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