Justplainbill's Weblog

March 16, 2017

Strategika Issue #39, You Say You Want A Revolution? Thomas Donnelly [nc]

Hoover Institution

Research
Publications
Fellows
Library & Archives

You are here

Home › Publications › Strategika

Strategika
Issue 39
You Say You Want A Revolution?
by Thomas Donnelly
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Image credit:
Image credit: Poster Collection, CU 032, Hoover Institution Archives.

To paraphrase the Beatles: Well, you know, you’d better free your mind instead; you may want a revolution but ought to settle for some evolution.

It is an article of revealed religion among defense elites that “we live in a relentlessly changing and fiercely competitive world.” Those words were from former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, once a physicist and someone deeply imbued with the idea that technological change and competition were the elements propelling change, and that those who failed to “innovate” were doomed to defeat: “Today’s era of military competition is characterized by the additional variables of speed and agility, such that leading the race now frequently depends on who can out-innovate faster than everyone else, and even change the game.”

Such attitudes took root in the late Cold War, back when the Pentagon had a “director for defense research and engineering”—a powerful post separate from the actual weapons-buying bureaucracy—and invested substantial sums in the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency. These agencies were dominated by engineers, practical people whose goal was not science per say but to find ways to put new technologies into the hands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. But the combination of the Cold War’s end and the endless small wars of the post-9/11 years has inverted this traditional approach; the leaders of the Defense Department have been driven by the immediate need to respond to today’s enemies—all of them unpredicted—and have luxuriated in an extreme form of futurism—dreams that must inevitably go unfulfilled.

The failure to build and field in important numbers the weapons designs of the 1990s has all but deprived U.S. forces of the conventional-force superiority that is a premise of their strategy. The past failures to innovate incrementally have added up, even though the Russians and Chinese—and, increasingly, their Iranian partners in what Walter Russell Mead has dubbed the “Axis of Weevils”—have done little more than attained the level of lethality and sophistication reached by U.S. forces during Desert Storm. And since the Weevils are, for the moment, entirely engaged in moving into the vacuum created by American withdrawals rather than testing their strength directly, it is hard to know what level of tactical competence they have really derived from their belated modernization, but the balance of military power has undoubtedly shifted. National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster put the matter succinctly: “When we minimize our Army, we maximize the risk to our soldiers, the risk that in a crisis they will be forced to enter a fight too few in number and without the training and equipment they need to win.”

In such circumstances, broad programs of military “transformation”—Donald Rumsfeld’s dream or a “third offset,” and Ash Carter’s homage to former Defense Secretary William Perry and the creation of “stealth” aircraft—are not relevant. Photon torpedoes, warp drives, and cloaking devices remain in the realm of the starship Enterprise. Better the urgency of President John Kennedy, who vowed to put an American on the moon “in this decade,” than the spirit of Captain James Kirk. And in fact, there are fairly mature military technologies that meet the test of restoring the tactical advantages that U.S. troops once enjoyed.

Perhaps the most tantalizing near-term technologies are related to the substitution of intense amounts of electrical energy for the explosive power of gunpowder. This comprises a kind of catch-all category that subsumes several developments and could have—at least to leaders with an engineering mindset—multiple applications. Fielding electrical-energy-based weapons depends upon the ability to generate and to store immense amounts of power, and then release it either as a destructive force on its own or to propel a projectile at extremely high speeds. Stored electricity might prove to be the gunpowder of the future.

The Defense Department and the military services have been experimenting with these technologies for a decade and more. The Army and Navy have tested a number of “railgun” designs. Railguns are electromagnetic launchers with a parallel set of conductors—the “rails”—that accelerate a sliding armature by passing a very strong current down one rail, along the armature to the other rail. In essence, it’s a 21st-century slingshot that hurls a very dense, but inert, projectile about twice as fast as a traditional cannon; the kinetic energy of these projectiles is enormous.

It does appear that the science of railguns has reached some level of maturity. The main technological challenges are generating and storing enough electrical power—that is to say, a big engine and a good set of batteries—to allow for repeated pulses of direct current that would yield militarily relevant rates of fire of something like six rounds per minute. Other challenges are to build durable and practical rails, since the launch process generates extreme heat that stresses the rail materials. Further, designing guidance mechanisms that can withstand the heat generated by the speed of the projectile may be difficult. On the plus side, the design of munitions ought to be simplified, as should storage, handling, and logistics, since there is no “warhead” atop a railgun round and explosives are not required. Moreover, the range of railguns would far exceed that of any cannon.

