The Don (Quixote) Preserving His Corps

Get in line. Gay rights. Women’s rights (combat exclusion). MARSOC rights. Marine Corps rights. What about a four star’s rights? His sanity? Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway has not had much fun in the Corps’ top slot. (Few do.) Conway’s been saddled with two wars, getting his boys and girls to the more important war (Afghanistan), increasing the size of his Corps, unsavory debates over his special operations demi-gods, and taking women into the previously (straight) male fringes of ground combat, to name a few.

Now a movement to allow openly gay men and women to serve in his beloved Corps is gaining momentum. You might as well just shoot the man with an RPG through the heart.

Conway is considered the Pentagon’s most outspoken opponent of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy that bars homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces. Conway’s position is no secret. Maybe he knows something we don’t. Recent reports say Conway sees such a move as disruptive to unit cohesion. This is old news. We’re unsure what his intel is telling him, but it is still the Marine Corps. We don’t envision any gay rights rallies, single-sex liaisons or unwelcome advances on the battlefield. But the very presence of a gay guy destroying unit cohesion? Like no one already knows who they are? Conway is looking out for the best interests of the Corps. (Or his legacy.) His lack of confidence in what he is trying to preserve is surprising.

We have written about Conway’s opposition to DADT and his personal-four on the subject polling his general officers. (We assume none of them are gay.) Washington Times defense correspondent Rowan Scarborough got a hold of a source who confirms Conway is far right of his fellow joint chiefs. Conway’s anguish is apparent. The thought of opening his Marine Corps to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals is giving him fits. We’re not so sure what the deal is with transgenders and transsexuals, but he’d probably have a seizure at the suggestion.

So, if Jim is so opposed to gay boys in his Corps, chances are he doesn’t dig chicks in combat. (The secret’s out: There’s a long and woeful tale of use and abuse of girls in the boys’ gun club that continues today. But that’s not our topic, is it?)

So, Jim, which will send you off the top of a building first: gays in the ranks or chicks in your combat units below the brigade level? Social experiment? Hardly. We’ve lived that one. Disruption to readiness? If that would be true, then whose fault is it? The males already in the units? Their leadership? Maybe the commandant of the Marine Corps?
Conway-bashing aside, chances are DADT will remain in some form as long as Marine are needed to fight abroad. If action is taken, our guess is the services may be granted some power to integrate as best meets their needs. Conway will maintain his status quo or reach some compromise, though the move would open up his precious Corps to attacks on the issue. Crystal ball is murky on this one.

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