Thursday, January 24, 2013

G.I. Jane: Reporting for Combat

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

In another triumph of political correctness over common sense, the Pentagon is lifting its ban on women in combat and direct combat units. Senior officials leaked the news yesterday during the House's Benghazi hearings, making the timing even more suspect. If Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was hoping to distract the country from Hillary Clinton's Libyan testimony, he succeeded. According to leaders, even Congress wasn't warned. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), one of the many politicians taken by surprise, was stunned by the policy's lack of vetting. "Congress should be consulted about that," he said. "I think that's a historic policy of the Department of Defense. There are physical differences of the sexes... It's a major decision and I'd like to see how they came to it, what their recommendations are, and who makes it."

No one is suggesting that women are not capable or have not served their country with distinction. They are and have. But much like the plan to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the risks of this integration (physical stamina and injury, emotional stress, sexual assault, pregnancy, adultery, unit readiness, family breakdown) seem secondary to the administration's liberal agenda. How much national security is our President willing to forgo to promote this kind of progressive feminism? While liberals celebrate the decision--and the military's desk workers advise it--some active-duty women insist the change wasn't something they asked for. "Who is driving this agenda?" asked Marine Captain and combat-tested Katie Petronio. "I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality. Shockingly this isn't even a congressional agenda." In fact, she said, "it's very surprising to see that none of the [decision-makers] are on active duty or have any recent combat or relevant operational experience relating to the issue they are attempting to change."

In an incredibly compelling article for the Marine Corps Gazette, Capt. Petronio says that while she was extremely successful during both combat tours, she is a shell of her former self. (And based on the nightmarish conditions Ryan Smith shares in the Wall Street Journal, it's no wonder.) "Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was," (including a diagnosis of deployment-induced polycystic ovarian syndrome), "and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry. I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion... that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females." Like us, she appreciates what the Pentagon is trying to do but believes that diversity is not a military necessity. "Let's embrace our differences to further hone in on the Corps' success instead of dismantling who we are to achieve a political agenda," she pleads.

Senior officials said yesterday the military's goal is "to provide a level, gender-neutral playing field." But as America's defense, shouldn't the goal be to have the most lethal fighting force in the world? The military isn't--and should never be--the great societal equalizer. Under this administration, Pentagon bureaucrats have engaged in social experiments with our troops on a massive scale--and risked the lives of countless soldiers in the process. And what of the young girls who don't want to go to war? Will they have a choice? Joe Carter, a Marine veteran and former FRC employee, lamented this on First Things.

"Of course when the government begins to draft our daughters for combat roles--and that day will certainly come--the children and grandchildren of the egalitarian elite will be the ones to get deferrals. Most of the men and women championing a woman's right to choose combat have never served in the military and would certainly not want their own daughters to join the infantry. They are concerned only with choice and equality in the pristine abstract, rather than in the bloody, concrete world of warfare... Men were created to be self-sacrificial protectors of the family, and by extension, of the nation. Forcing women into that role will not lead to more freedom but rather to less equality, more violence toward women, and a general degradation of humanity. As C.S. Lewis said, battles are ugly when women fight. But societies that send their women off to war are even uglier.

In the last thirty years, we have watched as the world has desperately tried to redefine the genders, gender roles, and even marriage. But in the end, nothing humanity does--through medicine or policy--can alter that fundamental truth: "male and female He created them."