DADT Repealed = Army Strong. Are You Sure?

Special to The Clyde Fitch Report
[email protected]

Story continues below.




Are we done with the relentless political coverage of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords? I mean, yes, it’s a tragic story, and I feel for the families of those lost, but the media circus that followed was absolutely ridiculous. In the end, the left fooled no one. From their typical Sarah Palin blame-game to their Congressional outbursts and weirdly inappropriate Obama lovefest during a televised national memorial, it turns out it was a crazed, lunatic, a.k.a. “left-wing pothead” who wielded the gun, nothing more, nothing less.

So I ask: Can we get back to discussing topics that actually affect hundreds of thousands of Americans — male, female, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and future generations? Yes, I’m talking about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, potentially one of the most earth-shattering decisions to rock the military in decades.

Story continues below.




Being my husband has served in a combat unit all of his military career — 19 years in the Special Forces and going strong — I have a bit of a stake in Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and how it might adversely affect his life the next time he’s deployed overseas. And when I talk about his life, it’s not in some abstract sense — it’s his actual life. When I talk about him deploying, it’s not a question of if, it’s when, and how soon. That is what I, a military wife, worry about.

Now, for my readers with family or friends in the service, you understand my words. For those that don’t, all I ask is that you put yourself in my shoes just for the next five minutes while you read my article. Because it’s not going to be about politics or gay rights, it’s going to be about the survival of the man I love. The survival of the brothers he has sworn to take care of, even die for if necessary.

The Basics
There are two things a soldier must concern himself with when in a combat zone: how to increase his lethality and how to increase his survivability. And I say “himself” because there are no women allowed in combat units. Currently females make up about 10 percent of the military population, and yes, there have been women involved in combat due to the nature of urban warfare, but not officially in a combat unit. And while there has been a recent push to change this policy, there are two main reasons it is so: the obvious physical limitations, and the underlying, but also obvious, sexual ones.

Physicality: The frame of a typical woman would struggle carrying a 60-pound rucksack on her back in the field, besides the roughly 50 extra pounds of body armor and weapons added to the rest of her body. That’s not even taking in consideration the fact that you must be able to run and maneuver while wearing the full kit with ease. In the physically grueling training process to even become a Green Beret, two-thirds don’t even make it past selection, their bodies collapsing from injury and exhaustion. My husband literally watched a fellow trainee fracture both his feet during an exercise requiring him to carry bags of rocks on top of his already-heavy ruck. As my husband tells it, “His mind was willing but his body just broke.”

Sexuality: To start with, combat units spend days, if not weeks, out in the field, living on top of each other, working, cooking, eating, bathing, sleeping, going to the bathroom in front of each other, and, yes, that’s number two included.

Women, by military regulations, have to be afforded separate barracks and bathrooms. That works OK when you’re operating out of an American base.

That doesn’t work OK when you’re forward-deployed away from Big Army in the middle of a combat zone.

Caught in a Bad Romance
But let’s really get down to the nitty-gritty because we all know it: sex changes everything. And if you’re like me and took small-group dynamics in college, you know I don’t lie. Think about it: How many careers have been decimated by the office romance? Has a “no fraternization” office policy ever really stopped anyone? What corporate team hasn’t fallen apart because two people hooked up or one falls for the other and lets their jealous emotions take over? We’ve all had those kind of relationships, where you don’t think rationally, become distracted at work, get obsessed with the relationship and pretty much make an ass out of yourself. Thank god for cubicles. Could you imagine if that type of temptation was out in the field with bullets whizzing by your head? Head in the clouds for even a second, and bam, you’re shot dead or even worse, the guy you were supposed to be covering is dead. A war is no place for distractions.

I remember during one of my husband’s deployments that the “senior wives” (so to speak) got word that one of the other wives was giving her husband, also deployed, a hard time for being away, whining and complaining, even once threatening him with divorce — basically, stressing him out. Well, don’t think we didn’t come down on her. Why? Because you distract your husband, mine gets killed. Simple as that.

