Small Wars Journal

Changing the “Macho” Male Culture of the US Military

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 6:56am

Changing the “Macho” Male Culture of the US Military


I remember hearing in 2010 from a buddy at the Pentagon that the combat exclusion policy for women in combat arms would be overturned no matter what “about a year from the President’s last year.” At the time I thought he was crazy, but the next year I heard the same from another friend. His take was even more troubling: “There is a loosely connected group of advocates that have found huge traction with the current civilian leadership here and they have a pretty well-thought out campaign plan to get women into combat arms,” he told me. “Some of the groups simply want equality, others talk about more women generals, and there’s one group that is linking this to changing American male culture.” Looking back, many of the things I am seeing now make sense when remembering my friends’ comments.

Today I am privy to most of the plans that are currently in place to put women into combat arms. I have been told, again by acquaintances working at the Pentagon and at various headquarters around the US military, that all of the “experiments” that the services have been undergoing for some time now have been a sideshow. The decision had been made from the get-go. As one Female Engagement Team Program manager told many in Afghanistan in 2011, “the decision has already been made; we just need to talk about “the how” instead of “if”.”

This means that the Ranger School “experiment” was an experiment in name only. It was guaranteed from the beginning to graduate a woman and that graduation would be used as proof that the combat exclusion rule needed to go. This, of course, matches what every Army Command Sergeant Major (9) in 2011-2013 told me was said to them by high-level CSMs and General Officers while attending their pre-command courses: “women will be in combat arms and women will graduate Ranger School, if any of you has a problem with that, you need to get out of the military.” They reported that the Ranger Instructors at Ranger School were told the same thing.

This same message was a similar one that was being told to people who had friends who were Ranger Instructors. The message: “women will graduate, we will guarantee it, and so if you can’t handle that fact, you need to move on out of Ranger School.” When I personally talked to R.I.s I got rolled eyes and lots of depressing comments. “It’s turned political, sir,” they told me one morning at Fort Benning during the Maneuver Center Conference a few years ago. “We are being told to get on-board, or get out.”

Early this year I talked to another military buddy who had just left the Pentagon. His comments were even more troubling. “I used to think the Pentagon was divorced from the reality of the combat arms side of the military- that it was so out of touch with the average infantryman that it made me sick to work there,” he let on. “But that was when I first got there,” he continued. “Today it is times a hundred. The advocates of the women in combat arms are basically part of a larger effort to change the military culture- which they call a “rape culture”- and these folks are really linked close to the wider effort to change American culture.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Since I’m quick to suspect things that sound conspiratorialist, my BS-ometer started to go off. But, then I heard the same from two other friends of mine. In essence, the idea of many of these advocates is that the American male is a, mostly unconscious, misogynist, and that it comes from our culture: movies that hype physicality, combat, aggressiveness, and the treatment of women as objects. It also comes from our military: males dominate the services, are the only ones allowed in combat arms, and thus make up most of the higher ranks. The cure for all of this is simple: change the culture.

The “change the culture” movement has manifested itself in many ways and has taken on different efforts as well as groups that are loosely aligned towards fundamental change. On college campuses it has largely taken on the shape of the movement to end sexual harassment and sexual assault. As one professor from a prominent campus told me recently, “It isn’t really about ending sexual assault; it’s about controlling people and changing behavior. Men have the advantage in almost every way, so we have to find ways to cut into that advantage. Making traditional male behavior something that is socially unacceptable will cut their advantage. We have to make it unacceptable for men to talk the way they talk now, act the way they act now, and interact the way they do with women now, and have traditionally.” Hyping sexual assault statistics, making women fearful of men, and building a system that finds men guilty until proven innocent are simply means to the greater end of “cutting male advantage.”

In the movie industry, change has been slower, but increasingly children’s movies depict a smart and physically strong heroine and a weak and unintelligent male. In some action films, one-hundred pound women amazingly punch two-hundred pound males so hard they kill them. The message is clear: women can do anything that men can do and it is acceptable for women to be physically aggressive and strong- men, not so much.

For the military this means something similar. The military has also been accused of having a “rape culture” in the same manner as universities. Thus, combat arms positions are being cut while sexual harassment and assault counselors and advisers are being hired. Some see it as a cottage industry that requires a never-ending problem that has to be over-sold.

Homosexuals serving openly in the military was another effort to change the traditional male culture of the military- that traditional culture being one of heterosexuality (some call it “hyper heterosexuality”). It appears that since many homosexuals are either not serving in combat arms or not serving openly, this cultural change has not been as successful as the advocates were expecting (which may explain the new US Army secretary’s appointment as well as Military Review journal’s coming look at homosexual acceptance within the military next year).

The effort to change military culture also includes the effort to overturn the combat exclusion rule. This rule, as many advocates for overturning it have argued, is the strongest reason that men view women as less than men. According to some, it is the reason military men rape women, sexually harass them, and devalue them. It is the reason women get out of the service at higher rates, are injured more than men, have more PTSD issues, and score less on their PT tests.

To change the overall culture, the thinking goes, the military must change. This is where the argument for overturning the combat exclusion rule using our allies’ experiences as proof that it will work is disingenuous. Our allies who have opened combat arms to women have simply opened their combat arms branches to women. That is all. No culture change. The Germans, French, Australians, Canadians, and Israelis still have a traditional male culture in their combat arms. The very few women who have entered these countries’ combat arms have had to grow thick skin or they’ve been shown the door.

In the US, the plan is very different. The Department of Defense is micromanaging the transition. There is no trust that the services will get to the advocates goals of 20%- at least- of all combat arms service members to be females. Once the order has been given to make the change happen, which is expected sometime late this year or early next, it has been strongly implied to all general officers that if they are seen as “dragging their feet” they can expect an early retirement. The word has gone out to both silence anyone from even talking about the transition and that everyone needs to get on board and make this successful as fast as possible (possibly because of the potential loss of the White House the following year).

To do that, commands are being told that they must have female mentors in place before the combat arms-branched females get to their units or show up to schools. For Ranger School this meant- and continues to mean- female observers who are unqualified. Some commanders have noted this is as much to protect males from spurious allegations as it is to assist women, but the implication is clear: a severe lack of trust among all parties from the top down.

For operational units it means they will have to scramble to find women to either place them in combat arms units in non-combat arms specialties or to place them as “excess” personnel, serving in a unit as an overage simply in order to facilitate the transition from all male units to units having females in them. The focus does not seem to be on simply integrating females into units as much as it is to make females in combat arms specialties successful.

The assumptions governing these requirements are: 1) the culture of combat arms units are hyper-macho and misogynist and thus women will most likely fail without women “protectors”, 2) if men in combat units are faced with charges of sexual harassment or assault- regardless of their validity, it could derail the transition, and thus female mentors and observers will assist in making the transition smooth, 3) leaders cannot be trusted to ensure fairness during the transition, and thus must be forced to facilitate a certain outcome, and, 4) women can meet the same physical requirements as men if their leadership is motivated, the women are given special training and they are held to the same standards as men.

