August 2012

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THIS IS ONE OF THOSE GESTURES FOR WHICH THERE ARE FEW WORDS.

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Written by: John Horvat II

The object of war is very simple: victory. The combatants engage in a very physical struggle to resolve a crisis that generally has failed by other more diplomatic means. It is a battle where the stakes are high and the life or death of men and the future of nations is in play.

The means employed to secure this victory are many. Nations make use of big assets such as tanks, aircraft and battleships. They make use of technology which includes all sorts of radars, drones, smart bombs and other devices.

However, when push comes to shove, what really decides the outcome of battle is the man on the field. Modern warfare has yet to find a substitute for the infantry soldier who slugs it out with the enemy and is disposed to make the ultimate sacrifice of his life.

In normal times, everyone recognizes that the task of hand-to-hand combat is best done by fighting men trained in the art of war. It is a biological fact that men have the stamina, strength and mindset needed and, if victory is the goal, men should be employed. That is all there is to it.

The task of hand-to-hand combat is best done by fighting men trained in the art of war.

But these are not normal times, what everyone used to take for granted is now up for grabs. There is a concerted push by liberals who decree in the name of equality that women and men are equal in combat. These same liberals, many of whom will never experience a bullet fired in anger, are rushing to push women into the line of fire. They are demanding that women be thrust into combat, and anyone who dares oppose such a decree is labeled hopelessly sexist. And if the chances of victory be diminished (and soldiers unnecessarily die), so be it!

While the military is rung through the sexist ringer, there is another game in town that is left unscathed by the left and liberal media. The screams for equality are curiously absent.

That game is sports. The object of sports should be very simple: healthy competition. It is a very physical contest to distract and entertain. There are no high stakes involved beyond mere commercial interest or personal prestige.

And yet, as the Olympics are played, no one dares to point out that these international games enjoying all kinds of prestige and praise are absolutely “sexist.” The whole affair is divided right down the middle into the categories of men and women. No one has suggested that nations field non-sexist teams where men and women compete together in any field.

The Olympic Games are divided right down the middle into the categories of men and women. Olympians know the biological fact that men and women are physically different.

The reason why is obvious. The biological fact is that men and women are physically different and if the competition were left to all comers, save some exceptional Amazon, men would win all the competitions where stamina and physical strength are needed. Indeed, one can go over the lists of Olympic records and verify that in these categories the men’s records are all well above those of women.

Olympians know this biological reality. They don’t play sexist games with their games. In fact, they employ all the seriousness of war to gain victory. They train unceasingly. They study every possible advantage. Unfortunately, some even resort to steroids and other performance enhancers to gain the victory — and commercial endorsements. These latter athletes have turned what should be a source of entertainment and healthy sportsmanship into a savage and commercial enterprise.

It seems the world is upside down. War is war and sports is sports. Why must the double standard of sexist politics get in-between? Isn’t it time we stopped playing games with our wars and stopped playing war with our games?

Col. Gordon Batcheller USMC (Ret.)

During the 1968 Tet Offensive, then Captain Gordon Batcheller earned the Navy Cross when his unit, Company A, 1st Battalion Marines, engaged a numerically superior force of the North Vietnamese Army. Although injured by shrapnel, he aggressively led his men in a fierce assault against the enemy and was seriously wounded in both legs when the column began receiving heavy fire from both flanks. He supported himself with his elbows, resolutely continued to direct his men, and bravely encouraged those near him even as he lay receiving medical treatment. As a result of his determined efforts, the reaction force reached the embattled city of Hue.

Colonel Batcheller joined the Marine Corp in 1960 and retired in 1991. His assignments included rifle platoon commander, 81mm mortar platoon commander, rifle company executive officer, rifle company commander, landing support battalion commander, and infantry battalion commander. He is a National War College graduate, and was a professor of military and strategic studies for seven years at the Army Management Staff College.

Women in Combat

Why We Should Not Send Our Mothers, Wives
and Daughters to Fight Our Wars

Crusade Magazine: Do you think that the current operational effectiveness of our military is lacking because we refuse to allow women in combat?

Colonel Gordon Batcheller: For the last forty years we have deliberately increased the involvement of women in combat. They fly combat airplanes and helicopters, man navy ships, including nuclear submarines, and fill combat support and service positions that expose them to close combat. Just recently 14,000 positions in the combat zone were opened to women. Civilians are pressuring the military, primarily the Army and Marine Corps, to open the infantry and other combat arms positions to women.

