Uncle Sam Wants You…Sister!

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When we last checked in on the women-in-combat issue (complete with partial audio re: the sitcom Maude, naturally), things were shuffling toward a Nixon-in-China moment in which a self-described conservative administration turned out to be the one from which Janey Gets Her Gun.

Today's Washington Times has more on the matter:

[A] Nov. 29 briefing to senior Army officers at the Pentagon, presented as part of the service's sweeping transformation of its 10 war-fighting divisions, advocates scrapping the military's ban on collocation—the deployment of mixed-sex noncombat units alongside all-male combat brigades.

The briefing contained the phrase: "The way ahead: rewrite/eliminate the Army collocation policy."

Needless to say, as in many cases, necessity, not a change of heart (or mind) is the mutha of this invention: "All-male [Forward Support Companies], the paper states, "creates potential long-term challenge to Army; pool of male recruits too small to sustain force."

Whole thing here.

It's about time that women who make the cut get to, as the old bumper sticker put it, "Join the army: Travel to exotic distant lands; meet exciting, unusual people and kill them."

And we can all look forward to gender-bending productions of Lysistrata.

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  1. As long as the homos stay in the closet, everything should be just fine.

  2. (my didn’t come through)

  3. dammit all i’m trying to say is /sarcasm with the > and the > that goes the other way around it!!

  4. let that be a lesson – preview before you post!!

  5. I think it is a stupid idea. I am all about equal rights and all. Let them have an all female grunt line company. Mixing boys and girls in a line company would be a stupid idea.

    Let them have an all girl line company, and see how they perform. If they do well, fine. My guess is that they wont, but I could be wrong. The boys could be bringing the girls’s perfomance down as much as what is happening vice verca.

    You would have thought that the Army had enough scandal lately. And they would have gained a modicum of understanding of human nature as a result. Or perhaps not.

  6. The restructuring of Lysistrata would be a beautiful thing. I can already see a chorus line of straight and gay men, joining in with straight and gay women plus a gaggle of pacifist trannies doing the time warp as their militaristic partners writhe in frustrated agony.

    What a great thought for starting this crappy day…

  7. So the administration is faced with a choice: military effectiveness, or political ideology?

    Gee, I wonder how this is going to end up.

    They’re still kicking people who can read Arabic out of the Army for being gay. They’re still spending money on a missile defense program that doesn’t work. They shut down the peacekeeping/nation building school. When have these people ever pissed off the social right in order to eliminate a failed policy that harms military effectiveness?

  8. kwais: “Let them have an all girl line company, and see how they perform.”

    Would there be a webcam service for that?

  9. Joe,
    What failed policy that harms military effectiveness, are you talking about that would piss of the right if removed? I don’t think the right would be too pissed if they removed females from line companies.

    Also, to take the bait. I am not too sold that kicking gay arab speakers out of the Army harms the army at all. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but I don’t think it harms the Army.

  10. SR,
    hehe. I bet there is one right now. I wish I knew the address, I would share it.

    A friend of mine was on an investigation of some dude in the Air Force that took pictures of chicks in the AF, and posted them on the net. But I couldn’t get my friend to share any of the pics. She said that it would have been unethical, and that she couldn’t have gotten away with it.

  11. “I am not too sold that kicking gay arab speakers out of the Army harms the army at all.”

    Considering the shortage of arabic translaters and our need for intellegence on Arabs, I’m with joe here.

    Omigod, dress me in warm clothes when you bury me. 🙂

  12. Adam,

    Don’t worry, when they dredge this up when you run for office in 30 years, I’ll tell ’em all you were clearly, undoubtedly being sarcastic — for a price, of course!

  13. “What failed policy that harms military effectiveness, are you talking about that would piss of the right if removed?”

    Discharging gay people.

    “I am not too sold that kicking gay arab speakers out of the Army harms the army at all.”

    You don’t think that the inability to translate intelligence on the enemy’s plans, movements, and strategies harms the Army? I gotta disagree.

  14. Anybody familiar with the term “deployment queen” knows why this is not a good idea. Morale at the smaller unit level is hurt because all the young men compete for the attention of the women who usually make up no more than 10-20% of an Army unit. Of course when a young enlisted soldier finds out that “his lady” is sleeping with all of his buddies too it can sometimes cause problems, unless you are into that sort of thing.

