My blogging friend Moe Holland the other day highlighted the kerfuffle over sexual assaults in the military and some of the ensuing misogynistic comments by Congressional dinosaurs. In so doing she inspired me to some thought on the subject. While I am frankly relieved to be in retired status now and not have to deal with the sudden surge of women into the combat ranks, I can’t help but speculate on how this might be better handled. Currently, from what I’ve been reading, the U.S. Navy (my own service) is continuing to outfit and modify ships, even submarines!, for dual-sex crews. No more hot-bunking I guess! (That’s the term used when two men have to share because of a shortage of bunks. And no, not at the same time. Shame on you.) Concurrently, the number of officers disciplined for sexual misconduct, including commanding officers, appears to be exploding. When I was on active duty the relief of a CO for cause was exceedingly rare. Now it seems a regular occurrence. This, I’m thinking, has got to be very bad for good order and discipline, not to mention the divorce rate.
I am no misogynist, but as I told Moe,
As you must know, Moe, the more I have blogged the more I have found myself to be of the progressive political persuasion. But on the subject of sexual assault in the military I confess to contrary thoughts. First, let me stipulate categorically that women are just as intellectually capable and as mentally tough as men. The problem I see is that the sexes should not be mixed in the military environment, i.e., putting young men and women together in a stressful, dangerous and competitive environment which requires long absences from home and family. It seems like an obvious formula for trouble and the explosion of assault cases is prime evidence for me. So I have a suggestion. So instead of mixing, why not create single-sex units? Companies or squadrons that are all-women, ships the same. The mere fact that women are not as physically strong as men should not be a problem, given modern automation, and women also might have an edge on stamina and endurance. And let the games begin.
She in turn questioned whether our Navy was unique in these problems, and I said:
You won’t have to go very far afield, Moe, to discover that my suggestion of same-sex military units is, to say the least, outre’, but even though I offered it half tongue-in-cheek, I do think it ought to be considered. The sudden admission of women to combat ranks of the U.S. military is clearly (to me) a cultural shock which is very likely harming force efficiency and national security. Military culture goes back hundreds of years and is clearly unprepared to deal with this situation.
Your question about other countries is a darned good one, and one to which I didn’t have an answer. I googled it and came up with one article from the U.K.’s Guardian. I suspect many are having the same problems and they are being swept under the rugs. Here’s an excerpt:
“The film has raised similar concerns this side of the Atlantic that rape is a hidden scourge in the military. According to figures released to Labour MP Madeleine Moon, a rape or sexual assault is reported by a member of the armed forces every week. Over the past two and a half years, there have been 53 reported rapes and 86 reported sexual assaults in the army, the navy and the air force, but Moon believes the figure is an underestimation and could be as many as an attack a day.”
The notion of women-manned (how’s that for an oxymoron?) ships competing with the men’s ships in the U.S.N. almost makes me giddy. It wouldn’t have been practical in past decades because there weren’t enough women, but I sense that has changed. Women have been graduating from the service academies now for more than three decades. Competition has always been integral to military training so it would be interesting as all get out and I’m thinking it very well might improve morale and esprit de corps. It would only need to be applied to units which deploy for extended periods.
Does this suggestion have merit? I can identify one group for sure that wouldn’t object: military spouses. I haven’t heard any remedies that appear to fit the bill, but when Congress and the White House haul all the brass up for a public tongue-lashing, you know the problem is damn serious. Heads are starting to roll, even at the flag level.
- Amid military sexual assault crisis, Obama urges Navy grads to uphold honor (cbsnews.com)
- SHARIA USA: Obama Navy Bans “Racy” Pin-Ups; Inspections to Examine Each Pin-Up to Decide if “Degrading, Offensive” (thelastgreatstand.com)
- Navy Task Force To Set Goals For Women On Subs (connecticut.cbslocal.com)