Category: Warfighting

Women in close combat units? This will not end well.

So it looks like outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has decided to gut our military readiness on his way out the door, by unilaterally allowing women to serve in units that engage in close combat. Apparently the leftist platitude that Grrrrl Power™ can do anything will now meet the pointy corners and sharp edges of reality in an arena where people get killed even if they do everything right.

Mark my words: either the Obama White House and the Department of Defense will claim success by lowering the standards for women, or they’ll do it by lowering them for everyone and claiming everything is now “fair.”If woman and men are not different in any meaningful way, why are there no NFL linewomen? If such a creature could be created, don’t you think that the cold, calculating capitalists running those franchises would jump at the opportunity to employ her? Think of the merchandising opportunities and priceless P.R. to be had. The glaring and obvious absence of women from the NFL — not to mention the NBA, NHL, and MLB — should tell you something about human biology, and in professional sports death on the job is about as common as a unicorn fart.

The physical strength and endurance standards required for close combat participants to survive and accomplish their missions have been well-known for generations. Women can do some things better than men, and a few of those things are physical. Women are often more flexible than men, can fit into tighter spaces, and tend to have better fine motor skills. Unfortunately such abilities do you no good when the task at hand is muscling 155mm artillery shells into the breech of a howitzer. Or replacing a section of tread on an M1A1 tank that just threw a track. Or throwing a frag far enough to reach the enemy and not hit your buddies when it detonates. Or using a fireman’s carry to bring a wounded and screaming 230 pound soldier wearing 50 pounds of gear out of the line of fire. Or humping a full ruck and a weapon through the Hindu Kush for a week on patrol. Or climbing a collapsible boarding ladder up the side of a hijacked supertanker. Or … well, you see my point.

In close combat, you don’t get to call a training time out when things get difficult. You don’t get to stop the patrol to change out a soaked maxi pad. You don’t get special consideration from the enemy when your monthly cramps and hormonal mood swings hit. You don’t leave your unit and head back to the continental US just because you find you have a kid on the way. You live in filth, blood, grime, heat, cold, rain, and snow, all while the enemy gets regular and unscheduled opportunities to try to kill you. You don’t let drama, emotion, sex, dating, or any of a million other distractions interfere with your core mission of killing the enemy, breaking his stuff, sapping him of the will to fight, and persuading his supporters that they have better things to do than oppose you.

GI Jane

At least, if you hope to limit friendly casualties and be an effective military, you don’t. If your goal is to provide career opportunities for people with two X chromosomes, then you do what we’re starting to do now.

During my nine years of military service, I watched many a military female capitalize on her sex to skate by. It was tacitly encouraged (just look at the different scoring scales for physical fitness tests in the military, for starters). Rare is the active duty male commissioned officer who will voice his confirmation of my own first hand observations, lest the Screeching Harpies of Diversity and Tolerance™ eviscerate his career. Pour encourager les autres.

women in combatAre there women who actually can meet the physical standards? Presumably. I suppose there may be ~0.05% of the military-age female population who can. Of those, I suspect the majority do not want to be in a close combat unit. And even if a tiny cohort of women are both willing and able to meet the physical standards of close combat, we still must ask if the negative effects of their presence in such units — and the cost involved in making accommodations for their biological needs — are worth the expected benefits.

The overriding question to address whenever we consider a change to our policies on close combat units is: “Is it more likely than not that this change will help the unit kill the enemy, break his stuff, crush his will to fight, and sap his supporters’ commitment?” If the answer is anything other than an unqualified YES, then the proposed change should be scrapped. Period.

Other than a very few extreme genetic outliers, women cannot meet the current physical standards required of infantry/armor/artillery/SOF troops. Mark my words: either the Obama White House and the Department of Defense will claim success by lowering the standards for women, or they’ll do it by lowering them for everyone and claiming everything is now “fair.” If they hold women to the same standards that men must meet today, all the way through January 20, 2017, I will donate an additional $5,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project. My $5,000 is safer than Barack Obama’s college transcripts, and you know it.

