To Wreck a Military (a rebuttal)


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! 

RELATED POST: Women in Combat Roles – My rebuttal to the rebuttals of my rebuttal

11 thoughts on “To Wreck a Military (a rebuttal)

  1. You hit the nail on the head – by being closed minded, these folks are not tapping into a widely resourceful and smart population that could compliment the rest of the forces in ways yet to be unseen.

    • GG thank you for your comment and support. I see it as a generation thing. Old men, unwilling to let go of the preconception that women belong in the home. They should stop writing drivel like this and leave the debates to those who have to answer to it; to those men and women who currently serve and have shown over and over again that we can in fact work together to create a smarter,more efficient, and humanitarian military and still be one of the greatest military forces in the world.

  2. This dummy that is supposed to be an academian should look more closely at history. Women have served on the frontlines of armies for millenia. Hell, it wasn’t until the fecking rise of the Abrahamic religions that women began to be marginalized.
    As for the modern military, I served in the US Navy, there were plenty of women aboard. My immediate CO was a woman, and the ship’s XO was also a woman. I think if either one had read this article, and had the pleasure of meeting him, they’d have tried to keelhaul him.Heh. A quarter mile keelhauling. That may be too good for this fecker.

    Thank you for your service, Ma’am.

    • Thank you for your comments! Yes – this article had some issues that I clearly disagreed with! I think as writers – especially if we are considered ‘experts’ in a particular field have a responsibility to at least have some shred of accuracy. Thank you for YOUR service!

  3. Sigh…this, from a man who has spent his entire life being protected by armed, trained and combat-ready WOMEN in Israel, I hope the ladies at the IDF don’t get hold of this article!!!! Can you say Checkpoint?! 🙂

  4. sophist6, sorry your arguement fails to hold water. As we move back to full spectum ops we will not be doing mounted patrols for 12 hours and then back to base… We will be living in the feild, something we really don’t do that much of in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    (I will take this time to apoligize for spelling/typing errors, also Suzy is not a derogatory term)

    You say I am emotional? Maybe I am. You see when if I screw up people die, if I do everything right they still might die. That being said I want every advantage I can get. Is that what work is like for you and the MAJ?

    One more thing. You didn’t talk about Soldiers getting pregnate. It happens. I am NOT laying blame on anyone for it. But here is the deal: You will not get a replacement. You will not have that Soldier for deployment or she will not be available for train-up for the next deployment. The Light Infantry/SOF isn’t an office job even in garrison. If a troop in a Finace unit gets pregnate, she can continue to do her job in garrison. If you have a female troop get pregnate troop you better figure on not having them for 12 MONTHS, and thats if all goes well. Problems:

    1. If Suzy is a private, you will not get a replacement. A rifle squad (at this time) is 9 troops. (This is too small in my opinion, but that is another conversation) so the squad deploys shorthanded. This means everyone has to cover down to accomplish the mission. Everyone has to carry a little more, sleep a little less etc. They haven’t been in their first contact and they are already short. And we are usually already short, from injuries, lack of replacements etc.

    Heres another thing. PVT Suzy shows up to her first unit. A month later she learns she is pregnate. She can’t do Infantry stuff for a year, but she is smart so she takes classes etc. With promotion points so low she makes SGT in two years… But she only has half the experiance of the rest because she didn’t get time to do all the positions within the platoon.

    2. If Suzy is a junior leader, you will not get a replacement. So troops deploy without their leader. So the unit deploys shorthanded. This means everyone has to cover down to accomplish the mission. Everyone has to carry a little more, sleep a little less etc. Lets say Suzy is a fire team leader… Now her team has lost 25% of its manpower. For a fire team this just about makes it combat in-effective… And they haven’t been in their first firefight yet… Let us also say it is her and her fire teams first first deployment, but she missed it.

    Now lets say the fire team/squad/platoon returns with no KIA’s/WIA’s. Suzy resumes her role as the element leader. Do you really think those troops are going to listen to much of what she has to say? If it was a man it would be the same way.

    At this time if you are a combat arms leader over the rank of SGT and you don’t have a combat patch/CIB, no one listens to you. You might be God’s gift to the Army but that dosn’t matter because you haven’t “seen the elephant” and it dosn’t matter what rank your are either. This is accross the Army and not just a combat arms thing either. In a time of peace maybe it will be less important, but for now it isn’t that way.

    Now I have mostly talked about enlisted here but now lets talk about officers. Officers have a certain amount of time to do certain things in their paths. When a LT gets to his first unit he is made a PL for 12 or so months, if very lucky 18 months… Sometimes more, sometimes less. If he is good to go, maybe he gets a second specialty platoon.

