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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.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.
"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.