Diversity is Not a Military Virtue

When American sailors, soldiers and Marines landed on Tulagi in the Solomon Islands in 1943, a billboard greeted them with his message:

Admiral Halsey says “Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill More Japs”! You will help kill the Yellow bastards if you do your job WELL.”

American fighting men did their jobs well. The representatives of the Emperor of Japan conceded as much in signing the surrender that ended World War II on the Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. Beside that however, one hardly needs to say that Adm. Halsey would not be welcome in today’s military, particularly given two recent examples of what today’s military is like. In January, Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, lifted the combat exemption that kept women out of harm’s way. But before that, there was this message from Army Chief of Staff George Casey after Maj. Nidal Hasan, a Muslim, murdered 13 fellow soldiers and wounded 31 in November, 2009.

I’m concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. … Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.

For Casey to say the Army had to re-evaluate Muslims in the military is as unthinkable as it would have for Halsey to prattle about diversity if a Japanese-American had shot down 13 Marines at Parris Island in 1942. Yet the military’s insane commitment to diversity ideology allowed the jihadist Hasan to rise through the ranks and murder his comrades, a murder President Obama calls “workplace violence.”

“Diversity” is one word for this, of course, in keeping with the vocabulary the left has created to displace the traditional symbols of American society (the male, heterosexual, Christian warrior) and reorder its institutions. But a better one is feminization, which has brought down not only the military but other social institutions. Indeed, the growing feminization of the military tracked almost perfectly with the feminization of the society in general during the past 40 years. Such is the commitment to feminism that masculinity is now looked upon almost as a mental illness. Absent the triumph of feminism over society in general and the military in particular, it would have been nearly impossible for Casey to utter such nonsense and not be laughed out of the service.

Casey aside, the important point about Panetta’s decision is this: He ignored all the data the military collected on the subject of women in combat and acquiesced to feminists who, again, exercise total thought control over the ranks. War fighting is now nearly almost secondary to the military’s real task of providing unmarried women with jobs and ensuring that they achieve “equality,” a code-word for promoting as many as possible to the ranks of flag officers.

What Panetta Ignored
Panetta followed the advice of something called the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, chartered by Congress in 2009 and made up of 31 high-ranking active-duty and retired military personnel. Although the commission was concerned with altering the racial makeup of military leadership because of the nation’s declining white and growing minority populations—diversity “enhances performance through inclusion,” according to retired Army Gen. Julius Becton—it also studied the subject of women in combat with an eye toward promotion. Rising to flag rank almost always requires combat experience, but because women are exempt from combat, such achievement is difficult if not impossible. Not surprisingly, given its silly name, the MLDC recommended lifting the exemption because it is an “overt barrier to advancement into senior leadership.” To do so, again the MLDC and Panetta completely ignored the findings of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment on Women in the Armed Forces of 1992. It found, as a practical matter, that assigning women to combat, was not only impractical but also dangerous. Why? Because women are not suited for combat. Period.

Of course, normal people, meaning those unafflicted by leftist ideology, did not need a commission to study the matter for them and deliver a report. But alas, the first President Bush formed a commission, which delivered a report that, again, anyone would have expected.

Here is some of the evidence the commission gathered. As I have reported elsewhere repeatedly since the commission delivered its report 20 years ago, one of the remarkable pieces of evidence the commissioners saw was a graph that showed what anyone would know intuitively: the strongest woman is only as strong, on average, as the weakest man. So if the military recruits the strongest women for combat, it is really recruiting weak men. The commission also learned that the average 20-something woman has the lung power of the average 50-something man. Thus, again, recruiting 20-something women for combat is like recruiting 50-something men. But the military does not recruit weak men. Or old men. It recruits strong young men. Officers nearing 50 years old  routinely train with their young charges.  Do we really expect 45-year-old women officers to keep up with 20-year-old men?

Unless the female of our species has remarkably improved her physical prowess, those facts remain unchanged and the answer to that question is obvious. And indeed, here is what the Marines told the Defense Advisory Committee On Women In The Services in 2011: Compared to men, women generate 20 percent less aerobic power, 40 percent  less muscle strength and nearly 50 percent less lifting strength. They can’t keep up on marches either, moving 26 percent slower. As well, injuries knock them out of the military at twice the rate of men. Their nondeployable rate is three times higher.