Fast-forward to sexual politics between men and women at a military office, or, in our case, a humvee being targeted by terrorists, because that’s your cubicle today. Now replace the woman with a gay man. Tell me how it’s different. If one person in a group is a sexual object to another, the group dynamic is compromised whether they’re gay, straight, bi or a space alien. In the end, the group is weaker.

Being weaker in combat means the ability of a soldier to be deadly — his primary job — is also compromised. The teams’ chance of making a fatal mistake goes up while their percentage chance of survival goes down. And for the roughly 150,000 combat troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, and for their families, every percent makes a difference.

Thank You For Your Service
I think many forget what the military’s ultimate purpose is, and it isn’t a social experiment. It’s job is to defeat our enemies in battle, and I hate to break it to some of you, but that usually involves killing them.

Do I think gays — and women, for that matter — should be allowed to serve? Absolutely. Do I think they should be part of the relatively small amount of combat forces? No. I say there is no room for social justice in war. If the goal is to win, why would you alter the equation and ultimately lessen your chance of winning?

Wake up call: It’s not about you! The U.S. military is all-volunteer; no one is forcing anyone to join. You take an oath to serve your country, not yourself. It seems as if the “me, me, me” generation is sourly missing the whole point of what it means to actually put something bigger than yourself first. No one is saying you can’t be gay. The point is, if you want to be in the military, you cannot define yourself by your sexuality first.

In basic training, soldiers are put in the same uniforms, forced to shave their head, etc. Why? So that soldier learns to lose his identity. Duty. Honor. Country. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about the team. I sympathize with those soldiers who’ve lost their jobs because someone else outed them. I do not sympathize with soldiers who have done it to themselves. They knew the consequences.

And for those worried about discrimination, know that the pledge to serve goes both ways. When the repeal of DADT is eventually implemented, the combat soldier will honor his Commander-in-Chief because he knows it’s not about him.

When it comes to group cohesiveness, can there be exceptions? Of course there can. And maybe this whole DADT repeal will work out for the best. But, in the end, no one really knows for sure. And if you support the repeal, maybe you’re even willing to bet my husband’s life on that possibility — hell, maybe even he’s willing to take one for the team, so to speak. Well, I’m not, and unfortunately, I’m being forced to. And I don’t like it. So there.

Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. A staunch conservative in a self-professed city of liberals and the military wife of a Green Beret, she created Lipstick Conservative to share her unique viewpoint on politics and culture. This broadcast news veteran and former NFL Cheerleader is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzz kill during many a dinner party. Contact Stefanie or learn more at lipstickconservative.com.

Become a fan of Lipstick Conservative at Facebook.

Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.

You May Also Like

  • Haasan

    Good read. It seems to me that any romantic entanglements would be frowned upon in the military for just the reason you sited. So why then would adding a gay soilder in the mix put anyone at risk? As we know, there are already gays serving in the military whom manage to conduct themselves as the soilders they chose to be. Why then would a repeal of a ban allowing those individuals to serve openly without fear of retribution weaken the group? It seems to me that it would provide one less distraction for the gay solider, therefore strengthening the group dynamic.

  • CHARLES G. SCHAPPERT

    HI Steph,
    OUR COUNTRY IS CHOKING ON “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS”. This is another sad example of this stupidity.
    I can understand your concern for your husband.I have a similar concern for the grandson who is to be a “SEAL”
    CHARLIE

  • B.C. Fleming

    Great article, Stefanie. Anybody whose ever done a day on active duty gets it. These other people can try and make all the selfish, pitiful, one-sided excuses and reasons they want but ultimately it is a compromise to national security- like it or not. Soldiers know about this thing we call “selfless service,” these other people obviously don’t have a clue what that is because they obviously can’t get their eye’s off of themselves. That’s just the way it is.

  • donna

    Never really knew what the “dont ask dont tell” was all about. It all seemed a bit silly to me. Almost like “If you wont I wont” or “catch me if you can”. You would think they would have come up with a better way to depict this important subject, one of keeping our fighting personnel as well as our country safe.

  • Dino S.