But again, the railgun literature strongly indicates that these are challenges for engineering, not basic science. The Navy is interested in railgun technology as a potential solution to the rising challenges of surface fleet air defense and, especially, cruise and ballistic missile defense. Ironically, the otherwise-disastrous Zumwalt-class destroyer—which is now a $4 billion-per-copy pocket battleship—would make a practical platform for a railgun-based system. The ship is huge for a “destroyer”; at almost 15,000 tons it’s almost twice the size of the current Arleigh Burke-class ships. And it has an electric engine that can not only drive the ship at 30 knots, but also generate huge amounts of additional electricity. The Navy originally planned to buy 32 Zumwalts, but the program has long since run aground—because of its technological and cost problems, but also, most importantly, because the ship was misconceived—and halted at just three. To redesign and revive the project would involve great further expense and be an engineering risk, surely. But it could also result in fielding a game-changing technology that would go far toward solving the “anti-access” problem posed by the growing arsenals of Chinese, Russian, and Iranian anti-ship missiles within the next decade rather than several decades. There is no reason to believe that designing a new class of ships would be any less expensive; indeed it is irrational to think that starting over would save money.

On a smaller scale, electromagnetic guns might become the main armaments on tanks and howitzers. While all the same challenges would recur and be compounded by the need to reduce both the source of the electricity and the storage device to the size of a ground combat vehicle, the fundamental engineering challenges are the same as for ships. And the Army already is experimenting with modifying existing howitzers to shoot the same projectile as an electromagnetic weapon. “It turns out that powder guns firing the same hypervelocity projectiles gets you almost as much as you would get out of the electromagnetic rail gun, but it’s something we can do much faster,” says Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who has been held over from the Obama Administration to ensure continuity in defense planning. “We are [saying to the next administration]: ‘Look, we believe this is the place where you want to put your money, but we’re going to have enough money in there for both the electromagnetic rail gun and the powder gun.’”

A related development, also resulting from the ability to generate and store immense amounts of power, that is on the cusp of science fiction and reality is the prospect of using directed energy itself as a weapon. Indeed, some low-level forms of directed energy have been employed by the military for some time: microwave systems that heat the water in skin cells, causing irritation, have been used as a crowd-control measure; microwaves also have been fielded to fry enemy electronic systems. Even the radars on combat aircraft may have limited applications in disrupting the sensors of attacking missiles. And, as far back as 2002, the U.S. Air Force began flying an “Airborne Laser”—basically, a giant high-energy chemical laser stuffed inside a 747 commercial aircraft body—as a missile defense test system. In January 2010 the system successfully passed an intercept test and a month later destroyed two targets in a single engagement. But shortly thereafter, amid one of the many rounds of defense budget reductions during the Obama Administration, the effort was scrapped. In many ways, fielding the system as designed was a bad idea—the laser itself needed to be more powerful and would have required a large and vulnerable aircraft to fly within range of enemy air defenses—but the underlying concept was sound and indicative that such systems were technologically feasible, if tactically immature. Also, it was clear that using electricity rather than chemistry as a power source was a better solution.

Electromagnetic guns, hypersonic projectiles or even directed energy death rays would by themselves not necessarily constitute a revolution in warfare. But these technologies could yield a substantial increase in the capabilities of a wide variety of legacy platforms—and, importantly, again provide U.S. forces with a significant battlefield edge. Most of all, such investments could get the American military back in the habit of continuous modernization and the operational innovation that comes from actually fielding new capabilities. The enthusiasts for “transformation” of the past generation have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope; their model of innovation was that, starved of funds, the U.S. armed services would have to think of new ways to fight. But, through history, the process of change in war has been one that more frequently rewards practical tinkering—matching organizations and doctrine to technologies—more than bold conceptualization. Imagining the tank or the fighter aircraft was the basis for a revolution, but to realize it demanded their integration into combined-arms formation and figuring out how to keep that organization supplied with fossil fuel.