These facts, which include the unpleasant truth that a woman’s bones break much more easily than a man’s, mean that the military must ignore reality to shove women onto the battlefield. As one would expect, officer training in the Marine Corps is “gender-normed” for women, meaning that physical standards are lowered so women can pass. And even with gender norming, most women still can’t pass the training, the Center for Military Readiness reported, citing a source in the Marines. In one case, 63 percent of the women candidates flunked combat readiness training, compared with 1 percent of men.

Marine Corps Capt. Kate Petrino sharpened that point by writing about her combat experiences for the Marine Corps Gazette: “Get Over It!,” the headline ran. “We Are Not All Created Equal.” If any woman might prove that Hollywood fairy tales can come true, it would have been Petrino, an outstanding college athlete and woman Marine who was a premier physical specimen. But during her 10-month deployment to Iraq, she wrote, the top-flight woman athlete suffered restless leg syndrome and literally broke down after 16-hour days.

By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 [patrol bases] later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.

None of this, of course, addresses pregnancy or feminine hygiene and living quarters in the field, but those issues aside, human history back to antiquity tells us that Petrino’s travails were predictable. A normal person would act accordingly and refuse to open the battlefield to women. But today’s bemedaled military man ignores truth because he has been feminized. Women control him. At one of the hearings before the commission in 1992, Top Gun fighter pilots testified that their own promotions depended on ensuring that women were also promoted and passed through flight training, a form of control that would not be lost on higher ups. Former Chief of Naval Operations and retired Adm. Mike Mulllen explained the military’s priority years ago: “Diversity is a strategic imperative,” he said, because “[h]aving the cultural skills, having the diverse backgrounds in order to literally achieve our mission is really critical.” Indeed. That is how Panetta came up with his decision, and how Casey explained the real problem with Hasan’s murdering 13 Americans. The problem wasn’t that 13 Americans were dead. It was that Americans, particularly Americans in the military, might not think it’s a bright idea to recruit soldiers  who adhere to a supremacist political ideology masquerading as a religion.

It’s A Moral Issue
Now, these are practical difficulties, and theoretically, practical difficulties can be resolved. Those who favor women in combat will always trot out the one example of a woman who can succeed in combat and ask why she should be denied her “right” to kill the enemy. Answer: Because whether women should serve in combat is not a practical matter. It is a moral one. The question is not whether women can serve, the question is whether they should. Assigning women to combat is utterly barbarian. It is anti-Christian as well, for it  trespasses the complementarity of the sexes and denies nature by suggesting that God made women, like men, to fight and kill. Of course, He didn’t. “Male and female he created them,” Genesis tells us. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church drives the point home:

Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out. … Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way.

Feminist dogma, on the other hand, teaches that “gender” is “socially imposed rather than biological,” Andrew Heywood observed in his book Political Ideologies. It is “a political construct, usually based upon stereotypes of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ behaviour and social roles.” Thus, assigning women to combat roles enshrines what is perhaps the principal feminist falsehood into military policy. The late military sociologist Charles Moskos, who served on the commission in 1992, poetically put it this way: Putting women in combat suggests that they are merely little men and men are merely big women. They aren’t—as if anyone need say this. God made them different; gloriously different, nature teaches us. One sex can do things for which nature has not prepared the other. It is natural for men to fight, and indeed, every real man, as Gen. George Patton taught us, loves to fight. It is unnatural for women to fight. To deny this reality is to lie.

But that’s what feminism is. A lie. Unhappily, the military has conscripted this lie to justify remaking itself into something that Adm. Halsey and the manly cohort  that won World War II would not recognize.

R. Cort Kirkwood


R. Cort Kirkwood is a journalist who has been writing about politics and culture for 25 years. He is a graduate of Boston University and Loyola College in Baltimore and the author of Real Men: Ten Courageous Americans To Know And Admire.

  • AcceptingReality

    Mr. Kirkwood, I think you’ve gotten to the heart of the progressive ideology. They don’t like the way God made things so they are dedicated to ignoring reality to the point of rejecting it altogether. Knowing and accepting reality is key to knowing one’s self which in turn is key to knowing God.

    • becky21k

      Seems like those who deny God always make the leap to trying to play a god themselves.

