It’s the Job of Men to Fight Wars. Period.

Any culture that pushes its women toward the battlefield is a culture plunging toward destruction. Only a degenerate culture substitutes women for men in war. It doesn’t deserve to survive and, in the very long run, probably won’t.

In a parting act of vandalism, President Obama has expressed his support for requiring 18-year-old women to register for the draft.

But it would be unfair to blame only Obama. Nominal “conservatives” and military brass have joined the conga line. And taking sophistry to a new level, even libertarians repulsed by the very idea of conscription are supporting the initiative on the principle that what’s good for the gander is good for the goose.

Have you people lost your minds?

I’m not a fanatic, and I respect and admire women who wear the uniform. From 2007 through 2009, I was a civilian contractor for the U.S. Army in Iraq, and some of the best young intelligence officers there were women. But men and women are not interchangeable, and the attempt to make them so is destructive socially and ruinous militarily.

I view this issue as an anthropologist, a student of history, a Vietnam veteran, and a former journalist who has done some reporting on the military. Until very recently, every known society has had a taboo against sending women to fight while healthy young men were still available. Taboos, such as the incest taboo, develop when the rewards of an activity are immediate and obvious but the penalties are shrouded and delayed.

In the current all-recruited force, the short-term benefit of relying on 42-year-old grandmothers and lactating mothers is clear: it makes up for the male no-shows. As the late Charles Moskos, the dean of U.S. military sociologists, put it: “Americans seem to prefer somebody else’s daughter dying rather than their own sons.” So wouldn’t drafting women be a salubrious corrective? No. Instead it would be a step toward enshrining the interchangeability falsehood. We don’t need to draft women. Since the end of the Korean War, we’ve had more young men of military age in the U.S. population than the armed forces could possibly absorb.

We’ve been able to get away with this debased method of staffing our military because the United States still is a vast, rich country that—although it engages in distant, elective, brushfire wars—still holds a huge advantage in resources, population, and technology over any probable combination of existential enemies. I define an “existential enemy” as a coalition that could defeat our main forces, occupy our homeland, or hammer the United States back into the status of a regional power.

The long-term costs of violating the taboo are hidden but deadly. Our survival as a society is geared not to good conditions, or even average conditions, but to an ability to get through the worst crises. Militarily, that worst crisis is total war, but even in World War I and World War II America got off easy in terms of manpower. (Only the Confederacy approached full mobilization.) With the exception of the Soviet Union, which ran out of men during World War II, none of the major 20th century belligerents pushed women toward combat.

Why? Because men fight better than women, and men fight better when women aren’t around.

War is the great auditor of institutions. All other things being equal, an army of men will beat an army of women. All other things being equal, a society that puts women in the field at the expense of fielding a like number of men will lose its wars. Luckily, all other things aren’t equal, which is why we’re still here.

On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that all military roles would be opened to women, including those in first-line ground combat units whose mission is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy. In preceding decades, the public had come to accept the presence of women in support units. But even this is misguided for three reasons.

First, support troopers in combat zones are required to perform heavy physical labor more suited to men than women. This includes such tasks as digging entrenchments, filling and stacking sandbags, and moving ammunition crates. The more fluid and chaotic the battlefield, the more these things must be done by hand rather than by machine.

Second, to use a sports metaphor, support units are the infantry’s “bench,” or reserve, and if it’s necessary to use the “bench,” the situation is out of control by definition. It’s not something your own leadership decides. It’s a condition the enemy imposes. The worse the situation on the ground, the more blurred becomes the line between the infantry and everyone else. And when women dilute the pool of reserve infantry, the commander has less force and fewer options at his disposal.

In 1942, for example, PT boat sailors, fighter pilots, and ground crews were assigned infantry duties on Bataan. Late in 1944, the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes was stopped largely by the work of small, isolated combat engineer units (now sexually integrated) fighting as infantry. After the Luftwaffe was all but destroyed, U.S airmen were ordered to Eisenhower’s depleted infantry divisions as replacements—even though the Allies had the initiative at the theater level.

In the summer of 1950, in Korea, the 34th Regiment of the Army’s 24th Infantry Division was almost wiped out and had to be reconstituted from support troops. The backbone of the new regiment was the 3rd Engineer Battalion, but soldiers also were taken from supply, ordnance, communications, and headquarters assignments to fight as riflemen along the Naktong River at the Pusan Perimeter. And, of course, during the withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir the following winter, Army and Marine support troops had to fight as infantrymen.