    Additionally the front lines is not the time to watch what you say but you have to be mindful of your words in “today’s” Army. Wouldn’t want to get any Equal Opportunity (EO) complaints.

    Two of the most famous women to come out of OIF were both moral drainers at their respective units units. PFC England was sleeping with a couple of her buddies and PFC Lynch was sleeping with at least her Supply SGT.

    I don’t have a problem with young folks engaging in a healthy sex life however in a combat theater they have more important things to worry about.

    I can’t blame the ladies though if I was offered a job where 85% for my co-workers were females between 18-30 who were forced to stay in decent shape and I had to be around them 24/7. I would certainly have a hard time saying no.

  15. “Also, to take the bait. I am not too sold that kicking gay arab speakers out of the Army harms the army at all. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but I don’t think it harms the Army.”

    Honestly, Kwais, we’re not at war with the Canadians.

  16. Dave, I do my job in a mixed-sex workplace, and manage to get along just fine. When I was 13, 14 years old, I used to find myself driven to distraction by the fact that there were females around, but I got used to it. I don’t “watch what I say” around them – behaving appropriately in mixed company is my default mode. I’m sure some southern officers were driven to distraction by the presence of black soldiers in the 1950s, but they got used to it, and now working in a mixed-race unit is normal. I’m sure that white officers no longer have to make a conscious effort to behave appropriately, they just do. The fact that people who don’t have experience working next to women don’t know how to behave when working next to women is not terribly surprising. Once they have the experience, it won’t seem like such a novelty.

  17. Andy,
    I don’t follow what you are trying to say.

    Joe,
    No amount of being around women will socialize a young man to not want to fuck them. If you work with many women, you may be a lucky guy, but as long as you can go home or meet other women out and about it is no big deal. If you are stuck on a base or a ship and the only contact you have is with the people you work with, that changes the math equation.

    Do I really need to go into why the black man in the south is not an appropriate comparison?

  18. joe:

    I agree that in almost any case but the military a mixed gender environment is fine. However, having seen first hand the way things are in the Army with women and without women my OPINION is that they hurt things on the front lines. Remember soldiers aren’t together 40 hours a week. They are together 24/7.

    Additionally women in the military are held to lower physical standards than their male counterparts and still recieve the same pay even though they cannot perform as well in certain jobs.

  19. kwais,

    “Do I really need to go into why the black man in the south is not an appropriate comparison?”

    I think there are a couple of different issues that need to be teased out. There is, of course, the issue of sexual attraction and confinement. But there is aslo the issue of culture, of men being uncomfortable with women as equals or superiors or comrades. This is what I was getting at when I brought up the racial integration of the Army.

  20. Dave, I agree, the different physical standards will probably have to be jettisoned for mixed combat units.

  21. joe-

    Are you saying, for the record, that women in the armed forces should be held to the same physical standards as men who are performing the same job?

    I just ask because in some quarters that’s a controversial statement.

  22. Joe,
    More on the sex issue that maybe you are not aware of. In the military (except maybe the AF), Your worthiness is judged on a series of things, including physical fitness that a female human is generally at a disadvantage at. (Like 99%+ of the time).

    So in some situations they reach for other ways to fit in or gain respect. As all humans do. One of the ways women can do this is through their sexuality. Another way is through the all powerfull EO office, and complaints.

    I hate to say in every case, because there is always an exception. But if you have seen humans you may have noticed the way that contrary to hollywood movies, females and males are not physically equal, you know what I mean. And if you have been to high school or college, or any other environment where young males and females are put together, you know the inevitable result. In college and high school it is not a problem. In combat it is.

    That is why I say, separate the two, let a female unit do what they think they can do. If they really can meet the requirments without a man carrying their weight, if they really can match the requirements that men meet, more power to them.

    If you mix the two, know that you are going to have what are now considered inapropriate relations. You are going to have two different standards. You are going to have jealousy and resentment.

    If it all that is OK, then I think the Army should probably get rid of it’s ‘no fratenization policy’. Because those rules are about as effective as drug laws.

  23. “I don’t follow what you are trying to say.”

    That seems to be a common complaint about my postings :))

    what i meant was, how could it not be advantageous to have as many Arabic speakers as possible, regardless of their sexual orientation?

    We are at war in an Arab country as well with Islamist fascists, who are also Arab.