The guidance from the Pentagon is very clear to commanders, if not always explicit in the orders (even though much of it IS explicit). Women will be coming to your units. If they do not, it is because the services’ leadership and the leadership at Recruiting Command, ROTC units, and the Academies are not doing their job. Women will be successful at combat arms schools. If they are not, leadership will be held accountable. Women will be successful at combat arms units. If they are not, leadership will be held accountable. This includes looking very closely at different rates of failure between men and women, different rates of recruitment of women and men into combat arms branches, and different rates of high evaluations between men and women in combat arms units- and “fixing” discrepancies.

I am personally not against women serving “in combat,” in support of combat arms, serving in all-female combat arms units, or attached to combat arms units when needed. I personally think if a commander assesses that a female- in whatever capacity- would be value-added on a certain mission, then that commander should be able to utilize females. I also think our personnel system should be changed so that those females that do add value in those kinds of ad-hoc situations are rewarded. Today they- as well as males- are punished if they step out of the bureaucracy-approved career paths (see, for two examples, the Afghan Hands program as well as the Female Engagement Team program).

What I am not in favor of is forcing commanders to have to take females on every mission as if they were males. This inflexibility will hurt females if the assumptions about their physical capabilities are invalid or if they are seen as a hindrance to the mission. Paradoxically, many more women could potentially be promoted to general officer and serve “in combat arms units” (if needed) if our personnel system simply allowed more flexibility than it would under a “women are the same as men” overturning of the combat exclusion policy.

My main concern is the potential degradation of combat arms units’ cohesion at the small unit level. I have played on coed sports teams. I have deployed with coed units. I have served in coed headquarters. The issues with respect to the relations between most men and most women wreak havoc with the way these teams operate with respect to all-male examples. The amount of attention that will potentially be shifted to handling male and female relationship issues should be a concern of everyone, if, for no other reason, than the current requirements that the military has had to take on with respect to sexual harassment and assault.

The issue of the effect on the fighting effectiveness of integrating women into male combat arms teams is both more important and harder to quantify. This issue has been dismissed by the advocates in two ways: they deny it is an issue or they ask for proof, knowing full well it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to “prove” anything of this nature.

The main problem, however, is that most of the advocates are not concerned with what this transition will do. Their objective was never about making the military “more effective.” In fact, some advocates I have talked to are actually anti-war and anti-military! What this change is really about for many is changing the “hyper macho” male culture of the military and the country as a whole. The advocates do not believe, or do not care, that this could potentially negatively affect combat effectiveness. They assert that cohesion will not be an issue or they insist that “men will change.” The possibility that greater combat effectiveness actually might come from a “hyper macho” male culture is something the advocates refuse to acknowledge.

There is a reason that our allies have very, very few women actually serving in combat arms. There is a reason most, if not all, of our allies’ militaries still have a “hyper macho” male culture within their combat arms units, even after allowing women to serve in combat arms units. There is a reason the Israelis ceased to have co-ed units in combat arms, deciding instead to have the Caracal battalion of women, who serve mostly as border guards, be the main avenue for women wishing to serve “in combat” to get their wish.

The reason is that these countries know or believe that combat takes aggression and aggression takes trust and homogeneity of purpose and culture. The best way to win at the tactical level is to take a bunch of above-average men, train them hard, equip them well, give them an above-average leader, point them at a target and get out of the way. Integrating those teams or trying to change their culture would mean they would, according to our allies, be less aggressive and less capable of winning against a similarly-structured enemy.

Today we have the benefit of technology, and some advocates have pointed out that technology can make up for any loss in fighting spirit: that current and future warfare will be characterized more by technology, creative thinking, and diversity of background. I have no doubt that getting more non-combat arms general officers, diversifying the path to higher rank, and allowing flexibility to have- not only females- but anyone a commander needs for a mission- would make our armed forces better. I do not, however, share the assumption that technology no longer requires traditional male aggressiveness and male bonding at the small unit level in combat arms. We may get away with it for now, but in a pitched battle or a near-peer or peer war, it would be devastating to learn that the advocates were wrong.

They say in the military that “assumptions kill.” The advocates for integration are either utterly obtuse about their spurious assumptions or they, aiming for larger cultural change through the integration of combat arms, just don’t care. I would hope that there would be more general officers who would stand up to the advocates, just as Shenseki and Powell did before them.

Unfortunately I have seen little stomach in our current population of general officers to stand up to the advocates. They either do not want to jeopardize future promotion or they are tired and are just ready to ease on out. Very few, outside of the Marine Corps, if any, are willing to sacrifice themselves for the combat arms troops they proclaim to care so much about. That is a sad state of affairs our military finds itself in today, but not surprising, considering the War College report about us lying to ourselves. Maybe the advocates were counting on that…

About the Author(s)

The author is an active duty officer who is not against women in combat or in assistance of combat arms units, when the mission requires it. The author is in favor of promoting more women to general officer, since obviously our general officers have not distinguished themselves in the last decade(+) and maybe some of that was the very narrow band of experience (combat arms for the most part) in which they are drawn. The author is in favor of allowing women more opportunities to serve, but thinks that treating them like men is a non-productive effort: either standards will have to change or we won’t get many in combat arms. The answer, instead of treating women like men, is to change the personnel system- which currently has a cookie-cutter approach to personnel management that helps no-one except for the risk-averse career person who knows how to check off things on lists and stay out of trouble, but does not help those who simply want to accomplish missions.


Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 1:31pm

What was wrong with my comments? So no criticism of Michelle Fluornoy or the others? Is it who some in WIIS are married to that people can't handle, or that they are colleagues whose work is thin?


Madhu (not verified)

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 11:22am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Curious, isn't it? Neither side is interested in reality, only in a kind of mythology and magical thinking.

And the feminism of white privilege places a premium on glass-ceiling breaking versus other feminist priorities.

Madhu (not verified)

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 11:19am

Without links, they just don't work:

From SheSource:

<em>SheSource is an online braintrust of female experts on diverse topics designed to serve journalists, producers and bookers who need female guests and sources. </em>

<blockquote>Sally A. Painter is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Blue Star Strategies, LLC. Ms. Painter has worked throughout Central Europe on security and policy issues, including successfully representing many of these countries on their NATO and EU bids, as well as an historic Visa Equity Coalition of seven countries which allows their citizens to enter the US visa-free.
Ms. Painter has managed many large-scale public-private projects, including as senior advisor on the global NATO Summits and remains a member of the Board of the US Committee on NATO.</blockquote>

The militarization and securitization of feminism with many agendas running together. So, no, it's not political correctness:

<blockquote>U.S. Navy Lt.Cmdr. (ret.) Richard Marcinko, founder of the illustrious SEAL Team Six, stated in a recent interview that he believes integrating women into the SEALs would be a mistake, and the Navy should instead create a new program for women.</blockquote>

Many things run together including gender politics, military budgeting priorities, DC lobbying, great power politics, all of it runs together. That's the problem with the "it's all political correctness" Frank Gaffney Center for Security Policy line.

