September 19th, 2021


Women at war, and the enemy is us

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published April 14, 2015

There's so much to worry about that a conscientious citizen has to get up early to put in the 10 or 12 hours every day to cover it all — Hillary, the shortage of gay wedding cakes, the scarcity of gay pizza in Indiana, the deficiency of fresh-cut flowers for male brides in California, the horned devils who don't get no respect at the Iran-nuclear weapons talks in Switzerland. Now we have to worry about an excess of push-ups and pull-ups at Marine Corps training bases.

Life, as John F. Kennedy eloquently reminded us many years ago, is unfair.

Military readiness has apparently gone to pot. A year after the Pentagon began opening combat slots to women, "women's advocates" say plans for moving women into the heart of bang-bang territory remains "problematic." Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper for military men and women everywhere — which has no connection to the military — reported last week that the Marine Corps and the Army, which have the largest number of slots still closed to women, have aroused women and their advocates to complain about "unclear and inconsistent" approaches to integrating women into the services by January 2016, the deadline set by Leon Panetta, the former secretary of Defense.

The Marine Corps is a particular target of these advocates, who accuse the Marines of focusing on tests for strength and endurance on the battlefield, which any radical feminist would tell you are not necessary on a battlefield. Such tests are questionable, Greg Jacob, policy director for the Service Women's Action Network, tells the newspaper.

The Marines want to see whether women can dead lift 135 pounds, bench press 115 pounds, carry 95 pounds for 150 feet in full combat gear, load a 120mm artillery shell and scale a seven-foot wall. These are skills that might not be needed, Mr. Jacob says. (Or they might be. One never knows.)

The debate over women in combat doesn't go away, and probably never will until a combat regiment with a lot of women in it gets badly chewed up, leaving a lot of female body parts lying about. That's when Congress will step in, with speeches and hearings and much posing and posturing, as if actually puzzling over how such a disgrace could happen.

The Marine Corps disclosed last week that a "historic experiment" to enable women to take part in its Infantry Officer Course ended with no female graduates. Twenty-nine women have taken the course over two years.

Nine of 90 male Marines dropped out before graduation. The school averages a 25 percent attrition rate. The course is not easy, nor is it intended to be.

A Marine Corps spoksman told the web site that women were not expected to meet the same tough physical-fitness standards as men, but were required to "match" male performance in other ways.

The results will be analyzed by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commandant of the Corps, and he will recommend to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter how the Corps intends to open certain combat slots to women.

Women in the Corps, to nobody's surprise, are not clamoring for combat. Surveys show an overwhelming percentage of women in the service do not want to be sent into the meat-grinder.

The only women who are clamoring are feminists who are not Marines or soldiers and who want it only for others, to prove the point that women are equal to men.

Who's arguing with that?

Most men would stipulate that in many ways, perhaps most, women are superior to men, but just not at lifting weights, running a five-minute mile, scaling a burning seven-foot wall, or surviving the squalid and violent misery of killing other men. If they were, we might already see lady linebackers and female free safeties roaming the Redskins backfield.

The generals and admirals know this, too, but they're as eager for promotions and raises as the grunts and swabbies, and go along to get along, which is the Army (and the Washington) way.

Common sense was once prized, and a lot of what everybody knows to be true has been rendered unfit for human consideration. Physical fitness was once the mark of the soldier everywhere, and the only way women can meet battlefield standards is to "norm" them, which is the politically correct way to say, "lower" them.

Feminist advocates in the military insist that integrating women into combat units won't hurt fighting ability. If they really believed that serving in combat is a civil right, as they say they do, they would advocate all-female combat units to settle the debate once and for all.

No one advocates that, and for good and obvious reasons.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.