Finally, the experience of recent decades ought to debunk the transformationists’ idea that the United States could afford a geopolitical “strategic pause” to pursue a strategy of innovation. Nor can a global power afford an “offset” approach. To paraphrase the Beatles one last time: Evolution is the real solution. And you can see the plan.

January 28, 2017

Quote of the Day – 28 Jan 17 – probably true

Filed under: Military, Political Commentary, US Marine Corps — Tags: — justplainbill @ 3:21 pm

Quote of the day

When asked what he thinks about General Mattis being considered for Secretary of Defense, Rob O’Neill (the man who killed Bin Laden) said: “General Mattis has a bear rug in his home, but it’s not dead – it’s just afraid to move”.

November 10, 2016

Honor

Honor, get some tissues. I did a bunch of these when I was stationed at Camp LeJeune. I won’t compare to the gits rioting against the election.

http://tinyurl.com/zom68at

241 Years of Protecting Our Rights ooo Rah!

Filed under: Historical context, US Marine Corps — justplainbill @ 2:06 pm

Happy 241

Birthday cake ceremony:

June 10, 2016

Honor, Capt John USN [nc]

A Secretary of State “Without Honor”–From an Honorable US Marine

By Capt Joseph R. John, June 9, 2016

For four years, while I was a Midshipman matriculating at the US Naval Academy, I was a member of the “Working Honor Committee”, I was on working committee with battalion representatives from throughout the Brigade of Midshipmen to study issues that might affect the “Honor Concept”, and make recommendations for consideration by the Executive Department.

“HONOR” is the bedrock of a human being’s character. The below listed articles speaks volumes about a young US Marine Captain whose steadfast actions, regardless of consequences, embodied his true sense of “HONOR”

This dissertation on “HONOR” has nothing to do with gender, party affiliation, ideology, or policy. This is as much an analysis of character and judgement, and how it affects personal “HONOR”

It is not just about Hillary Clinton’s “character and judgement”, it’s also about the “character and judgement ” of the Attorney General, the Occupant of the Oval Office, and the most importantly “judgement” of the American people in the most important election in 240 years.

As outlined in the below listed article, you will understand why Hillary Clinton is the antithesis of the impressive young US Marine Captain that the article is about.

Hillary has repeatedly proven by her responses over the last 40 years that she is a serial liar—–in her responses to questions about Benghazi——White Water——Vince Foster——the transmission of over 2200 classified messages on an unclassified server. Hillary repeated lied to the parents of the 4 dead Americans murdered during “The Battle of Benghazi” while she stood within close proximity to the caskets of those dead Americans—-and how she has repeatedly lied to the American people about who prosecuted the attack on a US Mission in Benghazi.

From September to November 2012 election, Hillary kept repeating that the attack was the result of a peaceful demonstration against a U-tube video that went bad, in order to mislead the American voters before the Presidential election of 2012. Yet on the night of the attack, Hillary told her daughter, that the attack was perpetrated by a terrorist like organization.

She has continued to lie to the press, the Congress, the American people, and the families of the 4 deceased Americans, up to the present day, by repeating the outright lie, that no military relief could not have been sent to save the lives of the 4 dead Americans.

Hillary has told many more lies over the past 40 year than cannot be relayed here, and even got fired as a staffer by the Joint Congressional Committee investigating President Nixon for possible impeachment, because of Hillary’s lying, but the left of center liberal media establishment has never called her on any of her serial lies.

Anyone who lies to the parents of deceased American combat personnel, must be precluded from ever serving in any federal office, especially in the office of the President of the United States.

Hillary is responsible for the death of four courageous Americans, who were easily murdered by Radical Islamic Terrorists during “The Battle of Benghazi”, because Hillary refused to provide them with adequate security in response to their repeated request for additional security over a 9 month period—12 personal requests were made directly to Hillary by the deceased Ambassador—-they were repeatedly ignored Hillary.

Electing Clinton would mean the security and intelligence agencies of the United States will have abandoned, holding people accountable for grievous errors of integrity, responsibility, judgement, and for repeatedly committing high crimes against the United States.

What we already know about Hillary’s security infractions should disqualify her from “ANY” government position that requires the transmission of critical information, to a mission’s success, as outlined in US Federal Law, Title 18, Section 2017 listed below. But beyond that, the way Hillary has repeatedly responded to being found out for violating federal security laws is a criminal offense— she has dismissed its importance, claiming ignorance, blamed others—by her actions over the last four years, Hillary has demonstrated that she lacks even the slightest degree of integrity.