- Daily Caller

Ideology and dogmatism run in many directions.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 10:59am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

I hope a glitch doesn't affect this comment. No matter. I will find another place to pursue this intellectual enquiry and I'll let you young people know about's basically the people and their connections that defines what happens, for good or bad.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 10:57am


<blockquote>Michele Flournoy would make a great secretary of defense. I worked for her for more than two years at the beginning of the Obama administration’s first term, and seeing her in action convinced me of it.
Am I biased? You bet. I’ve worked with and for many people over the years, and I’ve had colleagues I wouldn’t trust as secretary of the local dogcatchers’ association. But I’d trust Flournoy with any job. And, for the record, I don’t want another administration job. I already have a job that I like, and tenure is a beautiful thing. But as a citizen, I’d sure like to see Flournoy back at defense.</blockquote>…

It says in the article:

<blockquote>2. She’s good looking. By which I mean that she’s not a middle-aged white guy. She’d bring some needed gender diversity to the national security leaders boys’ club. And make no mistake: A woman who rises to the top in the unforgiving world of national security has to be twice as good as most of the men around her. She’s that good.</blockquote>

Actually, she has to be the same, to serve the same basic bureaucratic interests. There is no difference between being a middle-aged white guy or a middle-aged white woman (or other ethnicity) when it comes to the institutions of foreign policy in DC. You need to be an expansionist in terms of military power. And that is "How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon."

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 10:51am

Look at the Board of Directors of USIP:

Ashton Carter, Eric Edelman, etc. What are the relationships between some of the members of Women in International Security and USIP? Rosa Brooks new book was blurbed by mainly condinistas.

Looking through the archives, air forces generals sure are interested in South Asia and USIP. Wonder why?

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:35pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

I mean, seriously, what is their actual substantive track record? I posted a letter to the NYT from the 80s that was closer to what happened in AfPak than anything suggested by the Obama State Department---or Bush State Department. I've posted it multiple times here and it basically shows up everyone on this subject.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:33pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Given Anne-Marie Slaughter's advice on AfPak and Pakistan while at State (the AfPak policy paper was identical to Prince Turki's "To Do" list in the Washington Post from 2009) and Emma Sky's on Iraq and the Surge, I do not understand this by Nada Bakos:

<blockquote>OK, time to interrupt the Men-Talk-War fest. We’ve compiled a working list of female interruptors who should be on your radar for a wider, fuller conversation on Iraq:
Emma Sky: Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute, where she lectures on Iraq and Middle East Politics
Meghan O’Sullivan: Former deputy national security advisor on Iraq and Afghanistan, International Affairs professor at Harvard University
Kimberly Kagan: Military historian, founder and president of the Institute of War
Elizabeth Ferris: Co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement
Sarah Birke: Syria specialist and Middle East correspondent for the Economist
Manal Omar: Associate VP for MENA Programs at the U.S. Institute for Peace
Anne-Marie Slaughter: Former director of policy planning in the US State Department, President and CEO of the New America Foundation

It seems strange to me that someone of that caliber would be supportive of this group. Their advice hasn't worked. So what's the point of making this about gender?

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:27pm

Also from @DavidMaxwell161:

(Because I have MS, the injury rate for female soldiers interests me. It's not because I have strong feelings on the subject. Most of the comments in this thread have really been directed at the strange mythologies regarding AfPak and South Asia that took hold in many communities, including it seems to me some of the leadership of WIIS. To be fair, I doubt anyone could make me really happy on the subject):

<blockquote>In spite of all the efforts to ease the acceptance of women into the air force, their success rate stands at only five percent, as opposed to twenty percent for men. Furthermore, the percentage of women entering the army who volunteer for combat positions is only two percent - and these only in relatively marginal and easy tasks compared to traditional combat roles.
Furthermore, as Captain Katie Petronio of the US Marine Corps said bluntly, the first to be harmed from this crusade are the women themselves. Take Ayelet Dressler, who told Avi Kefiri of Maariv:
<strong>I sat in the shower simply because I couldn't stand. It took me fifteen minutes to walk 100 meters. It started with relatively light stress fractures during basic training. My high motivation and sense of commitment made me move on and give as much of myself as I could. In spite of the good intentions, the problem got worse. Relatively light stress fractures in my leg developed into level 4 stress fractures, which is a very high level, in the soles of my feet, thighs and knees. It got to the point that I couldn't even really go to the bathroom....</strong> </blockquote>

Please understand where I am coming from as a person with MS. I can't help but think about what is needed for women as this goes forward. Different training support, different medical support, long term support for injuries, proper rehabilitation, an expanded roster for teams because there will be more people pulled for injuries, etc. Practical issues that will need to be dealt with. Chronic injury and illness is not something anyone can run away from. It is not an argument for or against, but one of careful thought.

I find the world of military affairs to be so corrupt that it is often hard for me to be fair about it.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:17pm

Link from @DavidMaxwell161:

<blockquote>The Navy SEALs are now open to women but no one has stepped forward</blockquote>.…

To be honest, I don't have a strong opinion about the subject which may sound strange given my string of comments.

I want to understand the machinations in DC better and I thought that many agendas were traveling together:

1. Genuine desire to break down a barrier for women.
2. Rent-seeking of various contractors under the guise of increasing the participation of women in security issues.
3. Outside lobbying by the EU and various European countries for a variety of agendas, including the ideological and the wish to make the US more European (The EU as a perfect model).
4. Feminisms of privilege versus other kinds of feminism, with the idea that one sort of woman speaks for all women.

And so on. Sorry if some of my comments about the Cold War seemed rude, I'm not really addressing anyone in particular, as usual I am playing around with ideas.

I was also incredibly unhappy with the inward and parochial nature of the conversation that confused American culture wars with the larger world. I didn't like that other narratives about South Asia were missed by female scholars claiming women automatically bring better intellectual skills when most of what comes out of Washington is vapid, regardless of gender or race.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:57am

From that Harvard Business Review (and Boston Consulting article) by Mahlon Apgar IV and John M. Keane:

<blockquote>The consumer group’s defining characteristic is an affinity for the military that is rooted in institutional culture and reinforced by job security, health care, and other benefits. By appealing to this affinity, companies can tailor brands and cement relationships with service members, retirees, and 24 million veterans.</blockquote>

The military as a "market" must be studied by some and in addition to a consumer profile, when in the military you are given psychological tests? There must be psychological profiles that would help someone "bond" many of you to an idea based on your sense of selves. I don't mean deliberately. It must be kind of intuitive from some based on years of work at the top of the military.

