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
    @SimonTemplar

    Continued from #97 – final:

    Here’s an idea.  

    Training objective for Female candidate for USMC ground combat arms MOS when placed at 9,000 feet above sea level in 6 feet of snow and given military style cross country skis/poles, 100 pound pack, helmet, and rifle:  without aid or assistance – mount up all kit and move out in less than 2 minutes.

    • #121
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @LizWirth

    The most important thing needing to be acknowledged about women is not that we are the weaker sex, just the very fact we give birth to others, by nature it would be hard to take a life away without question.  Excepting only in imminent defense of our own children.  I’m sick of the silliness of feminist equality, because we are very different from men.  I am strong, tenacious and would proudly defend my country.  However, face to face with a man pointing a weapon, who I know is also someone else’s son, brother or husband it might cause me that split second of analysis that proves deadly to myself and others I would be with.  It’s funny how the decision to allow gays into the military for fear that they would pose mental discomfort to other soldiers, but putting women on the front lines barely gets discussion.  I am proud of my gender and the compassion that comes with it. I see pictures of men crying carrying male casualties off the field, could a combat troop of men not be distracted by removing a female casualty?  Might just be the target the opposition aims for first.

    • #122
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Arahant
    John Murdoch:  Objecting to yet another foolish political gesture by the Administration will achieve nothing. Using their own policies and schemes to force them to confront their own folly may–MAY–cause them to say, “oh, wait–did we focus-group this before we had Leon make that announcement?”

    I like your approach, Mr. M.; however, expecting good results from this administration is illogical.  More likely, you’ll give them a new idea.  Remember, it was Charlie Rangel pushing the draft.

    • #123
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @Arahant

    Dave,

    About the only thing that ever streamlines the military bureaucracy and gets the warriors in charge instead of the military politicians is a war that threatens the existence of the nation.  Even then, the transition can take years.  And it’s not like it’s new, either.  Remember how Macomb  got promoted in 1828?  It was because Old Fuss and Feathers and Gaines were brawling over who should be on top.  Remember the problems Lincoln had in the War of Northern Aggression in getting a general who would fight, as opposed to McClellan?  Or, as a Zoomie, remember all the troubles Billy Mitchell got into by speaking his mind and telling the truth?

    And if we ever did get a really competent commander at a four-star level again, he’d probably be crossing the Rubicon the next day.

    • #124
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell:  It is high risk/ high reward behavior, but it also happens to be the right thing to do, and yes, women must speak out too.  Some of us are speaking out.

    …and God bless you for it!  Thanks for a very stimulating discussion and I hope you have a great weekend.  Take care!

    • #125
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Foxfier –

    I think there are questions here asking basics about IF women can fight or if they are capable (physically and/or mentally) of serving on the front lines.  “If” this should happen is apparently being answered by the  the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    If  the number of fighting men and women have to be exactly equal to determine outcome it becomes a catch-22. How does that work?

    By 2012 12% of military positions in Israel were off-limits to women, including combat positions in the armored corps and infantry. A little over 30% of the IDF  is made up of women. And Israeli military policy continues to evolve.

    Foxfier

    Sweezle: Simon Templar  -And I think you are exaggerating …………

    The point being discussed is not “can women ever fight.”  It is “should we seriously be talking about using women as cannon fodder and grunts.”

    For history to support your notion, you’d have to find examples of organized groups with equal numbersof men and women integrated into highly physical combat………..

    Israel, last I heard, wasnot as has been claimed………….

    • #126
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    I cannot compare your experience with my reading and thinking. Clearly you are in a superior position to understand the situation and raise questions about policy due to your experience as a Marine Infantry Officer for 25 years.  I apologize if I was insulting or dismissive about your opinion. Fatigue and family obligations kept me from responding sooner.

    And TY for your service and sharing your experience. America is appreciative and so am I personally.

    Simon Templar

    Sweezle: Simon Templar  –

    I am not comparing apples to oranges and you are missing… And I think you are exaggerating…

    You, priests, and philosophers think, but Marines know.  And I one thing that I know for sure is that, even in this modern era, grunts still carry backbreaking loads for days on end and then when completely exhausted have to close with and destroy the enemy; and yes, that still means mano a mano from time to time……………………… 

    • #127
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I would like to thank all of the men who are speaking out against women in combat: God Bless each and every one of you. The women who don’t want to go into combat, ie, most women, are often not great at speaking up, and they are never as loud (or as well covered by the media) as feminists, but they are more likely to speak up if they know that there are men who will support them. So, Thank You to all of the men who are speaking out on this issue: you are the only ones standing between us and barbarism.

    • #128
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    Sweezle: I cannot compare your experience with my reading and thinking. Clearly you are in a superior position to understand the situation and raise questions about policy due to your experience as a Marine Infantry Officer for 25 years.  I apologize if I was insulting or dismissive about your opinion. Fatigue and family obligations kept me from responding sooner.