The way Hillary has responded to her violation of security regulations, “indicts” her beyond anything any FBI investigation of her criminal actions will ever reveal.

The above listed elements reveal Hillary’s true character and her poor judgement———the saddest thing is that so many in America seem not to understand her egregious actions, that is because of the cover the left of center liberal media establishment has provided for her

Anyone who destroyed 30,000 messages while she was Secretary of State, an action that is an outright violation of Federal Law, while at the same time she transmitted 2200 + SECRET, TOP SECRET, TOP SECRET (SCI), and 25 sensitive COMPARTMENTED messages that the American people will never be allowed to see, on an unclassified server in her home, should be indicted for “High Crimes” against the United States.

U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2017
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

It explicitly states “shall forfeit their office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

We encourage you to compare Hillary to the Honorable US Marine Captain in the below listed article.

Hillary’s commitment is only to her endless ambition, she is a serial liar with poor judgement, has absolutely “NO HONOR”, and would continue with serial lies to the American people, if she ever ascended to the Presidency.

Copyright 2016, Capt. Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. This material can only be posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission from the author

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt USN(Ret)/Former FBI

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108

http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

https://www.facebook.com/combatveteransforcongress?ref=hl

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
-Isaiah 6:8

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Secretary Without Honor: Voices

Phillip Jennings (USMC) June 5, 2016

When I hear people say Clinton emails don’t matter, I remember a young Marine captain who owned up to his career-ruining mistake.

Apologists for Hillary Clinton’s alleged criminal mishandling of classified documents say that it doesn’t matter, that she really did nothing wrong, or nothing significant. But the real question is not so much what she did as how she has responded to being found out.

Once during the mid-1960s when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps, I was the air liaison officer for a battalion of Marines aboard 11 ships in the Mediterranean. As the air officer and a senior captain, I had a rotating responsibility for the nuclear code book, kept in the safe in the operations room of the lead amphibious squadron command ship. I shared that duty with another captain, a squared away young man, liked by all he commanded and the son of a very high-ranking Marine.

On the day our ships were leaving the Mediterranean, we met the new amphibious squadron near Gibraltar and made preparations to transfer security codes and other sensitive material to the incoming Marine battalion. The young captain was on duty and went to the operations office to pick up the code book. He was alone in the office. He removed the code book and placed it on the desk while closing the safe. In a rushed moment, he stepped across the passageway to retrieve something he needed from his quarters.

Seconds later, he stepped back into the operations office and found the operations sergeant having just entered, looking down at the code book.

Against all regulations, the code book had been out of the safe and unattended. It mattered not that it was unattended for only seconds, that the ship was 5 miles at sea, or that it was certain no one unauthorized had seen the code. The captain could have explained this to the operations sergeant. He could have told the sergeant that he “would take care of it.” He could have hinted that his high-ranking dad could smooth it over.

But the Marine Corps’ values are “HONOR”, courage and commitment. “HONOR” is the bedrock of our character. The young captain could not ask the sergeant to betray his duty to report the infraction, no matter how small. Instead, the captain simply said, “Let’s go see the colonel.”

That captain had wanted to be a Marine officer all of his life. It was the only career he ever wanted. When he reported the incident to the colonel, he knew he was jeopardizing his life’s dream. But he did it.

The results went by the book. The amphibious squadron stood down. Military couriers flew in from NATO. The codes were changed all over Europe. The battalion was a day late in leaving the Mediterranean. The captain, Leonard F. Chapman III, received a letter of reprimand, damaging his career. He stayed in the corps and died in a tragic accident aboard another ship.

I saw some heroic acts in combat in Vietnam, things that made me proud to be an American and a Marine. But that young captain stood for what makes our Corps and our country great.

Clinton is the antithesis of that young captain, someone with “NO HONOR”, little courage and commitment only to her endless ambition. This has nothing to do with gender, party affiliation, ideology or policy. It is a question of character — not just hers, but ours.

Electing Clinton would mean abandoning holding people accountable for grievous errors of integrity and responsibility. What we already know about her security infractions should disqualify her for any government position that deals in information critical to mission success, domestic or foreign.