The process started when the All Volunteer Force discovered it wasn’t getting enough men; rudely put, women weren’t better than men, but they were better than nothing, at least when restricted to assignments where their associated friction could be best managed. As their presence increased, so did substantial evidence of the difficulties the mix created. No one has sought more women to better the combat force or claimed that our current mixed force is more effective than an all male force would be; and no historian has held that a coed force would have fought any of our wars more effectively than they were fought. If women improved the force’s combat effectiveness, you would expect the military to pressure its civilian master to give it more women without restrictions. The pressure today is in the other direction; civilians are trying to impose a less effective force on the military.

Crusade: Would allowing women in combat positions lead to the loss of combat effectiveness? If so why and how?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes! I guess the basic reason is that women are not equal substitutes for men. They are different, and this causes a host of problems. It is not their “fault,” nor is it attributable to any inherent incompetence. Women are different, and men view and treat them as such. Our cultural values, distilled from our Judeo-Christian civilization affirm this truth and inform us on what is appropriate or acceptable.

Effectiveness in combat depends on trained individuals, bound by trust and confidence — a belief ultimately that we will do right by each other. I have never known any man who thought it right to expose women to the butchery he will accept for himself or his male colleagues. Our idea of manhood would hold such butchery as shameful. Shame is not an inspiring war-winning emotion.

The infantry lives and works in a violent, barbaric world where the most grotesque of Hollywood’s special effects is routine reality. There is no quality of life beyond staying alive: no comfort, no privacy, and no provisions for hygiene. Endurance — both physical and emotional — and raw strength are essential. The battlefield is a man’s world.

Crusade: Should we want our women to fight? Why not?

Colonel Batcheller: The values of our major religions, Western Civilization, and our culture say “no.” The values that sustain our military say “no.” Our idea of manhood says it would be shameful. The thought of sending wives, mothers, and daughters to fight our wars while their men drive the children to soccer practice is contemptible. It is not that women cannot fight and kill and help us repel an attack or invasion in a “last stand.” But our culture objects to enlisting them in a “first call” case, and operational effectiveness resists their involvement in any case. Ideally, the military would be a male operation. In our world the challenge is to find a sensible, cost-effective use of women in the military while keeping them where they would not have to fight, or be able to distract or disrupt those fighting.

Crusade: Back in 1993, surveys showed that an overwhelming majority of women said they did not want to be in a combat unit. Is there a purpose for women to be placed in infantry positions?

The military is created and structured to win wars, and its personnel policies are crafted to serve that end, not satisfy vocational whims.

Colonel Batcheller: Not on the basis of military merit. Militant feminists and diversity worshippers have their fatuous “purposes,” but no positive purpose motivates the military to put women in foxholes.

While some seek to radically change the United States by destroying our current values, others seek to weaken the military and humble our nation. One does not have to be a conspiracy nut to acknowledge that such people exist and are active, and that this destructive initiative fits their purposes.

Some advocates also insist it is a woman’s right to serve in the military if she wants. That, of course, is nonsense. The military is created and structured to win wars, and its personnel policies are crafted to serve that end, not satisfy vocational whims.

Crusade: Some claim women push for infantry positions because they want to achieve higher rank and advance their careers. Is this being forced on women or is it something they want?

Colonel Batcheller: It is fair to say that achieving high rank is dependent on having had the “right” jobs, and having done them well. Command assignments of combat units during combat are essential for professional credibility.

A female Marine communicator is not going to become commandant. But the military exists to win wars, not to provide successful career patterns. Personnel policies, and their derivative assignments, are for the good of the service, not the happiness of the individuals being assigned.

Crusade: Do mixed units favor the enemy when it comes to combat?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes. By weakening our side we help the enemies. You will hear of the success other countries have had with coed forces, with Israel usually mentioned as the ultimate proof. But it is my understanding that the Israelis have found the concept doesn’t work and have abandoned it. The male soldiers became too concerned, protective and distracted. Women help defend their kibbutz just like American women helped defend their wagon train or homestead; and they serve in the military, but not in coed combat formations.

Crusade: People have made this issue one about gender equality. How would you answer those who subscribe to this ideological egalitarianism?

Colonel Batcheller: Men and women may be equal in the Declaration of Independence, but how many women play in the National Football League? College football? High School football? Last time I looked, men and women are different. And even if the differences created no performance advantages, the inescapable sexual dynamics inflict seriously disruptive forces on our coed organizations. The military exists to win wars, not to serve as an equal opportunity employer.

Crusade: Could you comment on the physical requirements of combat and are women capable of enduring it?

Colonel Batcheller: My experience was as an infantryman. Our world was somewhat different than that of a tank crewman or artillery officer. We had to be half beast of burden and operate far off the beaten track and beyond reach of reliable mechanical support. Conditions were primitive, quality of life non-existent, exposure to the elements constant. What we had, we pretty much carried. Coverage of the wars of the last ten years has provided a good picture of the loads carried by individual soldiers during operations — loads increase when units have to relocate. Upper body strength and load-carrying ability are essential — the stronger and more enduring, the more valuable. We have never been able to reduce the individual soldier’s personal load — it frequently exceeds 75 pounds, before you add a wounded colleague. Women in such an environment quickly become liabilities. Nor would they function well in the miserable living conditions, lack of privacy, absence of hygiene and so forth. It’s a man’s world.

