Service in the Military is about…Service

Good of the Service?

One of the most frustrating things revealed about American culture these days could be seen in the wake of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s move to include women in front-line combat.  Media outlets immediately sought out comments particularly from women, and particularly from veterans and current service members. The responses portrayed were almost uniformly positive, but most of the responses I saw or heard in media were entirely vapid.  In local media, one younger man was asked his opinion, and his response was approximately that it’s “a good thing that women will be treated equally.”  Two things about this exercise are particular despicable to me, and I don’t know which is worse:  The degree to which the media helps drive public opinion, or the simple fact that public opinion is so easily driven. To me, it’s obvious that far too many of our citizens no longer think before speaking, because that sort of assessment misses the entire point of military service, and the purpose of the military altogether.  Simply put, service in the military isn’t at all about you.

To those who may be somewhat confused, let me preface the discussion with a few simple facts.  The purpose of the military is to be the war-fighting appendage of the nation, and its role ought to be nothing more or less than to obtain victory in the missions into which the chain-of-command thrusts the services, with the goal of victory at minimal cost.  Victory first, cost minimization second.  Everything else the military does is pointless if it doesn’t accomplish these things, in this order.  We could have a much larger military spending our entire GDP in support of it, but that would defeat the purpose of defending the country, since nobody would have the funds for any other purpose.  Let us admit then that we wish to spend roughly that which it takes in blood and treasure, but no more, in defending the country and carrying out the war-fighting missions of our nation.

Naturally, a military unable to defend the country, or to obtain victory, is pointless in most respects.  If the military force we fund is unable to protect the nation, one must ask: Why fund it at all?  Do we like parades so well that we will support them with hundreds of billions of dollars, in perpetuity, with no hope that the force we’ve built can defend the nation and win its wars?  This would be preposterous, both from an economic and a moral standpoint.  Let us then admit that the first mission of the military, and the most critical end for which it is formed is to fight our battles, win our wars, and to do so while spending as little in blood and treasure as we’re reasonably able.

Having said this, let us examine the notions advanced by the vast bulk of those approving publicly the notion of women in combat as a matter of fairness and equality to women.  Let it be noted at the outset that the purpose of the military is not fairness, and not some contrived notion of radical egalitarianism, but the defense of the nation, and any policy imposed on the force must meet the singular test posed by the premise that the purpose of the military is to win our wars, and to defend our country while exacting the lowest reasonable cost in lives and money.

If a policy is implemented that doesn’t serve that end, or improve that goal, we must ask why our leaders would undertake it.  I would like for one military logistical analyst or one combat veteran to explain how either of the two goals explained above are augmented by including women in front-line combat.  There may be a good deal of emotionally-charged political grandstanding, but the factual answer is that combat effectiveness of units will be degraded by the mass-inclusion of women in combat roles.  You may not like reading these words, but they are no less true for your opposition.

Women do not meet the same rigorous physical standards as men.  Don’t take it from me, but instead take it directly from the Army’s Physical Fitness Test scoring system.  For the purpose of this discussion, I have built a table with data from the scoring tables available elsewhere. This table is a condensed representation of the difference in standards between male and female soldiers, aged 17-21, as currently in use by the United States Army. The Army uses three events to rate the fitness of soldiers, being the push-up, the sit-up, and the two-mile run, performed in that order by official scorekeepers. The first two events are time-limited to two minutes each. I have placed the top and bottom passing scores possible for each sex, in each event. Please direct your attention to this table:

Push-ups
Sit-ups
2-Mile Run
Repetitions
Points
Repetitions
Points
Time
Points
Male Maximum
71
100
78
100
13:00
100
Male Minimum
42
60
53
60
15:54
60
Female Maximum
42
100
78
100
15:36
100
Female Minimum
19
60
53
60
18:54
60

The entire APFT(Army Physical Fitness Test) is based on a minimum passing score of 180, and a maximum of 300 points. In the Army, this has a bearing on promotions particular from E-4 to E-5 and from E-5 to E-6. I would like readers to observe particularly the vast performance disparity in both Push-ups and the 2-Mile run. Notice that the Maximum Score for women is obtained in Push-ups at the minimum passing score for men, and that the Maximum Score in the 2-Mile Run for women is just eighteen seconds faster than the slowest time acceptable for men.

