Four women have filed a lawsuit to try to get a judge to declare unconstitutional the military’s “combat exclusion” policy, which excludes women from serving in close-combat duties of the Army, Marines and special forces. Those units are made up of soldiers whose purpose is to kill the enemy directly; they do nearly all the intimate killing of the enemy. And so they suffer nearly all the military’s deaths.
A very perceptive article about this appeared recently in the Washington Post written by Robert Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College. He obviously was a guy who knew what he was talking about. He is supportive of women serving in nearly all units of the military, but when it comes to serving in the small squads and teams whose mission is to engage and kill the enemy, his answer is No Way. In these engagements, men fight and die not for country or mission, but for each other.
To explain this, he borrowed a famous line from Shakespeare’s play Henry V which described the phenomenon called the “band of brothers effect.” That is the essential glue in military culture that causes a young man to sacrifice his life willingly so that his buddies might survive. We know that time together allows effective pairings, or “battle buddies.” Four solid buddy pairings led by a sergeant make a nine-man, battle-ready squad. General Scales says that veteran SEALs, special forces, Rangers, tankers and line infantrymen will swear that the deliberate, premeditated and brutal act of intimate killing the enemy is a male-only occupation, and they know this intuitively from battlefield experience.
Generations of our ground-force leaders are united in believing that the precious and indefinable “band of brothers” effect would be fatally broken with we were to force mixed-gender infantry squads. They know another thing, too: changing this practice is not a decision that should be made by judges.
Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.
Self-Educated American recommends: Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)