    Dear Stephanie,

    Thank your husband for his valuable service to our country. Thank you as well for being a very supportive spouse. I admire anyone who can become a member of the Special Forces. I strongly believe that DADT Repeal WILL work out for the best. It was the right thing to do. As Admiral Mullen testified before Congress last February “it comes down to integrity, theirs as individuals, ours as an institution.” Last Friday, General James Amos, the USMC Commandant, who expressed grave concerns only last Fall about the repeal of DADT, appeared in a video for Stars and Stripes with his Chief Enlisted Advisor Sergeant Major of the Marines Carlton Kent. http:// http://www.stripes.com/blogs/stripse-central/stripes-central-1,8040/amos-delivers-message-to-corps-on-dadt-1,133192 . General Amos said that we will “move out smartly (on DADT Repeal).” He went on to say;” As we implement repeal, I want leaders at all levels to emphasize the importance of maintaining dignity and respect for one another throughout the force. We are Marines. We care for one another and respect the rights of all who wear this uniform.” That is the kind of attitude needed to make it work.

  • Andy Buck

    Thanks, Haasan. I respect the view in this article but I think you answered her challenge about showing the difference between women in combat and gays in combat, which is that the latter has already happened. We already know what it’s like to have gays in combat. As does Israel and a number of other countries.

  • John Grant

    I like your arguments, Stefanie, especially that the military is not a social experiment. And I appreciate that you want maximum security with minimum distractions for our combat troops. And you’re right…there will be an increase in ill-advised romances and CLMs (career limiting moves).

    But how did we get to this point? By denigrating women and homosexuals in the first place. No matter what the techniques are for stripping recruits of their individuality…each remains an individual.

    Unit cohesion is one of many objectives in the struggle for military superiority. I’ve seen and committed so many risky, unprofessional and unlawful acts on missions that if they told me everyone was going to be having midget anal sex instead of PT… it wouldn’t even make my radar….

    In other words…it’s already a clusterfuck and it’s up to each unit’s LEADER to run that motherfucking unit with an iron fist and if he (or she) needs to stick that iron fist up somebody’s ass… so be it.

    I’m not sure about the argument I’m about to posit but isn’t combat effectiveness presently reduced by limiting our troops to being and acting butch? Little know fact: when the police find a particularly gruesome murder scene…they know that on average, statistically, mind you, nine times out of ten the murderer was a male homosexual or a woman!

    Anyway, I repeat, your arguments are probably better than mine….

    Excellent piece!

    JMG

  • lost conservative

    I find your whole piece confusing & the logic lost. According to you DADT may jeopardize your husband’s life. Your husband being who he is, might he not jeopardize his fellow soldiers’ lives.

  • Dear Stefanie,

    I want to thank your husband for his service to this country, for fighting to protect this country’s safety and ideals. And it’s that sacrifice that allows you to spout bizarre, illogical, and bigoted opinions in a public forum. I celebrate your right to do so, and my right to call you out on them.

    There already are gay soldiers in the military. They’re already serving with great distinction and keeping romance out of combat. Any soldier–gay or straight–who allows romantic entanglements to lessen their effectiveness should be disciplined, but claiming that gay soldiers are uniquely unsuited to keep it in their pants when lives are at stake is ignorant, at best. If anything, removing the constant stress of lying and worrying about discovery will probably make these soldiers MORE effective.

    (And hold on, wasn’t Abu Ghraib–possibly the worst PR disaster for the US Military and the largest single ideological support of the Iraq insurgency–exacerbated by a heterosexual romantic entanglement? And didn’t it take place far from a “combat” zone? Well, that makes the distinctions being drawn look awfully hairsplitting, now doesn’t it?)

    Luckily, logic and good policy actually played a part in the US Congress for once, and this unjust and military-damaging policy is being revoked.

  • Ned Flaherty

    In arguing that soldiers are concerned with only their deadliness and their survival, you repeat a an ancient military prejudice at its basest level: the mistaken belief that there are “soldiers” and there are “gays” but there’s no such thing as a “gay soldier.” That’s false. Every man who qualifies for recruitment, passes training, and gets deployed is a full soldier, and whether he’s gay or straight or bisexual falls by the wayside.

