US Forces Basic Training - Co-ed

Mr Happy

Had this sent through to me, I understand it's alos on the www somewhere.

Following is a piece I wrote for GQ Magazine that was accepted, edited, but blown out of the magazine because of 9/11. I thought the message so important -- especially after our conventional Army troops poor performance in Afghanistan-- that we should eyeball this and get the word out to our lawmakers asap. Keep Five Yards, Hack

Nothing is more basic than Basic Combat Training. Basic to the ways of war. Basic to national security. Basic to the very survival of the United States. So how come Fort Jackson, the single largest producer of Basic grunts, male and female, is under the command of a general who piled up more friendly fire casualties than anyone else in Desert Storm?

The VictoryTowerlooms up like a gallows, its timbers and planks cutting off the sun. It's a huge thing, three stories high, girdled with ropes and rope bridges, and fitted out with ladders. Next to it rises an awesome rappelling wall with a sheer, 40-foot drop to a sawdust pit. A line of young recruits are lined up, ready to leap, rope in hand, out over the edge. hit the wall. Three or four thumping steps followed by four dick-shriveling swings and the grunts are back on the ground. The first fewtwo or three male recruits take it as a rope-burning rite of passage that leaves their asses hot and their spirits high.

A fat guy stands frozen on the ledge above. The drill sergeant has to wet nurse him for 10 minutes before he flops over the side and drops like a bag of rocks. Then I spot the first female. Up there at the rim of outer space, she peers over her shoulder, her jaw quivering, tears streaming down her cheeks. She backs off until the drill sergeants surround her, talking quietly, gently cajoling her back to the edge, and this time she's out there flying, WHUUMP...WHUUMP...WHUUMP, tear-stained but game. "I'll be damned! Well done, soldier," I mutter to myself. The next female appears. This one collapses. No amount of friendly persuasion gets her to take the leap. Sobbing, she's led from VictoryTowerin total defeat.

Welcome to Basic Combat Training. Welcome to CampSnoopy, the U.S. Army's let's-play-soldiers theme park tucked in the piney hills of South Carolina. Does the idea of an obstacle course scare you? Hey, no sweat. The one they've build down here is called the Team Development Course. If you can't make it over the wall someone nice will lend you a hand. Do guns, bayonets, fists upset you? No problem. At CampSnoopyyou stick two marshmallows on a stick and duke it out with someone your own size. You say, you're no Hawkeye? Relax. If the drill sergeant can't get you through rifle training, the Chaplain can. At CampSnoopy, they've invented a whole new meaning to "Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition."

It's just past 0800 hours at FortJacksonand I'm sitting in a small conference room waiting for the commanding general. The general's running late because he's at a prayer meeting. The delay is fine with me. I use the time to review the e-mails that led me down here to South Carolina. on a fact-finding mission. The private who wrote "Basic training stinks" pretty much sets the tone for all the rest. A colonel who's hotter than Chili Red over "gender-neutral training" writes of a drill sergeant from Jacksonwhose take on coed basic training was, "Frankly, sir, they're screwing themselves silly." My favorite is a sighting from an old Vietnamchopper pilot who passed through the small service airport near FortJacksonnot long before I got there. What he saw shocked him one hell of a lot more than a paddy full of Vietcong. "The females were all carrying little teddy bears dressed in mini jump suits and cammies and the guys looked like they'd spent three days sleeping in their Class-A's."

Like armor piercing rounds, these e-mails now riddle the protective shield the Army has thrown up around a real disaster in recruitment and basic combat training. Over the past year, the signals from the field have been coming louder and stronger. From squad leaders, platoon sergeants and company commanders out where the rubber meets the road, the word is that basic combat training is producing soldiers who can't shoot, salute or scoot. Their physical shape is deplorable and their discipline stinks. And since FortJacksonis the single largest producer of Basic grunts, I had come down to South Carolinato see for myself if things had really gone to hell in a bucket.

An aide comes in and tells me the general's ready to see me. I follow him through a maze of polished and dustless corridors, the wooden floors of the old building sagging after so many wars, their creak familiar under my heels. The last door opens and I'm facing General Raymond Barrett, a tall, lanky man with the beginning of a spare tire and thick, dark brown hair styled to a Ronald Reagan wave. He's looking at me as if I've just come out of the tree-line wearing a straw hat and rubber sandals, a wild old man who means to take a dump on his program and then frag him personally.

That's not the mission.

Go slow, Hack, I'm telling myself. Be fair. In fact, I'm so busy reminding myself that the stupidity of my own Greatest Generation filled a mountain of body bags that a few minutes go by before I realize the 'war' in the war stories General Barrett is telling me is Desert Storm.

Desert Storm? That 100-hour blow-out?

"I had the Third of the Fifteenth," he's saying. "Audie Murphy's old outfit."

I'm probably the only guy left alive in FortJacksonwho served in the same army as old To Hell and Back. But the outfit sounds familiar for another reason.

"We had the highest casualties of the war," General Barrett says in a practiced, John Wayne baritone. The two stars on his shoulders glow with the sanctity of command.

Suddenly it hits me.

"Excuse me, General, but weren't your troops shooting each other?"

General Barrett's handsome face goes redder than the clay at FortBenning. But what can he say?

"Yes," he snaps. "We had the highest friendly fire casualties of the war."

