Our Military’s Destructive Equality Imperative

Cadets and cadre put on their favorite pair of high heels and marched in Temple’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise awareness of sexual assault against women. #TUWAM15 Temple University ROTC

The Obama years did much to undermine the identity and inherent conservatism of the U.S. armed forces. In addition to budget cuts and indifference about the broader mission, Obama and his deputies spent a lot of energy trying to transform its culture, particularly to relieve the military of its alleged sexism. The message was plain: the military’s primary mission would be facilitating social change. Directives to make the military more diverse, particularly for women, were promulgated from on high and gladly endorsed by an officer corps whose first imperative is career advancement. As in other respected institutions—higher education, police departments, business—when equality becomes an organizing principle, it renders excellence and ability secondary.

The cultural transformation appears to have been pretty successful, because these attempts to push women into the combat arms continue, even though Donald Trump is now president. Sadly, the president, and his well respected Defense Secretary James Mattis, have shown little interest in arresting and reversing the direction of this radical change.

Most dramatically, the United States Marine Corps recently has opened up all jobs, including infantry, armor, and artillery, to women. They have also set a goal of having 25 percent of the recruits be women.

In terms of both ability and interest, these goals are misguided. Men and women are quite simply different. Men, particularly young men, are faster, stronger, more aggressive, and more capable of meeting the higher physical standards of the military’s combat arms than women. Before gender integration certain physical standards prevailed. These standards allowed resilience and enhanced ability throughout the entire organization, whose job is physically demanding in spite of the advent of high technology weapons.

In deference to the physically demanding reality of combat, most proponents have suggested that standards should not be reduced and that so long as women meet these standards, they should be allowed to try. This is wrong, naïve even, for at least two reasons that recent experiences should make plain.

First, when an organization’s legacy standards prevent the advancement of a preferred group, the standards almost invariably are lowered. In higher education, colleges have removed standardized test requirements, among other obstacles, because of their allegedly nefarious “disparate impact” on minorities. Prior to the Parkland shooting, Broward County public schools relaxed discipline, because minorities were expelled and arrested distressingly often. And now the Marines have removed the 15 kilometer combat “hump” which proved to be one of the biggest causes of female attrition in the demanding Infantry Officer’s Course.

High standards form a large part of an elite organization’s identity and culture. When they are applied unchanged to unequal populations, the result is invariably a disparate impact. In the contest of excellence and equality, equality almost always wins with nary a peep of protest. The consequences of this commitment is not always apparent. After all, very few retrospective studies have been done on the impact of lower standards, even though such data exist. Because the military conducts its operations as a large team, the problems can be masked for a time, because the costs are inchoate and dispersed. As one might expect, when it becomes a “career killer” to look into such matters, they are simply ignored. There has not, for example, been a large scale Department of Defense study of the effects of women in their expanded role since the First Gulf War. Further, the Marine Corps’ study that showed the negative effects of women on combat unit cohesion and effectiveness was ignored prior to the recent change. As in the Soviet Union, facts must conform to ideology.

Second, this effort is misguided because it ignores other important differences between men and women beyond their physical abilities. Men, quite simply, want to be in the military, particularly in the combat arms, because they are more interested in testing themselves in a difficult, violent, and competitive task. For the same reasons, though Title IX moves heaven and earth to achieve gender equality in sports, differences remain because the policy does not question the demonstrably false assumption that men and women are equally interested in sports. These divergent preferences for sport and war come from the same elemental differences in the masculine and feminine natures.

With all the talk of the dearth of female CEOs, female astronauts, and female presidents, no one really stops to ask why there are so few female garbagemen, bricklayers, mechanics, and deep sea divers. For the same reason boys like football and rough housing, men are more attracted to physical jobs, risk, conflict, and competition. Likewise, there are more men in prison, just as there have historically been almost nothing but men on the frontlines. Men are simply more willing to be violent, for good and for ill.

Feminist activists don’t care much about many of these other male-dominated jobs because they’re not high prestige, whereas the military is. The military is a gatekeeper to manhood in many traditions, and the honor the broader society confers upon veterans gives women an obstacle to full equality, even though this disparity is rooted in a very real inequality of martial ability and aptitude.

These differences persist even within the military itself. Not all women in the military want to be in the combat arms. The Army was surprised to learn some years ago that even when combat helicopters like the Apache were opened to women, many preferred the less dangerous and aggressive option of flying transport helicopters. The Marines have seen similar self-selection. While there are approximately 14,000 female Marines, fewer than 100 have entered the combat arms fields so far. As in other fields, the quest for equality is running headlong into the persistent and unevolved nature of humanity itself. A well-organized society channels the diverse nature of people into healthy directions and does not attempt to change those natures against the resistance of one million years of evolution.

The fundamental nature of military training derives from the nature of combat itself. Combat is a grueling, physically demanding, and highly competitive environment, where the stakes for losing are death and dismemberment. Proponents of gender integration in various endeavors call for cultural change and for the legacy beneficiaries to question their “privilege.” While this may be of manageable consequence in Silicon Valley or in an investment bank, the stakes of undoing the military’s culture are of life and death seriousness. To make it more inclusive in the service of gender equality has allowed the training and standards ultimately to become less effective.