Staying the Course.
We don't abandon allies.
We are capable, we are a team, if we just stay we can change the course of things.
The need for an enemy to focus on, the need to think everything by the bad guy is propaganda?

One of President Eisenhower's advisors wrote an article in 1960 or so, I think he was associated with Boeing, about the permanence of war these days and how that represented a market opportunity. In 1960!

Eisenhower's speech on the military industrial complex must have been some how tied to his interactions with his own peers-the business community and military community--and how they talked about the future and the future markets they saw.

I'll post it when I get the chance.

Most of what you are asked to read in your institutions of learning (Megacities, all that MBA verbiage or Silicon Valley frippery) is mostly nonsense. All marketing tools and it seems to work.

You especially love, love, love the Cold War and how it made you feel, tough guys. Some feminist gals have a different kind of god complex. Something about being a savior works on you.
You have a profile, veterans, and some people know it.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:45am

On that Harvard Business Review article, <em>New Business with the New Military</em> by Mahlon Apgar, IV and John M. Keane?

That's "Jack" Keane of the so-called Iraq Surge? How did I miss that. No, I really glossed over it I was so busy with the Women In International Security and Boston Consulting Group.

And the other author is this person?

<blockquote>Mahlon (Sandy) Apgar, IV, is a housing, infrastructure, and real estate consultant to global corporations and government agencies, and the founder of Apgar & Company....<strong>President Bill Clinton appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment in 1998, with global responsibility for the Army's housing, real estate and facilities.[1] In that role, he also established the Army's Residential Communities Initiative (RCI).</strong></blockquote>,_IV

So, one of the architects of the Surge understood exactly what contracting logistics could mean? And many people (including some who are affiliated with Women In International Security gained experience in peacekeeping in the late 90s) also understood what contracting within the military might mean?

Sort of a complicated world, as with Eric Schmidt, Google, the Pentagon and Silicon Valley? A relationship I don't quite understand but one where many parties hope to make money and some in the military or government hope to secure their post military and post government careers?

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 10:33am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

From that Harvard Business Review article that views military contracts as a "market":

"Force structures and support organizations are becoming flatter and leaner."

If you say so. Flatter and leaner and more contractor-y.

It's the funniest thing I've ever read. It's like looking into Erik Prince's mind and its cognitive dissonance. "I am a free marketer bringing the free market to government contracting".

Why did I not cash out when I was in Boston? I say I don't care but I think it kind of bothers me that I didn't. Look at that drivel. How do people pay for this stuff?

I didn't even need an MBA to figure out why consumers are tired of consuming, I just looked around me at our overstocked stores and the flattening of Amazon or its growth. And I could get paid for this. Dammit!

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 10:19am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

It's interesting, isn't it? That the cause of increasing women's participation in security matters reinforces the old lines between feminists of privilege and those that come from a different feminist background?

Why was it wrong for me to point out that the leadership is largely white in WIIS when they count the number of women in DC organizations, almost religiously?

Why was it wrong for me to point out that Rosa Brooks is not a South Asia specialist when I linked an old Los Angeles Times article on our policy toward Pakistan?

Most of WIIS leadership supports Anne-Marie Slaughter and yet her policy guidance for the "AfPak" might have been dictation from Prince Turki and showed no real knowledge of the region. Why shouldn't this be pointed out?

<blockquote>In recent months, Clinton has reinvented herself as an anti-racist social justice warrior, using the language of intersectionality and privilege discourse to deride Sanders’ economic populism, distract from her well-publicized ties to Wall Street and distinguish herself from Trump’s hateful rhetoric.</blockquote>…

Again, for the fragile lurking (is anyone left), forget whether you agree with the political stand of the sites I am linking, and think about the substance.

Unless it's the old Cold War that you pine for which is just sad.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 10:07am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Some feminist 'ideology' doesn't want to see structures of power in all instances, I am guessing:

<blockquote>Mike Lofgren: I grew up in a provincial town, a company town, in Ohio, where there was an incestuous relationship between politicians, journalists and lobbyists: nominally, they were enemies, but they all belonged to the same club. You expect that kind of one-industry town in the Rust Belt to be a parochial company town. But DC is a parochial company town in an even bigger way.</blockquote>…

For the fragile partisans who might lurk (is anyone left), don't be put off by the title. It's the structure, not the tribal nature of our politics that is the main topic of interest.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 10:02am

The Harvard Business Review and <strong>The Boston Consulting Group</strong>:

<blockquote>Imagine that a $200 billion market appears unexpectedly on your business horizon. This behemoth touches nearly everyone, offers a large revenue stream, and needs partners with creative strategies, financial acumen, and efficient organizations. Based on our personal experience in the Pentagon and research conducted with the Boston Consulting Group, we conclude that those who commit sufficient energy and resources can unlock vast opportunities with the U.S. military.</blockquote>

Government contracts a "market". No, you are getting paid by the government, same as any salaried person. You did not create this wealth if you get a contract from the government. You may perform a vital job but it is not the same as creating a product and selling it to anyone out on the, well, "open market".

Michele Fluornoy and the Boston Consulting Group (an old profile):

<blockquote>Michèle Flournoy is a member of The Boston Consulting Group’s Public Sector and Industrial Goods practices. She is the former US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations.</blockquote>

Women in International Security is an important organization.

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 04/17/2016 - 9:26am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

And John Brennan who advised then Candidate Obama, and now President Obama?

That To Do List includes:

1. Negotiating with the Taliban. (progressives loved this)
2. Stopping the heroin trade. (conservatives and progressives like this prior initially)
3. Negotiating a Kashmir deal with India and Pakistan. (an old American trope that progressives also like)
4. Diplomacy between Russia, China, India, Pakistan, the US and Saudi Arabia--but no one else. (Saudis always involved).
5. Intelligence cooperation between Russia, China, the US, Pakistan, Saudi, etc. Again, the Saudis always involved.

It is as if the entire American system took dictation from Prince Turki.

What does the feminism of privilege have to offer on this subject? Georgetown or Harvard professors who are specialists on women's issues don't necessarily know much about this sort of thing.