If you're wondering why the Pentagon would put someone with this particular combat record in charge of its single largest basic combat training installation, I'm right in there with you. Last year, 80,000 men and women, most of them between 17 and 25, signed up to serve in the United States Army. Of these, almost half went to FortJacksonto learn their basic soldiering, and nearly half of these Jackson High Fives were women.

The Army still has separate training for infantry, armor and artillery line troops--the bayonet-in-the-guts guys go to Fort Benning and the heavyweight shell humpers to Fort Knox and Fort Sill--but it's General Barrett who's become the point-person for the Pentagon's politically correct, squeaky clean, "values-based" Army. And if things keep going the way they're going now, Jackson will set the cadence for everyone else. "They want us to be the Army starship," one hardcore drill sergeant told me the night before my meeting with General Barrett. "Valhalla, man. ****ing Valhalla. You know what I think of these commanders? I'll tell you what I think. They can't take a piss without a Power Point presentation."

Sure enough, the General is now leading me back to the conference room, where a staff officer fiddling over a projector is getting set for the official Victory Starts Here slide show. When the officer finally nods that he's ready, the lights go off and down comes the snow. Here's what happens when you turn basic training over to art directors: you get a photo of three rock-hard drill sergeants and a quote that says 'Prove to us you're good enough to be in our Army and we'll let you in.' This is followed by a chart that shows a man has to do a staggering thirteen pushups to qualify for today's army--a woman, three. I learn that to graduate Basic in 2001 requires all of six foot marches, the longest being ten miles. Good thing these boys and girls weren't joining up with George Washington and the Continental Army' think about them hoofing it from Boston to Valley Forge to Yorktown with no way to hitch a ride.

There are slides on the Quality Management program, the Motivational Enhancement program (where recruits 'having second thoughts [are] salvaged'), the See It Through program that includes seminars on anger control and stress mmanagement. Today's Basic has remedial programs galore, including one with a 'Master Marksmanship Trainer--for anyone who can't hit a beer truck at ten yards with an M-16. All of these are great successes, General Barrett is saying.

"They've dropped the attrition rates to single digits.." I'm getting the feeling that the graduation rate for blind marksmen at Jackson would be 100 percent.

The "Down on your belly, dogface," approach to boot camp has given way to something called the Soldierization Process: a three-stage behavior modification program that follows a patriotic color scheme. The Initial Values Training is calledthe Red Phase, the transition toward combat is the White Phase, and the culminating three weeks of more rigorous combat training, culiminating in a program called Victory Force, is the Blue Phase.

Next to me, my wife Eilhys is scribbling notes even faster than I am. I brought her along to correct for my own bias against coed training and to make sure I'm fair to female recruits. She's writing on a small pad of General Barrett's personal notepaper, which she liberated from his desk along with one of his pens. The ballpoint is complimentary, a give-away souvenir, but the note pad, with its two red stars isn't. Each time she jots something down and rips off another sheet he smiles tightly. When she tells him the chow on post is "despicably unhealthy," he heaves an Al Gore sigh and the projector guy quickly picks up speed.

"We are here to provide these young people with opportunity," he says sturdily.

"Whoa, General," I say, "I thought we were here to prepare them for war."

I can feel Eilhys pulling on my choke leash. Okay, I tell myself. It's not about General Barrett. The Army has a real problem. It has to find those 80,000 people every year to do its job and they're hard to come by right now because the job market's been so target rich. Why sign up for the military and stand in the rain and get blisters and maybe get yourself killed when you can earn good money elsewhere and even MacDonald's is offering management training programs? If you're not from an old-fashioned family with a strong tradition of military service, if you're not a jock or someone born with a warrior's soul, you'd have to be nuts. So you don't have to be a genius to understand today's pressure for maximum bodies, minimum attrition and a triage training philosophy that says: **** it. If they don't get it in Basic, we can square them away when they reach their units.

The problem is, war's not a three strikes and you're out game. One strike, a single mistake, and you're in a body bag with the rest of your squad, your platoon's short, your company's crippled, the battalion's****ed and at Division HQ they're wondering why the battle's being lost.

A lot of first-rate kids, males and females, go through the recruiting office door every year, tens of thousands of them. But so do a lot of slugs. The problem at Fort Jackson and all the other Basic Combat Training posts starts right there. In peacetime, with an all-volunteer army and a good job market, quotas rule, not high standards. It's all too easy for the slugs to ooze through. When recruitment fell 6000 bodies short two years ago, the military spent --$113 million on advertising and $105 million in enlistment bonuses. Walk through that Recruitment Office door and even if you're holding a busted flush, you can leave the table with $3000 for signing up and $50,000 from the Army College Fund.

Nearly 10 percent of the trainees at Jackson are single parents, 4 percent male, 6 percent female. A great opportunity, as General Barrett says. But what happens when they get to their units and say, "Reporting for duty, First Sergeant. Where's my quarters, where's the day care center? I'm gonna need Food stamps to supplement my pay, and, uh, I won't be able to deploy to Bosnia

because my mom's sick of taking care of my kid?"

The bottom line is the big bucks, the college money, the job training, all the rest of the enticements--they draw, but they scramble a soldier's motivation. If you don't get off the bus at the Reception Battalion because your dream, however adolescent, is to be a warrior, or your moral vision, however retro, includes the duty to fight for your country, as soldier material you're starting two bricks shy of a load.

