by Andy Weddington
Friday, 04 December 2015
"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war." Donald Trump
Not even a full score into the 21st century and the Marine Corps has lost a big battle.
Yesterday Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a thousands of words justifying statement (silly as it was long) what he should have pared down to two sentences: "The president sent me out here to tell you he is ordering the full integration, no exceptions, of women in the military effective immediately. Have a nice day."
Only the Marine Corps had requested exemption for infantry and a few other ground combat specialities because more than two years of (unnecessary but directed) methodical objective field testing and rigorous experiments and scholarly evaluation and comprehensive analysis overwhelming proved what common sense knows - women cannot perform some duties on par with men. And as the data showed nor can some men.
Therefore, the real matter at hand is combat readiness and combat effectiveness providing for our national security.
There is no need for lengthy commentary. But there is call for some pointed commentary.
"Agenda" is the stick of dynamite (represented by extended pointer finger though in this game the middle finger more apropos) in the facts and reality game of rock-paper-scissors.
General Joseph Dunford, USMC, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not accompany the defense secretary to his press conference announcement.
General Robert Neller, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps made his position known upon assuming his billet. He'll salute and carry out orders.
Thankfully, in General Dunford we have a thoughtful Marine warrior. Though Commandant of the Marine Corps for less than a year and new to his chairman duties there have been subtle signs of hope. Yesterday's absence, for whatever reason, one. What is he thinking? Who knows. But he wanted the exemptions.
Now approaching 25 years ago a Marine Corps commandant, albeit retired at the time, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about this matter of women in combat. He concluded his compelling, riveting and unscripted remarks by predicting 'that if persisting to assign women down to the ground combat scheme of things it would destroy the Marine Corps. Simple as that. Something no enemy has been able to do in more than 200 years.'
That general, Robert H Barrow, died more than 7 years ago. To this day, as to leadership in combat, he is without peer. When he opened his testimony he wondered aloud if he and his 41 years of service had been rendered irrelevant. Imagine!
Not only is his perspective still relevant today the Marine Corps is now on the precipice of his prediction.
By no means am I qualified to question the wisdom, sage advice, and forecast of General Barrow or any Marine held in such high esteem. But I do offer a saved round germane to the fight he once offered me (as he surely did many Marines facing challenging times) as encouragement, "Keep the faith!"
So, in that light, we are talking about the Marine Corps - the outfit that defeated the Chinese in the Chosin Reservoir; the Japanese in the South Pacific seizing Iwo Jima and raising our flag atop Mount Suribachi; and not too many years ago Islamic terrorists in Fallujah.
Agenda. It is anything but rock solid. It blows up paper. And though shreddable is immune to scissors.
What tops agenda? Agenda.
Yes, battle lost Marines. But if there's anyone in uniform to figure out a new way to win the war, there's hope in General Dunford.
Otherwise, war proper, and uglier than ugly it will be, will sort it out.
No matter how many times watched there's a lesson:
Recent germane commentary: