DESTROYING THE MARINE CORPS--WOMEN IN COMBAT
by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 17 March 2012
"History offers no evidence for the proposition that the assignment of women to military combat jobs is the way to win wars, improve combat readiness, or promote national security." Phyllis Schlafly
There's been rumor floating around the retired Marine community for a month or so now women will soon go through formal infantry training--officers to Infantry Officers Course and enlisted to Infantry Training Battalion. Fact or fiction? Credible nods from some senior active duty Marines suggest that's the plan. Stunning. Is this of our commandant's ordering or being so ordered? If true, it doesn't matter. It's a gargantuan mistake.
"The mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and/or repel enemy assault by fire and close combat." For readers not familiar with the Marine Corps and fighting terminology, "close combat" includes hand-to-hand. (Note: There's a reason women are not pitted against men in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) octagon.)
That was the mission of a Marine rifle squad long before I became a Marine. That was the mission of a Marine rifle squad taught to me at Officer Candidates School, and so it remained through three decades of service. That is the mission of a Marine rifle squad today. And the mission of a Marine rifle squad is not likely to change any time soon.
Twenty years ago there was a United States government bureaucratic undertaking (pardon the redundancy) to address the role of women in our armed forces. More directly, the agenda (of many engaged in that undertaking) was to expand the role of women in combat.
The "Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces" was a typical government operation--commissioners and information gathering panels and surveys and fact-finding visits to military installations and formal committee hearings and findings and recommendations. The effort checked every conceivable block. The Commission dotted their i's and crossed their t's--the paperwork was in order. It looked good. But if the truth be known, results either ignored or conveniently tailored to meet the desired end state was the modus operandi. No surprise.
But the Commission, and their work, missed the point. And the critical point they missed, probably intentionally ignored, was eloquently addressed in the thoughts of one man--a retired United States Marine--before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1991. During a 41 year career that Marine advanced from private to general. He commanded and fought, including close combat, in three wars--World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was awarded our nation's second and third highest decorations--the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Silver Star, and others--for his leadership and heroism under combat conditions.
That infantryman, of unimpeachable credibility and authority, spoke for about 13 minutes. The succinct, sometimes emotional, and compelling sentiments of General Robert H. Barrow (1922-2008), 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, about women in combat, delivered eight years after he retired, are as germane today as when spoken. His blunt analysis is absolutely correct. So are his sobering conclusions. Time to watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy--whDNNKk
Then entertain a single question...
Will the Marine Corps be destroyed?
As a lieutenant, I heard General Barrow speak a time or two. And I met him, albeit briefly, a couple of times. I served under seven commandants. There was General Barrow. And six others. General Barrow was the epitome of a Marine--warrior, leader--of the highest morals, and gentleman extraordinaire. And so he remains--a timeless example for all Marines. How fortunate for our country and Corps he opted to leave some ever-relevant words of wisdom. Who's paying attention?
Update--and this related to the issue of women in combat...