Jim Webb’s “Women Can’t Fight,” from the November 1979 Washingtonian, takes us back to the history of “the radical realignment of sexual roles” to which America’s elites committed America’s institutions, and, in the process, destroyed a great fighting force: the US Military.
Openly, Webb also speaks of what has since become SOP (standing operating procedure), now: “borderline intellects were dumped into the military, and the military was then faulted for having failed to make them good soldiers were dumped into the military, and the military was then faulted for having failed to make them good soldiers.”
The point being that the US military is now comprised of “borderline intellects,” as most of the rigorous screening has been dropped because… RAAAACISM.
We would go months without bathing, except when we could stand naked among each other next to a village well or in a stream or in the muddy water of a bomb crater. It was nothing to begin walking at midnight, laden with packs and weapons and ammunition and supplies, seventy pounds or more of gear, and still be walking when the sun broke over mud-slick paddies that had sucked our boots all night. We carried our own gear and when we took casualties we carried the weapons of those who had been hit.
When we stopped moving we started digging, furiously throwing out the heavy soil until we had made chest-deep fighting holes. When we needed to make a call of nature we squatted off a trail or straddled a slit trench that had been dug between fighting holes, always by necessity in public view. We slept in makeshift hooches made out of ponchos, or simply wrapped up in a poncho, sometimes so exhausted that we did not feel the rain fall on our own faces. Most of us caught hookworm, dysentery, malaria, or yaws, and some of us had all of them….
…The function of combat is not merely to perpetrate violence, but to perpetrate violence on command, instantaneously and reflexively.The function of the service academies is to prepare men for leadership positions where they may someday exercise that command. All of the other accomplishments that Naval Academy or West Point or Air Force Academy graduates may claim in government or business or diplomacy are incidental to that clearly defined combat mission.
American taxpayers dip into their pockets to pay $100,000 for every Naval Academy graduate. They are buying combat leaders, men with a sense of country who have developed such intangibles as force, clarity of thought, presence, and the ability to lead by example, who have lived under stress for years and are capable of functioning under intense pressure. When war comes and the troops move out, our citizens can assume that the academies have provided a nucleus of combat leaders who can carry this country on their backs.
Other officer programs are capable of producing combat leaders, but the academies have traditionally guaranteed it, made it their reason for existence. Forty percent of West Point’s class of 1943 died in World War II and ten percent of the class of 1966 died in Vietnam. The POW camps of North Vietnam were packed with Air Force and Naval Academy graduates. The six midshipmen in my Naval Academy class of 1968 who served as liaisons between the Marine Corps and the Brigade of Midshipmen later suffered nine Purple Hearts in Vietnam, and one man killed in action. As Douglas MacArthur said in his “Long Gray Line” speech to the West Point graduating class of 1962, “Your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable— it is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes . . . will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight; yours is the profession of arms.”
So it had been at the military academies since they were established — West Point in 1802, the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845, the Air Force Academy in 1954— and so it would have continued to be had not Public Law 94-106, passed in 1975. decreed that women be brought into this quintessentially male world.
… Civilian political control over the military is a good principle, but too many people, especially those involved in the political process, have lost their understanding of what that principle means. The classic example of a military force beyond control of its country’s political system occurred during World War II in the Japanese Imperial Army, which took over Manchuria on its own initiative and informed the Japanese government after it had done so. The Japanese military machine was exercising its own judgment, not that of its nation. In attempting to avoid this extreme, the United States is dangerously near falling into the World War II German pratfall: a military system so paralyzed in every detail by the politcal process that it ceases to be able to control even its internal policies.
Civilian arrogance permeates our government, and during my two years on Capitol Hill was particularly strong on the staffs of the “consistent dissenters” of the Armed Services Committee. It was bad enough when the Vietnam war was being fought from Washington, DC. It was worse when McNamara and his whiz kids began social experimentation by instituting “Project 100,000,” whereupon 100,000 borderline intellects were dumped into the military, and the military was then faulted for having failed to make them good soldiers (Harvard and Yale at that time having decided to sit out the war, and Johnson choosing to go after the mental rejects rather than the deferred leaders of tomorrow). But it has become absolutely intolerable during the 1970s. The military has a politician’s toy, a way to accommodate interest groups without losing political support in the home district. a test tube for social experimentation.
a lack of peer evaluations has favored women, made the leadership selection process capable of penetration by officer staff, and caused a heavier reliance on tangibles such as academics rather than the intangibilities of true leadership. Male midshipmen universally complain that a female with good grades and a modicum of professionalism will be “groomed” for stripes by the officers.
