Sorry to do another one of these so soon, but if you have been reading my blog you know that I am a woman and I am a combat veteran. Men, who have either never served or served during a time when women were only allowed support roles (nurses and secretaries) seem to have this really warped view on what women in the military do to the brave men who serve. I am sorry, but if my presence makes it so impossible for you to focus on your job, maybe you just picked the wrong job. Women aren’t the problem. Women certainly do not ‘wreck’ the military – if anything we make it stronger, more dynamic, and certainly more effective. So lets look at Dr. Martin Van Creveld’s article To Wreck a Military.
Again, this post may get a little lengthy because his article is so packed with assumptions and untruths that it will take me a while to address them all. So settle in; here we go –
In 1968, the U.S. Armed Forces numbered 3,500,000 troops. Of those, just over one percent were female. Back in 1948 Congress, by passing Public Law No. 625, had capped the number of military women at two percent of that total. Those who did wear uniforms were limited to a very small number of Military Occupation Specialties. No military woman could be deployed abroad against her will. The highest rank any woman could attain was that of colonel. However, change was in the air. As the War in Vietnam peaked, the Johnson administration feared, with very good reason, that trying to call up more men might meet with massive resistance. It might even lead to civil war. Casting about for a solution to the problem, one measure the military took was to try and attract more women. That was how the latter got their feet in the door.
His introduction is completely irrelevant. This is history. Our society being what is is has moved slowly when it comes to the inclusion of women in ALL aspects of employment. Not just war fighting. His tone here suggests that we made a HUGE mistake by allowing women to compliment men in service – he doesn’t seem to mention that we were in fact running out of fit young men to serve because they were dying in droves in a war (Vietnam) to end communism that was not threat to us at the time. Just fear – anyway – women had to be called up too because we had to waste our precious men in the jungles instead of having them behind the front lines typing memos and caring for the wounded. He also neglects to mention that the number of 3,500,000 troops were a direct result of the draft. We have not before or since had such large military. Women had no impact on the decline of these numbers – peace did. Also, we ‘got our feet in the door’ because we saw a need (as did our government) and out of love for our country, and love for the men who were dying everyday – we wanted to do what we could to help our country in one if it’s darkest moments in history.
The decision to admit more women proved to be the opening shot in the gender wars in the military. Supported by the courts, which consistently insisted on “equal rights,” throughout the 1970s and 1980s female service personnel demanded, and were granted, greater and greater rights. The more time passed, the less inclined the forces to resist their triumphant march and the more they tended to roll over at the first sign of a feminist demand. To note a few landmark decisions only, in 1976 the Service Academies were opened to women. In the same year, women retained the right to remain in the services even when they were pregnant and, as a consequence, unable to perform some of the jobs to which they were assigned. The 1991 Tailhook debacle represented the worst defeat of the U.S. Navy since Pearl Harbor. In the next year, President Bush’s Commission for Women in Combat solemnly recommended that they not be allowed to participate in it. However, no sooner did President Clinton assume office than the decision was reversed. Women were allowed to fly combat aircraft, crew warships, and participate in ground operations down to the brigade level.
Wow. Our courts ‘insisted’ on equal rights. Damn them! Dr. Van Creveld – in case you haven’t realized, this is what makes our country one of the very best in the world. If you don’t agree, you don’t have to be here; or if you aren’t here – your opinion doesn’t have merit because even if we decided to go back to your archaic views, it still wouldn’t effect you. I am assuming he lives in Israel from his bio – Sir, your Army is FULL of women – it is compulsory for them to serve in Israel – and Israel has one of the strongest most cohesive armies in the world. Women can’t serve while they are pregnant? What about the guy who broke his leg while jumping off the barracks roof while he was drunk – he can’t deploy either. Think of pregnancy as any other illness or condition that makes it impossible to deploy. There are just as many non-deployable men as women – so please for the love of God get over the “women get pregnant” argument. As for Tailhook – lets put the blame where it belongs, not on women, but on the men. This is yet another attempt to justify rape. It has absolutely nothing to do with military service, but with a bunch of men – in leadership positions – that behaved badly in Vegas. Is this some veiled attempt yet again to justify rape? I think so. (Language alert) the inability for men to keep their dicks to themselves is the problem here. Women have the self control necessary to perform their jobs without raping people; men apparently don’t. So we are going to create laws that exclude women, and ‘protect’ men from having to actually resist the urge to rape people. Yes – that makes perfect sense (sarcasm intended).
Even as the forces were feminized, they also became progressively smaller. By the time the Cold War ended, the number or troops was down to 2,050,000. Of those, about 8.5 percent were female. Later, the number of troops was cut even further, to 1,400,000. As part of the process, the share of women rose to between 16 and 17 percent. It was with this force that the U.S. went to war first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Now that incoming Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wants to carry out further drastic cuts, the last barriers to women’s participation in every kind of unit and activity are about to be demolished. Meanwhile, though the ratio of population to uniformed soldiers has gone down from 55:1 to 227:1, so unattractive has military service become that the forces have been reduced to recruiting tens of thousands of non-citizens. In many cases so low is their quality that, once they have been recruited, the first thing they must learn is how to read.
