29 October 2014


by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 29 October 2014

"In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins." Ulysses S. Grant

Today's comment is not complicated nor sophisticated. And it's not complicated nor sophisticated because there is nothing complicated nor sophisticated about shouldering a heavy pack and marching for miles and miles - the work requires muscle, strength, and stamina. Pain and sweat, too.

And there is nothing complicated nor sophisticated about what binds men. One of those binding things is shouldering a heavy pack and marching miles and miles and finishing as a unit.

Therefore brevity and bluntness are in order today. And so it will be.

I'm about half way through Bing West's new book 'One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War.'

Read it!

It's the story of 3/5 - 3rd Battalion 5th Marines - and their tough, brutal fighting in Sangin, Afghanistan. Many dead. Many more wounded. But the enemy paid a heavier price.

The same day I started reading Colonel West's book news hit the street three more female Marine officers were dismissed from the Infantry Officer Course (IOC). 

Such timing.

Not a surprise but news still.

To date that's more than two dozen (26, I believe) that have attempted IOC. The article said heavy loads and forced marches - humps - were too much. Again, no surprise.  

Reading about the combat of 3/5, it's not up for debate what sort of officers led and must lead Marines at the platoon level. The best. Out front they must be, always.

The women in ground combat discussion is tiresome. Boring. Beyond so.

It's a stupid idea.

Voices of experience and reason and wisdom are the ones that matter.

Still today there are none more credible, none with more authority than General Robert H. Barrow, USMC (27th Commandant).

His words, "...if you want to make a unit combat ineffective, assign some women to it...".

Read what the Marines did in Sangin.

Pay attention to the physical demands (e.g., wading waist and chest-deep waterways; struggling through muddy fields; humping ammunition and weapons under pressure; and carrying wounded from the battlefield and to helicopters - all while under fire) requiring muscle, strength, and stamina. And pain and sweat.

Visualize and think about the hell of it.

Women can't do it (not even in training).

And more so pay attention to the (male) bonding of the Marines (a variable of unit cohesion and readiness impossible to calculate) - critical to their fighting for each other.

Women can't male bond.

So, the (political) pressure is to change standards?

That is, to make the standards gender-neutral.

But changing standards, no matter how couched, is lowering standards.

And precludes only the best.

By natural consequence, lowering standards destroys cohesion (male bonding).

Imagine had 3/5 been mediocre Marines with mediocre officers and compromised cohesion.


Lead the way, General Dunford.

Continue the attack!

Post Script

Read the book. How anyone can conclude women in ground combat, especially infantry, is a good idea is beyond the comprehension of every sane soul I know with infantry experience.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well said sir. But my guess is that General Dunford, along with the other leaders of the various branches, will receive marching orders to get a woman graduated from the Marine IOC, get a woman to complete SEAL training and get a woman though the Special Forces program, even IF standards have to be lowered. It's not a matter of IF it will happen, only a matter of WHEN.