Pen­tagon piv­ots to so­cial is­sues Pro­vid­ing for com­mon de­fense low­ered as pri­or­ity

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

As the armed forces shrink and with­draw from some global hot spots, their agenda for the bat­tle of the sexes grows. The Pen­tagon un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­voted con­sid­er­able hours in pub­lic and pri­vate to sort­ing out same-sex re­la­tion­ships, the roles of women in the fox­hole and ways to stop sex­ual as­saults. Now, another is­sue has arisen: gen­der trans­for­ma­tion.

The sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion has some tra­di­tion­al­ists won­der­ing whether the Pen­tagon is tak­ing its eye off the ball — the enemy.

“Ev­ery con­ceiv­able form of PC is be­ing en­forced upon our hard-pressed mil­i­tary with a zeal that only a Rus­sian army zam­polit — a po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cer — would truly ap­pre­ci­ate,” said Ken Allard, a re­tired Army colonel and com­men­ta­tor. “We are seem­ingly con­cerned about ev­ery­thing ex­cept the most ba­sic thing: how to fight and win the na­tion’s wars. If we have for­got­ten that con­straint, let me as­sure you that our en­e­mies have not, from the Tal­iban to the drug car­tels to the Ira­nian Quds Force.”

De­fense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel has made stamp­ing out sex abuse a top pri­or­ity, hav­ing met with Pres­i­dent Obama, de­liv­ered pub­lic state­ments and ap­pointed a board to rec­om­mend fixes.

Mean­while, the Army, Ma­rine Corps and U.S. Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand have im­mersed them­selves in sur­veys and stud­ies to eval­u­ate phys­i­cal stan­dards for di­rect ground com­bat. It’s a two-year lead-up to putting women in in­fantry, tank and com­mando units.

The process is time-con­sum­ing and daunt­ing. The Pen­tagon has made it clear that it does not want to re­tain ir­rel­e­vant stan­dards that women can­not meet — and it wants women in­tro­duced into com­bat units in siz­able num­bers to de­velop men­tor­ing and fe­male ca­ma­raderie.

“Yes, there is too much fo­cus on so­cial is­sues in the armed forces driven by ex­ter­nal pro­po­nents with spe­cial in­ter­ests, fo­cused agen­das and, in many cases, lack of knowl­edge about the armed forces,” said re­tired Gen. Carl Mundy, Ma­rine Corps com­man­dant from 1991 to 1995. “The mil­i­tary ser­vices are with­out ques­tion the most open el­e­ment in our so­ci­ety, and the very na­ture of that open­ness, to­gether with the fish­bowl in which they ex­ist, make them ripe and easy tar­gets for ac­tivists with an agenda.”

Women and the Corps

The Marines in par­tic­u­lar face a chal­lenge in find­ing enough women, who make up 7 per­cent of the Corps. Women ac­count for 14 per­cent of Army sol­diers.

Be­fore re­tir­ing as Ma­rine com­man­dant in 2010, Gen. James Conway tes­ti­fied be­fore a con­gres­sion­ally cre­ated com­mis­sion on mil­i­tary diver­sity. He said he doesn’t be­lieve Ma­rine women want to be in land com­bat.

“I don’t think you will see a change be­cause I don’t think our women want it to change,” Gen. Conway tes­ti­fied. “There are cer­tain de­mands of of­fi­cers in a com­bat arms en­vi­ron­ment that our women see, rec­og­nize, ap­pre­ci­ate, and say, ‘I couldn’t do that. In fact, I don’t want to do that be­cause I don’t think it best pre­pares me for suc­cess if I am try­ing to do those things against the male pop­u­la­tion at lieu­tenant, cap­tain, ma­jor and lieu­tenant colonel [ranks].’”

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