No good would have come from women being involved in these operations at the expense of a like number of men. The deeper the “bench,” the stronger the army.

The third reason why women don’t belong in support units is the matter of sexual attraction and distraction, favoritism or even the appearance of favoritism, as well as damage to unit cohesion and morale. In Vietnam, I commanded a company in a support battalion that then was all male but now is mixed sex. I shudder to think of how much more difficult my job would have been if the outfit had included women. The military isn’t just another “job,” and you can’t go home at the end of the day.

In 1988, as a reporter, I covered the deployment of U.S. forces to the mountains of Honduras. While frustration, heartbreak, and jealousy didn’t seem to be a problem for the Army reservists and National Guard members who came into the camp and returned to the United States after a few weeks, they certainly were present among the sexually mixed camp cadre, who had to live with each other for almost a year.

How about Iraq? Let’s just say that, on missions, the chatter over the Humvee intercoms was both enlightening and consistent with my earlier observations. Human nature doesn’t change, and we are asking for trouble by pretending it has or will.

As for pregnancies, some instances are intentional as a form of malingering and a way to shirk overseas assignment. Women also have a much higher injury rate. And there is the matter of children left motherless by repeated deployments.

It was drilled into my head when I was on active duty that the mission came first and the welfare of the people I led came second. Aren’t those who demand equal opportunity for women in combat violating that most basic principle of military leadership? What’s good for individual careers isn’t necessarily good for the country.

The mission of the armed forces is to win wars, not under the best conditions or average conditions but with a margin for error under worse conditions than can be imagined. In extremis, the country that puts women in the field at the expense of men will lose. Meeting such a crisis successfully is never easy, and it might become impossible if our culture changes to the point where American men are no longer embarrassed to have women do their fighting for them.

This essay incorporates material the author has published in other forums.

About Louis Marano

Louis Marano, a Vietnam veteran, is an anthropologist and a former journalist. He served two deployments to Iraq as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Army. He lives in The Plains, Virginia.

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22 responses to “It’s the Job of Men to Fight Wars. Period.”

  1. The purpose of the military is to fight and win battles, not to be a social laboratory. Men are stronger, more aggressive, and just naturally better fighters. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP and Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis are going to create a military designed for fighting, and winning, wars.

  2. One must believe—pray—General Mattis shares these views. I certainly commend you for this piece. We in the chorus certainly sing this song with patriotic gusto. But who else is listening?

  3. Yes. In WW2, the WACS, WAVES, and WASPS were there to free men from the offices so they could go into battle.
    But with the new PC SJW military (hey, can men identify as pregnant women?), real men aren’t going to fight. The lizard brain biological imperatives have their limits.
    We now have Maddog and Trump, so I expect things to sort themselves out (either by true standards and treat them equally, or by fiat)

    I hope before something on the battlefield. If they fight ISIS we might see if Guinness will have several new records on rape.

  4. The whole concept of women in direct combat is absurd. I think back to martial arts training in a pretty tough school characterized by a lot of contact and an emphasis on sparing. Most participants were male. I remember going up against the best competitors I could, going all out, leaving class often battered and bruised but consistently getting better and better. There were a number of women in the class. Most were higher belt levels than I was. Many were superb at Kata (dance routines of punches, kicks, and sweeps intended to enhance coordination). They trained hard. But I learned from my first sparring session against the women (that session against a large woman two belt levels above me) that I had to pull every punch, block and attack to avoid injuring her. The same was true for all the women in the school – no exceptions. As a male, not close to the best male in the school or even my level, I was so much faster, stronger, and heavy-boned that their technique, usually superior to mine, was not close to being able to stop a half-efforted attack that any male at my level or above would easily have absorbed and countered. It was not the fault of the women. Not having the testosterone and the attitude of dismissing pain in order to win, even when they were my size of heavier they just did not have the muscle mass, the upper body strength or the quick-twitch fiber driven explosiveness it took to smash. Personally I could fairly easily pick up a wounded 6′ 210# male in an emergency situation and carry him a decent distance to get him out of danger. I expect virtually every male combat soldier could do the same. I have not seen many women who could do the same. Not even close.