    You should talk to more of the gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and yes, marines – and those who served alongside them – in wartime and peacetime, over the last 5 decades, or read their biographies from those years. There are thousands of stories about gays in combat serving with valor, distinction, and heroics, and none of the under-fire “office cubicle romance” that you imagine.

    You complain that kids in the “me, me, me” generation define themselves first and foremost by their sexuality. That’s equally true for both straights and gays, but anyone who makes it through recruitment, training, and deployment is no longer a “me, me, me” kid.

    You selfishly think that your worries about your own man’s safe return trump everyone else’s concerns about their loved ones. Really? Other soldiers have unmarried girlfriends who worry about them coming back, too, and gay soldiers have their unmarried boyfriends, or their own husbands, who worry just as much about their safe return. Their concerns are every bit as deep and valid as yours are.

    Finally, you worry because you still don’t know whether DADT repeal can work. Well, everyone else does. All of the 65,000 gays and lesbians currently on active or reserve duty know full well that they’ll continue serving with pride and accomplishment, just as they always have.

    If you’re not on speaking terms with any of those 65,000, then look to the 40 other national armed forces, including our allies, that long ago adopted fairness and equality in their ranks. They can tell you the 2 main things you need to know about DADT repeal: (1) 92% of today’s average (20-year-old) soldiers are fine as soon as they get to actually serve alongside fellow soldiers who are gay; and (2) recruitment, training, deployment, and retention all improve when bans against gays are lifted. Bottom line: soldiers are safer, able to fight better, and often return home sooner, and happier.

  • Dennis

    Mrs Schappert,

    Thank you for the wonderful article. Keep it up!

    It comes down to: 1. Accomplishing the mission, and 2.Getting back home.

    I’ve found that one small lie makes the next lie easier and a bit bigger. They build that way. That’s why I don’t support DADT. It is truly a matter of compromising one’s integrity. It really doesn’t matter what the question is, or if you are just going to leave the question unasked. It compromises a soldier’s integrity.

    I don’t care if the guy that covers my right flank is Baptist, has lighter skin than I do, is from South Philly…. I don’t care. Just cover my right flank. When a new soldier comes into a unit I don’t quiz him on his belief system. Can he do the job? Is he dependable? That’s what matters to me.

    When Terry reported to the 3/505 he seemed like an OK guy. Over the next weeks I found out that he was a stellar guy. Dependable. Proficient. Driven. And he has a sense of humor. Love that guy.

    I don’t think I ever asked him if he liked to sleep with men or women.

  • Mrs. Schappert,

    As a straight, married man with close friends and family in the Armed Services and close friends and family who are homosexual, I feel pretty confident in stating that your article pretty much convinces me that you’re an idiot. I’ve suspected as much for some time and I’m glad that there has finally been an opportunity to confirm the fact.

    There are plenty of gay men and women (and straight women, for that matter) who could easily kick my ass around the block. As you stated, Armed Service is voluntary; every single man and woman knows exactly what they’re getting into and they understand that their first commitment is to America and their fellow soldiers. To think that gay folk, after going through the same training and preparation as any other soldier, are unable to control their “sinful” urges in a life-or-death situation is just about the most ridiculous and most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard.

    I respect and embrace contrary voices and I think it commendable that Mr. Jacobs (a good friend and colleague) invites you to share on CFR which is clearly and admittedly a pretty liberal outpost. But this kind of sheepesque vitriol that is being spoon-fed to the masses is just more of the well-articulated kind of bullsh*t we’re used to from the conservative Right.

    I wish your husband safety and luck; if I were in his shoes, the only qualities I’d care about in my fellow soldiers are focus, skill and patriotism. NO solider, black/white/gay/straight/male/female/Christian/Muslim/Jew gets to serve without demonstrating exactly those qualities.

    • Hi Tom,

      I’m publishing this here rather than emailing it, since you’re one of the CFR’s most frequent and valued commenters. I respect your right to disagree with Stefanie, but in disagreeing, I would ask you to please avoid personal attacks and name-calling. I’ve been guilty of name-calling in the past myself; I readily admit I’m no saint. That said, I’ve been making a real effort to try to be as substantive as I can be in my views and responses, and when there is something I disagree with, not to personally attack the individual with whom I have the disagreement.

