Three Blind Mice

Recently three Marine Corps reserve lieutenant colonels were on their way across the vast Northern Virginia wasteland sometimes referred to as Quantico. One was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, one hailed from the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, and one graduated from Villanova in Pennsylvania. Out of the blue, one of the boys brought up the subject of women in the military (this is still a subject?), saying it was immoral. The other two apparently agreed. Our source, cringing in the vehicle, mentioned to them this had been settled long ago. They ignored him. The three argued that women’s presence was immoral because women need to be protected. Though this is paternalistic, degrading, and insulting, it probably is not a minority opinion. 

These cannot be the only three guys who believe — really believe — women’s presence in the military is immoral. It is this view (ridiculous, archaic, but very real) that helps keep the legal ban on women from direct ground combat (combat units and those in direct support) in place. (Army leaders were at odds with lawmakers in 2005 when this policy was reaffirmed.) If a large number of people did not hold a similar opinion to our three blind mice, lawmakers probably could be convinced to change the law. 

Many reasons have been given over the years to keep women out of the military, and certain specialties and readiness concerns were chief among them. For lack of a more pragmatic argument, are the mice playing the God Card and making this a morality issue? Sadly, there are women who feed this belief. No one is innocent on this one. 

So how many serving have this view? Can they serve objectively with female peers, seniors, and subordinates? Are women’s careers ruined in the fallout? Do people die as a result? 

Men and women are equally adept at protecting one another, though possibly in different ways. This issue is not a matter of training. These are characteristics that can only be bred out over time.

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