American belief that women should be protected by men presents a significant difficulty for the radical egalitarian agenda. Kate O’Beirne, who sat on the now-ignored Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces in 1992, stated, "Right now millions of American mothers are raising their sons to protect and defend women. A policy of assigning women to combat would clearly be inconsistent with these ongoing cultural practices." [8]

At the Survival Evasion Resitance Escape (SERE) aviator training school, where the capture and torture of POWs is simulated, male aviators are now being desensitized so that screams of pain coming from female prisoners being sexually and physically abused will affect them no more than if those prisoners were men. [9]

This raises the question of the mixed messages the military is sending. The services insist on a "zero-tolerance" policy in regard to sexual harassment and abuse while they institute policies whichvirtually guarantee sexual abuse at the hands of the enemy. Elaine Donnelly writes, "If abuse of women is the problem, putting them in combat is definitely not the answer." [10]

One rising star in naval aviation, Lieutenant Commander Kenneth A. Carkhuff, even dared to express a religious conviction that women should not be subject to violence. In response to this incorrect thinking a Navy board voted 3-0 to dismiss Carkhuff from the service because his "stated beliefs are not compatible with further military service." This was in spite of the fact that his last fitness report described him as a "model of moral character and integrity," with "unlimited potential . . . destined for command and beyond." [11] It would perhaps be prudent and cost effective for the Navy to conduct moral evaluations prior to enlistment so they could weed out anyone bringing the unwelcome baggage of Christian virtue to the sea service.

The popular culture is also aiding and abetting the efforts to "demasculate" the military. Movies such as G.I. Jane and Courage Under Fire are fantasies touted as reality, portraying something for women to aspire to. The danger is that serious policy issues concerning national security could be adversely affected—because life tends to imitate art in America. If a director with guts wanted to make a real splash, he might shoot a film showing how a real female helicopter pilot was captured in Iraq and sexually abused by her captors. Or perhaps he could make a movie about the dozens of innocent men, some of our best naval aviators, who had their careers permanently destroyed simply by attending the Tailhook convention. Unfortunately, these scripts are not likely to be written.

Given the methodical, incremental changes taking place within the military and the greater culture, it is possible to imagine that soon any combat exemption for women could be considered unconstitutional. This would subject all women to possible conscription and those already in the service to involuntary combat. War would no longer be a career choice for a handful of women, but the duty of all women under law. This prospect raises the most profound questions about who we are as a civil society. What kind of people compels its wives, daughters, granddaughters, and sisters to fight and die on the fields of fire? 

Aside from these moral considerations, the feminization of the military also promises to have devastating practical consequences. President Eisenhower warned the American people about the dangers of a "military-industrial complex." This symbiotic relationship did result in inflated defense budgets and weapons procurement absurdities. It is benign, however, compared to the developing "special-interest-military-policy complex." Policy makers must stop viewing the military as simply another federal bureaucracy—this one with pretty uniforms and ribbons—subject to politically fashionable personnel policies. If the Agriculture Department makes poor decisions, crop prices are adversely impacted—an economic inconvenience. When sound defense policies are sacrificed for political considerations, on the other hand, the cost will be measured in body bags.

[1] Michael A. Ledeen, Machiavelli for Moderns (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute Press, 1997).
[2] B. Chapman, "Congress Should Seek Out Sources of Worsening Military Morale," Seattle Post Intelligencer, June 7, 1996.
[3] L. Miller, Feminism and the Exclusion of Army Women from Combat (Harvard University: John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, 1995).
[4] V.I.P. Notes (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1995). The Center for Military Readiness is a non-profit advocacy/lobbying organization that tracks and reports on personnel/readiness issues for its membership and members of Congress.
[5] "Natick Study Stretches Science," V.I.P Notes, 18, 3-4 (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1996).
[6] Elaine Donnelly, "Taking the Heat," V.I.P. Notes, 31, 6 (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1997). Elaine Donnelly's source was a Naval Inspector General's Report of Investigation titled "Integration of Women into Carrier Air Wing 11," V.I.P. Notes, February 10, 1997.
[7] R. Holmes, Acts of War: The Behavior of Men in Battle (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1985).
[8] Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992), 60.
[9] "Cultural Contradiction," V.I.P. Notes, 24, 2-3 (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1996).
[10] Elaine Donnelly, "Failure of Feminism" V.I.P. Notes, 24, 6 (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1996).
[11] "Operation P.C. (Punish Carkhuff)," The Sitrep (Livonia, MI: Center for Military Readiness, 1995).

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