One can argue over how much these differences would matter in support units(although they could, and probably do,) but on the battlefield, and in combat units, this is an unmitigated disaster. What’s worse, the actual difference in the Push-Up event is much greater than these scores reveal, because the average woman is shorter and lighter, both qualities placing the individual at mechanical advantage in the event. A 5’10″ male weighting 170 lbs. will on average find it easier to obtain a high score in the push-up event than a 6’2″ male,perhaps slightly more muscular, but weighing 190 lbs. Due to physiological differences between men and women, these vastly differing standards describe a significant disparity in capacity. We can wonder about how much that might matter in a rear area driving a truck, but in a forward area, heaving 100-lbs 155mm artillery projectiles around, it is bound to be quite inhibiting. Climbing in and out of the foxhole, pulling oneself up over walls and barriers, or having to carry a wounded comrade would quickly expose the difference.

What one cannot seriously argue is that the average woman serving will always obtain the top scores, or that the average man serving will only obtain the bottom.  This disparity describes a vast variance in capability that can be lethal on the battlefield.  It is not to say that there is no variance among men, but it is to say that the difference between the average man in the force and the average woman in the force is certain to be substantial.  Since the military can only make rules that ultimately describe the average, perhaps rewarding those substantially above the mean, while ejecting those well below it, we must deal with the average, but not the exceptions.

The question then becomes:  What does a military combat unit gain and/or lose by including women in direct combat roles?  The simple truth is that in terms of the mission, and the likely costs of achieving it, this is an equation that spells potential or even probable disaster.  The notion being advanced by those who advocate the idea is that the rewards achieved are social and/or individual.  It is said by some that women add something intangible to the force by virtue of their presence, that justifies the additional losses in blood and treasure that their presence will on average impose.  That may seem like a nifty argument unless it’s your blood or your treasure being unnecessarily expended, in which case it’s not such a good idea after all, and all the mystical-sounding social “wisdom” loses its ephemeral sheen.

The other argument is purely individual, and it is made in terms of notions of equality of opportunity.  Let me explain this in simplest terms so that the brutally thoughtless might grasp it:  The Armed Services do not exist to hand out opportunities for self-actualization, career advancement, personal gratification, or anything else of the sort.  One might obtain some or all of those things through military service, but at the very least, this is and ought remain a tertiary concern for the chain of command.  Again, chief concerns must be mission accomplishment and minimal cost, and in that pursuit, the services ought to retain every tool of discrimination at their disposal.

Some will misunderstand my usage of “discrimination” as meaning wanton, arbitrary rejection of some people for irrational cause(s.)  This is not the meaning I intend, instead applying the usage that describes making a rational choice for rational purposes in the manner one shops for automobiles or smart-phones.  In this sense, we all discriminate daily, many times over, and to good effect because it generally results in improved products or services since we will tend to opt for those most likely to satisfy our purposes.

Constructing a fighting force is no different, in fact, but  just as Samsung can’t sue you for discrimination because you opted for Apple’s “iPhone” instead of the former’s “Galaxy,” the military is usually immune from lawsuits by merely stating their decisions in the context of the best interests of the service involved.  What so many people don’t seem to understand is that military service is not an ordinary workplace, to which one can apply at will, and resign at whim.  In the civilian sector, one has every remedy under the sun available if there is irrational discrimination, but under the martial authority that is the military, and as an institution for the nation’s defense, such concepts are foreign and irrelevant.

