Magazine article Insight on the News

Military Has New Strategy in Battle of Sexes. (the Last Word)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Military Has New Strategy in Battle of Sexes. (the Last Word)

Article excerpt

The long retreat of the U.S. military from the armored brigades of radical feminism might be halting. There appears to be a mustering of will to dig in and confront the feminization of the armed forces that has been ascendant for more than two decades. Both civilian and military leaders since the mid-1970s have, until now, been reluctant to oppose this relentless radical assault lest they receive the politically scarring label of being "antiwomen."

There at last are certified males at command posts in the Pentagon who have taken courage from the support of the White House. Thus, one of the feminists' most entrenched outposts -- the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, or DACOWITS in the lumpy acronym -- is being counterattacked. Better late than, well, you know.

There was scuttlebutt that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might abolish DACOWITS. That would have been dandy, but it would not have been politically adroit: It inevitably would have spawned a political dustup that would not be useful in the midst of a real war. Rumsfeld was cannier. He in effect fired the 22 current Clinton-appointed panelists and ordered his Pentagon E-Ring adjutants to rewrite the advisory group's charter.

First, lets clear away ideological underbrush. Women are and will continue to be vital and valued in the armed forces. There indeed are chores in the complex military structure that women have a superior capacity to perform -- but not as envisioned by the panelists of the advisory appendage.

The concerted effort of recent DACOWITS members has been to open to women ground- and close-combat assignments, including special operations, which is extremely dangerous and demanding military duty. This effort pleases rhetoricians of military equal opportunity despite the fact that the vast majority of servicewomen repeatedly express hot only no interest in charging enemy machine-gun nests but reject the idea. (Not long ago, a now-retired two-star general whined of sexual harassment because a highly decorated peer had -- wait for it! -- put his arm around her. Somehow it's hard to see Gen. Claudia leading an infantry assault against, say, an al-Qaeda bunker.)

There doubtless are some women equal to the burdens of such combat, even as there are some men hot equal to it. The wider point morally and culturally is whether females should go into the furnace of battle.

Nevertheless, the civilian membership of DACOWITS has not abandoned its sanguinary agenda. It is noteworthy that, of the 34 individuals who constituted the board before Rumsfeld dropped the hammer, only its two male panelists and two of the women ever wore the uniform. That conspicuous lack of experience should have moderated the zeal of the DACOWITSeans. But with 10 academics, eight lawyers and two clinical psychologists among the panel membership, any such concession to the grittiness of the real world would have been astounding. …

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