Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Common Thread Between The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal And Women In Combat Arms Debate
When the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, commonly called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or DADT, was debated in 2010, some prominent leaders spoke against it in hyperbolic terms. Then Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said that gays serving openly in the military could cause a “distraction.” He went on to say, "When your life hangs on the line, you don't want anything distracting. … Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives." He didn’t actually describe what gays would do that would cause a distraction.
Perhaps he thought that Marine infantry squads would break into impromptu a cappella renditions of “Cats” or “Mamma Mia!” during firefights. While that would certainly have brought much-needed culture change to Afghanistan or Iraq, it hasn’t happened yet. Despite the doom and gloom predicted by the naysayers, such as the Center for Military Readiness — which argued that inevitable “male/male and female/female sexual entanglements would complicate and hurt morale, recruiting, and retention” — the practical effect has been a big “Meh.” No one has yet come forward with any concrete examples of how homosexuality has cost lives in battle, despite the nation being engaged in continuous combat since repeal.
Opposition to homosexuals serving openly has rapidly diminished. In 2014, that opposition was at 19% among service members, compared to 49% immediately before the ban was lifted in September 2011. It turns out that the only change was finding out that there were gays in the military all along, and now they can serve without fear of being exposed. Perhaps the pre-repeal dilemma wherein a portion of the force had to live a double life was the real distraction.
Formal studies, not just anecdotes, have confirmed that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” has had no effect on military readiness. This shouldn’t be surprising; we already had practical evidence to that effect from almost all of our allies before repeal, including the oft-mythologized Israelis. The real problem people had, and some still have, with homosexuals serving openly was not regarding combat effectiveness, it was about some individuals’ personal moral views.
In this particular case, those viewpoints are thankfully vanishing as one generation moves to the next, just as opposition to racial mixing did after segregation ended. Polls show that each new generation is progressively more tolerant of homosexuality. Our new recruits will eventually see this as no big deal, or at least as nothing to worry about while on the job. Personal opposition to gays in the military will be just that. Personal.
Whether someone has a personal objection to homosexuality is largely immaterial, as long as he can keep it to himself. Harry Truman ending military segregation didn’t end racism, either, but eventually the institution got over the bumps in the road.
What those objections show us, though, is the necessity of being forthright and honest in our arguments about social issues in the military. There never was any actual evidence that open homosexuality would impair military readiness. It was really a moral argument all along, but opponents of repeal knew that was not going to pass muster. There are other issues facing the military that have moral components, and they need to be argued as such and not dressed up as arguments about readiness.
Specifically, we’re facing another rhetorical battle over women in combat arms. Opponents of this often cite the distractions that might be caused by women in the field or the breakdown of unit cohesion. Those pushing those arguments are many of the same people who cried wolf with similar concerns over the DADT repeal.
If the DADT repeal taught us anything, it’s that we need to take emotion and subjectivity out of these decisions as much as possible. Personally, I haven’t yet made up my mind on whether women should be in combat arms. I actually need to see the objective data on whether or not women can do the job without compromising readiness. That’s the information that should drive this decision.
The Army and Marines have been doing various pilot programs and experiments to determine whether women should remain excluded from ground combat arms jobs. We need to ensure that the military compiles the data, see what it tells, and then make a decision based on the facts, not on subjective ideas. The only morality that we need concern ourselves with here, as with the DADT repeal, is the American ideal that people deserve a fair shot to succeed if they can do the job.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.
The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.
These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.