Thorner/O’Neil: Gender equality in military under General James Mattis

January 23, 2017

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By Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil – 
 
The election of Donald Trump guarantees there will be significant changes in our country.   That is especially true considering Trump will begin his presidency with a Republican controlled House and Senate, which should help him make the course corrections he promised and which millions of voters agreed was necessary.  
 
One of the more troubling policy changes of the Obama years involved our military.  Obama’s attempt to propose a new policy to draft women into our military and/or authorizing military women to join men fighting in dangerous combat zones most likely will not emerge as a primary topic of discussion any time soon, but neither is the issue likely to be forgotten by its supporters.  
 
There are women who seek to have total equality with men regarding military assignments, in spite of evidence that indicates integrating them with men into combat zones produces negative risks that could seriously jeopardize their safety as well as others in their unit.  The evidence is undeniable but so is the tenacity of those who want the changes.  
 
Most Americans oppose the idea of drafting women for the military (Selective Service), but supporters insist equality is important, and lament the opposition is purely biased due to gender prejudice. 
 
Opening up combat positions to women
 
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement in December 3, 2015, which opened all combat positions to women in 2016, is among the most momentous and controversial military decisions since President Harry S.Truman racially integrated the armed services in 1948.  In accordance, the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force are moving ahead to carry out Carter’s order. 
 
However, even those who support women in combat positions, question whether young women should be required, like young men, to register for the military draft.  The issue of mandatory military registration for women remains highly contested.
 
Women being able to serve in combat zones is less contested but certainly controversial. The question often asked is why would women even want to be in combat zones?  These are four responses offered: 1. Women claim If they wanted to avoid war zones, they would have volunteered for the peace corps, 2. They believe they should have equal opportunities and not be hindered by their sex, 3. If they can pass the qualifications, they should not be denied the opportunity and 3. Serving in combat zones helps them receive higher  commendations and promotions.  
 
Senator McCain and his secretive provision
 
Senator McCain, who heads the Senate’s Armed Service and is supportive of women serving in the military, claimed that military leaders wanted a draft for women.  In May of 2016 he slipped provisions into the 2017 Defense Bill which permitted it. McCain had the support of  General Neller,  a Marine military official who agrees with McCain.  However, the General’s personal opinion is not an official position of the U.S. Marine Corps and should not be considered as such.
 
Consider that this was the same McCain who failed to conduct public hearings in his Senate Armed Services Committee in the Fall of 2015, after an official request was made by General Joseph Dunford (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) to the Secretary of State to explore exceptions to women-in-direct-ground-combat mandates. Dunford’s request to more carefully decide the prudence of women in combat zones was supported by solid empirical data.
 
General Dunford also recently urged all service members to avoid engaging in political arguments, stating the military should not undermine its own credibility.  The General stated “I have a duty to protect the integrity and political neutrality of our military profession.”  Apparently, the General understands the need to base this issue on facts and evidence rather than a politically based agenda.
 
General Dempsey concurred and made a plea to active service members requesting they not make political statements on social media, after a protest video inspired by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was posted by a female sailor protesting what she considered racism in the national anthem.
 
Does gender integration make sense?
 
While advocates of gender integration say women are fully capable of performing the difficult and sometimes brutal tasks involved with combat, opponents state few women qualify for the higher standards and even fewer can meet the continual physical rigors of combat. They contend that female front-line soldiers could endanger their units and make them less lethal in battle.
 
The Center for Military Rediness, an independent, non-partisan, public policy organization, confirms this with their Don’t Draft Our Daughters Fact Sheet dated September 19, 2016.  More information is available at www.cmrlinkj.org.
 
National Security, not “Equality” should decide the Issue
 
If “Draft Our Daughters” legislation became law, any call-up of men ages 18-26 for military service would have to include an equal number of young women. Compelling arguments against drafting women state:
  • Even though some exceptional women may be able to meet minimal standards, the fact remains that most women cannot meet combat arms readiness standards while most men can and do.
  • A system that allows women to compete would have to divert scarce time and resources to find, evaluate, and ultimately train thousands of women ˗˗ just to find the very few who might be minimally qualified for difficult combat positions.
  • Jamming the SS system during a time of crisis, instead of concentrating on men who can be rapidly trained to fight in physically-demanding ground combat units, would create a political crisis and a paralyzing administrative overload at the worst possible time.
A new study confirms that women fall short of combat skills and documents that all-male units perform better than mixed gender ones. Critics of drafting women claim this should not be about satisfying social justice issues; it is about winning wars against dangerous enemies and protecting both our troops and the public from harm.
 