But beyond that, her responses to being found out — dismissing its importance, claiming ignorance, blaming others — indict her beyond anything the investigation can reveal.

Those elements reveal her character. And the saddest thing is that so many in America seem not to care.

Phillip Jennings is an investment banker and entrepreneur, former Marine Corps pilot in Vietnam and Air America pilot in Laos. He is the author of two novels and one non-fiction book.

September 15, 2015

Women in Combat, by Gregory Newbold Lt Gen USMC (ret) [c]

Joseph R. John
To jrj@combatveteransforcongress.org
Today at 5:23 AM

“I thought my arms would fall off”

By Capt Joseph R. John, September 15, 2015

Capt William Keller, USN (Ret)(Seabee) wrote the attached Letter to The Editor to the San Diego Union Tribune, in response to the Obama administration aggressive effort to push US Marine Corps gender-integration efforts. The Obama administration, in continuing its destructive Social Experiment on Diversity and Political Correctness that has been underway for nearly 7 years, and it has now turned its efforts to drive gender-integration into the combat arm of US Marine Corps Infantry Branch. Over nearly 7 years, this very destabilizing and destructive Social Experiment on Diversity has been negatively affecting unit moral, unit cohesiveness, Combat Readiness, and Combat Effectiveness of the US Armed Forces.

Capt Keller wrote the attached Letter to The Editor because he recalled what his father, a US Navy Gunnersmate Petty Officer during WWII, casually said in a simple comment, about his recollection of a major battle in WWII, during very heavy and sustained combat, “I thought my arms would fall off.” It hits right at the heart of the inept issues being driven by Obama administration, force feeding women into tip of the spear units, like the US Marine Corps Infantry, the US Army Rangers Battalions, the US Navy SEAL Teams, and the DELTA Force.

Women have been serving with the US military since the War of Independence in 1776, and have done an exceptional job in many areas of the US Armed Forces, they have been courageous in the defense of the Republic; we honor them for their continued exemplary and heroic service. Qualifying for combat duty, in tip of the spear units, has very little to do with passing a fitness tests modified by Obama’s civilian appointees in the Pentagon; a relative few dedicated fit women who do pass the rigorous fitness tests, will continue and qualify in the specific special programs, but they will not prepared for what next lies ahead in combat. Being shot at or exposed to danger is not the definition of combat. Combat service is not about equal opportunity, women’s rights, or a career assignment for selection to higher rank, it’s about finding, closing, and viciously killing the enemy, often in hand to hand, and face to face combat, in the most disgusting, uncivilized, brutal butchery, while inflicting violent death on another human who is doing his best to kill you—it’s a killing environment that is as difficult and frightening as anyone can possibly imagine.

The below listed article by Lt Gen Gregory Newbolt, USMC (Ret), a former infantry commander, discusses how operating in combat for extended periods of time, with no relief in sight, sometime for 40 straight days, when combat personnel can’t shower, have access to sanitary facilities in the midst of heavy daily combat operations, the stench of filthy unwashed clothing is almost unbearable, uniforms are often immersed in mud for weeks on end (literally disintegrate and falling off one’s body), and sleep periods are almost non-existence. Lt Gen Newbolt explains what the inept civilian leaders, appointed by Obama to Undersecretary positions in the Pentagon have not taken into account from the 239 years of combat the US Armed Forces have experienced. Those bureaucrats are intent on force feeding gender-integration into every tip of the spear combat unit, regardless what it does to the unit. That dangerous experiment may not only degrade the “Combat Readiness” and “Combat Effectiveness” of those tip of the spear units, it may also result in the unnecessary combat deaths of women and men assigned to those tip of the spear units, and may negatively affect the success of combat operations.

Early on in the development of nation of Israel, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) had to experiment with inserting women into tip of the spear front line units, because of the small population of Israel warranted utilizing ever person who could bear arms of the new nation, but that policy was modified after results of combat operations were evaluated. Inserting women in front line combat units was determined not to be in the best interest of the IDF’s combat operations. Often relationships between female and male sometimes turned romantic and created major destabilizing distractions, and damaged the “Combat Readiness” and the “Combat Effectiveness” of the unit. In many instances the men in those units became combat casualties trying to be overly protective the female members in their units.