Donald Trump ran for President on the pledge to Make America Great Again. Surely one of our historical sources of national pride is our military, which has defeated great empires and benefited from the service of a great many honorable and patriotic women. But its internal pride and our collective gratitude comes not from the military’s commitment to equality, but from what it does: winning wars and defending our way of life.

The military is, in fact, notably undemocratic and unequal, complete with the aristocratic legacy of the highly distinct classes of officers and enlisted. To perform its mission, the military must be the opposite of democratic, it must be discriminating. A great many recruits are disqualified from service for medical, academic, and moral reasons, as well as age, disability, and disinterest. Everyone knows a young boy whose dreams of being a pilot were crushed because he needed glasses. While this may be a personal tragedy for the young man involved, it does not diminish our country or its ideals if one young man can’t reach his goals. High standards are necessary to the military’s effectiveness.

The usual analogy in favor of gender integration is the successful integration of black and white servicemen under President Truman. But that mostly successful integration reflected an actual equality of ability, as measured by standardized tests, reflecting a broader social change already underway in civilian society. Men and women, while more integrated in the civilian workplace, continue to suffer from a great deal of friction, due to differing styles, romantic relationships, and perceived insults. We live in the time of #metoo, and little evidence suggests the military will be spared this melodrama.

The military should be mostly indifferent about its racial and gender makeup, so long as it is effective, maintains high standards, and is filled with patriotic Americans. Reversing the Obama-era efforts to force women into jobs for which the vast majority are uninterested and ill-suited would go a long way towards making the military’s chief objectives excellence and efficiency, not the misguided ones of artificial equality and catalyzing social change.

About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

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37 responses to “Our Military’s Destructive Equality Imperative”

  1. They can wear their high-heels when they attempt to take my guns.

    I see this as a positive force, since the “well regulated militia” (you’re not from around here, are you?) will have no trouble stripping the tranny’s gears, mogenizing the homos, and doing something fatale to the femmes. The real men are leaving, even the Marines (who need to replace sempre fi with something about diversity and equality). But there are lots of real men left.

  2. Do Americans have the ‘Right’ to be as depraved as they want to be and the rest of us just have to accept it? Because?

  3. Evolution is about destroying Biblical principles these days, not biology.

    • It’s not about it, it just so happens every step forward for science is a step backwards from religion. This has been true since the day we realized lightning didn’t come from a Norse god’s hammer.

      • Not true, Paul. That’s only what people who hate religion think.

  4. I’m sure you know better than the folks running our military, mr. private practice attorney journalist guy.

    • And yet, it was civilians, many who had never been in the military, who brought about these changes despite the protests of the combat-experienced military commanders who were forced to implement them.

    • This is not exactly esoteric knowledge. It’s pretty obvious that left to its own devices–and without extensive political pressure–the military would not have gone down this path. In any case, the relevant knowledge can be found on the sports field, in any military history book, and the things you learn in 9th grade biology.

      It may be the case that this is a bearable cost, but the problem is no one is looking to find out what the cost is. There’s no incentive to do so.

      • IMHO, the military and political leadership are relying on two things to make this work; the Canadian Forces Template and technology cancelling out weaknesses. I don’t think either will save the day for these reasons:

        1. Canadian Forces Model: Before Canada goes to war, it cherry picks deployments, assigns units, then weeds out non-hackers from those units. The US doesn’t have that much of a choice with conflicts and I suspect peeling off the females and transgenders will cause serious resentments.

        2. Technology: I get the impression many in DoD think physical strength and stamina aren’t important now because everyone operates out of vehicles. What if the vehicles are somehow taken out? In 1982, the British planned on retaking the Falklands with a series of air assaults after securing a beachhead. Unfortunately for them, the Argentine Air Force sunk the cargo ship carrying the helicopters! The Brits fell back on having their physically fit paratroopers and marines marching across the island with 100+ pound rucksacks. Would that have been an option if 25% of their ground contingent was female? The answer is a flat out no…

    • Paul, did you spend time in the military? If so, what branch? I’m not asking to belittle you; I’d just like to frame a possible discussion on this.

      • Nope, and hence I don’t provide opinions on what their policies should be.

      • It’s part of the government that “We the People” (remember us) have some say in. The Deep State ideology is that experts should get to do what they want in every and all instance, without regard to how they may have interests contrary to the rest of us or simply be wrong. “Experts” told us we needed to invade Iraq. Experts said we needed to allow the deindustrialization of the Midwest. Experts said we can’t stop immigration, even when it leads to terrorist events. Experts told us that the housing bubble was not a problem, until it was. I’ll take common sense and the tried and true, thank you very much.

      • Right, what do the experts know?

        Surgeons, pilots, engineers…they all screw up sometimes, so we should really just let any old person do those tasks. All it takes is a little common sense, right?