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 04/17/2016 - 9:18am

Feminisms of privilege, white privilege, and color or the securitization of women's issues (Women in International Security):

Part of a comment left at another site:

<blockquote>Another funny side to the Clinton camp and her time at State with Anne-Marie Slaughter is the almost perfect match between the diplomatic and military underpinnings of the AfPak surge and an article by Prince Turki in the Washington Post from 2008:

That “To Do List for Afghanistan” perfectly ticks all the boxes for American conservatives and progressives in that it cleverly co-opts some of their pet issues in a way that also protects the Taliban as a proxy force for the Saudis within Afghanistan, just as the Saudis insist their proxies should sit at the table in Syria.
Yet progressives missed it because the didn’t understand how their narratives on South Asia had been coopted during the Cold War. I missed it for a long time too which is inexcusable given my own diaspora narratives/history.
It’s as if official Washington just followed that list line by line, and progressives and conservatives bought select parts of it too.</blockquote>

Computer glitches and missing comments are funny things. Why is it beyond the pale to ask about feminism of privilege when discussing professors from Georgetown or former Boston Consulting Group employees or the varying groups of privileged largely white women involved in security issues that swirl around the Clinton camp and Women in International Security?

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 8:59am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

To retreate, look for EU lobbying through Western think tanks, etc. And also compare the leadership of WIIS to some of the scholars within the larger group that have a very different approach to scholarship.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 8:58am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Uh oh, I lost all my old comments from April. Well, no matter, this one's the important one.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 8:56am

Sister-friend and Macho Man:

Why are Pashtun or Sunni Tribes so important? Let's ask Prince Turk who had a To Do list at the Washington Post (2009):

<blockquote>Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's main opponent in the election, is a Tajik, and he will not be accepted to lead the country by either the Pashtuns or the Uzbeks, the two largest components of Afghanistan's tribal structure. Abdullah's "Westerly ways" further undermined his credibility among nationalists. Once the commission investigating the recent election fraud declares its conclusions, the United States should move on and concentrate on setting benchmarks for Karzai, especially on development projects.
- Change the media theme from attacking the Taliban and calling them the terrorists to concentrating on al-Qaeda and "foreign terrorists." By removing the stigma of terrorism from the Taliban, you can pursue meaningful negotiations with them. Mohammad Omar has never enjoyed the full support of Pashtuns. He is a lowly figure in tribal terms, and he is blamed by many of them for the calamity that has befallen Afghanistan. Reaching out to tribal leaders is what will move negotiations.</blockquote>…

Anti-War dot com! CATO! National Review! The Weekly Standard! The Nation! WaPo and WSJ and NYT and everyone!

Why are Sunni and Pashtun tribal dynamics the most important thing in the world?

White girlz! Macho Men! Realist, Neoliberal, liberal internationalist, America Firster! Who needs knowledge when the internal American discussion covers everything.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 03/22/2016 - 9:59am

Elaine Donnelly and Frank Gafney are at Center for Security Policy or am I wrong about that?

<blockquote>GAFFNEY: But we are at a point where we're saying pretty much what people were saying before. We can't press Musharraf to stop supporting the Taliban. We can't press him to help us with al Qaeda. The truth of the matter is, we have to press him if what he's doing is inconsistent with...
WILSON: He's done it. He's done it. He's done it.
GAFFNEY: He's done it now, but there were a lot of people who were, just a couple months ago, saying oh, he can't do that. He'll lose control of his country. All these guys are...
BEGALA: Listen, September 11 changed things for Musharraf.
GAFFNEY: Of course, it did. But initially, right afterwards, people were saying we can't do this to Musharraf. He's going to be at risk. The whole thing will... </blockquote>

CNN transcript

Destroyed the rest of my notes, even the one's I'd recently found. Doesn't matter. You can easily do the same for the 2001 period, if you'd like. Not hard. There is nothing earth shattering there, it just reads strange all these years later.

From Col Haring and Pashtuns to Frank Gaffney.

The focus on the self (the military and how it should reflect American society) meant that a kind of easy thought took hold on almost all other areas, people fell into basic DC group think.

It continues and President Obama calls it out in his Atlantic interview. No wonder it made people uncomfortable because no on is immune. I suppose I wouldn't be either if I were on they inside.

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 1:15pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

If SOF is growing and changing (CENTCOM and everything), and it's pretty new institutionally, then wouldn't talk of standards and changing culture and training have come up anyway? A point of the article that I linked.

It can't stay the same, can it?

Same with the unconventional warfare command discussion. When Bing West asked in another article about tactics and COIN, and why better tactics were not discussed by military intellectuals (I mean civilian think tanks, etc.), is that because there was no beaucratic power that could go to bat for a more low key presence and a different kind of unconventional tactics?

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 1:02pm

Why did I drag the realists into my latest strange theorizing? I don't know. A need to go for intellectual broke, I guess.

The realists pretty much get it right most of the time, even if details aren't perfect which I think is the point of having a theory. It can't be perfect but it is a better guide than thrashing around. Probably one reason they seem so threatening to many.

Back to the main topic, I found this a while back looking for something else. I wouldn't know:

<blockquote>"Of course women don't want to change the standard – they don't want to be accused of lowering it," says Col. Jason Amerine, a Ranger and West Point graduate. "And men don't want to change it either, because it lets us thump our chest."

As a result, "women will always fight to meet the male standard, even if it's arbitrary and kind of stupid," he adds. "I'm often pretty horrified at the adversity they face, while they keep their mouths shut and deal with it."</blockquote>…

Again, wouldn't know. Another aspect of an all-volunteer force that is changing along with a changing international and domestic environment. Sometimes, you really are in all new waters.

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 6:30pm

How strange, from Dr. Patricia Owens to Col. Haring and the Pashtun paper:

<blockquote>This is a difficult question to answer. I think my worldview was quite strongly shaped as a child of migrants to Britain from its first colony, Ireland. One parent arrived in the 1960s as an economic migrant from the Republic and the other to get away from poverty, but also, of course, the violent conflict in the North. I think any critical perspective on politics, class, empire, and identity was formed from an early age. Certainly the thinker that has done most to shape my worldview is the German-American theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), who I also read for the first time when fairly young. In terms of changing how I understand the world, she helped me get past a lot of the theoretical tribalism it’s easy to get sucked into as a doctoral student. The shift at this stage was the early realization that I didn’t need to belong to any particular ‘-ism’, which is no small feat in a field like IR organized around this way of thinking, or that one had to be either a theorist or an historian.</blockquote>

So female academics wanting to bring in non-male, non-Western and non-white perspectives end up privileging a very particular Western narrative, just as Douglas Porch suggested in his book.

Johnnie Pashtun! Ain't that something.

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 6:10pm

Perhaps this is unfair, but why was the Haring Pashtun paper not placed contextually within the larger South Asian studies literature (from any source, history to social science)? No one really did this within the popular DC American system so I guess it is unfair. What about George Mason? Does this contextualization take place within the Peace Operations literature? If not, why not?

Plenty of academic work on this, so, again, why not?