This will not end well, and it will get American troops killed who would otherwise have lived.

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10:25 PM Update: More commentary below, from guys who’ve been in it up to their eyeballs (and even one gal).

Let the games begin!

A Lovely Parting Gift

Panetta throws open doors to combat for women

Women Cleared For Combat

The Harsh Reality of Women in Infantry Combat

Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal by Captain Katie Petronio, USMC

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10:40 PM Update: Let’s take a look at NASA’s comparison of female vs. male muscular strength.

NASA graphic

Note: Female strength as a percentage of male strength for different conditions. The vertical line within each shaded bar indicates the mean percentage difference. The end points of the shaded bars indicate the range.
Reference: 16, p. VII-50; NASA-STD-3000 204

But hey, let’s not let uncomfortable reality get in the way of boosting female self-esteem to even more stratospheric heights.

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1/24/12 5:30 PM Update: Heather MacDonald reminds everyone of the obvious.

Feminists routinely deny Eros — except when it suits them to exploit their sexual power. Only someone deliberately blind to human reality could maintain that putting men and women in close quarters 24 hours a day will not produce a proliferation of sex, thus introducing all the irrational passions (and resulting favoritism) of physical attraction into an organization that should be exclusively devoted to the mission of combat preparedness. Reported “sexual assaults” will skyrocket, and of course it will only be the men who are at fault. Any consensual behavior leading up to the “assault” — getting in bed with your fellow grunt drunk and taking off your clothes, for example — will be ignored, since in the realm of sexual responsibility, women remain perpetual victims, at the mercy of all-powerful men. Expect a windfall to the gender-sensitivity-training industry, which will be called in both before and after the entry of women into combat units to eradicate endemic male sexism.

It’ll be just dandy for unit cohesion, don’t you think?

What is the Palin Doctrine for war?

From her speech this past Sunday in Colorado (emphasis mine):

I believe our criteria before we send our young men and women, America’s finest, into harm’s way, I believe that our criteria should be spelled out clearly when it comes to the use of our military force. I can tell you what I believe that criteria should be. I can tell you what it should be in five points:
First, we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake, period.
Second, if we have to fight, we fight to win. To do that we use overwhelming force. We only send our troops into war with the objective to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. We do not send our military and stretch out the mission with an open-ended and ill-defined mission. Nation-building, a nice idea in theory, but it’s not the main purpose of our armed forces. We use our military to win wars.
And third, we must have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending our troops into harm’s way. If you can’t explain the mission to the American people clearly, concisely, then our sons and daughters should not be sent to battle. Period.
Fourth, American soldiers must never be put under foreign command. We will fight side by side by our allies, but American soldiers must remain under the care and command of the American officers.
And fifth, sending our armed forces should be the last resort. We don’t go looking for dragons to slay. However, we will encourage the forces of freedom around the world who are sincerely fighting for the empowerment of the individual.
When it makes sense, when it’s appropriate, we’ll provide them with support and help them win their own freedom. We’re not indifferent to the cause of human rights or the desire for freedom. We’re always on the side of both. But we can’t fight every war. We can’t undo every injustice around the world.
But with strength, and clarity in those five points, we’ll make for a safer, more prosperous, more peaceful world. Because as the U.S. leads by example, as we support freedom across the globe, we’re gonna prove that free and healthy countries, they don’t wage war on other free and healthy countries.
The stronger we are, the stronger and more peaceful the world will be under our example.

Works for me. She’s dumped her remaining McCain advisors and has returned to her Reaganite roots by hiring Peter Schweitzer.

Thou shalt be nice to thine enemy, lest ye be sued

Imagine you’re in the military and your unit is in Iraq, facing an angry mob made up of both civilians and terrorists … and you can’t tell one from the other. Would it be better to disperse the crowd by using a non-lethal heat ray, or would it be better to open fire and risk civilian casualties? Which approach would cause the western media to scream the loudest? Would the career-conscious/prison-averse commander be wise to retreat rather than try to break up the mob?
Discuss.