The left of center liberal media establishment continue to cover up the Obama administrations unsound and dangerous military practices that are negatively affecting “Combat Readiness” and “Combat Effectiveness”, i.e. the dangerous practice of reducing the size of various branches of the service, allowing weapon system developed by China and Russia eliminate the leads the US Armed Forces once had, instituting new and dangerous Rules of Engagement that have resulted in the number of US personnel in Afghanistan Killed In Action (KIA) to be increased by 458%/year and those Wounded In Action (WIA) to be increased by 378%/year, and the head long effort to force gender-integration into tip of the spear units which will negatively affect their “Combat Readiness.”

After very careful evaluation the US Marine Corps recently reported that the most “Combat Effective” units in the US Marine Corps are all male units; that report upset Obama’s Secretary of the Navy. The US Armed Forces have been directed to open all combat billets to women by January 1st; being “Politically Correct” so not to offend the occupant in the Oval Office will degrade “Combat Readiness” and “Combat Effectiveness” of tip of spear units.

Copyright 2015, Capt. Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. This material can only be posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission from the author

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt USN(Ret)

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108

Fax: (619) 220-0109

http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

https://www.facebook.com/combatveteransforcongress?ref=hl

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
-Isaiah 6:8

From: RICHARD ARDAVANY [mailto:ardavany@msn.com]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2015 3:24 PM
Cc: Joseph R. John
Subject: War on the Rocks – LT Gen Newbold, USMC (Ret)

War on the Rocks – Lt Gen Newbold, USMC (Ret)

War on the Rocks

9 September 2015

What Tempers the Steel of an Infantry Unit

by Gregory Newbold

It is artificial to constrain the debate about women in the infantry to physical capabilities. This doesn’t address what holds an infantry unit together in the worst conditions humanity has to offer.

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” –Rudyard Kipling, “The Law of the Jungle”, The Jungle Book.

The current debate about women in the infantry takes place in an artificial context, because it nearly always self-limits the discussion to physical capabilities. Within these incomplete parameters, the argument is then set, and the preamble is that physical standards and performance are measurable and what is not measurable is subjective and probably unfair.

Once physical quantifications are set as the only requirement that matters, it then stands to reason that if you can define infantry requirements in terms of, for example, a number of pull-ups, a hike with 60 to 80 pounds of extra weight, or carrying a 180-pound simulated casualty to safety, then you can assess whether females are suited to infantry units.

Honest and informed observers will acknowledge that medical science indicates that, in the physical domain, the two genders are an unequal match. Even a very fit woman is not generally the equal of a fit man. The competition is no competition in aerobic capacity, load bearing, reach, body fat percentage, and other germane measures of combat fitness. But (the informed argument proceeds), even if it is only the top 5 percent of women who can replace the bottom 5 percent of men, why not allow the 5 percent to integrate and thereby improve the combat efficiency of the unit? For example, it has been argued Ronda Rousey — the accomplished and undoubtedly tough mixed martial artist — could be an excellent addition to an infantry unit.

The falsity of this debate is found in its restriction of analysis to its physical context. Why is the debate limited to physical capabilities? For two reasons. First, supporters of full integration will not accept what cannot be irrefutably proven (and sometimes not even then). Second, practitioners of infantry warfare have great difficulty describing the alchemy that produces an effective infantry unit, much as it is difficult for those of faith to explain their conviction to an atheist. Try that by quantitative analysis. But allow me a poor effort to explain what tempers the steel of an infantry unit and therefore serves as the basis of its combat power.

The public understands that individuals who have engaged in brutal combat seldom want to talk about their experiences, and it is broadly thought that this is because of the horrors evoked by these memories. More generally, though, this reticence is due to an inability for one side to convey, and the other to understand, not only horrors, but the context of the fight. Saying that “It was hot” is a futile way to describe the 23rd consecutive day of temperatures over 100 degrees and flesh-soaking humidity, but the description does an even poorer job of conveying the exacerbating details — the burden of 30 to 80 pounds of personal equipment, mind-bending physical exertion, energy-sapping adrenaline highs, or the fact that the threadbare clothes you wore were unchanged for over three weeks and may have been “scented” by everything from food, to blood, dysentery, and whatever was in the dirt that constituted your bed. And don’t forget insects of legendary proportion and number. More importantly, a story thus told cannot explain that the fellow soldier or Marine who you tried desperately to put back together was the same one who shared the duties of clearing the urinals, the pleasures of a several nights of hilarious debauchery, and multiple near-death experiences — a comrade in arms who has heard more about your personal thoughts than your most intimate friends or family. So veterans of the true horrors of combat don’t talk about it. Please understand, then, that it is equally difficult to describe the ingredients of an efficient ground fighting machine, because the ingredients are intangible, decidedly not quantitative, and proudly subjective.