  24. I always thought it sucked that women Marines got equal pay but were exempt from a whole host of bullshit that the guys had to put up with. Everything from guard duty to buzz cuts to exemption from combat to physical fitness tests that were scaled back by a third (ie the guys had to run three miles the girls had to run only one).

    So here’s my take on it. Let the chicks who want to kill people go for it. Give them the grenade launchers and let them fly air strikes. But I don’t want to hear any whining stateside when the women have to run up Mt Motherfucker at Camp Pendleton in full combat gear like the guys do.

  25. A couple of things;
    I started typing the last post right after my previous post, so I did not see the posts that went in between. (There is a lot of things going on here, so I was somewhat distracted).

    I re-read my post and I am mixing two problems involved in a mixed sex military. a)The fact that sexual relations WILL take place, and with it many complications. b)Physical inequality.

    I hope it has not been too confusing.

  26. kwais, I completely believe that muscle-head judgements are used to judge soldiers’ worth, even in situations where they bear no relevance to the soldier’s ability to execute the job. That strikes me as a problem, a cultural problem that we’d do well to overcome.

    Judging from the military people I’ve know, I can completely believe that a big, burly sonar Naval personnel, compared to a smaller, thinner sonar technician with exactly the same, or better, skills at the job. This is a failure, one that should be remedied, not used to justify even more pointless discrimination against able personnel.

    Yes, thoreau, I believe the physical standards need to be revisited. Men and women should be held to the same standard for the same job, but the standards need to be appropriate and relevant for the job. The dynamic kwais explains above, of physical “fitness” being used to judge people’s worth, has sometimes resulted in high physical standards being set for jobs that don’t actually require them – sonar technicians, for example. When 99% of the people who can do the job pass the irrelevant standard, it isn’t a problem. But when a significant number could get cut for no good reason, it is a problem.

  27. TWC,
    Amen, let the wookies run up mount Motherfucker.

    Andy,
    What the Army has to decide is if the gay soldiers will cost more than they are worth. They can always get straigh linguists one assumes.

    Joe,
    You do bring up a good point about socialization, and culture. One thing I used to wonder; if there was an intrinsic value in having women train with men. The value being that men would learn to shed anticuated cultural attitudes, that would make the men more adapted to the modern world. I don’t know though. I think the cost maybe too high

  28. Joe,
    If all the Navy was chicks and all the Marine Corps was dudes, it would be an interesting world. It would be a fun ride to war too.

  29. “They can always get straigh linguists one assumes. ”

    One doesn’t have to assume: there’s been voluminous reporting on the absolutely dire shortage of Arabic translators and the massive backlogs of untranslated intelligence materials.

  30. Joe –

    The arguement for normalized physical fitness standards without regard to job in the military has it’s place and reason.

    No matter what a solider’s occupation in the military, they have the right at any time to change it to infantry as needed.

    And sometimes, because war is hell, the situation dictates the decision for the solider.

    Think of all the truck drivers involved in firefights. Some of those truck drivers are simply driving their computer equipment to it’s location where they will be support units.

  31. Six Sigma, don’t you think there might be a few personnel shortage problems if every computer tech in the military had to meet the combat infantry physical standards?

    kwais, I believe the racial integration in the military has served for fifty years to degrade racial animosity, prejudice, and stereotyping in our society. In this sector, the military is one of the most progressive institutions in the country. Giving certain young men the opportunity to learn for themselves that not all women fall to pieces under stress, and to actually form bonds of shared effort with women, would probably have a similar effect. But this is beside the point – these are side effects to doing the right, and smart, thing, not ends unto themselves that should be used to set militay policy.

  32. Joe,

    “Giving certain young men the opportunity to learn for themselves that not all women fall to pieces under stress,”

    I would say from my experience, the result is quite the opposite. That is that they learn the opposite lesson than you would have them learn.

    And every computer tech in the Marine Corp is supposed to be a Marine, and every Marine is supposed to be a basic infantryman (it doesn’t quite work out like that.)

    Now the Navy and the AF are different (you will see that the physical fitness of said branches are not to the same standard).

    Julian Sanches,
    There are plenty of people that can work as translators here. There are plenty of people that can be trained as translators. I think if they have a problem with translating stuff, it has to do with the amount of effort that they put into it. A whole lot more than that they kicked out four gay translators.