      As you know, I have a longstanding no-censorship policy regarding comments on the CFR, but for legal and ethical reasons I do censor hate speech (the CFR has received it from time to time). While the use of the word “idiot” does not constitute hate speech, per se, I feel that it’s inaccurate, unfair, and unworthy of all of your prior comments on the site. Stefanie writes for the CFR because I ask her to; she has written well over 20 pieces thus far. So when you or any commenter uses a word like “idiot,” not only do I know that’s patently not true, I take it personally because Stefanie’s byline runs at my invitation and, I might add, at no recompense to her. This may be a pretty liberal outpost, as you note. But the site’s stated mission is to strive for cross-partisanship and I have always felt that whether I agree or not with Stefanie — or any CFR columnist — is absolutely irrelevant. It’s her column, her views, her byline, and her cherished right to express what she wishes in the way that she wishes to do so. My request, therefore, would be to stick to the issues — to the substance — and argue that, and to leave personal attacks out of the equation, please.

      LJ

  • Out of respect for Leonard and CFR, I’m happy to apologize to Mrs. Schappert for my choice of language. However, she’s posting a public article in a public forum and it is open to critique. My “attack” was not at all personal; I’ve never met the woman. I found her article highly offensive and I was upset.

    I also would like to disagree with the statement in question being quantified as “hate speech.” I call people idiots all the time (myself included). I was certainly not the one suggesting that straight and gay soldiers are incapable of focusing on each others safety and their mission purely due to knowledge of their sexuality. I wouldn’t call that “hate speech” either but I’m certainly in my rights to find it “hateful.”

    Still, maybe we should all (myself included) limit our vitriol; I’d hate to think that it’s ok to insult people who don’t read or write for CFR and we all have a good laugh at it, whilst we’re unable to respond with shock or anger when we read something here that offends us.

    But I do apologize for my choice of words, Mrs. Schappert. I was just plain offended and, quite frankly, pissed. I’m human and, as Leonard can attest, pretty used to speaking my mind. I encourage you to do the same.

    • Just to be clear (in case I wasn’t), the use of the word “idiot” does not, so far as I know, constitute hate speech, but it was a personal attack and I do wish to avoid those. I’m striving not to launch them myself (reread the part of the initial reply in which I take responsibility for having done so in the past and for wanting to avoid them in the future). And so, thank you for taking care to avoid the same. I will make sure Stefanie is aware of your apology and reply.

  • Rose

    Personally, I think it boils down to being able to do your life or death job without disruptive distractions. If you have ever been a soldier, then you know of the distractions – the sexual ones, I am speaking of.

    Yes, I am a female and there is NO WAY I would want to be part of a combined combat unit. I can run faster and shoot better and am way smarter than most military men I know. While I have only supported and have never been in an active combat position, I would not want the added stress of a serious situation having an sexual element to it – i.e.., I personally would not want to be saving sexual or romantic love on the battefield when I needed to be only mission focused.