How can ‘educated’ people be so very stupid? I am sorry, but the more I analyze this article – the more pissed off I become. I apologize for that because I am starting to lose my academic tendency to give merit to both sides of a story – but this guy is annoying.
Running a military is expensive. We draw down our numbers during peacetime because we no longer need hundreds of thousands ‘at the ready’. As deployments show, we can run an Army post that normally hosts 20,000+ Soldiers with less than 2000. Once the ‘war’ part ends, we no longer need to feed, dress, train, and house all of the support personnel. The people that stay during peacetime are those that need continuous and consistent training on new technologies, traditional war-fighting (infantry) – during peacetime they can write their own memos, and process their own personnel actions. So instead of keeping everyone around with nothing to do, we save our country some money with draw-downs. It is economically motivated, not gender motivated. The number of women versus men is irrelevant. When draw-downs happen, the first people we get rid of are those that are already close to retirement; considering our short history, there are many more men closer to retirement than women, which explains his assertions that women rose in percentage to men. Let’s take gender out of it all together; If I have five Fiji Apples and five Granny Smith apples and I let 2 granny smith apples rot – I now have more Fijis than Grannies. Get it? Gender isn’t the problem. I can go buy more granny smiths, but why do that when I still have 8 perfectly good apples to choose from?
Looking back, clearly what we see is two long-term processes running in parallel. The first is the decline of U.S. armed forces (as well as all other Western ones, but that is not our topic here). The second is their growing feminization. Critics will object that, even as they were being downsized, the forces went through one qualitative improvement after another. In particular, the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” is supposed to have increased their fighting power many times over. That, however, is an illusion. To realize this, all one has to do is look at Afghanistan. Over there, “illiterate” tribesmen—not, take note, tribeswomen—are right now about to force the U.S. to withdraw its troops after a decade of effort in which they achieved hardly anything.
If draw downs are not the topic, then quit bringing it up. We need fewer war fighters in peacetime – fact. Another fact he neglects to even recognize is advances in technology that reduce the need for people to jump in front of bullets. We will never have another D-Day invasion where thousands die just to make way for equipment and Soldiers to breech a fortified position. We have unmanned drones (whether you agree with them or not), long range missiles, planes with pin point bombing accuracy… the ‘grunts’ for the most part no longer need to charge headlong into danger – the smarter and more advanced we get with our war fighting means that we need fewer war fighters. Again – nothing to do with gender.
Another point here is Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a losing battle for ANY military that tries to ‘take’ it. It is not the ‘illiterate’ tribesmen it is the geographical fortitude of the surroundings (mountains, lots and lots of mountains) that make Afghanistan one of the most easily defensible places on the planet. Alexander the Great got there, fought for a while, said ‘screw this’ and ended his march for world domination. Other countries want Afghanistan because of this. The Soviets spent 25 years there and went home empty handed. The difference between those other occupiers and the U.S.? We aren’t trying to take over. We aren’t aiming to make Afghanistan the next U.S. territory or 51st State.
As for the illiteracy of the Afghan people – well – Dr. Van whats his name has probably never met these people. They are SMART and have survived and defended their country and ideals for far longer than the U.S. has even existed. Even with what I consider archaic attitudes toward women in the country – that wasn’t always so. The Taliban banned girls from education – a political organization. Prior to their control; girls went to school too. Granted it was a different education – much like ours in the early 19th century when girls went to school to learn to cook and read the Bible – We are all evolving societies, and that evolution will go at the pace that the people demand. If Afghan women want greater rights – they will fight for them like U.S. women have and they are currently doing so.
Are the two processes linked? You bet they are. Consider a work by two female professors, Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos, with the title Job Queues, GenderQueues. First published in 1990, it has since been quoted no fewer than 1,274 times. As they and countless other researchers, both male and female, have shown, over time the more women that join any organization, and the more important the role they play in that organization, the more its prestige declines in the eyes of both men and women. Loss of prestige leads to diminishing economic rewards; diminishing economic rewards lead to loss of prestige. As any number of historical examples has shown, the outcome is a vicious cycle. Can anybody put forward a reason why the U.S. military should be an exception to the rule?
It is seriously getting harder and harder for me to watch my language. This guy makes me want to curse a lot. This whole paragraph speaks to societal values not war. Prestige? Really? How about we judge things on their values rather than it’s societal perceptions? Someone quoted a couple of female authors no less than 1,274 times? Holy crap! Well that makes it all perfectly relevant. I think I am just done with this paragraph.
Are the processes welcome? That depends on your point of view. If the reason for having armed forces is to guarantee national security, then the answer is clearly no. By one count, almost one third of enlisted military women are single mothers. As a result, whatever the regulations may say, they are only deployable within limits. Adding to the problems, at any one time, one tenth of all servicewomen are certain to be pregnant. That again means that there are limits on what they can do on the job. Women are unable to compete with men when it comes to the kind of work that requires physical fitness. Those who try to do so nevertheless are almost certain to suffer a wholly disproportionate number of injuries. As a result, the part of their training troops of both sexes spend together often borders in the ridiculous and represents a gross waste of resources. Furthermore, women’s retention rate is lower than that of men on the average. As a result, bringing them to the point where they are qualified to do their jobs also represents a gross waste of resources.