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 5:55pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Part of the answer lies in the attitudes discussed in this article but the gist of it (and you can use many other non-South Asian examples) is an oversimplification of other cultures even by those that profess to understand this: the non-interventionists mimic these attitudes toward diplomacy as interventionists do toward military force:

A few big personalities would hash things out (the right Pashtun/Karzai, or Holbrook and AfPak):

<blockquote>Nehru could be the democratic ruler he was because once in office he faced so little opposition… Subjectively, any prospect of a dictatorship was alien to Nehru. But objectively, it was also quite unnecessary, so little temptation ever arose.
– Perry Anderson, The Indian Ideology
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi personalises Indian politics, to an extent not seen since Indira Gandhi’s time in power, comparisons have inevitably been drawn with the first such political personality of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru. As the quote from Perry Anderson’s book shows, an axiomatic feature of such commentary is the taken-for-granted omnipotence of the central deity. First Nehru, then Indira, now Modi: hero-worshipping Indians, it is said, get their just desserts.
However, were Nehru and Indira then, and Modi now, really all-powerful? Can anyone be so in the complex political democracy that is India?</blockquote>

- See more at:

You can do the same for claims about Syria, Ukraine, etc., in addition to South Asia and Afghanistan. This might take me a while to pull together into the conversation about unconventional warfare and gender. It's just a theory at this point but it is awfully strange, some attitudes....

Oddly, the macho men might be more willing to understand which is a strange twist to all of this....

Anyway, I think these attitude, the Afghan Reagan myth, and the focus on Islam with a broad brush got us to Johnnie Pashtun, along with a heaping dose of military doctrines that are in flux.

And Hillary Clinton, personality wise (not a political point) is a meddler so the more aggressive forms of meddling via SOF doctrines will prove irresistible to her. Hence, the anticipation for budgeting reasons, etc., by various SOF types.

Perhaps a counter unconventional warfare command is needed as a balance.

Madhu (not verified)

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 5:42pm

I asked this question in another thread, and I'll ask it here. How did "Johnnie Pashtun" take hold across the spectrum of American foreign policy thought, from the Nation to the National Review, Brookings to CATO, to, apparently, George Mason:

From Bush at War by Bob Woodward:

<blockquote>Was Kabul in danger of a Northern Alliance takeover, leaving "Johnnie Pashtun" out in the cold? How could the they detach the Pashtuns from the Taliban?
He said (Tenet) he would lean on the Pakistanis to use their tribal ties in southern Afghanistan to get the south to rise.</blockquote>

I have some theories, from over simplification and intellectual laziness, to a kind of phobia. Links to follow....

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 9:55am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Why? Why is it always like this? Isn't there anyone, from women-in-combat to macho men, that I can trust?

How does the funding work for something like this? Does anyone have any kind of general reference?

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 9:46am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Is one aspect of the "feminism of privilege" the 'othering' of non-DC narratives?

The Army War College and the Combatant Commands are among those that are listed as supporting (monetary?) the Institute for Women In International Security at one time or another?

Have I read that correctly? And there is overlap between Women in International Security, gamechanges360, and the lawsuit against the Army?

So the Army is on both sides of the lawsuit?

I don't understand.

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 9:39am

This article was published in 2008 or so here at SWJ:

<blockquote><em>Mobilizing Identity in the Pashtun Tribal Belt</em>

Ellen Haring


Today, violent conflict in the Pashtun tribal belt in Afghanistan and Pakistan is increasing and a number of experts are attempting to understand the dynamics driving this conflict. An examination of two key identities of the Pashtun people reveals how religious identity is being mobilized by one group for political purposes and ethnic identity is inadvertently being threatened by another group. The resulting vortex of threat and mobilization are the source of this increased violence. This paper analyzes the ethnic and religious identities of the Pashtun people to illustrate how identities are used to influence conflict and it will then offer ways for the US and the international community to adjust their activities to reduce conflict in the Pashtun tribal belt.</blockquote>

From <em>Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, and Militance</em> by Martin E. Marty (1993)

I don't know anything about the author but there is this:

<blockquote>The Jamiyyat, antagonized by the strongly pro-Pashtun bias of both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia...."</blockquote>

Just as there are influence agents fanning out across media outlets today following the Paris atrocity to make sure that the focus remains on Russians in Ukraine, NATO as an organization, or theAssad regime change, right after 9-11 the airwaves were filled with those that said the US had empowered the Northern Alliance and must remember to focus now on the Pashtuns. To remember that the Taliban insurgency was purely local and due only to local politics with no regional or global causation and that must be the focus.

The influence agents, it seems to me, included the Saudis and the so-called Sunni allies, the Pakistanis, the get Russia and get Iran crowds, and the Pashtun aristocracy crowd in DC that wanted a piece of the governing action.

But many genuinely believed these things, they were an intellectual fashion among some.

How did this belief take hold, how did Saudi Arabian and their Sunni allies' narratives become American narratives? How did these ideas take hold in various DC think thanks and universities, beyond the coindinista-cointra framework?

It's true physical strength is not the be all and end all and that intellectual work is important, especially understanding how certain narratives worked agains the creation of a national Afghan ethos and strengthened outsider propaganda and so hurt the counter insurgency efforts.

Coindinista: a localized insurgency requiring big COIN

Cointra: a localized Pashtun insurgency that didn't need big COIN, but also didn't need to be understood in terms of its larger unconventional warfare context so that violence due to this facet was underplayed.

And for this, Macho Men turn to another DC think tank of the Gaffney variety. Strange world.

Neither American conservatives nor American liberals have much understood the regional context of South Asia. Their domestic habits and beliefs prevent it.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:16am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

No wonder some of you repeat whole-of-government like zombies. You are indoctrinated by those that stand to benefit, those that use tax payer funds to channel intellectual efforts toward their own strategy consultancies.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:14am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Commenter Warlock seems to be on to something in another thread....

Refugees and little green men or supplies pouring across borders in Eastern Europe and the usual crew talks missiles, planes, Putin and expanding NATO. Wierdly, the PEACE operations crew never did understand borders when it should have been their first area of expertise.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:09am

I see. The Borg feeds on itself: money, contracts, careers, bureaucracy, relevance for the ideological crusaders and their think tanks or university departments:

<blockquote>Since 2009, in partnership with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), USIP conducted several Interagency simulations in Washington DC. To date we have provided SENSE training to some 400 whole-of-government participants. USIP has also conducted three half-day internal SENSE demonstrations for 74 staff and other invited guests (USIP Board, Congressional Staff, NDU, State Dept., and the World Bank).


This new iteration of SENSE will be used to train U.S. government officials involved in peace and stability operations. USIP is currently conducting interagency simulations in the Washington DC area using the existing SENSE model, and plans to debut the new iteration this year.</blockquote>, interagency events

For other parties, the issue of women in combat is being used to further another agenda. Nothing to do with or against women in combat. Agenda driven agenda upon agenda.