    I mean, I will concede that their appears to be a whole lot of gay Arabs. But I notice lots of little Arabs walking around, so they can’t all be gay.

  33. What’s wrong with the army (some things in no particular order)?

    — An Army of One. What about teamwork? Duh.
    — Lyndie England. Pregnancy BDUs?
    — Mixed sex boot camp. Let’s train everyone to the lowest common denominator.
    — Political correctness. DIs are being tossed for cursing and yelling at recruits. Should they now wear tutus?
    — Leadership. Ticket-punchers caring more for their careers than for their soldiers.
    — 507th MC (Jessica Lynch) debacle. Almost every gun jammed. Where was the training and leadership?

    Women in the military isn’t the issue. There are many women throughout the military who do as well or better than most men. Women in combat isn’t the issue. There are some excellent fighter, attack and transport female pilots in the military along with female crew chiefs and gunners. Women in ground combat is the issue. If you can’t carry your own gear and a wounded comrade on your back you don’t belong there (and yes, there are a lot of men who can’t do that and they don’t belong in combat either). The real issue is unit cohesiveness. If it doesn’t exist, you’re screwed in combat. And, whether you like it or not, women (and openly gay for that matter) will destroy unit cohesiveness.

  34. Joe –

    No, there wouldn’t necessarily be a shortage of computer people solely due to phsycial standards. The Army isn’t the same as working a 9-5 for MCI, and soliders understand this.

    There’s a variety of reasons people leave or don’t join the military, but I’ve never heard of anyone voluntarily leaving or refusing to joing and reasoning it by saying they can do the same job without physical standards elsewhere.

    And besides, the standards are because of the realities of war, not the realities for a specific job.

  35. “Bleex is a set of modified combat boots, attached to what looks like a set of metal braces that snake up the sides of the legs. The prosthetics, which operate with the assistance of a Pentium-5 equivalent processor, are connected to a vest and backpack. About 70 pounds of gear can be crammed into the pack. But once the exoskeleton is turned on, it feels like only a five pound load, the mechanical legs pick up the rest. Bleex 2, scheduled for June, should be able to carry 150 pounds and amble at a four-miles-an-hour clip.”
    New York Times Magazine, Dec. 12, page 68

    Beware of mothers wearing combat boots.

  36. “I think if they have a problem with translating stuff, it has to do with the amount of effort that they put into it. A whole lot more than that they kicked out four gay translators.”

    What?

    “What the Army has to decide is if the gay soldiers will cost more than they are worth. They can always get straigh linguists one assumes.”

    What Julian Sanchez said notwithstanding, how could gay soldiers in general “cost more” than they’re worth? Do you think they all require hourly lattes and daily facials or something??? Do you think they’ll spend all their time trying to get in the pants of all the other translators? Give me a fucking break.

  37. “I think if they have a problem with translating stuff, it has to do with the amount of effort that they put into it. A whole lot more than that they kicked out four gay translators.”

    What?

    I think what he’s getting at is that the the effect of excluding gays is relatively minor, and could be overcome if the military placed a higher priority on training translators (e.g., by paying them more).

    Kicking gays out of the army only eliminates 3% of the talent pool (less, actually, since not all of them get caught). It’s a safe bet that a much larger number of people refuse to serve as military translators because it is difficult work and pays badly. The military’s lack of translators is much more to budget priorities than to “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

    Of course, it’s still a stupid idea to kick qualified people out of the military for no valid reason, even if you’re only kicking out two or three our of every hundred.

    how could gay soldiers in general “cost more” than they’re worth?

    Gay soldiers are worth neither more nor less than heterosexual ones. So the question is, does recruiting an openly-gay soldier have higher costs than recruiting an openly heterosexual one? The answer to that question is “yes”.

    Nation-wide, male homosexuals are outnumbered around 10 to 1 by people who feel that private homosexual conduct should be illegal. The military draws heavily from groups which tend to be more homophobic than average, such as blacks, hispanics, and poor whites, so presumably gays within the military are even *more* outnumbered. It is pretty obvious that when you put one guy in close quarters with 10 or 15 people who think he ought to be in prison, somebody’s going to start some shit. So, yeah, there is a higher cost associated with gay soldiers: the morale and discipline costs of dealing with the homophobes who dramatically outnumber him.

