Nobody likes change.
We’ve done several posts about women in combat and Special Ops from a wide range of view points. We even interviewed a female soldier attached to an ODA team in Afghanistan. The issue has never been about women being able to meet the standard or do the job, I have no doubt that women could do both. My own daughter is nine years old, and runs circles around her brothers when it comes to being mentally tough. She’s first in the water, first off the rock jump, and beats them to the bottom of the pool. Much to my happiness she’s a straight A student, and isn’t interested in the military (sigh of relief) anyway. There is no doubt in my mind that women can perform, and meet the standards. Is the US military system structured to integrate, and will the standards be lowered are other issues all together.
Also, worth noting that other countries like Israel, and S. Korea have successfully integrated women into Spec Ops units. Israel granted full access for women to all combat programs (from pilots to Special Ops) in the 90’s.
The SK White Tigers
The main issues that the military must face is the brash/candid environment, and close quarter culture of a Special Operations unit that would make most civilian HR managers blush, and send most military Public Affairs Officers running to their JAG representatives for advice.
The most important issue? Standards. We’ve seen the pressure from above to lower standards in BUD/S to mint more SEALs, and it’s a disaster. A former Commanding Officer at BUD/S, Capt. “B”, was notorious for pushing candidates through regardless of their lack of performance or instructor recommendation to drop from training. This not only hurt the community but also was a ding on morale to those that upheld the standard in training. I remember the current BUD/S instructors calling them, “B’s babies”. It didn’t last too long, and I can tell you from the last Hell Week I worked at the Naval Special Warfare Center, the standards were being upheld without manipulation from above. That’s the issue that worries me about female integration, top down pressure.
The military often, with political pressure from above, makes drastic changes without thinking things through fully. An example of this was clearly seen in the push to put females into the military jet pilot program. Early on the standards were lowered, I’ve heard this is not the case today, to meet quota, and this ultimately lowered morale all around, put lives at risk, and got people killed. I witnessed this first hand on the USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS Kitty Hawk from 1995-97. And don’t think student pilots don’t know if someone is getting an extra attempt, or if standards are adjusted for the Admiral’s son or female pilot. They know, and it lives within the community for a lifetime. The standard should never be compromised in any program, period.
Also worth noting is the inconvenient truth that men and women are biological beings, and expecting them to work in close quarters for extended periods of time without developing sexual relationships is naive, and foolish. The picture above will do enough to drive this point home. Either accept that women will have sex with men in the same unit, and develop serious working protocols to deal with it, or have all-female units. I’m a fan of the latter. It’s not a simple integration, and the UCMJ needs to be adjusted and brought up to the 21st Century. Ever think of how silly Article 125 of the UCMJ is now that gays can openly serve?
The floor is open. What are your thoughts?