The good guys get aggressive online

Our military is finally striking back at the jihadists online.

The U.S. military is quietly expanding capabilities to attack terrorist computer networks, including websites that glorify insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, military officials and experts say.
The move comes as al-Qaeda and other groups fighting in Iraq and elsewhere have expanded their activities on the Internet and increased the sophistication and volume of their videos and messages. Much of the material is designed to raise money and recruit fighters for Iraq.
“You should not let them operate uncontested” on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command located at the National Security Agency. The command was established to develop ways to attack computer networks.

“Our opponents do a heck of a lot more than just watch us in cyberspace,” Davis said. “They are acting in cyberspace. We need to develop options so that we can … dominate cyberspace.”
Cyberattacks can take different forms, including eliminating terrorist websites and creating doubts among insurgents about their networks’ security, said Arquilla, who favors an offensive approach he calls a “virtual scorched-earth policy.”

Hallelujah! It’s about time.
Hat tip: The Tank

John Abizaid is the new George McClellan

John Abizaid George McClellan
General John Abizaid General George McClellan

Senator McCain just asked the CENTCOM Commander, General John Abizaid, why he opposed sending more American troops to Iraq. Abizaid’s reply:

I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.

President Bush says that he wants to finish the job in Iraq. Fine. But it’s now obvious that refusing to adapt our strategy to defeat the rising sectarian militias would be foolish. At least if we adopt the Democratic cut and run policy, we’ll stop losing troops in Iraq. Now, I oppose cutting and running for obvious reasons. But pinning our hopes on the Iraqi military and police forces now, before they’re ready, is just another way of ensuring defeat.
We ought to send more troops to Iraq as soon as possible, and their primary mission should be to kill the leaders and members of every militia, jihadist cell, and Baathist insurgent group in Iraq. Wars are won by applying overwhelming force, not by trying to field just enough troops to do the job. Abizaid advocates standing pat with current strategy. He’s wrong. President Bush should fire him and find someone who will fight.
Once upon a time, another Republican President faced an unpopular and protracted war, and his top general refused to engage the enemy. Frustrated, the President wrote a letter to the general:

My Dear McClellan:
If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.
Yours respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln eventually fired George McClellan and found two generals who attacked the enemy and won the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. McClellan retired and ran against Lincoln for President as (what a shock) a Democrat. Thank God that McClellan lost.
Today we need a new Sherman or Grant or Patton. President Bush should find a real fighter who will ignore the media’s whining and the Democrats’ sniping. John Abizaid is not that man.

More blogging:
Jeff Emanuel
Dan McLaughlin
“Thomas” (very pessimistic)

11/16 Update: Rush Limbaugh accurately identifies Abizaid’s strategy as “stay the course.”

A solution to morale problems on the home front

Blogging over at Hot Air, Allah collects a morose assortment of down-in-the-mouth quotes from conservative hawks disappointed about Iraq. His own take:

Why the despair and why now? Because, I think, of Israel’s predicament in Lebanon. Until last month, it could plausibly be argued that most problems in the war on terror (read: most problems in Iraq and Afghanistan) were the result of Bush’s mismanagement. Which, for conservatives, is hugely depressing in one way but hugely comforting in another: if your big problem is personnel, the solution is simple enough. All in due time. But if your problem is strategic, that’s not so easy. A lot of hawks, me included, have near-blind faith that Jewish genius and resilience will always carry Israel through when it’s beset by its enemies, but even the invincible IDF doesn’t seem to be making much headway against the jihad.