Un-equal burdens on Women
 
Further information from empirical studies have repeatedly shown that womens’ rates of injury are two- to ten-times greater than mens’ and even higher in load-bearing military occupations, which prompts critics of women in combat  to state:
  • It would not be “fair” or “equal” to register or draft women for military combat, since most do not have an equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers survive in that environment.
  • Misplaced resentment by feminists is no excuse; both military and civilian women have always volunteered and served in times of national emergency, and they will do so again. A mandatory draft simply is not needed and should not be lawfully required.
It would be prudent for Congress to initiate open hearings and allow the public to examine recent scientific research, tests comparing the physical capabilities of male and female volunteers, and be knowledgeable of the myriad of other serious problems associated with combining men and women in combat zones.
 
Facts proving there are numerous problems with the “Our Daughters Law” must be publicly exposed and documented.  It is not just common sense but facts which prove that allowing women to join men in combat zones creates unnecessary problems that would likely impede future readiness and thus create a potential catastrophic national emergency.  
 
Reprieve from Obama’s social experiments in military under a Trump Presidency
 
As reported on FoxNew.com on January 11, 2017, under Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President Trump’s Pentagon is likely to abandon social experiments for core missions to what could be an old-school emphasis on combat readiness and the spirit of the United States military. It is no surprise that certain Senate Democrats initially opposed his nomination.  Now that the General has been confirmed, it will be interesting to see if he remains consistent with his viewpoint on this issue and not be intimidated by the size and political power recently demonstrated by the politically charged “Women Marches”  in cities throughout our country protesting  our newly elected President and a perceived opinion he lacks concern for women.
 
Some critics say many of Obama’s decisions and choices were born more out of his passion to be “politically correct” and thus devoid of enough factual evidence to support what many found highly problematic decisions. That method of decision making is in direct contrast to the traditional U.S. military approach, which is one reason Obama’s interference in changing military policy was quietly questioned by military leaders, as well as the public.
 
This issue needs to be a top priority and a thorough investigation initiated by the Trump Administration in conjunction with our military leaders. Facts are essential going forward, not only so that the public can be assured our military has not been compromised by unnecessary and potentially harmful politically charged changes, but so that America retains the most powerful military possible to protect our people from enemies.
 
Military under General James Mattis 
 
Will General Mattis revisit the Obama Administration’s decision to name Navy ships for civil rights activists rather than those who bravely risked and/or gave their lives serving on those ships to protect all American citizens?  Many in the military hope that policy will be among the first to revisited.
Another questionable action initiated by the Obama administration regarded new rules that minimized expressions of Christianity in the ranks.  An example of this is several officers were disciplined for displaying bibles or gospel verses in their private quarters.  This appears to be in direct contradiction of our Constitutional right of religious freedom, which should not be   set aside for those in the military. Quite the opposite; those in harms way need this right more than most.
 
According to defense contractor and retired Army Col. Robert Maginnia, General Mattis will likely “bring the warrior ethos back to the Pentagon. Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News contributor, said the strong emphasis on social reform in the last eight years sometimes came at the expense of the military’s core objective.  As Keane was quoted saying:
 
“Social engineering was a distractor from what the main mission of the United States military was about. We were involved in conflict and war, and these reforms achieved a level of prominence that subordinated the issue of war itself.”
 
General Mattis and Women
 
General Mattis has made statements that indicate his position on this subject.  said women should not be in combat because, if they were, the nation’s enemies would no longer fear America’s awesome determination to defend herself.  He said “physical standards for combat jobs would become more lax and women would not have privacy for their bodily functions.  Mattis wisely stated there will be no more political correctness, just a focus on being warriors.
 
In a book on civilian-military relations, co-edited with Kori Schake, Mattis warned of the danger of civilian leaders with a “progressive agenda.”  His book also warns that “an uninformed public is permitting political leaders to impose an accretion of social conventions that are diminishing the combat power of our military.”
 
Conservatives must be wary of progressive Democrats
 
Despite positive signs in the soon-to-be Trump administration, the push to draft women as well as integrate them among men in combat zones will not go quietly away and neither will many other changes initiated within the last decade. Progressive Democrats will do their best to block Conservative Republicans from replacing specific Obama in initiated laws. Recent demonstrations within our cities seem to prove that point.
 
Conservatives now have the advantage and a widow of opportunity to work with the Trump administration to make America great again, but how long will it continue?  After all, it was Senator McCain, a Republican, who last year inserted the amendment in the 2017 National Defense bill that Obama came close to signing into law.  Each of us must use this time and opportunity wisely to make needed and appropriate changes where necessary, but also fight against bills which we see as potentially harmful.  The “silent majority” must find its voice and speak out so that both liberal and conservative voices are equally heard. Hold our media accountable for truth and fairness, because our future depends upon it.
 
Saturday, January 21, 2017 –  Thorner/O’Neil:  Will Trump drop his predecessor’s ridiculous notion of drafting women?  http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2017/01/thorneroneil-will-trump-drop-the-ridiculous-notion-of-drafting-women.html#more
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