In the past, facts of life like the draft or a world at war solved this problem. If you didn't have a martial spirit, you went because you had to and you trained hard because if you didn't you died.

Today, the flip side of buying recruits is that the Army becomes just another job. It bugs you, you split. One joint in the latrine when the First Sergeant comes in, one trip to the Chaplain--"Uh, Padre, I think I'm gay" and you're home free. Happens all the time. The Government Accounting Office, the non-partisan numbers cruncher for Congress, reported that 36 percent of new recruits fail to complete their initial commitment. Instead of facing this crisis straight on, the Army seems to be trying to wish it away.

The next chalk talk is with Lt. Colonel Scott A. Henry, a water-walker bound for stars. The General considers him his best battalion commander and it's not hard to see why: five years in the Rangers, four years with Mech; at 39 he runs two miles in 12 minutes and 15 seconds. So it astounds me when I hear him drop the word "nurture" into his opening rap. Great Ranger in the sky, I think, who's been brainwashing this stud?

He concedes that the recruits are a mixed bag, but says that's the leadership challenge. He calls it Generation D for Digital. "They're less fit, but they're mostly bright. Their motivation is different. They're individualistic. They come in watching tv, playing Nintendo."

They also come in with an aAttitude the size of Duke Nukem or Lara Croft--that cyber chick with the titanium tits in Tomb Raider I, II, and III--and their attitude all too often is inversely proportional to their capabilities.

On that score, Lt. Col. Henry has no illusions. He says his mission is to sort them without prejudice.- "You have to identify what I call the Titanium Soldier," he explains, "And you have to identify the Porcelain soldier. The Titanium is all-varsity, an athlete, tremendous. You can push him hard. The Porcelain isn't doing so well. Maybe he's very scared, or maybe it's just that Grampa told him never to volunteer. You pound 'em too hard and you break 'em. You really got to watch it. These are good people. I don't want to send them home"

I feel the flashback coming--, the day I got off the train at Fort Knox ("Come here, dogface. Your ass is mine." ). I see myself a few days later trotting around the parade ground, holding the 60-pound base-plate of a 81mm mortar over my head, screaming "I'M a BIG ASS BIRD" at the top of my voice, shouting and staggering until my arms finally give out, the steel plate misses my head by a hair, and I'm lying with my nose in the mud wondering if I'll ever get out of Basic alive.

The point being, of course, that the very ruthlessness of the drill hardened me for something one hell of a lot more brutal.


"That's not our mission," Lt. Col. Henry says. The rough stuff's for the shock troops training at Benning. "Here we're inoculating them for the prospect of maybe having a fight, hanging in there until the cavalry or infantry arrives to save the day."

Tough training for the line units, marshmallows for the rear? Talk about denial. In modern warfare, there is no front. Command and control nodes, airfields, supply dumps, logistics units, transport, the hospital, everything's fair game. If anything, in guerrilla warfare and terrorist actions, those targets are even more likely to be hit. A young sergeant I know put it this way: 'That U.S. Army name tag on your chest is the biggest bull's-eye in the world. These young soldiers are going to be in Korea. They're going to be in Bosnia. They are really exposed, man. When our cooks and clerks ran convoys of deuces and hummers through the streets of Mogadishu, do you think the Somalis were not going to shoot at them because they were 'noncombatants'''

Sergeant Orfeo Provost, my escort, watches the disaster impassively: 14 years in the Army, a Ranger tab and a Ranger combat scroll on his uniform, a bronze combat jump star--Panama--in his silver wings, a drill sergeant's drill sergeant who's seen it all, he'd have his jaw sewn shut before he'd badmouth the Army.

He knows General Patton's maxim by heart: the more sweat in training, the less blood on the battlefield. When he was a drill sergeant, it shaped his whole day. He'd roll out of the sack at 3:30, jump in the shower and be slapping bunks in the barracks by 4: 05. He gave his recruits 10 minutes to make beds, knock the dirt off their teeth and get going. Out on the PT field, they had to keep up with his pushups. If recruits dogged it, Provost took them to Bunker Hill out beyond the barracks, using their personal time after evening chow to square them away. He was tough and he was fair. After lights out, when the other drills went home, he stayed an extra half hour, setting aside 20-minutes for gripe sessions. When a recruit had a bad problem, he tried to talk him through it; if he couldn't, he called the chaplain.

By the time he got home at 2200, the dinner would be in the microwave, the kids and wife in bed. He'd polish his boots and hit the sack ("Hey, mama, howya doing?"), but by then she was usually asleep. Five and a half hours later the three alarms he'd set would shoot him into another day, day after day, nine-week cycle after nine-week cycle.

The Army's drill sergeants are not the problem. Like Provost, the overwhelming majority of them really know their stuff. They're a new generation, not like the great old troglodytes I grew up with. My teachers were sergeants like Hugh MacAlwaney. After a few beers, this redneck with his fifth-grade education would roll up his trousers and show you the scars on his ankles from his days on a Georgia chain gang. There was the time in Italy when a jeep of MP's roared up to catch him at a whorehouse. While the MPs were pounding up the stairs, he jumped out the window into the seat of his own jeep, as if he were in an old Western. When the MP's gave chase, he pulled out his .45 and shot out their headlights. End of story.

