I think I've established my libertarian bona fides rather comprehensively here at Ricochet. Anyone who's been around our little community for awhile has probably received some of my Peace, Love, and Happiness (hands off, that's trademarked -- I bought it from a boomer after the dot-com bubble burst) at some point, and hopefully left the conversation a little more mellow. And maybe with the munchies.
Though not strident, I default on equality of opportunity and human freedom, and that extends to gay rights, gender roles, soft drugs, weird religions, immigration, and a whole slew of other positions typically viewed by my more conservative brothers and sisters as positively Leftist. They're not, at least not in justification, and I'm certainly no commie, but we'll leave off that discussion for another time.
I say all that to say this: I am absolutely opposed to having women in ground combat roles. I'm no misogynist, I'm just a Soldier with 13 1/2 years in the Army, multiple combat tours, and a wealth of experience from having served under, with, and over both male and female Soldiers. War, as fought today by U.S. Army and USMC ground fighters -- infantry, for the most part, but also tankers, cavalry scouts, combat engineers, and artillery -- is exclusively male for very good reason, mainly having to do with physical limitations. I've never bought the argument that females are trouble and young males can't be trusted (true for teenagers, less so for young troops with a scowling Casey Taylor ready to discipline them), or that women must be protected from the horrors of war, but those are moot points; a person has to be physically strong to meet the demands of ground combat. Though there are separate fitness standards for females in the rest of the branches, those considered 'combat arms' have one -- male. We all have to meet basic strength and endurance standards, and all of them, for every age group, are far greater than those required of females. For very good reason, as ground combat is no place for weakness. We have high, uniform standards in place -- higher than any other country's military force -- to ensure that when we fight, we win. At least we used to.
Which brings us to this week. Our senior military leadership has made a grave mistake which, I fear, will greatly harm our lethality and esprit de corps. From the Army Times:
WASHINGTON — Army leaders have begun to study the prospect of sending female soldiers to the service’s prestigious Ranger school — another step in the effort to broaden opportunities for women in the military.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff, said Wednesday that he’s asked senior commanders to provide him with recommendations and a plan this summer. And while he stressed that no decisions have been made, he suggested that Ranger school may be a logical next step for women as they move into more jobs closer to the combat lines.
Don't be fooled by the verbiage; it's already a done deal. My instructor buddies already have their orders.
I'm not a Ranger, but I cut my teeth in the Infantry. I learned everything I need for a successful career by going to other schools, but I respect the discipline and strength of those men like no one else, and I'm still surrounded by them; friends, neighbors, co-workers, leaders. My best friends are Rangers, the Mountain School is my backyard, and the best warrior-leaders I've ever had were all Rangers. They, to a man, are devastated by this. The whole community is devastated, and it's already filtering down to the regular Infantry; my inbox is testament to this. Whether or not our senior leadership chooses to recognize it, this will very likely bloom into a crisis very quickly if not handled correctly. Given that no opinion was sought from the Ranger community before making this move, I have my doubts that it will be. I'm out of words, so I'll leave you with this sobering read:
Female officers have complained that the lack of the school credential disadvantages them for promotions and commands, and in an election year their complaints have found champions among the political appointees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In a Department whose highest priority is the Secretary's million-dollar Gulfstream commute, and that has lost interest in two ongoing wars and a dozen other flashpoints where soldiers risk their lives daily, a stroke of a pen can upend a 60-year-old course that embodies a tradition with roots in the 18th Century.
As with everything else I write, these are my opinions and mine alone, and do not represent the position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or other Federal agency. That should cover it.