The Army isn't getting rid of COIN or its view of itself as international police, it's codifying it in as many different venues as possible. Money in it, for some?

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 9:21am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

From Sister Outrider blog on "white feminism"

<blockquote>The term White Feminism has become shorthand for certain failings within the feminist movement; of women with a particular degree of privilege failing to listen to their more marginalised sisters; of women with a particular degree of privilege speaking over those sisters; of women with a particular degree of privilege centering the movement around issues falling within their own range of experience. </blockquote>

When wives express concern about how this may affect their family situations and marriages, are they "more marginalized sisters"? What was the response to their concerns, women that tried to kill themselves over affairs, incredible family disruptions? Was it, "we don't think this is argument against women in combat arms but we do think your concerns should be heard and we need better family support?"

Nope, it was pretty much belittlement from a privileged upper class group against a group that in this is circumstance holds less power.

Nice, feminist sisters. Way to support ALL women, all men and women and their concerns.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 9:00am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

The dumbing down of American feminism, just like the dumbing down of everything else in modern American intellectual life.

Thanks for nothing, sisters. This is all we have to aspire to?

Macho-smacho. Crack open a book.

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 8:58am

Like Charlie Brown and the football, once again an agenda group makes a fool of me....

This isn't about changing the macho male culture, it's about the coindinista and stabilization/peace operation factions hiding behind the skirts of feminism (even if some are genuinely concerned about women's issues):

From <em>German Feminism: Readings in Politics and Literature</em> (1984 State University of New York)

<blockquote>Scholars like Horowitz (1974), Wolf and Joregenson (1970), and Huizer (1973) raised their voices against this kind of research as a tactical tool in the "countersinsurgency-and-containment-of-communism" strategy of the United States. <strong>The emphasis on their criticism was on political and ethical questions.</strong></blockquote>

page 357

How is that arguments rooted in feminism have missed out on the prior feminist arguments regarding the use of women in counterinsurgency? What kind of scholarship is that?

This isn't a problem with the de-machoficiation of the military, it's the same old lack of intellectual rigor and anti-intellectual character of it. Carl Prine always used to talk about this at the old Line of Departure, he complained frequently about the anti-intellectual character of the Army and its leadership.

The questions raised by older generations of feminists are, strangely, no different than those in many ways of the right-of-center critics of nation building. How did that get missed?

Feminist sisters (not used ironically, I mean it): you are being used, except some of you seem to be true believers in magic bullet thinking, that one analytic variable is key to a complicated strategic picture.

Look at Modi's visit to India, it's the same old complicated problem the British have always had as they navigate their complicated South Asian relationships, especially in relation to various domestic groups.

This period is a bit more like the 50s for them in that they were trying to play it more straight between various nations and it was hard. So the "softer side" of war and minimum force and female engagement teams cannot be divorced from this larger strategic and domestic politics picture. Same old same old argument.

Just bad scholarship all around.

If we engage women, there will be less war? So one variable explains everything? And as for the Frank Gaffney types, how did focusing only on religious parties and elections work out for you.

Weak tea.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 9:24am

So this seems like a done deal to me, empowering girls and women is a hot button and popular issue among wealthy donors like Bill and Melinda Gates and the base of one party with independents and a segment of another party likely passively approving.

What I don't understand about Anonymous is why he wouldn't make a feminist critique of a feminist argument which is most salient--and would have worked best about twenty years ago when arguments about the new versus old left in partisan discourse were especially evident. Maybe, I don't know. Not a criticism, just exploring ideas.

Upper middle class white feminists and non-feminists are only one small part of the female experience. Whether it's Anna Simons (that sovereignty stuff rocks) or women of lower ranks that complain their needs are not heard by focusing on upper class women in the military issues, you are just plugging into the old feminist arguments about class and race in addition to gender.

The same condescension by both anti-feminists and feminists on display toward men in combat arms affects so called women of color too, to use the phrase of the day. Goodness knows I've experienced plenty of it and weirdly it's the one area where I think I kind of get where you are coming from emotionally, although the practical issues I understand as well.

None of this gets us to answer the questions because if society writ large moves toward something, then there it goes.

For sure, at least one guy I've talked to in the hospital (injured veteran) randomly dropped into our conversation his unhappiness with women being allowed into certain areas. It seemed like out of the blue, but when I thought about, I though, hey, he's already been hurt and he's worried about who else will be too.

None of which argues against allowing women in but practical matters always have to be attended to practically. And women wanting to excel is nothing different than men wanting to excel so calling them out as especially selfish doesn't work.

Rambling I know, but about twenty years ago had the military readiness types heartily embraced all women combat teams to counter race and class issues that arise from upper middle class white champions of women in combat leading the way, so to speak, would all of this have played out differently?

Who knows. Takes a feminist network to combat a....oh, never mind.

Your best arguments are women centric and feminist, instead, it's all complaining about feminism. Is this place about indirect or not?

Sorry, I know it's a serious subject. The environment I work in underscores that, obviously.

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 11:48am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Is that university a state department "holding cell," like the conservative think tanks are for some military personnel?

State and the Army fighting for market share?

Madhu (not verified)

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 11:46am

For my own education, nothing else. How would I know who is correct? Don't get mad, I do this for everything.

<blockquote>Peace Operations graduates have been working abroad in places such as Afghanistan, Egypt, and France. In the U.S., they have been employed by such different organizations as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, SRA International, and a variety of offices in the U.S. government.</blockquote>

From George Mason description of Peace Operations

For Human Events, I looked for anything on Musharraf pre, say, 2007 or so. What you'd expect; apres moi....

So the other subtext is the continued embrace by the American Army of the MOOTW stability stuff? Like Schadlaw's hybrid war, gray area stuff? It's all the same thing, recycled?


Wed, 11/04/2015 - 1:28pm

Mr. Anonymous' comments mirror many official statements when various points in those statements are compared to the assertions in the article.

Elaine Donnell…

Mon, 11/02/2015 - 11:36am

The response of “eharing” is ironic, since the author “Anonymous” could have cited a number of articles that retired Army Col. Ellen Haring has written in support of the comments to which she objects. For example, in a July 2013 Christian Science Monitor Weekly Commentary titled “To Prevent Sexual Assault in Military, Add More Women,” Haring praised military victim advocates and other efforts to protect women from reprisal in sexual assault cases. She added, “[These efforts] do not get to its cause, which is the hypermasculine, male-dominant culture of the military. To do that, the military must create a far more welcoming atmosphere for women, who make up only 15 percent of the armed services.”