    What if LT Suzy reports to her unit and a month later finds out she is pregnate? She can’t be the PL (though she might be left on the books as one)for the train up. 6 months later the unit deploys. They return 12 months later. Suzy has missed her chance to be a PL… This is an absolutely CRITICAL part of an officer path in combat arms… Not many Battalion Commanders are going to want to make a CPT into a company commander if they haven’t been a PL… No good BN CDR is. Yeah there is a little more leeway when it come time to become a Company Commander because officers spend some time as CPT’s so a pregnacy could be worked around.
    But what if she gets a company only to have to give it up because shes having a kiddo? But miss that PL time and she is screwed unless maybe her daddy is a general…

    Here is another thing. The Army isn’t going to transfer a female CPT/MAJ/LTC etc into the Infantry/SOF just because it’s now open. Well I guess I shouldn’t say that, who know what the hell they will do, but they shouldn’t. And this isn’t because they are woman either. The Infantry is already having to deal with problems with non-Infantry commanders not understanding how to properly use them. SOF might even have it a bit worse.

    Now lets talk about some things that don’t get talked about at cocktail parties, that you and higher either never thought of or refused to consider…

    Most senior Light Infantry leaders will tell you it a good idea for the PL/PSG to share a hootch at base when deployed. Do you think after a 20 hour patrol, I am going to remember to knock to ensure my female PL is clothed? I am no prude… But she might be…

    Or lets say its night, pitch black, no moon and I gotta wake up the female PL in her hootch, because the CO wants her… She is a heavy sleeper. You think she will be mad if I poke her with a stick to wake her?

    What about hygiene issues? Do you have any idea where Light Infantry/SOF units take a poop when on patrol? It not private. Its in the middle of the patrol base or parameter in full veiw of EVERYONE. Thats the way it is. I am not going to be able to carry a porta-pottie around for a changing room. Ok, from the patrol base, now we got a 12 klick movement over the mountain, to the ORP. To prevent overheating going to have to take off the polypro. Oops we are tactical, hope you don’t mind being buck naked infront of everybody. Or what about when we have to wash off in a creek or pool of water? You ever been to Afghanistan Ms. Swanson? I spent a year with now shower… We would take a patrol to a nearby creek during the warm months to wash. No privicy. Had to have 3/4 of the unit on security, while 1/4 washed… again in full veiw.

    What about Alaska (or any artic/cold area of the world), Ms. Swanson you ever been stationed there? In Alaska during winter, to prevent constipation and ensure hydration in an Light Infantry unit heres a fun thing you get to do as a leader. You get to take your team/squad out and watch them piss and poop. What fun. You have to do this to ensure they are drinking water, because no one wants to drink cold water when its freezing out. Why watch them poop? To ensure they do. When it’s 50 below no one wants to take their pants down to releive themselves. So they get sick or constipated and have to be evacated. Guess who gets to catch hell from higher if this happens? It isn’t the General.

    You really think woman are not going to look at men and men are not going to look at woman? Are you in a hurry to go on patrol now? How long do you think it will be before a female complains about that? What do you think the Army will do? I will tell you. She will complain. The leaders will get in trouble/fired.

    Do you honestly think the idiots, err I mean enlightened, all knowing leaders that approved this, even thought such things? The answer is no. Won’t be their problem, they don’t spend much time in a patrol base, LOL.

    Do you think they are worried about it? The answer is NO. because they won’t have to deal with it. What do they care if a female complains and some men get into trouble? Long as it isn’t them, they will give less than a crap.

    I am willing to bet not alot of Army females have done this. Look what you will get to do in the Light Infantry!!! Especially as we move back to full spec ops.

    To my senior leaders, thanks so much for setting me up for success.

      • Hodge, I removed your comment because it was not written in response to what I wrote. I will be happy to engage in a debate with you about the subject at hand – however to post a comment as long as that (it was really long – you should write your own paper on the issue) in response to someone else is rather disrespectful. Also, your points in that argument with Ms. Swanson were purely anecdotal and I am sure are important to you – however please take the time to read and respond to what I wrote or continue your conversation with Ms. Swanson on whatever site you started the conversation on.

      • Seriously, I am still going through your response and copied and pasted in Word – single spaced – it is three pages long. Also I just visited the SWJ where this article was originally posted and it appears you just copied and pasted this response on that site as well. Instead of copying and pasting this everywhere, why don’t you try actually reading what it is you are responding to.

          • It wasn’t disrespectful, your response was inaccurate according to what I wrote, which you obviously didn’t read or you have responded to that instead of the drivel you posted here. If you have an opinion on what I wrote I will be happy to engage in a conversation with you. However, I do not feel the need to respond to an argument that has no merit based on what I wrote. Its not a PC rule – it is simple conversation etiquette. If you don;t like what I have to say – address ME, and I will respond in kind.

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