    When all you want to focus on is killing/saving/neutralizing the objective and getting back to safety, I think it is reasonable to not want to enter MORE tension than is all ready there. Add any kind of perceived sexual tension into these situations and I think you will find it adds MORE emotional stress to a situation – thus the reason why the Pentagon will not allow women “first in to attack a combat situation”. If there is a perceived notion that a person has an emotional/sexual tie and is letting the mission slip while in pursuit of this relationship (whether homo or hetero sexual), you are going to have some serious cohesion problems within the group. (And I do speak of personal experiences here..) The problem does not inherently lie in one’s chosen sexuality, but the weakened chance of a job not being done. And when you are talking about real life and death scenarios- not whether your book is gonna be published or whether your numbers aren’t what they are supposed to be in the 2nd quarter or whether your business is going to fold under – breathing is gonna prevail here. Both hetero women and outed homosexuals bring this added stress to some of the 1st tier rank of soldiers. If you bring the bedroom to the battlefield for some members, then there ARE going to be some issues that aren’t going to be productive to the mission.
    I started the whole military experience in a basic training unit whose housing was in a star shaped formation – with every other star “wing” housing the opposite sex of 65 personnel, and the chow hall in the middle. And I can tell you that you have unidentified folks dropping you notes while you are serving them corn, wiping down the mess hall tables, etc., asking you for sex, without us saying a word to each other!( and this was before “integrated training” started). And while I didn’t partake, really, uh, no thanks, there were at least 4 other women kicked out of our unit that DID indulge in heterosexual activity and got caught doing so IN OUR BARRACKS room. And by the way, I did get hit upon by one woman in Basic Training, and I can say that after she did not get her wanted response, she never once tried to help me out or assist me in being more prepared. Her interest in me was over – sexually or professional. Ugh. So, fast forward to Advanced Training where I had an instructor that basically told me he wanted to fail me so that we could be in each others presence for longer (hoping for a relationship). Yes, tons of stuff happens like this in the civilian world, too – and I am not trying to say that this only happens in the military world. So, fast forward to an OCONUS deployment where eventually I had an affair with a married man (didn’t know he was married until 6 months into the relationship). There was no ring, no wife, no witnesses to his spouse ever existing, no nothing but his adoration and his love for me. Only found out when his wife had emergency surgery and he was called back from overseas. And then when I got back from overseas, my officer in charge told me flat out he wanted to have an affair with me – and pursued me to no end. I had to leave the unit to get away from this perv. I hate to say this, but in my military experience undue sexual tension is just part of the job when you are a half-way attractive woman. Would I love to just do my job without any kind of sexual tension present?? Yes, you have no idea…

    I am not sure who Mr. Berger is, but just because he knows plenty of gay people in the military does not mean that he understands the effects of the sexual stress of serving within the military. I ask him whether he has spoken with people (women and men – homo and heterosexual alike), who put their lives on the line and what kinds of things distracts them from their task at hand? And I am talking about Special Forces, Rangers, PJ’s, SEALs, and others or the 10% of women in the armed forces that support those elite combat roles.

    I do believe that American culture is going to change one day where this will be a non-issue. When homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals, then things will get easier and better for us all! And when women can serve in combat in same sex units, I will be even more hopeful for our country. See I am not against homosexuals – just against the sexual distractions that our species naturally brings to the battlefield.

  • Ned Flaherty

    DoD confirmed on 25 March that classes about allowing gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly are well underway, and armed forces recruiting/retention is exceeding its goals for active duty and reserve personnel. Long-time homophobes had predicted that the new law allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would cause mass resignations, make recruiting goals impossible to meet, ruin the all-volunteer military, and pose deadly distractions in battle. But, as in Canada and Britain, none of those fears were real. Even the U.S. Marine Corps, thought by some to be the most resistant to open service, has taken the lead on implementation, and is expected to finish training by 31 May, before any other branches.

  • Ned Flaherty

    Six Congressional Representatives tried – but failed – yesterday to delay, de-fund, and de-rail the repeal of DADT. Pentagon officials rebuffed them at every step.

    Calling open service by gays and lesbians a “radical major shift” that’s “jeopardizing missions and putting people in harm’s way,” six Republican members of the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee pressed high-ranking DoD officials about wasted funds, endangered troops, mass resignations, impaired missions, open service training for military children, and said that it’s a double standard to house and shower armed forces men separately from women.

    Swift, clear answers came from Joint Chiefs of Staff Director U.S. Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney and Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford Stanley. Gortney and Stanley confirmed that repealing DADT is necessary, the training materials cost less than one cent per person, the training sessions which began in February are on a quick and careful schedule, no one has resigned, soldiers are not at risk, and that there is no double standard in keeping the men’s showers and barracks separate from the women’s. They confirmed that the roll-out is on target for completion this summer, with no negative effect on morale, readiness, cohesion, retention, or recruiting.

    ■www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKDQwh1hQww
    ■www.keennewsservice.com/2011/04/01/dadt-certification-likely-mid-summer/
    ■www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52381.html#ixzz1IItncRve
    ■www.navytimes.com/news/2011/04/military-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-cost-040111w/

  • Pingback: I'm Baa-aack! | The Clyde Fitch Report()

  • Pingback: Anything You Can Do … | The Clyde Fitch Report()