        “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
        Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)

      • Paul, we should certain listen to and be respectful of experts on matters within their expertise. But this is the opposite of doing so, because an ideological remaking of the military was undertaken by those outside of it and hostile to their culture. They didn’t want to do this at all but for the pressure to change from the left wing political class.

        Would you trust the expert cop who shoots an unarmed motorist? Would you trust the Air Force generals who tried to get Kennedy to start a nuclear war over the Cuban missile crisis? Did you trust the experts who ran the Abu Ghraib prison?

        There is value in both expertise and common sense. It’s why we have a jury system, elections, and free speech for example.

        If experts know it all, why should we have elections at all?

      • Okay then. I did some time in the Army and have watched the the folks who ran the military then and after I got out quite thoroughly. I can tell you from this they do not deserve the deference you give them.

    • When professional military men in the 1970s and 1980s objected to these policies, they were overruled by the likes of Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who had never served, along with many military women who’d only served in nursing or support roles. So, there’s a problem: if the experts were wrong then and the civilians were right, who gets to opine?
      Can anyone in government then have a view on the economy, on healthcare etc?

      The fact is that many instances exist in our own history where the generals have been wrong on purely military matters, and where they’ve caved to civilians, and where people of both sides can look at that things and reach different conclusions. In this case, we the people have a right to review any aspect of governmental policy and get answers, and the experts, if they are going to stand on their expertise, have an obligation to explain their views in ways that make sense. I’ve spent 25 years as a structural engineer; my clients are not usually engineers, and frequently not even technically trained. Yes, I get some deference, but I never go unchallenged and I have to be able to explain things in ways that make sense. When we have 40+ years of hard data on the differences between the sexes, and amply documented instances of standards being lowered or changed, then one need not be an expert to draw some conclusions. The argument from authority is not enough.

  5. It is the enemy within that wants to weaken Americas fighting ability. That enemy, the enemy of white Christians every where is the Jews.

    • All of this crap was pushed by Christian women and men.
      If the article was about cows, you’d talk about the Jews. You are a complete moron.

      • It is a worshiper of the pedophile priest, the biggest anti-semites in the world. It posts to discredit both Christians and Jews. Instead of Robert Browning his name is much more likely Ali Mohamad.

  6. Let’s make our military behave like a “police force” where lawyers control everything they can!

    Think about this simple statement for a while…

  7. Waaah….why can’t there be anywhere where straight, white men can be alone together!

    • Go choke on a million dicks.

    • The pre-coed military consisted of men of all races.
      What I’d say is “Waah, why can’t there be any place where women don’t have to meet the same standards as men?” Oh, wait, that’s everywhere these days.

  8. It is not just the eight years of Obama. The leftist march through the education system has also impacted the military academies. Today’s officer corps has had the same leftist indoctrination as any other graduate and suffers from the same leftist globalist fantasies as all other college trained Obama supporters. Add the promotion practices of eight years of Obama and you are bound to have a strong politicized officer group operating as the political officers did in the Soviet Military, maintaining party loyalty over military needs. In this case, diversity politics is more important than common sense observations. The same has happened to the CIA and the rest of the bureaucracy. They see the globalist agenda as the only” right way” and act accordingly which is why they are Democrats and act against the best interests of the country.

    • Sadly, it’s not just the Left on this lash up. Back in the late 80s, SecDef Frank Carlucci and SecNav Jim Webb were touring a joint USAF/USMC base in Iceland. Webb brought to his boss’ attention a stunning discovery; slightly less than half the female Marines and slightly more than half the female Airmen were not able to perform their duties because they were pregnant. Carlucci told Webb to shut his pie hole.

    • As Haga Akane said below, this has been going along time before Obama. GWB and GHWB did nothing about it either, and largely bought into it. Conservatives – and the entire senior military leadership (which includes some women) – are deathly afraid of being called anti-women. Many military men are married to women in the military or have daughters who are. None of them are willing to even hold women to the same standard as the men. They would rather trade the possibility of dead sailors, soldiers, airmen or marines against the certainty that they will lose their careers over speaking out. Moreover, to admit that we have problems is to admit that previous generations of senior leaders went along with it. And, good luck getting any military woman from admitting that if she’d simply been held to the same fitness standards as men, she almost certainly wouldn’t be serving. To admit that they aren’t as good as the men is unthinkable to them.

  9. The American Military’s buy in of “transgender” rights is probably the epitome of the current insanity in the ranks.

    • And even Mad Dog Mattis doesn’t have the guts to say boo to it. That speaks volumes.

  10. The American taxpayers are paying for a military capable of defending America, not a politically-correct social experiment. Create a military capable of gettng the job done to KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

  11. Destroy political correctness in the private sphere and we won’t be having this conversation in the future.

    • One does that exactly how? Heck, i’d take a half-assed first approximation at this point. We stopped producing adults in the 60s. I don’t know how that can be undone 50 years later. My continued prayer is that somewhere in the country warriors, if not actual adults, are still being produced. I see less and less adult-spoor…

      • How? Did we get to this point peacefully? We won’t be going out peacefully, either.