If academics were the test of leadership, Albert Einstein, who couldn’t even work a yo-yo, would have been a general, and George Catlett Marshall, who graduated last in his class academically at VMI, but first in leadership, would have been a clerk. Yet this is the direction leadership evaluations have taken at the Academy. Academics are objective and tangible. Traditional leadership measurements are subjective, capable of discrimination, and thus not to be trusted. …
…Nowhere is this more of a problem than in the area of women’s political issues. Equal-opportunity specialists, women’s rights advocates, and certain members of Congress have prided themselves on the areas of the military they have “opened up” to women. The Carter administration has come out in favor of “allowing” women to go into combat. These advocates march under the banner of equal opportunity.
Equal opportunity for what? They should first understand that they would not be “opening up” the combat arms for those few women who might now want to serve in them, but rather would be forcing American womanhood into those areas, en masse, should a future mobilization occur.
The United States is the only country of any size on earth where the prospect of women serving in combat is being seriously considered. Even Israel, which continually operates under near-total mobilization requirements, does not subject its women to combat or combat-related duty. Although some 55 percent of Israeli women— as opposed to 95 percent of the men— serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, the women have administrative and technical jobs that require little or no training.
Their military function is to free the men to fight. According to a recent article by Cecile Landrum, a US Air Force manpower analyst, Israeli women conscripts train for three and a half weeks with only a minimal amount of that time dedicated to the handling of weapons. Israel has terminated flight training for women, reversing an earlier policy. When three Israeli women soldiers were killed during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the nation went into shock. As Congressman Sonny Montgomery noted after a visit military units, “When they go into combat, the women move to the rear.”
Why? Because men fight better. We can try to intellectualize that reality away, and layer it with debates on role conditioning versus natural traits, but it manifests itself in so many ways that it becomes foolish to deny it. When the layerings of centuries of societal development are stripped away, a basic human truth remains: Man must be more aggressive in order to perpetuate the human race. Women don’t rape men, and it has nothing to do, obviously, with socially induced differences. As Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacklin observe in The Psychology of Sex of Differences, man’s greater aggressiveness “is one of the best established, and most pervasive of all psychological sex differences.”
Man is more naturally violent than woman. Four times as many men are involved in homicides as women. You might not pick this up in K Street law offices or in the halls of Congress, but once you enter the areas of this country where more typical Americans dwell, the areas that provide the men who make up our combat units, it becomes obvious. Inside the truck stops and in the honky-tonks, down on the street and in the coal towns, American men are tough and violent. When they are lured or drafted from their homes and put through the dehumanization of boot camp, then thrown into an operating combat unit, they don’t get any nicer, either. And I have never met a woman, including the dozens of female midshipmen I encountered during my recent semester as a professor at the Naval Academy, whom I would trust to provide those men with combat leadership.
Furthermore, men fight better without women around. Men treat women differently than they do men, and vice versa. Part of this is induced by society (for the tendency to want to help women who are, more often than not, physically weaker), and part is innate (the desire to pair off and have sexual relations). These tendencies can be controlled in an eight-hour workday, but cannot be suppressed in a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week combat situation. Introducing women into combat units would greatly confuse an already confusing environment and would lessen the aggressive tendencies of the units, as many aggressions would be directed inward, toward sex. rather than outward, toward violence. A close look at what has happened at the Naval Academy itself during the three years women have attended that institution is testimony to this.
What are the advantages to us, as a society, of having women in combat units? I don’t know of any. Some say that coming manpower shortages might mandate it, but this country has never come close to full mobilization, and we are nowhere near that now. During World War II, 16 million men wore the uniform. Today, the active-duty strength of the US military is only 2 million people, out of a much larger group of eligible citizens. Furthermore, bringing women into the military does not mandate bringing them into combat.
Some say men and women have a duty to share our country’s burdens equally, that it is sex discrimination to require only men to fight. But history has shown the wisdom of this distinction, and the Israelis, who must do more than merely intellectualize about such possibilities, demonstrate its currency. Equal does not mean the same. Any logical proposition— sexual equality— can be carried to a ridiculous extreme— women should fight alongside men.
If Congress had considered these realities when it debated whether to open the service academies to women, and approached this as a national defense rather a women’s issue, it may have voted differently.
Two thirds of the House of Representatives voted for the measure, which appeared as a rider to the 1975 Defense Appropriations Bill. Those who argued favor of the proposal dismissed the notion of women in combat, and instead maintained that the issue was mere sexual equality. Congressman Samuel of New York, who proposed the amendment, downplayed the prospect of women in combat billets, claiming it was irrelevant: “It’s just a simple matter of equality. . . . All we need is to establish the basic legislative policy that we wish to remove sex discrimination when it comes to admissions to the service academies.” Stratton’s key statistic in establishing that the academies did not “train officers exclusively for combat” was that “only” 90 percent of current Academy graduates had served in a combat assignment. …
READ: Jim Webb’s “Women Can’t Fight.“
*Image courtesy here.