If anything, Provost and today's drills are better than the Greatest Generation. They come from the three Orders of Gungness: the super-hardcore, the medium-hardcore, and the pragmatists. The first are training fanatics like me; they'll risk their stripes to do the job right no matter how the Army tries to hamstring them. I'd put Provost in the second group: guys who say, 'All right, I'll train whatever you give me, but I'm gonna do it my way. You're gonna fall out 10 minutes early, stand at attention, give me extra PT and come out a soldier." And when they dog it, he'll take them out to Bunker Hill. But the third group does have a go-along, get-along approach and the product's not going to be as good. They say to themselves, "The Army's full of shit on training, and I've got a wife and two kids, I can't lose my stripes, so I'm gonna do my two years and not make waves."

General Barrett has done everything he can think of to hide his super-hardcores, so I've located them myself. Since they're risking their careers to talk, I'd rather fall on a grenade than be seen with them or identify them by name. But each night, Eilhys slips out and brings them through the perimeter wire so they can tell me their stories over a beer.

Very few Vietnam-era combat NCO's are left, but most of the super-hardcore trained under that lost generation of warriors. They tell me about the sergeant who said, "I ain't running no ****ing Loveboat," and was shown the way to the door; about the sergeant from Fort Leonard Wood so dedicated he missed his own daughter's open heart surgery to finish a cycle. His reputation proceeded him to Fort Jackson, where the post sergeant major told him, "You won't fit in real good here," and kept him miles from any training field.

The hardcores clink bottles and shake their heads. They say the Reception battalion is sending them recruits with asthma, bad knees, weak ankles, people bearing raps sheets dotted with criminal misdemeanors, a sprinkling of recycled felons, and dim bulbs ('rocks with lips') by the dozens. "You ask them when the War of 1812 was and they say, 'Uh, 1940'' Who did we fight in the Spanish American War' 'Uh, Germanee?'" I had this one gal from Baltimore I asked who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. She said, "Oh, that was Francis Scott Key. The rockets was goin' off and the bombs was fallin' and the Japanese ships were headin' into Pearl Harbor, and...' I'm not shittin' you, man."

I hear stories about road marches with stragglers strung out in goat Rope formation, dropping rucksacks, falling out. The old practice was for every squad, one way or another, to hump its rucks across the finish line. Now, they take a fuckup's ruck and toss it on the truck. "You go out on a march, they kept stickin' the magazine in their pistol belts, cradling the weapon so it'd be lighter,' a sergeant says. ' So I made 'em carry it at high port, ready to go. The Sergeant Major comes up to my buddy and me--my buddy's a 19 Delta, a Cav Scout--and goes, 'Who taught these privates to carry their weapon at the high ready'' I say, 'I did.' And he says, 'We don't carry like that.' So I tell him, 'Sergeant Major, they're not carrying the way they should,' and you know what he says' He says, "That may be the way they do it in the real Army, but that's not the way we do it here.' And I'm like, 'The real Army? What am I in? The fuckin' Boy Scouts?'"

The next morning, I visit the Pugil Pit to get a good look at the training for teamwork and hand-to-hand combat, the true, up-close and personal shit where only one of you leaves alive.

The scene at the Pugil pit reminds me of a fraternity row pillow fight. The Army doesn't scare the trainees with any hairy-chested talk about hand-to-hand combat. One of the sergeants tells me, "If the brass had the balls to say you'll actually have to fight or get killed, no one would show up." Instead, they call these training exercises pugil training, which sounds like something you might want your lap dog to have before trying out for best in show.

The grunts are drawn up in two lines matched to physical size, males against females wherever body size puts them. It's hard to tell the men from the women because everyone's wearing football helmets and vests so stuffed with padding they move at the speed of a sumo wrestler after chow. The weapon of choice today is a broomstick wrapped with tape, the ends fitted out with two thick foam pads.

Thump, thump. The men are laughing. I remember Korea, what a man looks like going into the body bag after a bad guy with a bayonet has explored his guts. Thumpity, thump. Is that a warrior, that little bitty thing coming up on line? Yes, it is it. I admire her grit and feel bad when the miniature male she's paired against steps forward and decks her.

My next stop is the Teamwork Development Course. Near a pair of wooden platforms linked by a crawl line, a team of five trainees studies a jumble of ropes and pulleys piled on the ground next to the dummy standing in for a wounded soldier. The drill sergeant looks at his watch. The team is good. After some initial fumbling, a bright kid dopes out the problem, quarterbacks it for the others and they all scramble up on the crawl line and drag the dummy safely across the chasm below them.

The team across from them fucks the duck. The trainees pick aimlessly at the ropes as if they are trying to straighten out a bad hair day. No one even bothers to check out the other, more together, squad. After a while, the drill studies his watch in disgust and calls on the next team. No one gets smoked. It's just 'Better luck next time.'

In the mess hall later, I study trays piled high with everything from hotdogs to pizza and ice cream and ask the six young privates sitting at my table whether they're being pushed hard enough. They look at each other uncomfortably. To a man and to a woman they stick to the message. All a little too good to be true.