An infantryman’s lot is to endure what we think is unendurable, to participate in the inhumane, and to thrive in misery. Normal humans do not deliberately expose themselves to confront a machine gun that is firing at them over 10 rounds a second. “Smart” humans do not run toward the sound of gunfire. Logic does not tell you to lay down your life in the hope that you can recover an already dead comrade. And normal organizations do not strive, as their first priority, to evoke fear. For you see, the characteristics that produce uncommon valor as a common virtue are not physical at all, but are derived from the mysterious chemistry that forms in an infantry unit that revels in the most crude and profane existence so that they may be more effective killers than their foe. Members of such units deliberately reduce the individual and collective level of humanity and avoid all distractions so that its actions are fundamental, instinctive, and coldly efficient. Polite company, private hygiene, and weakness all step aside. These are the men who can confront the Islamic State, North Korean automatons, or Putin’s Spetsnaz and win every time. Believe me, you will need them, and we don’t get to choose when that will be.

In this direct ground combat environment, you do not fight for an ideal, a just cause, America, or Mom and apple pie. You endure the inhumanity and sacrifices of direct ground combat because, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” This selflessness is derived from bonding, and bonding from shared events and the unquestioning subordination of self for the good of the team. But what destroys this alchemy — and, therefore, combat effectiveness — are pettiness, rumor-mongering, suspicion, and jealousy. And when fighting spirit is lessoned, death is the outcome. So “fairness” is an obscenity. Fairness is about individuals. It’s selfish. And selfishness can kill.

Nineteen-year-old males everywhere are from Mars. They, and their early twenty-something brethren, are overloaded with testosterone, supremely confident about their invincibility, and prone to illogical antics. This sometimes produces intemperate behavior in everyday America, but the same traits are, by the way, nearly ideal for direct ground combat. The same youthful ingredients produce unacceptable behavior in the pristine and low pressure environments of boarding schools, academic institutions, and cubicle farms. Truth be told, in later stages of life these traits also lead to humiliating interactions on Capitol Hill or in the White House. Why, then, do we suppose that sexual dynamics — or mere perceptions thereof — among the most libido laden age cohort in humans, in the basest of environs, will not degrade the nearly spiritual glue that enables the infantry to achieve the illogical and endure the unendurable?

Two women just graduated from the Army’s very, very difficult Ranger School. The surprise of that is that it surprised anyone. There unquestionably are women who can pass any physical challenge the military may require. We should celebrate those who succeed and encourage others. They are worthy role models, and certainly not just to women. But the issue we’re now debating has to include a recognition of cohesion and the cost of sexual dynamics in a bare-knuckled brawl, amidst primeval mayhem, in which we expect the collective entity to persevere because it has a greater will and fighting spirit, and not because it is bigger, faster, or more agile. The championship team in virtually any professional sport may only coincidentally be the most physically talented, but it most assuredly will be the most cohesive. Why not appreciate the same ingredients in infantry units?

Finally, you may bet your future earnings that the current effort to integrate the infantry will not cease with a few extraordinary females, but will eventually accommodate a social engineering goal by changing standards. Think I am wrong? It’s already happening. Read the words and understand the goals of the Secretary of the Navy (an arsonist in the fire department) and the Secretary of the Air Force, and examine what we now call “the Dempsey Rule.”

If I’m wrong, the cost may be denied opportunity to strong and impressive young women. If you’re wrong, our national security is shaken and there is a butcher’s bill to pay. Make your choice. The line forms on the left.

[Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold (U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.) is a former infantryman, having commanded units from the platoon through the 1st Marine Division. His last assignment was as Director of Operations, the Joint Staff.]

[Actually, Bill Clinton started this, and the US Army did studies in the late 90’s which said all of this, but they were igored.]

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.