    • I made it to black belt in Taekwondo and my experiences were similar. At the time I was in my mid 40s and am an Army vet. One other classmate was an Army vet in his early 60s. The rest of the class was about 2/3 teenage boys, 1/3 teenage girls and a smattering of adult women. Even though my and the 60-something guy’s physical fitness and flexibility were middle of the road for our class, we could handily defeat anyone except the male instructors. The only reason this was the case is because we were both hopped to the brim with testosterone and in our early years were trained to kill!

      • Consistent with my experience and with experiences related by buddies. You hit on an accessory important point. Those who have had to fight with life at stake develop an attitude that surfaces as a threat surfaces and in an instant makes them deadly, deadlier than opponents who may be bigger, stronger, faster but who are not battle hardened.
        I think at a deep level the feminists have no idea what it is to be a man – especially for men who are naturally disposed to combat. Having been in many fights, I long ago concluded that there were two types of men. The ones who when hit solidly in the face tasted blood and felt fear and collapsed in surrender shortly thereafter. And the ones who when hit solidly in the face tasted blood and felt all tiredness, all fear, all anxiety vanish, felt filled with energy, and took the taste of blood as a call to arms to beat your enemy. The latter are the ones who become combat soldiers and high level martial artists. The warriors. In many conversations have heard the same experience on the part of many men – never did meet a woman who related it.

        I think it is a genetic predisposition. Likely all has to do with Darwinian selection. Take a population of ten males and ten women and kill one male – no effect on the reproductive capacity of the tribe, two males – same thing. It is not until the last male is gone that the ability of the group to reproduce disappears. But if one female dies the reproductive capacity is reduced by 10%, two females means 20%, three 30% etc. When it comes to the survival of the tribe men are expendable while women are not. Doubtless this is where the protectiveness of men to women and children comes from, where the willingness to die to protect loved ones come from. I expect this is why, historically, that captured women are generally subjugated, survive, and eventually join the tribe of the captors while the men fight and die defending their tribe. At a rather primal level the old biological codes remain. The biology enables at least some males to be superior combatants – more heavily muscled, pain insensitive, aggressive, energized, cold in combat, free of fear or at least rising above fear – the biology does not serve women in the same manner. Their role is different. It is to survive and procreate. Not all people procreate, of course. But those who do not are far less relevant to the future of the tribe and the species – unless they die protecting their tribe and offspring. I suppose that if this experiment of women in combat carries forward the Darwinian result will be to remove from the species whatever genes those women had that made them foolish enough to think they could survive in close combat with me. Sad outcome but genetically sensible.

  5. I’m looking forward to the post on this Trump shill blog that agrees with Trump that NATO is “obsolete”, a position which no conservative would have endorsed even 9 months ago.

    Donald J. Trump:

    “I said a long time ago — that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago,” he said.

    “Number two — the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay. I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror.”

    Sure, an institution is “obsolete” because “it was, you know, designed many, many years ago.” Think about that.

    Lest anyone think that this is “fake news”, here’s a link to Trump’s quotes in an editorial titled “Trump’s NATO remarks are music to Russia’s ears”:

    Full transcript of the interview for Trump’s fanboys here:

    But by all means, let’s debate issues such as whether it’s the “job of men to fight wars”…while the Reichstag burns.

    • Now why did I unblock you? Here, fixed!

  6. I commend to your attention the estimable Theodore Dalrymple:

    …that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or
    convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it
    corresponded to reality the better….To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself.
    One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A
    society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine
    political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

    • Women in combat
    • Black lives matter?
    • Religion of peace
    • Multiplier effect
    • Russian hacking
    • Diversity is our strength

  7. Women vote without being at risk to suffer the consequences of choosing poorly. Maybe if they were subject to the draft and involuntary service at the front line they would pay attention to things that matter in politics. And please, yes you may know women who do pay attention, but the vast majority do not. So perhaps for a few decades let us have an experiment. Leftists think men and women are equally capable of military service. Gays serve openly, as we let the insane serve now as well (transgender). My proposal is to drop all references to sex and gender in the military. Have one on physical standard for all, the old male standard. Bring back the draft and assign service members to units on a needs of the military basis. And we will see how well women serve along side men without a crutch and sharing the same conditions and standards.
    After a few years of harsh reality, maybe then we can have an honest talk about the points raised in this excellent article.