It highlights the misunderstanding of what military service is, and isn’t.  Too many people in our culture are now possessed of an entitlement mindset, a notion that they too readily apply to the most farcical situation.  There is no entitlement to be an infantry soldier.  You can sign up for the infantry if you like, and if the Army will let you, but if after completing your initial training, the DoD decides that for the moment, they need more cooks, you’d better prepare to learn the ins and outs of a DFAC(Dining Facility – formerly known as the Mess-hall) because irrespective of the MOS(Military Occupational Specialty) for which you enlisted, you serve the needs of the Army first – not your own.

How many very good and able persons have wanted to be pilots in the military only to be told that since their vision requires corrective lenses to be at least 20/20, they are ineligible for that role?  Will the Americans With Disabilities Act now be taken to apply to military service?  There are people advocating such notions already, but what mustn’t be lost in all of this is the reason the military is given extraordinary power to discriminate on the basis of factors that would not be legally acceptable or morally proper in the civilian population:  The function of the military is to keep the rest of us safe.

This is why I am so thoroughly disgusted by the coverage of this change in policy given by the media.  It ignores the fact that this is a politically-based decision that merits no consideration whatever in a professional military.  A professional military would study, objectively – without subservience to politicians’ whims, the impact of replacing approximately half of its combat forces with the average female enlistee.  It would not consider the exceptional few who would describe the upper tail of the bell-curve on physical performance, but instead the median performer.  Under that scrutiny, this entire notion would be abolished in one minute, because it does not serve the interests of the mission, or the minimization of the mission’s costs in blood and treasure.  Our forces must accomplish their missions with as many as possible able to come home alive and in one piece, and that should be the enduring criteria of every person charged with command over troops in combat, from Lieutenant to Commander-in-Chief.

What we must not do is to permit the armed services of the United States to be degraded further in its capabilities for the sake of contrived notions of equality that have no relevance on the battlefield.  We don’t seek equality on the battlefield with our enemies, but instead seek every advantage, as they do.  That’s the nature of war, where a single moment in a single battle can change the fortunes of nations, so that every advantage is precious.  How many advantages do we wish to yield to our present and future enemies in pursuit of a nonsensical notion of equality?  After all, the only real equality that exists on a battlefield is the one obtained in death.

Sadly, if we adopt policies that place more service-members in disadvantageous positions in combat, we will see more equality of the fatal sort too, but that must be the inevitable result when policies are not based on the realities of war, but instead on the basis of the wishes of some impractical, egg-headed “constitutional scholar” in the ivory tower at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the legion of nit-wits he has convinced to believe that military service is about them.  There’s a reason it’s widely considered a “sacrifice.”  Notions of equality that interfere with or hamper the military’s mission are among the things one voluntarily surrenders.

Editor’s Note: You should not be surprised that this story broke just in time for the Wednesday evening news cycle, because the whole purpose for which this story was pushed to the media at that time was clearly to remove Hillary Clinton’s wretched  testimony in the Senate from the position as top story. This is naturally an important issue, but it is news only in the respect that it’s been pushed to the surface as a way to change the subject.  Period.  Now we’ll argue over this instead of the disgusting dishonesty of Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Obama administration.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dax-Dushkewich/100000887223076 Dax Dushkewich

    Patriotism is not blind subservience to government, nor loyalty to a particular leader or party. Patriotism is vigilance in protecting and preserving the US Constitution from all who would pervert or overthrow it, or in any way diminish our many rights, liberties, or sovereignties; and, is a willingness to pay a price for our freedom.

  • the unit

    Best discription and difference between conservative and progressive is this. Conservative understands and lives by the natural order of nature, and excepts talents and makes the best of them. Progressives object to the natural order and rebel wanting to change the natural order to their own desires, thus instead of natural order…NWO.

    There is a primary example for our society according to natural law and order, describing talents and service required. Google…life span of honey bee, and look at most any site that comes up. Life span is relative to perennial life span of the colony or hive. And that’s the duty and service required. Blood and treasure is the price…progressives make it more costly.