Add Yoni to the ranks of the Low Morale Brigade.
Look again at the cycle of jihad:

The cycle of jihad

The good guys appear to be neglecting the publicity, recruitment, and training efforts of our enemies. Plus, we’re not serious about cutting off state support for jihad (Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia, I’m looking at you). The western world needs to stop worrying about offending the tender sensibilities of the Arab Street™. They’re going to hate us more if we become weak and irresolute.
To hell with political correctness and diplomatic kabuki dances. We are in a war. We need to kill more of the enemy, disrupt his recruitment and publicity efforts, openly confront Syria militarily, spend billions to support and grow Iran’s domestic opposition movement, and choke off Saudi money flowing to Islamist madrassas.
Update: Manny says “be of good cheer.” Amen.

The Cycle of Jihad

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting frustrated with the way the West is fighting the War On Islamism. For a civilization that’s in danger of annihilation, we sure aren’t fighting with everything we’ve got. Something’s got to change.
The ongoing propagandizing coverage of the Lebanese civilian deaths in Qana have really gotten under my skin this week, and I spent all night fuming and thinking. My typical gut reaction lately has been: “Screw the rest of the world’s dainty reservations and P.C. whining. Let’s take the gloves off and really hit the Islamists where it hurts.” But where exactly is that? And what’s the best way to hit them?
In his latest column, Dennis Prager stakes out a position that basically says: “To heck with world opinion.” Tony Blankley replies: “World opinion does suck, but we can’t ignore it completely.” Meanwhile, Frank Gaffney questions the wisdom of trying to hamstring Israel in ways we’d never tolerate if applied to our own military. They’re each right, and yet they haven’t taken their thinking far enough. We can’t just lash out in frustration at the whole screwed-up Muslim world; we’ve got to intelligently disrupt the Islamists’ strategy if we hope to crush their will to fight.
I sketched out this rough diagram to help me frame my thoughts.

The cycle of jihad

This “cycle of jihad” shows what I think their overarching method looks like. To run smoothly, the cycle requires active funding and/or logistics support from one or more nations (represented by the cloud). The boxes outside the cloud indicate the two steps that don’t require immediate state support to be successful. The whole thing feeds on itself.
To stop the global jihad we must either completely break a link in the cycle, severely weaken several links, or eliminate the support offered by sympathetic nation states. So what are we doing to disrupt the cycle of jihad, and is it enough to guarantee victory? That’s what I’ll be writing about in the next few days.
If anybody out there is familiar with things like 4th generation warfare (often called “netcentric warfare”) and the concept of the OODA Loop, please chime in with your own blog posts or comments. I don’t have all the answers, and I’d like to start a wide-ranging discussion on this. Toss out suggestions, criticism, anything that’ll help chip away at this. As a wise man once said:

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances. … So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. … He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.

I look forward to hearing from you.

It’s time for cyberwar

I’ve read through the National Security Strategy for 2006 released last Friday by the White House, and overall it’s a hardheaded and realistic approach to dealing with current and future enemies. However, I think they missed something: aggressively conducting cyber warfare against jihadi web sites and bulletin boards.
For years now it’s been common knowledge (even in the mainstream media) that the Islamists use web sites and online bulletin boards to coordinate their efforts and recruit new adherents to their cause. They also use encrypted e-mail to transmit commands, coordinate their finances and handle logistics. The jihadis expertly manipulate the media into broadcasting their calls to jihad, their videotaped bombings, and worst of all the beheading of hostages.
Encouraging words, but where’s the follow-up?
Continuing a theme he’s advanced since 2002, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld noted last month:

We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake. And the center of gravity of that struggle is not just on the battlefield. It is a test of wills and it will be won or lost with our public and the publics of free nations across the globe. We will need to do all we can to attract supporters to our efforts, to correct the lies being told which so damage our country, and shatter the appeal of the enemy. [emphasis added]

My first reaction to the speech was, “Great! Let’s start taking down their websites and bulletin boards and e-mail servers.” Based on Secretary Rumsfeld’s comments, I figured that there’d be something along those lines in today’s new National Security Strategy … but I don’t see it in there.
4/4/2007 Update: Is the behemoth finally waking up? Maybe.