The facts of life in the Army are these. Even in a good outfit, ten percent of the soldiers are warriors, the rest are rock huggers. It's human nature. But in a well-trained, disciplined unit, when the warriors get up and go the rock huggers move out, too, if only because they'd be ashamed to hang back.

The privates agree that the worst are not weeded out fast enough. One of the group pushes back his tray and says, "Pretty soon we'll be halfway through our training--we're in basic rifle marksmanship now, and they're still here and we're not making any progress."

Maybe it's just start up problems. To check the progress of grunts at the end stages of Basic, I go out to the Omaha Course, one of the combat ranges. These soldiers are heading down the homestretch towards graduation. Two soldiers shoot and scoot forward toward a large bunker. It's live fire. They hit the ground like two-hundred pound flour sacks; neither can get into a correct prone firing position: their boot heels stick up in the air, their faces say help me, help me. While the first crawls forward and uncorks his dummy grenade, his buddy "covers" him, firing wildly at the pop-up targets, missing at least half of them. The objective, an open sandpit big enough and wide enough to swallow an SUV, lies only 20 paces ahead of the lead grunt. He lobs his grenade. POP. Short. Exercise over. POP, POP, POP, POP. Four more teams. No one hits the target.

Out on the defensive range, it is just as bad. Everyone's hunkered within a make-believe perimeter fighting off the bad guys. The pop-up targets are jumping. BLAOO, BLAOO, BLAO. Once again, half the shots are misses. Sorry, kids, I mutter. You're dead.

On the rifle range, I discover why the marksmanship is so poor. I was taught to shoot by spending three straight weeks on the range. When I flopped down, the range lieutenant stomped my boot heels to make them lie flat; he kicked my arm so hard to align it under my M-1 that I was sore for a week. These recruits have the wobblies.

I remember that chart of General Barrett's, the one that puts the rate for basic rifle management at a perfect 100 percent, and think back to some of the stories I've heard over the past few days: the kid who emptied two boxes of ammo without hitting a single target but qualified after the Sgt Major examined the targets; the female crying because she couldn't hit shit, then qualifying after the Chaplain investigated her aim.

Later that afternoon, I get another clandestine visit from a truth-telling private who discloses the real secret for Jackson's sterling success rate. Out on the range, there are targets at 50 meters, 150 meters, 200 meters and 300 meters. To pass basic rifle management, you have to hit 23 targets with 40 shots. The trick is to hold your fire when the targets farthest down range come up and only shoot at the closest ones. When I ask one of the drill sergeants about it, he nods. "Out there, the 300-meter target comes up, you can hear the crickets singing in the woods it's so quiet. The 50-meter target comes up and its WHAAAAAAAAMMMMMM. Sounds like a fuckin' ambush.'"

Great, I tell myself. If you want to duke it out with greenhorns like these, all you have to do is park yourself in the bushes 51 yards out, whistle to get their attention and blow their brains out.

"Hormones will flow," Lt. Colonel Henry says with a straight face and I have to admire his way with understatement. Beyond the Executive Conference Room, where 38,000 young males and females, most just out of high school, have been thrown together over the past year, hormones aren't the half of it. They've been caught doing the dirty in the laundry and in the mop room, in the Clipper room where machines power wash the mess trays, in the wall lockers, where it takes tight bodies and true commitment for two to tango.

Most of the time, of course, they're not caught at all. "We teach 'em the buddy system for combat and they use it for gettin' down," one sergeant tells me. "One guy says to his buddy, 'We'll be in the laundry. If the drill sergeant comes around, yell 'At ease,' so I can pull my pants up and get outta there."

The game begins the moment they step off the bus. "First day, they tell us the Dumpster Story, the Woods Story, the Porta John Story,"a young woman tells me, choking back a grin. "It's like a How-To-Do-It-Handbook."

The Dumpster Story?

"Yeah, well, it's like, they say, 'If we ever catch you with a person of the opposite sex near the dumpsters you're automatically out. At the field bleachers you can sneak in between the rear seats and the wall, but something always hangs out to give you away. The great thing about the dumpsters is they've got a lid.' When hormones and pheromones reach critical mass, who cares about how anything else smells?

In a losing battle to keep the recruits zipped up and on course, General Barrett oversees something he calls the Safe and Secure Program. In the barracks, females and males sleep on separate floors. The doors are locked at night, and surveillance cameras scan for sleepwalkers. They have so many electronic alarms even Tom Cruise couldn't get through them. Missionimpossible, the watchdogs say.

Yeah, right. With a piece of tinfoil from a gum wrapper you can disarm the klaxons. From the windows of adjacent barracks, you signal with flashlights. At chow you pass notes like wiseguys out of Oz. There's always a way.

One drill instructor says he discovered a young woman sitting at Mass one cold Sunday giving a fellow recruit a handjob under the blanket spread across their laps. He ungummed the couple and because the Army's nurture and salvage policy prevented him from toss them out on the spot, he sent them to Bravo 1/28, the post's school for scandal and reform. Once there, the fox was caught at the same handiwork on the bus to special Easter Services. Given a third chance, she went on sick call, where a sergeant made the mistake of accepting her services. Only then was she asked to go home. The sergeant is now facing jail.

I admit this case is extreme. In fact, the significant problem isn't even about sex, it's about distraction. The upshot of coed training is a level of tension that destroys focus and discipline, eats up time that could be spent on more important things like marksmanship'with the rifle, not the short arm.

