From Burning Draft Cards to Drafting Women?

 

It was 22 or 23 years ago, I think, that I wrote in the Air Force Times a cautionary article on the combat exclusion that prohibited women from joining front line combat units. My concern then, as now, was that lifting the combat exclusion would removed the only remaining barrier to our daughters, wives, moms, and sisters being eligible for a military draft.  

Asked about the issue yesterday, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded that his lifting of the combat exclusion could indeed make women eligible for the draft. With characteristic grit and determination, he added that he doesn’t know who runs the Selective Service, but predicted that they will, “…have to exercise some judgment based on what we just did.”  

In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Rostker v. Goldberg, that the requirement for males to sign up for Selective Service was constitutional precisely because women were excluded from serving in front line combat units. “The court ruled that the Selective Service process is designed to assemble combat-ready people, and right now women are excluded from combat arms,” said Professor Anne Coughlin, of the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville.  “Therefore,” she said, “they can’t participate in the very thing that the draft is for.” But that was then. Now, retired Colonel Peter Mansoor, a former US Army brigade commander and veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, currently a professor of military history at Ohio State, says, “If women are acceptable to serve in combat, they are acceptable to serve whether they volunteer or not. You can’t have the frosting on the cake and not the cake underneath.”  

Say, does anyone remember the part of President Obama’s little presentation of The Life of Julia, where she gets her draft notice?  What about the part where draftee Julia is involuntarily deployed to some hellhole in the Mideast where the beneficent and diligent attention of Secretary of State John Kerry has germinated a fresh crop of Islamic fanatics? I can’t remember seeing the slide of her poorly defended position being overrun by said fanatics while her commander pleads for assistance that, pace Benghazi, never arrives. But, as Hillary Clinton said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” It’s merely a bump in the road of progress.  

It speaks volumes that the party of young men who once gleefully burned their draft cards has degenerated into the party of old men who declare their daughters and granddaughters eligible for the draft. But to do so in Orwellian tones of, “…moving forward with a plan to eliminate all gender-based barriers to service,” adds injury to insult. Progressives, who once accused Republicans of waging a war on women for declining to force others to pay for Julia’s sexual proclivities, now wage a literal war on women complete with the possibility of involuntary combat assignments. 

Were the American people consulted on this? Did their representatives in Congress have a chance to weigh in on an issue that affects over half the population? To echo Ms. Clinton, “What difference does it make?” What difference indeed, to the man who, at his inauguration only a few days earlier, described us as, “…a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.” But apparently, this generation can’t be trusted to choose its own light bulbs or toilets, let alone deal with weighty issues like making our daughters eligible for involuntary military service.  

Personally, one of the reasons I spent 20 years in uniform and volunteered to go to very unpleasant places was so that my daughter, my sisters, my mother and grandmothers might never have to taste the bitter cup of life under such inhumane and inhuman conditions. It seems now that my service in that regard might have been squandered. Which brings me to the question of what has become of our military leaders?  

The peculiarities of my work on active duty required that my immediate supervisor had to be a colonel or higher. As a result, I worked directly for literally dozens of colonels, brigadier generals and major generals during my career. Of these senior leaders, there were maybe a half dozen that I felt routinely put the interests of their troops over that of their own careers. Of these half dozen, there were two that I would gladly follow to storm the gates of hell itself. They never made it beyond the rank of brigadier general. The worst of the bunch progressed to three and four-star rank. The problem, as I saw in the Air Force at least, was that promotions in the senior ranks were highly political affairs. Combat prowess and a devotion to duty as well as to the troops, took second place to checking off various requirements for progression through the ranks.

“Everything you write is correct, Sergeant Carter,” a colonel on the verge of retiring said to me one day when I presented a letter for his signature. The letter detailed the disastrous effects of a new policy and advocated a change in direction. “But I can’t sign it,” he said, “because it would put me in a ticklish situation.” The guy was two weeks from retirement and, even at that late stage, couldn’t be persuaded to take a stand. Such fecklessness, such foolishness from people who have been decorated for valor under fire, is as beyond comprehension now as it was then.  

Where are the flag officers who refuse to take part in the further destruction of our force? Where were the commanders that refused to  be complicit in our surrender and defeat in Afghanistan? What in the world has gotten into the heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they give their imprimatur of approval to a policy that can’t help but detract from combat effectiveness and puts in jeopardy the very people our troops fight to defend? Is there not a single one prepared to resign in protest over the shabby treatment of the people under his command? Just once, I’d like to see a senior military leader actually lead something other than own career interests. Just once, I’d like to see them subordinate their interest to that of the troops who have trusted them with their very lives. The nation deserves better than this.  

