Necessary military/civilian differences

When the debate was waged over whether it was merely bias
that caused many members of the military (both current and former)
to state their opposition to admitting open homosexuals into the military,
the media would frequently quote civilians as asking the question:
“Why should the military operate under different ground rules
than, say, the university or the newsroom?”
The media would then leave that question unanswered,
as if there were no good answer.
(That way of framing the issue, by the way,
itself indicates the bias of the media.)

There are, in fact, good answers to that question,
answers which the media did not choose to offer.
Let me make a, probably feeble, attempt to supply some of those answers.

In the first place:
Professors do not ask their students or their colleagues to put their lives at risk.
Neither do publishers or editors
(at least not in general;
those covering emergency and war situations
obviously do place their lives at some risk,
although, I think, not normally as much as happens to, say,
combat infantry or attack fighter pilots in the days when U.S. planes were often being lost).

while most civilians live in their home communities,
with access for romance and, yes, sex, with their spouses or significant others
or, nowadays,
whomever they choose to hook up with,
the military, when they are deployed,
have no such ready access to romantic and sexual support.

Army military forces, at least, when in field operations,
live in exceptionally close quarters.
They live and work together twenty-four hours a day.
They even sleep, if not together, at least in a common area.
The idea of privacy is, in the field, nonexistent.
Separate toilet facilities for men and women?
What a reduction in flexibility that would be for the unit.
You literally live with your fellow soldiers.

So, if you are a man, you are literally living with and rubbing bodies with,
potentially very sexually desirable women.
And if you are homosexual, the same applies to those of the same sex in your unit.
And when you are ready for sex, you cannot, at day’s end,
go back home to your honey or
go visit some recreation facility to find a partner for hooking up.
Your potential sex partners are limited to
the people in your unit.
And this situation may persist for months at a time.

It really seems insane to me to expect anything other than that,
after months of living in those conditions,
that a significant number of men will do
exactly what the women in the military have been complaining about,
take advantage of the situation.

But beyond the issue of sexual assaults,
there is another problem that must be considered.
The women in the unit will, unavoidably,
be a constant distraction for the men.
Looking ahead to the now threatened entry of women into combat units,
suppose you are a male member of an infantry squad,
with some hot female working next to you.
What are you going to be thinking about?
What your squad leader wants, or what the woman wants?
Indeed, from the viewpoint of overall military effectiveness in combat,
it is possible they will be attractive nuisances.

Civilian women work constantly to get men to do what they want,
using their female wiles when necessary to manipulate men.
No doubt some female service members will not resort to such tactics,
but who can doubt that some female service members
will go right ahead and use their wiles?
This will affect even senior officers,
who will make special accommodations for sexually desirable people.

What if Ms. Broadwell had been, not a civilian General Petraeus met at Harvard,
but LTC Broadwell, assigned to his G-2 or J-2 (Intelligence) staff?
(She was apparently an MI officer.)
Would she, as a staff officer, have made the same or similar efforts to make friends with the CINC
that she in fact did as a civilian?
And in that remote situation, in Kabul or wherever the Afghan force was headquartered,
would Petraeus have given her special treatment?
If he had, surely that would have been noticed by his other staff officers,
and caused resentment.

Back in the civilian world,
I remember once hearing a Georgetown University coed say of her boy friend
“He worships the ground I walk on.”
Will some military women not also develop boy friends, who are equally smitten?
Of course they will.
And that will cause grave problems for the need to keep troops focused on
the needs of their commander, presumably expressing the needs of the mission,
rather than the needs of whomever the service member is trying to woo.

If I might be pardoned for an example from the comic strips,
consider Miss Buxley in the strip “Beetle Bailey”.
Two issues arise here.
First, on the issue of sexual assault.
Consider the attraction she holds for various troops, say, “Killer.”
As long as she is the general’s secretary,
she is safe from harassment or assault.
All she has to do is tell her boss, the general, about what happened,
and he will take care of the malefactor.
But what is she were not the general’s secretary,
but a fellow soldier living in a common situation with Beetle and Killer.
The opportunities for trouble are numerous,
ranging from harassment or assault coming from Killer
to jealousy and a triangle based on competition between Killer and Beetle
for her favors, whether just companionship or actual sex.
Second, while Beetle and Killer are preoccupied with
trying to woo now Private Buxley,
how much will they listen to the orders of Sgt. Snorkle?

Consider this situation.
Here Beetle is willing to perform favors for her, but in an off-duty situation.
If he extended his special treatment of her into duty situations,
that could pose problems for his relations with his fellow soldiers,
as he does more for her than for them,
possibly putting them in greater physical danger.

Now clearly this is, for now,
just a figment of the comic strip writer’s imagination,
but I have no doubt that, when and if women serve in combat units,
they will occur in real life,
to the great detriment of the unit’s cohesion and combat effectiveness.

So, the factors mentioned above affect the military significantly in several ways.
First, based on the hazardous duty required by superiors of subordinates,
there is the need for absolute trust between subordinates and superiors.

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