    And TY for your service and sharing your experience. America is appreciative and so am I personally.

    Simon Templar

    Sweezle: Simon Templar  –

    I am not comparing apples to oranges and you are missing… And I think you are exaggerating…

     in this modern era, grunts still carry backbreaking loads for days on end and then when completely exhausted have to close with and destroy the enemy; and yes, that still means mano a mano from time to time……………………… 

    Thank you but absolutely no need for an apology.  I joined this writer’s club because I wanted to hear from a sophisticated community, and share “my story” with intelligent conservative civilians like you who rarely, if ever, get a glimpse into my world (Hollywood doesn’t count).  I never felt insulted by you, more frustrated with myself for failing to convey my message. 

    • #129
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Joe,

    Your post and the experience you related is disturbing. Telling you I am sorry it happened or it makes me sad seems inadequate. Sorry.

    The Army eased their standards on the ‘Army Physical Readiness Test’ in the 1980’s. And that soldier’s that fail the test are not discharged as they once were supposed to be and that has been an issue for decades. The reducing of standards has been gradual since the late 1950’s but the formal fitness tests were only started in 1942.

    What I don’t know is how important any of this history is in the face of high rates of military suicides in our current times. That is probably for another thread topic but it strikes me as an important question that gets little attention or understanding.

    Joe Boyle

    Sweezle: I suppose it also depends on how badly we need the troops…………

    · 8 hours ago

    Edited 8 hours ago

    I was drafted in a Vietnam-like situation. Many of my fellow draftees clearly didn’t belong in the Army. One, who I guess by today’s standards would be classed as autistic, ended his ordeal with a M16 round. · 8 hours ago

    • #130
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Simon Templar:

    Thank you but absolutely no need for an apology.  I joined this writer’s club because I wanted to hear from a sophisticated community, and share “my story” with intelligent conservative civilians like you who rarely, if ever, get a glimpse into my world (Hollywood doesn’t count).  I never felt insulted by you, more frustrated with myself for failing to convey my message.

    TY for considering me among the “intelligent conservative civilians” and for sharing your experience. This is absolutely the first time that anyone, much less several posters, have engaged me in discussion or responded to my comments.

    Normally I read, then I think about things I read, and occasionally I comment at Ricochet. I have enjoyed this thread immensely. 

    Thanks to all of you and Dave for starting this discussion.

    • #131
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @jetstream
    Simon Templar

    …  Marine Corps’ Combined Action Platoons (CAP) program had a good shot at being successful, until General Westmoreland decided to end it in favor of his Dien Bien Phu II.      · 5 hours ago

    Edited 2 hours ago

    The Vietnam War was a strategic and tactical wonder.  It’s hard to think how senior military and civilian leadership could have been any worse.  I guess women in the infantry could have topped it all off.

    I‘ve been FAC’d up, I’ve been FAC’d down, I’ve been FAC’d at every turn …  friendly FAC was a good natured poke in everyone’s ribs, probably was a direct hit on senior leadership …

    • #132
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @user_140230

    Let’s assume that non-pregnant women can handle the all of physical aspects of combat as well as men. How should pregnancy in the military be handled? Won’t this have an effect on combat unit’s cohesion? With an all-male unit there’s an understanding that we’re all kind of stuck in this together so we better back each other up.  Pregnancy seems to give the women an opt-out card.

    The military as a large bureaucratic organization may be able to handle this. Viewing the military as a couple of dozen young soldiers in combat, it’s hard to see how women will be trusted and accepted when they have the option to honourably leave.

    Since pregnancy and birth are no longer an accident but  a woman’s choice should there be restrictions or punishments put on female service members that become pregnant, particularly during combat?

    My understanding is that pregnancy is currently a problem that the military manages to work around and pretends doesn’t exist. Will they still be able to do this with combat units? I see very little discussion of how pregnancy affects military readiness.

    • #133
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Jt: what restriction or punishment would be worse than the possibility of being killed in battle, or captured by the enemy? In the old days, some armies used to shoot soldiers who abandoned. I don’t envision that practice coming back, especially with regards to pregnant women. The only way to deal with the pregnancy issue is to keep women out of combat.

    If women are ever drafted, America will experience the most incredible baby boom this world has ever seen.

    • #134
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Black Prince: I think you could do a great deal of good by speaking out against feminism. Yes, you would be shot down by some, but anybody who says anything is shot down by some people. In many or most cases, young women who pursue a feminist lifestyle believe that what they are doing will be pleasing to their future husbands; that is what they have been told. If some men started speaking out against feminism, you might be surprised by how many women wouldn’t hate them for it.

    Example: Tucker Max. Some women hate him, but some women love him; if Tucker Max can gain female fans doing what he does, then men who speak out against feminism and in favor of things like chivalry can gain female fans too. It is high risk/ high reward behavior, but it also happens to be the right thing to do, and yes, women must speak out too. Some of us are speaking out.

    • #135
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