Sure, a few asshole cadre do get it on with the female trainees. While I was on post, one battalion in recent cycles had lost three drill sergeants and one company commander. A female sergeant described FortJackson'a playground where the drills do everything to get into as many BDU pants as they can." No doubt, that's a gross distortion, especially since the Aberdeensexual abuse trials. The fact is that the majority of the drills, even the hardcores, are now scared to death of their female recruits. They have to take extreme measures in self defense. One of them tells the females coming in from Reception that he'll yell rape if any of them get anywhere near him without their buddy standing right by.

This begs two questions: How can a scared drill sergeant turn out a good Soldier? And what about equal treatment, the very heart of unit cohesiveness? You can go out to the dumpsters and kiss that one goodbye. "They all talk about equality," one honest female recruit tells me off base. "Then they break the standards. "The drill sergeant scuffs us, the men get 110 pushups the women 20. Everything's like that. If we trained separately in Basic, then integrated in advanced training, it would be better. Both females and males would be Soldiers first before they started working together."

As things stand now, her proposal is not acceptable to the political correctness crowd or to the Pentagon. "They tell us this is a gender-neutral Army," one of the hardcores shrugs. "They say, 'It's bought and paid for. Drill Sergeant, you will make it work. It's total, fuckin' BS. The gain is there, but it's not worth the distraction."

General Barrett has his numbers to prove that all's well in the best of all possible armies. His party line, as old as United States Army itself, is that 1 in 10 recruits will always be ****-ups. Even with reduced attrition, Fort Jackson does wash out nearly 10 percent of the worst slugs.

But talk to the drills and the recruits, and the numbers change. The sergeants say that when they stand at graduation maybe twenty-five percent of the new grunts behind them are not good to go. Talk to the grunts, the figures are even higher. "Probably sixty percent of my platoon is high speed, low drag," says one platoon guide. "The others don't want to be there. They're not disciplined. They don't care. The brass would rather recycle a soldier eight times than boot him out of the Army."

I'm having one last round with the hardcores. Around the room, the talk gradually shifts from grousing towards what needs to be done. To a man, they say the order of battle isn't hard to grasp: a clearer eye toward quality over quotas at the recruiting office; sharper, faster weeding out of losers at the reception battalion and during the first two weeks of training; a better ratio of drill sergeants to recruits (in better times the figure was roughly 1-20; now a single drill can be looking at 64 gawky grunts); common sense, not political correctness, as the right judge of mixed training.

That's why the stupidity of the recent Army of One commercials is astounding, even for the Perfumed Princes around the Pentagon E-Ring who approved and paid for them. An Army of One is a contradiction in terms, an assault on every principle of success in war known to man. Individuals don't win battles, units do. How could the Chief of Staff ever have let those ads out of the box? Sure, you have to sell the What's-In-It-For-Me Digital Generation on signing up, but the campaign can only increase attitude problems, undermine unit cohesiveness and make life even worse for our best drill sergeants.

After Desert Storm, George Bush I received a blue ribbon after-action report that included a critique of the way mixed-sex Basic Combat Training had played out on the battlefield. It wasn't pretty. But when he lost his job, the findings were dropped down the memory hole. Now we have George II, with Colin Powell, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the Gulf War and Dick Cheney, who was manning the Defense Department, right there next to him. If anyone knows this particular score, they do. The question is whether or not they'll dust off that earlier report and do something about it. Instead of total obsession with mega-buck Flash Gordon weapons systems like an anti-missile shield that may not work, it would be a better bet to correct Camp Snoopy Syndrome.

The hardcores are hoping for the best. But they are outnumbered, fighting from within an ever-shrinking perimeter. Their only advantage, their only trump, is their combat experience.

"I'll play that card," one of them says as he stands up to leave. "I'll tell these guys, 'Look, I've had the displeasure of carrying a dead American on the battlefield and I don't want to ever do that again. You train harder so it doesn't happen. You train harder because you don't want to send your friend home in a body bag. It's not a pretty thing to think about, not a fun thing you want to talk about, but there it is. If we're not training 'em to be good soldiers, we're training 'em to be dead soldiers."

Copyright : David Hackworth.

Mr Happy


Congrats on finding the time to read the article. Seriously, how similar is it to our ITC's?

As I recall there were no blankets allowed in the chapel at Basingbourne, now I know why...

Mr H


War Hero
From some of the feedback i've heard from anumber of the DS scattered across them there is a big problem with oxygen thiefs turning up at the recruitment selection centre and getting through that - asthma, psychotic etc etc....also the number of rather "weak" candidates is quite high, with in one case a bloke being back squaded 3 times before the CO would bin him!!

Also was quite alarmed to hear that other arms basic training does not involve learning the basics of infantry soldiering - namely section level attacks and all the fun stuff that goes with it!

Now I may be speaking herasy here, but they are all soldiers first and trade experts second and thus they need to know the basics of their profession.

I agree that this is a different generation and are "softer" than previous ones, but rather than cut training time, I belive it should be extended to allow time for fitness to be built up and for the recruits across all arms to learn the basics of soldiering - i.e. how to live, fight and survive in a battle field - the excuse of "but i'm going to drive a lorry" ain't going to wash when some b*st*ard with a bayonet or rpg is about to ruin your day!

