The following is guest commentary from Michael R. Howard, captain, SEAL, USN, (retired).
The recent graduation of the first two female Army Rangers politely opens another door for women into the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, a decision the Navy must make by January 1, 2016. Sadly, we know it is a done deal, and we will soon have our first “G.I. Jane.” For the sake of “opportunity,” a finely tuned national military asset that is not broken will be “fixed.” In his infinite wisdom, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered SEAL training standards reviewed for gender neutrality, which is politically correct for “lowering standards.” Incredibly, 14 years of unprecedented combat success in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., is not sufficient evidence that SEAL training standards are quite adequate, not to mention the preceding four decades of combat success!
The SEALs are our military’s professional athletes, who kill our nation’s enemies. Why is every sport, high school to professional, gender separate? The answer is obvious. We all know why. How can we separate men and women at every athletic level, yet think it is appropriate and necessary to combine them on a professional athletic killing team?
Why not first level the playing fields, literally? Save Title IX money and make all athletic competitions gender neutral. No more separate men’s and women’s teams, but co-ed. Let the best athletes prevail, for the sake of opportunity. Let us see if this works before we throw in the killing. It is idiotic. We all know women would suffer the inevitable consequence of limited participation at every level, simply because few would make the teams. For years, I coached high school boys’ soccer and frequently observed the girls’ games and practices. I have never seen a female player with the speed, quickness, strength, and aggressiveness to compete with boys—a distinction that grows greater at higher levels.
Olympians and professional teams constantly study SEAL training, never the reverse. There is no need, because the SEAL process works. SEALs’ physical contests, however, result in killing their opponents. They are darn good at it. If you saw SEALs in training, lined up poolside, you would swear they are a professional athletic team: young men at the height of their physical prowess, ready to test themselves in combat. You would see an impressive display of male masculinity and physical fitness, equal to, or surpassing, any professional sports team. SEALs are alpha males, overloaded with testosterone. They relish defending the weak, old, infirm, and our “women and children.” Inserting females into this male domain will create fatal tensions and tendencies. In combat, a split-second of hesitation gets you, and your teammates, killed.
No, combat is not an Olympic or professional athletic contest. For SEALs, though, it is that, and more. The distinction: When SEALs metaphorically score a touchdown, hit a perfect tee shot, or touch first in swim meets, they kill their opponents.
We ask much of our young SEALs. We ask them to kill and make instant moral decisions that may forever haunt them. Combat is nasty and demands exactness. Second place is an Arlington tombstone. Including women will degrade that required exactness; even the slightest deviation is a sufficient crack in their armor to allow entry by the enemies’ arrows. There is nothing gained and much to be lost by this political creation of female SEALs.
Should we now abandon the ageless lifeboat mantra “women and children first” for the sake of opportunity? To what uncivilized depth can we fall? Watching the recent U.S. Open tennis tournament, I listened to the women scream with each whack of their racquet. I could not help but think how their screams would forever change the infamous “Grinder” at our SEAL training complex in Coronado, as they pump out thousands of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc. Will those screams strike fear in the hearts of our enemies?
—Captain (SEAL) Michael R. Howard, USN (ret.)
(Photo: Specialist Patricia Caputo)