I already spoke about deployability but I will say it again – there are just as many non-deployable men as women. It’s true, women get pregnant. It is also true that there are many unwed mothers. Here’s the thing though, men get to impregnate women and run away without worry or responsibility if they choose to – women then are pretty much stuck with a baby (more so when you want to legislate reproductive rights issues). So dumping on unmarried mothers without mentioning the men’s role in the problem is a rather ignorant stance to take. As far as women competing with men on a physical level – it isn’t a competition. Different people have different skills. It is up to to individuals to determine what they are capable of. There are plenty of jobs to choose from in any military and not all women who serve want to be infantrymen. If men are so much more capable, why then on the firing range did I have to spend so much time telling male Soldiers how to shoot? I am a great marksman if I do say so myself – once guys see me shoot, they ask for my help to improve their marksmanship. They would also be very happy to have me lay down some suppressive fire so they can do their jobs. We can compliment each other because everyone (gender ignored) has something to offer. Weird. Women’s retention rates are lower because there is still a glass ceiling, we still get sexually harassed, being raped by our peers is still a-okay and some of us just get sick of it and go look for work elsewhere. He keeps using the word ‘gross’ – I do not think it means what he thinks it means. The only thing ‘gross’ about women in the military is the attitudes of men who can’t control themselves or see themselves as some elite human who does not require the support of people they don’t like (or understand). It is not a gross waste of resources to allow women to train and fight with men, rather it is a great use of resources available to us to have a strong and effective fighting force.
Last not least, as figures from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show, relative to their number military women are 90 percent less likely to be killed than military men. In other militaries around the world, incidentally, women’s share among the casualties is much lower still. Uniformed women, in other words, are not pulling their weight. Whether this is because public opinion will not stand for large numbers of dead servicewomen or because the women themselves have found a thousand ways to avoid going where the bullets are is immaterial. Probably both factors play a role. Instead of fighting, women get all the cushy jobs. For anyone who serves in the military, or whose livelihood depends on public approval, the prevailing climate of political correctness makes it impossible to mention the problem even in a whisper. Obviously, though, it is bound to have some effects on the morale of male personnel.
This paragraph honestly made me laugh out loud. There are still fewer women than men in the military we are banned from combat roles, so those in the line of fire are unfortunately mostly men – so more of them die. It isn’t because of women not pulling their weight or shirking responsibility. More women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than in any other war in history because we are present. We get all the cushy jobs because men are too scared to allow us into the more difficult ones for reasons already mentioned in this article. That’s not our fault. In Afghanistan, I used to drive in convoys outside of my cushy office job. I had my weapon locked and loaded and was ready, willing, and able, to defend those who I was charged with transporting. Even the ‘cushy’ jobs require basic infantry skills, and anyone wearing a uniform may find them selves in a situation where they have to step away from the typewriter and shoot some people. Also – what about militaries that are 100% male – do we discredit their service if they served as a support person and never saw actual combat? No – because we know that when push comes to shove he would have done what was needed. Also – with all these articles from people like this, I would hardly say anyone has a problem espousing their ignorance on the matter not in a whisper, but with a bullhorn.
One may also look at the problem in a different way. Over the last few decades people have become accustomed to think of the feminization of the military as if it were some great and mighty step towards women’s liberation. In fact, it is nothing of the kind. For thousands, probably tens of thousands of years, we men have laid down our lives so that the women we love might live. To quote the Trojan hero Hector on this, he preferred going to hell a thousand times to seeing his wife, Andromache, weeping as she was led into captivity by one of the “copper-wearing Greeks.” Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if the tables were turned and women started laying down their lives for us? After all, people of both sexes live in a democracy where women form a majority of the population. Why, then, shouldn’t they die in proportion to their numbers?
Um. The tables ARE turning and woman ARE laying down their lives for their countries. Personally, like Hector, I would gladly lay down my life for my partner for her to have an opportunity at living a great life, let someone try to hurt her and I will unleash a hell on them that they will never see coming. Dr. Van – you sir in this one paragraph negated your own argument. If you want us to pull our own weight and die like out male counterparts, allow us the opportunity to do so. In America, I am in full support of having women register for the draft (out of fairness) even though it would take some serious shit to reinstate it and probably cause more problems than it would solve – but it would at least end the thumb sucking ‘its not fair’ argument.
In fact, as the number of troops of both sexes who are killed shows only too clearly, women’s presence in the military is little but an expensive charade. True equality—equality of the kind that will make service personnel of both sexes take the same risks and suffer the same casualties—is as far away as it has ever been. Everything considered, perhaps it is better that way.
Thank God he finally stops writing here. “Everything considered”, this guy is yet another misinformed misogynist, out of touch, academic who obviously does not understand war, women, combat, or the evolution of society and technology. If we define our military by the number of deaths regardless of gender – then our recent wars show that his entire argument is invalid. Fewer troops have died in Afghanistan and Iraq than any other wars in history and women were there and active and dying in both of them.
Whew. If you made it this far – thanks for reading. Have an opinion? Share it in the comments!