  • Watosh

    The word “gender’ takes the sex out of sexual differences. Note how questionnaires regularly ask what your “gender’ is now instead of asking what ones sex is. “Genders” are a convention, whereas sex is a physical fact.
    Note also that Panetta is a Church going Catholic as have been the last two Military Chief’s of Staff. I suppose as good Americans they believe that the secular teachings trump their religious teaching.
    So now we have an epidemic of sexual abuse with the inflated statistics to further the political goals. The thing is if you put young men and young women working closely together, you are going to have incidents. If we decided that in order for women to be treated equally they should go out drinking with the boys, and showering together for unit cohesion you are going to have even more incidents.
    And in order to protect the women from such abuse we will institute severe punishments for any man abusing a female. Which of course is wrong, agreed, but the correction will enable women to ruin a male soldiers career by charging sexual abuse. Women have used this in divorce proceeding in order to be awarded sole custody of the children. Women in the business world have also been known to use their assets to gain promotions. This is what is in store for our military. It is easier deny differences in “gender,” than it is to deny differences in “sex.”

    • tom

      Can a Catholic American even be a part of this person’s army, anymore? I don’t think so. The bishops need to do more in guiding our youth. The Pope calls a war “unjust” and the American bishops remain mute while broken or dead bodies are returned for a funeral.

      • Watosh

        Good observation. Many Catholics have been conditioned to believe that America can do no wrong, so they support the wars that our politicians get us into. American Catholics feel a need to show they are loyal Americans. Too, they view the U.S. as a bastion of anti-communism and therefore deserves our support. Daniel C. Maquire has an excellent discussion of the wrongness of war in his little booklet, “The Horrors We Bless.” I am no pacifist, I served as a U.S. Air force officer in the ’50’s, but as the years went by and we engaged in one stupid war after another, and were lied to by our politicians and the military I became disgusted with our constant killing. It seems too, like the more our soldiers fight and die for our freedom, the less freedom we have. Yes the Catholic church should do more to protest these disastrous wars.

        • ex mil

          great point! i was an air force reserve pilot and can tell you that despite the good intentions of the folks i worked w/ i was at times suffocated by the lack of zeal for truth, immorality or any inclination to do the right thing as opposed to making rank. i myself am a huge sinner and very far from perfect working out my salvation in fear and trembling daily but in short, as an rc even among roman catholics in my unit, i was a fish out of water. not any better than anyone else, just less flexible to the decline and the steady cool-aid diet regarding the war on terror and contradictions to the very tenants we were taught in ots that the military ‘supposedly’ stands for. my personal convictions wouldn’t let me sleep at night. my spirit just wouldn’t leave me alone until i finally left. i’ve been out for almost a year but what i experienced much to the evident decline of the armed forces today was relativism, political correctness and immorality. i pray for the folks i worked with for their true conversions and salvation but fear that some of them have lived in the dark for too long working for what we sinisterly nicknamed the usafr fortune 500 company.

  • Ruth Rocker

    As a woman, I think this is a deplorable decision on the part of the military. I was a military wife for 23 years and can tell you from first hand experience that the women with whom my husband served could not do what he could. He was a jet engine mechanic and the women with that same job title could not lift their tool boxes, could not lift heavy engine components and regularly batted their eyes and got help from some of the other guys.

    There is nothing wrong with women in the military, in and of itself. There are many jobs for which women are well suited such as administration and medical work. However, the military is there to defend us. It should never have been used as a social science experiment. If it is not in the interest of our national security to continue to dilute our fighting ability in this manner.

    These “feminists” are still giving women a bad rap 🙁

  • cestusdei

    It is only a matter of time that we follow the old communist armies and have special ideological officers attached to each unit to ensure there is no thoughtcrime. I was in the service and I know how it works. They will brook no dissent regardless of whether it is reality or not. Careers will be ended and eventually the military’s ability to fight will be impaired. We will lose wars and suffer.

  • Tom Piatak

    An excellent piece.

  • tom

    It’s best for your young family members NOT to waste their time and risk their life in this crazy age of political correctness and unjust wars.

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  • jdrman

    I completely agree with your use of the terms “feminized” and “feminization” to describe the current Military leadership. I am a retired US Army Officer and continue to work for the Federal Govt as a DOD civilian and cannot believe the level of testicular atrophy that has occurred among the senior leadership of the US Armed services. I observe on a daily basis the endless stream of non-deployable female non-soldiers waiting for their disability rating for their non-service connected imaginary problems. As far as your point about promotions to Flag Officer…look at the current “Surgeon General”..a Nurse (not a Doctor, not a Surgeon). When I heard of that particular appointment I immediately thought of Peter Sellers role in “Being There”. I’m quite sure that there is much worse to come…Great piece, I’ll share it with all of my old soldier buddies (and my Wife).

  • LorenzoCanuck

    ” It is natural for men to fight, and indeed, every real man, as Gen. George Patton taught us, loves to fight.”