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter: Ricochet Contributor and all around gentleman /scholar Victor Davis Hanson addresses this topic nicely on NRO.  His concluding paragraph: 

    One way or another, we have now apparently made a number of assumptions: that in the next war we will see overtly gay men and women fully integrated in small ground units amid firefights and carnage at the front; that this will not affect negatively, but more likely improve, U.S. combat efficacy;and that those intolerant reactionaries who object and feel less safe or simply less comfortable will shun the military — and that the military will not suffer as a consequence of their absence, but more likely improve. If all true, then we are onto the brave new world!

    I know I’m repeating myself…but I would really like to know if VDH is aware of any examples in history where men and women fought alongside each other in battle and what the result was.  Surely this must have happened before…maybe in ancient Greek or Roman times…or maybe in some other (non-Western) cultures.

    • #61
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince

    After a couple seconds of Googling, I found a Wikipedia article on the Dahomey Amazons—an all female militia from West Africa:

    The Dahomey Amazons or Mino were a Fon (a major West African ethnic and linguistic group in the country of Benin and southwest Nigeria) all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey which lasted until the end of the 19th century. 

    The article goes on to say:

    …according to some sources, the French army lost several battles to them—not because of French “hesitation,” but due to the female warriors’ skill in battle that was “the equal of every contemporary body of male elite soldiers from among the colonial powers.”

    Now I realize that we’re sort of comparing apples and oranges—the Dahomey Amazons were an all female outfit and probably not representative of the social dynamic in an integrated (male and female) situation.  But at any rate, the Dahomey Amazons should remove any doubt about the potential effectiveness of women soldiers.  I don’t know…maybe the gender-equality advocates are on to something.  I can tell you from personal experience that some women can be particularly vicious.

    • #62
  3. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Black Prince

    I know I’m repeating myself…but I would really like to know if VDH is aware of any examples in history where men and women fought alongside each other in battle and what the result was.  Surely this must have happened before…maybe in ancient Greek or Roman times…or maybe in some other (non-Western) cultures. · 20 minutes ago

    Edited 2 minutes ago

    I don’t know the answer,..but trust me, if a non-Western culture was successful with it, Justice Ginsburg will incorporate it into a Supreme Court ruling.  

    • #63
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    …but trust me, if a non-Western culture was successful with it, Justice Ginsburg will incorporate it into a Supreme Court ruling.

    Ain’t that the truth…

    • #64
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee

    Dave, I’ll comment in three parts:

    You know what I think about those promoted to higher rank over the bodies of their troops.  God knows we saw it often enough.  And like someone else said, I don’t think it’s a problem that will be fixed without a major war.

    Women are already serving beside men in combat.  There really hasn’t been a front line as such since the Korean War.  Not all combat is equal, however, and I will readily admit women serving on female engagement teams experience things differently from women fighter pilots.  I do not doubt their ability to serve in combat units and I don’t think much of men who can’t think past their genitalia when it comes to women in the lines.  The key is the individual abilities of the combatant, not a blanket “all are the same” attitude.

    Dave, you and I disagree on drafting women. Not that I don’t understand and even agree with your position.  But I still say that if my boy must have his liberty revoked in order to be a citizen, why shouldn’t my daughter? There’s more of course, than that.

    • #65
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell: There are two kinds of women: those who are feminists and those who are not.Neither group will treat men fairly. Each group will expect different kinds of privileges and preferences, but both groups will expect privileges and preferences. Maybe, with 100 more years of re education, we can create women who will treat men fairly…

    So, basically you’re saying that men have to “suck it up” just because we have a [reference to male sexual organ deleted].  Wow.  That seems rather selfish, doesn’t it? · 11 hours ago

    Edited 10 hours ago

    Look, I didn’t ask for equality-and the teenaged girls who will be sent into combat didn’t ask for it either. As long as I trust the men around me, I feel no need to vote, and I am totally against affirmative action; I have no problem with men running the world, as long as those men are generally willing to put the best interests of other people first.

    The only way to achieve total equality is to make men and women exactly alike. I like the fact that men and women are different.

    • #66
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Simon Templar: Sorry, is there a way to delete these? · 6 hours ago

    Edited 5 hours ago

    I don’t know…but if anyone knows, I’d like to know too!!  (That a lot of “knows”!)