    Basically the military is faced with a choice between (a) losing 3% of its workforce by expelling the openly gay soldiers, (b) losing a much larger percentage of its workforce by expelling the homophobes, or (c) dealing with the morale problems resulting from retaining both groups. They’ve chosen (a). Personally, I think (c) is probably the cheaper and better option, and certainly superior from a social engineering standpoint, but since I’ve never served in the military that’s just a guess.

  38. I think what he’s getting at is that the the effect of excluding gays is relatively minor, and could be overcome if the military placed a higher priority on training translators (e.g., by paying them more).

    Only in government could such thinking take place. “Why cost-effectively use the already-trained gay translators we have, when we can kick them out and pay more to trian new ones? It’s brilliant, I tell you!”

    Kicking gays out of the army only eliminates 3% of the talent pool (less, actually, since not all of them get caught).

    That assumes that the military’s policy on homosexuals causes some gay-friendly straight people not to enlist who otherwise would have.

    Nation-wide, male homosexuals are outnumbered around 10 to 1 by people who feel that private homosexual conduct should be illegal.

    I’d like a cite for that, please.

  39. Kwais: “If all the Navy was chicks and all the Marine Corps was dudes, it would be an interesting world. It would be a fun ride to war too.”

    Yeah, but those DI’s would still be saying there’s two kinda Sailors—Chicks and Corpsmen. VBG

  40. “Why cost-effectively use the already-trained gay translators we have, when we can kick them out and pay more to trian new ones? It’s brilliant, I tell you!”

    The military claims that homosexuals are not cost-effective because the presence of openly homosexual soldiers in the ranks creates discipline problems. I do not agree with them on that, but I have never seen convincing proof either way. Some countries allow it, but generally only in nations where (a) homophobia is much less common than it is here or (b) the army is a used as a welfare program rather than a viable military force.

    Imagine yourself running a company that suffers from chronic manpower shortages. One-third of your employees are overtly racist white guys; one-thirtieth of your applicants are black. Is it really a no-brainer that you should go ahead and hire the black guys? I don’t think so. Hiring them might be the *moral* thing to do, but a good case could be made that the health of the company would be best-served by suffering the marginally worse manpower problem and avoiding the intracompany strife.

    That assumes that the military’s policy on homosexuals causes some gay-friendly straight people not to enlist who otherwise would have.

    There are probably heterosexuals for whom the military’s homophobic policies are a dealbreaker, but there are also probably heterosexuals for whom military acceptance of homosexuality would be a dealbreaker. I doubt the net effect is significant.

    I’d like a cite for that, please.

    I arrived at the “10:1” approximation by dividing the percentage of Americans who feel homosexual behavior should be illegal by the percentage of men who are gay (3% or so).

  41. I’d like to see the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy applied to all humans who masturbate.

    Save a lot of lives that way.

  42. One of military’s arguements against homosexuals is that it would create problems with living arrangements. Since during training up to 60 soldiers sleep and shower in the same area homosexuals would have to have a separate area versus heterosexuals. This would require separate areas for strait males, strait females, gay males, and then gay females. Having four different areas to house your troops would take away time from other important things…

  43. Dave, a number of militaries allow gay soldiers to serve openly. Britain, the Netherlands, Canada among them. Not one of them segregates troops by sexual orientation.

    Similarly Dan, none of these militaries are having trouble maintaining force levels because of the presence of gay soldiers.

    Six Sigma, I’m not suggesting people will quit because of the standards, but that they will be excluded by the military itself. They are just barely keeping levels where they need them right now. Reducing the people available for staff positions significantly would put a strain on personnel.

  44. Joe,

    “Dave, a number of militaries allow gay soldiers to serve openly. Britain, the Netherlands, Canada among them. Not one of them segregates troops by sexual orientation.”

    With the exception of Britain, I wouldn’t want to depend on those militaries. With the exception of their SF, they don’t have the ability to defend themselves, much less their own countries. Hell, Dutch soldiers are even unionized — I’m sure they’ll do great in combat!

    “Similarly Dan, none of these militaries are having trouble maintaining force levels because of the presence of gay soldiers.”

    It’s pretty easy to keep your force levels when they are so low. Canada has around 50K in all branches. They don’t even have the ability to transport their troops abroad.

    “… They are just barely keeping levels where they need them right now.”

    That’s only a problem in the Army. The Air Force is actually decreasing in size and the Marines have to turn away people.

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