    This is where I part ways with Mr. Kirkwood. War and the fighting of wars is unnatural, because they go against the human imperative of rational reflection (hence, why the Church teaches that war is to be avoided as far as it is practical). Peace, rather, is the natural order of things, the order that God intended.

    I agree that political correctness has damaged our capability as a civilization to respond to threats, but in fighting PC-ness let us not fall into the opposite error of militarism.

    — LorenzoCanuck

    • Carl Albert

      true – the soldier’s first prayer is a prayer for peace

  • Tony

    Everybody knows this. Everybody knows that a boy surpasses his mother in strength, speed, and agility by age 12, if not before. And everybody knows that a daughter will NEVER surpass her father in brute strength, so long as he has his health. My father in law at age 70 was still much stronger than my wife.
    There’s more to this, too. Everybody who does hard physical labor knows that there’s one measurement of strength when you begin, and another one when you are ten days along. Likewise, there’s one measurement of strength when you have good tools and the conditions are right, and another when you don’t, and the conditions are bad. A man’s hand and arm are levers — even for the simple task of loosening a stuck bolt that has rusted. Lots of people can sort of get a job done when conditions are all right. The demand on strength and stamina increases a great deal when they aren’t. Then you will see that the tool and the task “break” the soldier before the soldier accomplishes the task.
    Imagine a ten year old boy and an ax and an oak tree. It is not true that the boy will take longer to cut the tree down than a man would. He would not be able to cut it down at all, because the tool and the task will break him first. His hand will be a bloody mess before the ax has gotten to the heart of the tree.
    We all know this, don’t we? We all know that women softball stars play on a field that is the size of the one at Williamsport — the Little League field at Williamsport, used by 11 and 12 year old boys. In fact, that Little League field is a little bit LARGER than the field used by the softball “athletes” at the local colleges in Rhode Island …

  • hombre111

    What is a militarized, dominate the world by weapons, nation going to do? I am against women getting involved in combat. I am against men getting into combat when their death or permanent injury is merely for the sake of presidential hubris or some vague national political or economic policy that cannot be explained in less than ten paragraphs. “It is natural for men to fight and, indeed, every real man loves to fight.” Oh, please. Join a boxing club. When you join the military, you are not going there to fight, you are going there to kill. Big difference.

    • thebigdog

      “When you join the military, you are not going there to fight, you are going there to kill.”

      Left wing college classroom lunacy. Less than 1% of Americans join the military because they “want to kill”

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • vito

    “It is natural for men to fight, and indeed, every real man, as Gen. George Patton taught us, loves to fight. It is unnatural for women to fight. To deny this reality is to lie.”

    Sometimes fighting may be, unfortunately, unavoidable… But to WANT and/or to LOVE to fight is not only unnecessary and unnatural – it is simply idiotic.

    Men do not WANT to fight that much, but they CAN fight better and are also expected to fight and end up in fighting situations more often then women, but, except for a few sociopaths, they do not really welcome or enjoy it.

    And of course, men are better than women only at fighthing PHYSICALLY. When it comes to other forms of fighting, such as fighting for your children, defending (cleverly) your interests, not avoiding verbal confrontation, not putting up with injustice etc… women are much better at it. As CS Lewis said, if you’ve wronged someone’s child, pray you don’t have to deal with the child’s mother.

  • Josh

    Kirkwood should be commended for this. Speaking out against senseless feminism draws much animosity.

    I had the unfortunate experience of chaptering (administratively firing) a Soldier about two years ago. This male Soldier could not pass the physical fitness test to the male standards. When I scored his results on the female standard, he passed, wonderfully I might add. How is it that we laud one group for their “performance” while I must chapter another person who performed the same way? It is because we institute an artificial system of double standards.

    My time in the infantry and a combat tour has taught me that there should only be one standard–that which is right and good. Claiming women are combat ready while permitting them a second and lower standard is asinine.

  • Martial Artist

    I am thankful I retired from the Navy in 1991, before this movement was well-advanced. We, as a nation have “kept an open mind” to such a degree that our collective brain has fallen out.

  • Luke

    It was just reported that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have signed onto a Democratic proposal aimed at dealing with sexual abuse in the military, which would take authority to address complaints away from military commanders and place it in the hands of “military lawyers.” Is this a legitimate issue that warrants something like this, or a trumped-up non-issue being driven as part of the agenda you outline in your article? I’m inclined to think the latter. Thank you.