Crusade: Are there emotional issues that need to be addressed?

Colonel Batcheller: There would be emotional issues for both sexes, and for the nation as a whole. This is something alien to our national character and hostile to our concept of civilization. The butchery of our wives and daughters and mothers would generate a national mood of sadness and shame. There has been no coverage of the killed and disabled women in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as we “celebrate” the male wounded warriors. We’re proud of our fighting forces, but ashamed that they include women. Infantrymen would feel this shame tenfold — they can handle the butchery until it involves someone that reminds them of their kid sister.

Jessica Lynch rescued from enemy captors in Iraq
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch was captured by enemy forces and raped repeatedly.

Crusade: What should we expect from the enemy should a woman combatant fall into their hands?

Colonel Batcheller: History has answered this question. Human nature hasn’t changed. Our enemies seldom start with our basic values, and combat is corrosive and de-humanizing. But, if we’re comfortable ordering our women and girls into the explosive violence of the battlefield, why should we be upset if they are violated?

Crusade: Based on your experience, do you think our young servicemen could, over time, be trained to treat women troops the same as men?

Colonel Batcheller: No. Nor would women accept being treated as men. This issue becomes especially significant in leader/led relationships. Most men have serious problems subordinating to women in a neutral environment. This would only get worse in a masculine environment. Thinking we can eliminate or tame sex reflects colossal arrogance, or stupidity.

Crusade: Because this is such a politically charged issue, do you think some are afraid to express their honest opinion? If so, do you feel that this limits our ability to make the best choice for our national security?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes. The military is properly subordinate to civilian authorities. The Commander-in-Chief is the President, the rule writers and check payers are Congress. Most of us have trouble “taking on the boss.” In the military there are additional concerns about disloyalty, disobedience, and insubordination. Additionally, the “pyramids” of these organizations are manned by ambitious individuals who generally want to keep their careers alive. Candor and honesty are dangerous, sometimes fatal. We have had four-star officers — generals and admirals, active duty and retired — publicly support the admission of homosexuals into the military, and the assignment of women into combat roles. None argued from military merit or advantage; it was the politically advantageous thing to do. Washington is a corrosive, disorienting environment. The major “players” are politicians, even if they wear a uniform. Very few leave Washington with more virtue than they brought in. Some go over to the dark side, most find reasons to justify not being contentious, or accept unsound policies after token opposition. Given the ignorance Congress and the President demonstrate about military matters, we should expect to observe respectful resistance from our military “leaders” with public examination of the objects of disagreement. For a host of reasons, we don’t. National security suffers as it ultimately depends upon an educated citizenry. Don’t believe anyone that says this is not a serious morale problem.

There is another major concern that is widespread, but difficult to isolate. Producing combat units — companies and battalions and squadrons and such — is a complex undertaking, and the primary business of the military. In the face of complexity the sacred tenet of KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid — is frequently invoked. Adding women to the mix creates frictions and burdens not only in the units where they mix, but in service-wide areas of personnel management, logistics, facilities, and administration; the more pervasive the mix, the more extensive the costs. All the Service academies have experienced sex-based scandals, and all services have been plagued with such misconduct, both in operational units and the support establishment. The cumulative cost of our coed military in time and effort is beyond calculation, but considerable.

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Sgt. Matthew Abbate

Sgt. Abbate and his scout-snipers were patrolling Sangin’s northern green zone when Taliban fighters and insurgents attacked the Marines. The squad didn’t know it but they were in the midst of a minefield. Two Marines and the Navy corpsman hit improvised explosive devices in rapid succession.  Abbate quickly reacted.

From Navy Cross Citation:

“With the squad leader incapacitated, and the rest of the patrol either wounded or disoriented, Sergeant Abbate took command. With total disregard for his own life, he sprinted forward through the minefield to draw enemy fire and rallied the dazed survivors. While fearlessly firing at the enemy from his exposed position, he directed fires of his Marines until they effectively suppressed the enemy, allowing life-saving aid to be rendered to the casualties.”

“As the medical evacuation helicopter was inbound, Abbate swept the landing zone for explosives, but the patrol again had to duck enemy fire. Still, the sergeant persevered.

“Realizing that the casualties would die unless rapidly evacuated, Sergeant Abbate once again bravely exposed himself to enemy fire, rallied his Marines and led a counter attack that cleared the enemy from the landing zone, enabling the helicopters to evacuate the wounded.”