    • #67
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    jt

    Black Prince

    …come on now…be honest…we’re all friends here…you can’t really be serious.

    There’s been some interesting and controversial research indicating that people are very reluctant to kill others even when in life-threatening situations like war. Lt. Col Dave Grossman, drawing from work done by S.L.A Marshall states:

    Marshall’s  study of World War II veterans …. provided the shocking statistics that only -% of American soldiers were willing to deliberately aim at an enemy and shoot them dead.

    From Marshall’s wikipedia page:

    Marshall claimed that of the World War II U.S. troops in actual combat, 75% never fired their personal weapons at the enemy for the purpose of killing, even though they were engaged in combat and under direct threat. (Later research has cast doubts on his methods, but research into killing ratios of other wars, including the U.S. Civil War, has supported this claim.)· 9 hours ago

    Very interesting research…thanks!  So, if both men and (presumably) women “hesitate” then it shouldn’t be used a basis to disqualify women from serving in combat.

    • #68
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Having a healthy, warm body will be a big factor in determining who is drafted. And standards might be different. As I understand it the military has been changing recruitment standards over a long period of time.

    Since the late 1950’s the Army’s physical training programs have not been as rigorous as they were from the mid-1940’s and 1956. Last I heard the Army has decided to concentrate more on “functional fitness” and that has evolved since the 1990’s to make the volunteers less fit than the military of WWII.

    Regarding Benghazi all I can say is that the world is not getting safer.   I prefer this President stick to using drones and leave our fighting troops out of his plans. He is in way over his head and our troops deserve to fight, die and hopefully survive for better.

    Black Prince

    Sweezle: I think that will be the wrong decision. And one we should challenge. …………

    With respect to standards…in a real war-time situation (e.g. WWII) I doubt that we’ll have the same standards for draftees as we currently do for volunteers. …………….

    · 8 minutes ago        

    • #69
  10. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Robert E. Lee: Dave, I’ll comment in three parts:

    Women are already serving beside men in combat.  There really hasn’t been a front line as such since the Korean War.  Not all combat is equal, however, and I will readily admit women serving on female engagement teams experience things differently from women fighter pilots.  I do not doubt their ability to serve in combat units and I don’t think much of men who can’t think past their genitalia when it comes to women in the lines.  The key is the individual abilities of the combatant, not a blanket “all are the same” attitude.

    Dave, you and I disagree on drafting women. Not that I don’t understand and even agree with your position.  But I still say that if my boy must have his liberty revoked in order to be a citizen, why shouldn’t my daughter? There’s more of course, than that. · 11 minutes ago

    Bob, my brother,…next time I’m in Clarksville, let’s crack open a bottle and solve this problem, okay?  

    • #70
  11. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Robert E. Lee:  …  But I still say that if my boy must have his liberty revoked in order to be a citizen, why shouldn’t my daughter? There’s more of course, than that. · 15 minutes ago

    By the way, the easiest answer is because your daughter is much more of a lady than your son, thankfully so.   And I adore them both.  

    • #71
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    Look, I didn’t ask for equality-and the teenaged girls who will be sent into combat didn’t ask for it either. As long as I trust the men around me, I feel no need to vote, and I am totally against affirmative action; I have no problem with men running the world, as long as those men are generally willing to put the best interests of other people first.

    As I said in a comment on another thread, I can only respond to the world as it is, not as I would like it to be.  If women wanted to return to a time and place where traditional roles were followed, they’d have my full support.  But it’s (apparently) not what the majority of women want.  I don’t have any magical powers and I can’t (and wouldn’t want to, quite frankly) force women to be more “traditional”.  If “modern” women want their cake and eat it too, that’s fine…it’s just that I’m not going to pay for it.

    • #72
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: Having a healthy, warm body will be a big factor in determining who is drafted. And standards might be different. As I understand it the military has been changing recruitment standards over a long period of time.

    Since the late 1950’s the Army’s physical training programs have not been as rigorous as they were from the mid-1940’s and 1956. Last I heard the Army has decided to concentrate more on “functional fitness” and that has evolved since the 1990’s to make the volunteers less fit than the military of WWII.

    Thanks for the info…I suppose it also depends on how badly we need the troops.  In a Vietnam-like situation we could afford to pick and choose, but in a “we’re-on-the-verge-of-losing-the-country” situation, we might take a more “all hands on deck” approach to the draft.