  8. This issue affects the entire military, not just the ground combat elements (infantry, armor and artillery) of the Army and the Marines. Shipboard damage control requires heavy, sustained physical labor under extreme conditions, as does evacuating casualties up narrow, near vertical ship’s ladders. Operating an airbase while in full chemical-biological warfare gear, under sustained ballistic and cruise missile attack – which is what we would face against a competitive enemy – is likewise physically intense.

    The military as a whole needs to see itself as a combat force, with the distinction between “support” and “combat” being a merely functional and temporary designation, not as a separate class of soldier – for all the reasons the author notes.

    We have had 40 years of this experiment, with ever increasing integration of women (and now gays serving openly) and the disbanding of the separate(and useful) Women’s Auxiliaries (Waves, Wacs etc). Every prediction made by the critics has largely come true (lowered standards, less readiness, lower fitness, fraternization problems, sexual harassment problems, pregnancy) and every claim made by the advocates (that standards would remain, fraternization would be controlled, pregnancy would not affect readiness, fitness would remain) have been proven false. Despite this we continue to double-down on these policies because no one wants to be called a sexist. I am therefore dubious these absurd policies will be reversed by the current administration. No one wants to be called a “sexist” which is about the only “argument” those in favor of a coed military can make – because they have no factual arguments to support them.

  9. In my 24 years in the Army I served with some excellent and some poor soldiers. Sex was not what made them good or bad. However, with that said as a Tank Company NCO I was given two men per platoon to upload all of the units basic load of ammunition. That took it out of us, but three hours later, two very overloaded 8T trucks were ready to download at the Local Assembly Area. It took a fresh detail and the rest of the day to put it all back. I tell this story, because I have not met the woman who could have, or perhaps would have wanted to, deal with that kind of physicality. I have seen a Division Comander list his Division as non-deployable because over ten % of the personnel in his suppor battalions were non-deployable, largely pregnant women or recent mothers. have no problem with woman being all they can be, but changing the labels on a box from 2 man lift to 4 person lift does not solve the problem, as the number of people available to lift has actually decreased.
    That said, women are now integrating into all military specialties, so if we are going to be equal, so be it. If women are going to be doing all jobs then why should women be exempt from the draft. All justification is gone. I am sure there are women who can handle combat Infantry duty both physically and mentally, but why should they have to, why do we need leaders of combat units have to deal with humans being human, when they need to concentrate on leading and keeping their people victorious, rather than dead.

  10. When regressives pushed through the requirement to “allow” women to join the military they rolled their eyes as they clarified , of course women will never be allowed anywhere near a combat zone.

    The next regressive requirement, to allow slime women to wear burkas instead of their uniform.

  11. I fully 100% support women registering for the draft. Let them see what men have done on their behalf for generations. Let them hear the cries of their wounded comrades. Let them see their closest friend’s life extinguished in a misty pink instant. Let them know what they’ve REALLY been missing out on living in the “patriarchy”. Then let them return to sanity and reasonable demands.

  12. A sad and pathetic state of affairs…but the inevitable result of a world in which we have come to define Reality as nothing more or less than what we say it is.

    So when we say Women and Men are totally & completely equal — they are.

    How do we know? We said so!

    And it doesn’t matter, as for instance, that the best High School 4X400 relay team would destroy the Women’s 4X400 Olympic record by 8 seconds. We know they’re equal in all ways all of the time. So there.

    And it’s only that darned old patriarchy and common sense…and, well, the truth … which says different. Darned truth…interfering with the way the world ‘ought to be’!

    • A good point. You may recall at the Olympics this summer the winner of the 800 m women’s race was a transgender man. He won easily. I would be pretty disheartened if I was a woman trying to compete in that distance again someone with patently superior physical skills.

  13. Only “a degenerate culture…”

    Seriously? How do you square that statement with the IDF’s decades-long policy of conscripting women, some of whom also participate in combat units, not just educational or support deployments.

    • The Israelis are the exception that proves the rule. They are a nation of six million encircled by hundreds of millions of Arabs (and Persians) who want to exterminate them all. The IDF has no choice but to enlist everyone who can carry a rifle. /Mr Lynn

  14. I to, am a Vietnam veteran and I agree 100%. Women have a place in the military but it’s not in combat units. The Obama Administration’s policies are a recipe for disaster.

  15. What most infuriates me is the gutless, politically correct military brass and Republicans who refuse to stand up to this shameful idiocy.