I also think that it is a good thing that there currently are no coed platoons (to my knowledge) but there are issues of individuals moving together in short sharp jerky motions - bound to happen when you put them together in the same accomodation blocks.....

Big question is - will anybody do anything to sort the issues or will the Army continue to take quantity over quality so that they can say they are now fully recruited :?:

Mr Happy

Seems something strange to me. When I was a recruit the earlier stages there was no time to fraternise with the lumpy jumper types - every moment of every day was spent running from a to b doing something. Thirty minutes to wonder off to a quiet spot with a member of the opposite sex! Impossible.
One minor point; the author of the original article (David Hackworth) had an illustrious career through Vietnam, but these days is starting to be regarded as a bit of a fanatic....

...namely, won't change his mind, and can't change the subject.

He's getting a reputation as a man with an axe to grind (amongst US service types) and while he makes some valid points, he's been known to tear the arrse out of it.....
If Hackworth could be said to have an axe to grind, then, having read his article and a considerable amount of the same on Fred Reed's column, it might be because said axe is blunt as a c*nt and incapable of chopping wood when the time comes.
I suspect the only ones who consider him to be a fanatic are those who have surrendered to the PC tendency to keep their careers running smoothly. 'Don't make any waves, PLEASE!'
Keep on grinding axes until you get a good, sharp edge; even if you drive the Headshed screaming mad, in the process!
Oh, what was that bit about 'gender-neutral' army? Sounds more like 'gender-NEUTERED' army to me.
What a load of bo££ocks! Or not, as the case may be.
Mr Hackworth; a good, illuminating piece. More power to your elbow!


Totally agree with OldAdam. Original post was an illumination of what the majority of British soldiers have been saying for the past few years.
Obviously when I say "majority", that doesn't include the PC, tree hugging, uniform wearing civvies, which have invaded our beloved army, solely because they were too thick to sign on the dole.
The aforementioned dross love the co-ed thing because for them, that first frenzied fumble at the ATR, in the NAAFI shadows, just before they shot their tatty water over their brand new C95, was their first enjoyable experience in the army.
The fact that the experience was shared with a munter of biblical proportions with a 'tache Saddam would be proud of, matters not a jot.
Get the chicks back in the med sqns and clerks offices, put their weapons back in the armoury, slap 'em for forgetting their station in life and lets get this army of ours back on track.
Ranting finished. Out.


Get the chicks back in the med sqns and clerks offices, put their weapons back in the armoury, slap 'em for forgetting their station in life and lets get this army of ours.

Dont know when you joined but we never used to have "chicks" in "Field Ambulances" till '91. Didn't get Regimental or Squadronised till '00 if you want to get really archaic bring back the WRAC.
Yeah, get the chicks out of the RA and the RLC those well known combat organisations and back into the med sqn's, Dickhed don't you know it's been called a "Battlespace" for some time now and those AGC clerks will probably be further forward than most of the outdated 16 AA will get. In fact I do believe 1 CS Med Regt DS was on a number of occassion's further forward than the "Regt" (hushed awe). I will assume that you have spent your veteran years in a variety of places Omagh,Antrim, Belfast managed Kosovo once got to the Gulf finally (were'nt used) other than Eagle VCP's.
One last point, without the chicks in the RAMC you if you get hit are now more likely to be treated by a chick than a bloke 8O
This piece was posted by Cutaway a few weeks ago. It comes from Fred Reed Column No 138 ( ). In this case I think it's appropriate to throw it back into the pot and stir; see what comes out.
A long time ago, when I didn't know any better, I had to take female RUC officer ( a Greenfinch? or was that a fem UDR?) on foot patrol.
Pre-Bobby Sands era, 1975-76; a guy called Frank Stagg had just starved himself to death in Parkhurst and his erstwhile neighbours were pretty steamed up about it and throwing lead around like it was going out of style.
I spent more time worrying about her safety than doing the job! The patrol was utter pants and, by the time we got back into Glassmullin, I never wanted to see this bird again, ever, pretty as she was. This was all due to me being an old fashioned, sexist, chauvenist pig, as I was told many years later.
I love women! 'I mean that, truly and from the bottom of my heart, folks,' but in a stressful situation, having a woman to worry about is not conducive to doing a professional job. Blokes will get themselves killed trying to protect women. They can't help it! They are genetically programmed to do so; it's what evolution has dictated ever since that psycho Ogg the 'Orrible tried to take over from Fred Flintstone!
Anyway, here's Fred's piece:

Women In Combat

Facts From A Closet

Occasionally I have written that placing women in physically demanding jobs in the military, as for example combat, is stupid and unworkable. Predictably I've gotten responses asserting that I hate women, abuse children, cannibalize orphans, and can't get a date. A few, with truculence sometimes amplified by misspelling, have demanded supporting data.

OK. The following are from documents I found in a closet, left over from my days as a syndicated military columnist ("Soldiering," Universal Press Syndicate). Note the dates: All of this has been known for a long time.

From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (report date November 15, 1992, published in book form by Brassey's in 1993): "The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer [stress] fractures as men."

Further: "The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

"Women's aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

"In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man."

