The plan to make America’s military more politically correct ran into a bit of a snag this week. Barack Obama has been pushing to get women into combat roles, in addition to a variety of other politicized moves including supporting women in Ranger training. One of the final fronts in this new battle was the idea of putting women into combat roles in the Marines. Since the Marines technically fall under the Secretary of the Navy in the structure of the Cabinet there has been some downward pressure applied to make this happen, but it sounds like the Corps isn’t really interested in the idea. (Marine Corps Times)
The Marine Corps is expected to ask that women not be allowed to compete for several front-line combat jobs, inflaming tensions between Navy and Marine leaders, U.S. officials say.
The tentative decision has ignited a debate over whether Navy Secretary Ray Mabus can veto any Marine Corps proposal to prohibit women from serving in certain infantry and reconnaissance positions. And it puts Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marine Corps commandant who takes over soon as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at odds with the other three military services, who are expected to open all of their combat jobs to women.
The Marines have conducted their own long and exhaustive testing to see how this would work and determined that mixed gender units in combat scenarios were slower, had more injuries and were less accurate when firing weapons. But even beyond the performance expectations for the Corps in combat, there were arguments raised about unit cohesion and the general fitness and capabilities of the troops who are most often sent into the teeth of the storm when it’s time to fight. (New York Times)
Some Marines familiar with the corps’s integration study are concerned that changes to current operations could threaten lives. Sgt. Maj. Justin D. LeHew, a decorated Iraq war veteran who oversaw the integration tests, said in a post on his personal Facebook page this week that lowering standards to allow women into combat teams would endanger other Marines. The post was soon taken down, but was published by Marine Corps Times.
“In regards to the infantry… there is no trophy for second place. You perform or die,” Sergeant LeHew wrote. “Make no mistake. In this realm, you want your fastest, most fit, most physical and most lethal person you can possibly put on the battlefield to overwhelm the enemy’s ability to counter what you are throwing at them, and in every test case, that person has turned out to be a man. There is nothing gender biased about this; it is what it is.”
It’s no surprise that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is the one leading this push on behalf of Barack Obama. First of all, the President has been steadily making moves designed to show how politically correct he can be in his appointments regarding the military. (It’s probably just a coincidence, I’m sure, that he just nominated the first gay Secretary of the Army.) Mabus has been Obama’s Secretary of the Navy since nearly the beginning of his first term. (B.J. Penn was the acting Secretary for a couple of months after he was sworn in.) Mabus came to the post with previous qualifications and expertise in all matters military – maritime in particular – consisting of being a lawyer for the House Committee on Agriculture, the Mississippi state auditor and then their governor, as well as being a popular Democrat fundraiser and cheerleader. (He was also Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, well known for their naval activity in a vast desert.)
As soon as Mabus was in office he began generating controversy over his politically correct agenda. He may be best remembered for his historic decision to name a United States naval vessel after Cesar Chavez. And now, from the statements he’s issued thus far, he’s going to be willing to ignore the input of his own Marines and try to force this change down their throats.
My own take on this subject hasn’t really changed at all over time. It was almost three years ago that we kicked off a long running debate here on the idea of women in combat (in any branch of the service) when I published, A few thoughts on women in combat from a dinosaur. The fur flew over that one for quite a while, but I suppose I’m simply too stuck in my ways to change. There may indeed be some women out there who can meet the minimum requirements for some combat roles, though they are the exception far more than the rule. But that was never my real issue. I simply don’t want our women going on the front lines, being killed by the enemy or, perhaps even worse, captured and subjected to whatever the terrorists and barbarians choose to do to them. Your mileage may vary.
That ship may have sailed for some combat assignments, but now it’s coming home to the Marines if Mabus gets his way. This is a terrible idea and I hope the Corps finds a way to push back.
Somewhere out there, Chesty Puller is rolling over in his grave.