    • #73
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee
    Judithann Campbell

    The only way to achieve total equality is to make men and women exactly alike. I like the fact that men and women are different.

     I too like the fact that men and women are different.

    I think of equality as equality of opportunity.  Everyone is different.  But having the opportunity to do something, without artificial restriction, is what I think equality means.

    • #74
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    I have no problem with men running the world, as long as those men are generally willing to put the best interests of other people first.

     The majority of university graduates are now women…and as more and more women get into positions of power, they will “run the world” right alongside men.  In fact, if the current trends in education hold, I can envision a day when women will run the world.  This is reality…we can’t turn back the clock…the days of “Leave it to Beaver” are a nostalgic fantasy…I don’t know what else to say.

    • #75
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pencilvania

    So suppose there’s a military action and several of our male & female soldiers are captured, by some of today’s current savages.  They decide to release the men – after torturing the women in front of them.  How demoralized an army would we have? 

    Why, it’s almost as cruel as sending a gay official into a danger zone in a Muslim nation.

    • #76
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    By the way, the easiest answer is because your daughter is much more of a lady than your son, thankfully so.  

    You know, Dave, I must confess that I have traditional impulses when it comes to the roles of men and women, but when I stop and think about it, the logical part of my brain can’t compute.  Are traditionalists really on solid ground or are they followers of an outdated cultural dogma without really thinking things through?  I mean, in any logical and moral sense, how can you justify the sacrifice of men over women?  I am asking this question in all sincerity…I would really like to know.  I don’t buy the “because women bear children” argument…maybe this argument was stronger in the past…but  I envision a day in the not-to-distant future where a man can become pregnant (i.e. carry a child to term..perhaps combining in vitro fertilization with some yet unknown process).  What inherent quality do women posses that gives them such an elevated status in society?

    • #77
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee
    Pencilvania: So suppose there’s a military action and several of our male & female soldiers are captured, by some of today’s current savages.  They decide to release the men – after torturing the women in front of them.  How demoralized an army would we have? 

    Why, it’s almost as cruel as sending a gay official into a danger zone in a Muslim nation. · 0 minutes ago

    Compare the statistics: the number of American military women sexually assaulted by the enemy, the number of American military women sexually assaulted by their own comrades in arms, and the number of American military women assaulted by their fellow officer cadets at our military and naval academies.

    • #78
  19. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee

    Dave, thanks for the kind words.  I can’t wait for you to get here.

    • #79
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Dave –  I am grateful and in awe of your military service and gentlemanly ways. I have been married to a southern man for 42 years and I appreciate him daily.

    Women of my generation might not have been able to fight along side men but I’m not so sure that is a good reason to prevent it in the future.

    Patriotism in our military plays a very important role. Even more when we are asking people to die to protect us. But what we view today as shared cultural value depends less on sexual orientation and gender roles that it once did.

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: … The draft is a separate issue and has little to ………..

    In the second world war, women went to work on bases, in hospitals, and in factories across the country.  The war would not have been won without their work…. One of the things our troops fight for is American culture itself,..our ideals and heritage.  If that is thrown into the dustbin, then we have reached an ugly point in our society in my humble opinion, and I have to wonder what we’re even fighting for.   · 1 hour ago

    • #80
  21. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: Dave –  I am grateful and in awe of your military service and gentlemanly ways. I have been married to a southern man for 42 years and I appreciate him daily.

    Women of my generation might not have been able to fight along side men but I’m not so sure that is a good reason to prevent it in the future.

    Patriotism in our military plays a very important role. Even more when we are asking people to die to protect us. But what we view today as shared cultural value depends less on sexual orientation and gender roles that it once did.

    Thank you sincerely.  As to what sort of shared cultural value we are building today, it seems to be shaping up to be one hell of a paradise, and they may build it if they wish.  But it will be without my assistance.  

    • #81
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    We still haven’t recovered as a nation from Vietnam. The military leaders, the troops that served haven’t all healed and I remain uncertain if we are learning the right historical and military lessons today from that war.

    Black Prince

    Sweezle: Having a healthy, warm body will be a big factor in determining who is drafted. And standards might be different. As I understand it the military has been changing recruitment standards over a long period of time.

    Since the late 1950’s the Army’s physical training programs have not been as rigorous as they were from the mid-1940’s and 1956. Last I heard the Army has decided to concentrate more on “functional fitness” and that has evolved since the 1990’s to make the volunteers less fit than the military of WWII.