The article quoted former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s claim that “having ‘separate classes’ of male ‘warriors’ and everyone else creates an environment ripe for sexual assault and harassment.” At a January 2013 Pentagon briefing Gen. Dempsey called for a “critical mass” or “significant cadre” of women in the combat arms. In her CSM article, Haring quotes a Harvard Business School expert who suggests that the optimum percentage in mixed-gender groups should be 33%.

How would this “gender diversity metric” (the phrase used by the Pentagon-endorsed Military Leadership Diversity Commission), or anything close to it, be achieved? At a January 2013 Pentagon briefing Gen. Dempsey said that if “a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain … why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?” Over time in actual practice, this would become known as the “Dempsey Rule,” meaning that a standard too high for women would be deemed too high. How would implementation of this philosophy strengthen the combat capabilities of our military?

The organization Haring represents, Women in International Security, often focuses on “peace” and masculinity as a cause of war – an ideology that is not unusual in liberal academic circles. Prof. Madeline Morris, an advisor on gender issues to Army Secretary Togo West during the Clinton administration, wrote an article for the Duke Law Journal in 1996 titled “By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture.”. Prof. Morris assailed “masculinist” attitudes such as “dominance, assertiveness, aggressiveness…and willingness to take risks.” What’s needed, Morris wrote, was a sweeping “ungendered vision” for dismantling the “masculinist military construct,” which encourages a “proclivity for rape.”(Vol. 45, No. 4, 45Duke L.J. 651)

Ms. Haring denies Pentagon “guidance” to make policies regarding women in combat "work," no matter what. There are many sources that “Anonymous” could have cited, starting with the MLDC report the Pentagon cited in announcing new policies regarding women in 2013. The Military Leadership Diversity Commission Final Report, titled "From Representation to Inclusion - Diversity Leadership for the 21st Century Military(2011), strongly recommended the women-in-land combat policies that the Pentagon is promoting today. The report also recommended that a “Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, be established to monitor accountability for “diversity management.”

As stated in the Executive Summary, “To ensure that the diversity effort continues, demonstrated diversity leadership must be assessed throughout careers and made, in both the DoD and the Senate, a criterion for nomination and confirmation to the 3- and 4-star ranks . . . military leaders at all levels can be held accountable for their performance in diversity management and rewarded for their efforts.” (p. xvii - xviii) The opposite, of course, also would be true.

It’s OK for Haring, a retired Army colonel, to criticize the Marines Infantry Officer Course, which 29 spirited female officers attempted but did not pass. She is also free to criticize the Marines’ scientific Task Force research that produced detailed performance comparisons of all-male and gender-integrated units. The facts, however, speak for themselves.

As described in a USMC Force Integration Plan briefing for the DACOWITS in September 2014, the “Purpose-Built, Integrated Ground Combat Arms Unit” operated under a “Research Study Hypothesis: An integrated unit under gender-neutral standards will perform equally as well as a gender restricted unit; hypothesis will be tested via operational evaluations.” (p. 8) Every effort was made to prove the hypothesis, but it failed. The case for gender-integration in combat arms units such as the infantry still has not been made.

The people whose opinions are reflected in the article by Anonymous are not free to express their opinions publicly. The article rings true because self-identified military women and men who are similarly concerned communicate in confidence on our website,

As a civilian and former member of the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, I do not claim to speak for anyone in uniform, but I can attest to the dismay many military men and women feel when their sincere concerns are disregarded or not heard. Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness

T Paine

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 11:47pm

The reason he doesn't share his name is that in the EXORD for the Women IN Service Review there is an order barring anyone from publicly disclosing any of the plans for integrating women. It has nothing to do with his career- just like any other whistleblower- if he attaches his name to that he could potentially face UCMJ action. Don't ask me why we can't talk about the plans- but I guess the generals - or maybe their overseers- think it would be best to spring the decision on the force without much time in between decision and execution.

The author probably has read the classified reporting detailing from our allies their issues with women in combat arms. Again- since it is classified- no-one can talk about those issues. Ostensibly it was classified because "the truth" could potentially embarrass our seemingly progressive friends... But- I am thinking it was classified so no-one would talk about it in public...

Interesting- if Eharing is "Ellen Haring"- she is a colonel who published oped pieces that were against current policy- something that, if a man ever does, would get major career punishment. I guess it's okay to publish things against policy - if your position is so politically correct that it won't get punished. From all I can tell of her articles- she is an advocate without any interest in anything but her preferred outcome. If you don't believe women should be integrated fully- according to her preferences- then you are misogynist, anti-female, anti-objective, sexist, and whatever else she can imply about you. Not reading SWJ must have been because they didn't provide her an echo chamber for her closed minded views.

What gets me is that the article advocates for a certain position about women in combat and doesn't state a position against women in combat arms. The main point of the article was about the alleged true objectives of the advocates--- that of changing the culture of combat arms from a "macho male culture." Not one of those who have thrown bile toward the author argue against his salient point. If one has read ANY articles about this topic, it would be readily apparent that IS what the advocates are pushing for. The only thing I would think we'd be arguing about is whether his assertion that a macho male culture might not be good for combat arms is valid or not. But, I guess it's easier to just sling mud and emotion...

As to trust- hasn't anyone read the "Lying to Ourselves" report from the War College? I am still amazed that I know of ZERO leaders who have had any professional development get-togethers about that article- those War College professors basically said the institution has NO integrity... and the leaders were largely, if not wholly, silent...


Fri, 10/30/2015 - 9:56pm

Amused by this indignation toward SWJ'S decision to publish this piece, the clutching of pearls and fanning oneself.

Dangerous times for speech and thought.


Sat, 10/31/2015 - 10:12am

In reply to by eharing

<I>I stopped reading SWJ a couple of years ago because I found most of the articles boring.</I>

Right, and wow, you really do not "get it".


Sat, 10/31/2015 - 6:47am

In reply to by eharing

What military-related topics are you interested? Apparently gender integration piques your interest. I'm always amazed at the spectra of topics that SWJ publishes. There seems to be something for everyone with an interest in military affairs.

But your lack of enthusiasm for discussions on military topics doesn't surprise me really. I've met too many senior officers bored by Army doctrine. "Nobody reads that stuff," I was told by a BCT commander who went on to receive a star.

I don't blame him or you. Ultimately, you are all rational creatures of this institution we call the Army. You have done what the institution wanted of you. If the institution had asked for displays of selflessness, integrity, and passion for military tactics and doctrine, you would have accommodated in spades, I'm sure.

This is about an institution that lost its soul, not about any individual.


Sun, 11/01/2015 - 8:31am

In reply to by eharing

Allow me to explain: interest in journals and pubs for some is directly related to visible senior leader interest. All it will take is another 4star level reference to SWJ and the people who write on the "real national security issues" of the day will become big fans again.


Sat, 10/31/2015 - 10:51am

In reply to by eharing

Ha, it is all about me, I, Ellen you really need to get a grip. Seriously.