    Thanks for the info…I suppose it also depends on how badly we need the troops.  In a Vietnam-like situation we could afford to pick and choose, but in a “we’re-on-the-verge-of-losing-the-country” situation, we might take a more “all hands on deck” approach to the draft. · 16 minutes ago

    Edited 14 minutes ago

    • #82
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: We still haven’t recovered as a nation from Vietnam. The military leaders, the troops that served haven’t all healed and I remain uncertain if we are learning the right historical and military lessons today from that war.

    True.

    • #83
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @

    If Republicans don’t fight women in combat, they will be missing a trick. there are lots of women, especially poor women who either don’t vote or are inclined to vote democrat, who will support candidates who oppose drafting women. The main reason I always voted Republican was because I thought that Republicans wanted to keep women out of combat; I didn’t vote for Scott Brown because he supported sending women into combat. If Republicans decide to give up this fight, I will stop voting for them.

    Making sure that men are treated fairly seems to be a big concern for many conservatives: good luck with that. There are two kinds of women: those who are feminists and those who are not. Neither group will treat men fairly. Each group will expect different kinds of privileges and preferences, but both groups will expect privileges and preferences. Maybe, with 100 more years of re education, we can create women who will treat men fairly, and then all will be right with the world. In the shorter term, conservatives who go along with women in combat will lose elections.

    • #84
  25. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Black Prince …You know, Dave, I must confess that I have traditional impulses when it comes to the roles of men and women, but when I stop and think about it, the logical part of my brain can’t compute.  Are the traditionalists really on solid ground or are they followers of an outdated cultural dogma without really thinking things through?  I mean, in any logical and moral sense, how can you justify the sacrifice of men over women?  I am asking this question in all sincerity…I would really like to know.  I don’t buy the “because women bear children” argument…maybe this argument was stronger in the past…but  I envision a day in the not-to-distant future where a man can become pregnant (i.e. carry a child to term..perhaps combining in vitro fertilization with some yet unknown process).  What inherent quality do women posses that gives them such an elevated status in society? · 9 minutes ago

    Edited 1 minute ago

    That question deserves its own thread, I think.  And I’ll gladly participate.  But I must get some rest before tomorrow’s drive.  Enjoyed the interaction, Black Prince.  

    • #85
  26. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell:

    In the shorter term, conservatives who go along with women in combat will lose elections. · 0 minutes ago

    I really don’t think that women in combat is a make-or-break issue for conservative politicians.

    • #86
  27. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Robert E. Lee

    Judithann Campbell

    The only way to achieve total equality is to make men and women exactly alike. I like the fact that men and women are different.

     I too like the fact that men and women are different.

    I think of equality as equality of opportunity.  Everyone is different.  But having the opportunity to do something, without artificial restriction, is what I think equality means. · 8 minutes ago

    Equality isn’t just about opportunity; it is also about responsibility. Feminists want men and women to be exactly alike; they are already in the process of lowering standards to allow women into combat. Once a requisite number of women meet the lowered standards, they will say, “See, women can be in combat”, and then they will start pushing to draft women into combat. Teenaged girls will be told that it is their patriotic responsibility to become as much like men as possible: it isn’t about providing women with opportunities. It’s about destroying masculinity and feminity, and making everyone totally androgynous.

    • #87
  28. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    That question deserves its own thread, I think.  And I’ll gladly participate.  But I must get some rest before tomorrow’s drive.  Enjoyed the interaction, Black Prince.   · 2 minutes ago

    Thanks, Dave…I really appreciate all your insights.  Have a good night and stay safe on the road tomorrow.  Cheers!

    • #88
  29. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell: There are two kinds of women: those who are feminists and those who are not. Neither group will treat men fairly.  Each group will expect different kinds of privileges and preferences, but both groups will expect privileges and preferences. Maybe, with 100 more years of re education, we can create women who will treat men fairly…

    So, basically you’re saying that men have to “suck it up” just because we have a [reference to male sexual organ deleted].  Wow.  That seems rather selfish, doesn’t it?

    • #89
  30. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    Teenaged girls will be told that it is their patriotic responsibility to become as much like men as possible: it isn’t about providing women with opportunities. It’s about destroying masculinity and femininity, and making everyone totally androgynous.

    Right.  So, realistically, what do you propose to do about this?  As I’ve alluded to in previous comments, the momentum is definitely not on your side.

    • #90
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