From the same report: "Lt Col. William Gregor, United States Army, testified before the Commission regarding a survey he conducted at an Army ROTC Advanced Summer Camp on 623 women and 3540 men. …Evidence Gregor presented to the Commission includes:

"(a) Using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, he found that the upper quintile of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile of men.

"(c) Only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.

"(d) On the push-up test, only seven percent of women can meet a score of 60, while 78 percent of men exceed it.

"(e) Adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70 percent of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only three percent would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge…."

The following, quoted by Brian Mitchell in his book Women in the Military: Flirting With Disaster (Regnery, 1998) and widely known to students of the military, are results of a test the Navy did to see how well women could perform in damage control -- i.e., tasks necessary to save a ship that had been hit. Test % Women Failing % Men Failing
Before Training After Training Before Training After Training
Stretcher carry, level 63 38 0 0
Stretcher carry/up, down ladder 94 88 0 0
Fire hose 19 6 0 0
P250 pump, carry down 99 99 9 4
P250 pump, carry up 73 52 0 0
P250, start pump 90 75 0 0
Remove SSTO pump 99 99 0 0
Torque engine bolt 78 47 0 0

Our ships can be hit. I know what supersonic stealthed cruise missiles are. So do the Iraqis.

Also from the Commission's report: "Non-deployability briefings before the Commission showed that women were three times more non-deployable than men, primarily due to pregnancy, during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. According to Navy Captain Martha Whitehead's testimony before the Commission, 'the primary reason for the women being unable to deploy was pregnancy, that representing 47 percent of the women who could not deploy.'"

Maybe we need armored strollers.

My friend Catherine Aspy graduated from Harvard in 1992 and (no, I'm not on drugs) enlisted in the Army in 1995. Her account was published in Reader's Digest, February, 1999, and is online in the Digest's archives.

She told me the following about her experiences: "I was stunned. The Army was a vast day-care center, full of unmarried teen-age mothers using it as a welfare home. I took training seriously and really tried to keep up with the men. I found I couldn't. It wasn't even close. I had no idea the difference in physical ability was so huge. There were always crowds of women sitting out exercises or on crutches from training injuries.

"They [the Army] were so scared of sexual harassment that women weren't allowed to go anywhere without another woman along. They called them 'Battle Buddies.' It was crazy. I was twenty-six years old but I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself."

Women are going to take on the North Korean infantry, but need protection in the ladies' room. Military policy is endlessly fascinating.

When I was writing the military column, I looked into the experience of Canada, which tried the experiment of feminization. I got the report from Ottawa, as did the Commission. Said the Commission:

"After extensive research, Canada has found little evidence to support the integration of women into ground units. Of 103 Canadian women who volunteered to joint infantry units, only one graduated the initial training course. The Canadian experience corroborates the testimony of LTC Gregor, who said the odds of selecting a woman matching the physical size and strength of the average male are more than 130-to-1.

From Military Medicine, October 1997, which I got from the Pentagon's library:

(p. 690): "One-third of 450 female soldiers surveyed indicated that they experienced problematic urinary incontinence during exercise and field training activities. The other crucial finding of the survey was probably that 13.3% of the respondents restricted fluids significantly while participating in field exercises." Because peeing was embarrassing.

Or, (p. 661): " Kessler et al found that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD in the United States was twice as high among women…" Depression, says MilMed, is far commoner among women, as are training injuries. Et cetera.

The military is perfectly aware of all of this. Their own magazine has told them. They see it every day. But protecting careers, and rears, is more important than protecting the country.

Anyway, for those who wanted supporting evidence, there it is.


There is a certain resonance between the two articles; neither writer could be said to be of a 'nurturing or cossetting' nature; in the manner of the Politically Correct ('Pthui!'). But then, of course, we are talking of a profession that assumes that it's primary purpose is to 'close with the enemy and kill him'...
Oh, sorry, I forgot, some tender souls don't subscribe to that doctrine but that really is the bottom line. The peacekeeping and hearts and minds programmes are all fine, and very laudible aims; gives the liberally minded a nice, warm feeling to do good; it does me, too, I have to confess. However, you can only properly do these nice, warm, satisfying things after you have imposed your will upon the enemy and that usually means killing enough of them to make them cry 'Uncle!'


Letterwritingman said:
In fact I do believe 1 CS Med Regt DS was on a number of occassion's further forward than the "Regt" (hushed awe).
Complete bollox! The only way that most of them could,ve been further forward than even the lowliest bath and shower unit, is if that bath and shower unit had been treading water south of Kuwait.

I take it you're a medic or one of our PC, tree hugging, uniform wearing civvy, blah, blah, blah, blah......................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
So, following this line of argument, you would take all women out of the military (Army, Navy and RAF because, presumably, the same principle applies to all of them).

That would leave the Forces undermanned by how much exactly?

Or you would only employ them in clerical jobs back in the UK. So, who exactly is going to carry out their many functions when brigades deploy? The troop Brew Bitch?

Come up with a rational and intelligent answer to those questions OldAdam and Doorbundle, and prove to us all that you think as well as potificate - or is that just too difficult?
You're quite right, I don't claim to have the answers, I wish that I did. However, there does seem to be a problem and, to return to the article by Hackworth, it's not just with female recruits but with the males too; many are just not up to standard.
The notion of 'one size fits all' training standards is ridiculous. The physiological differences between men and women make a nonsense of it. To lower the standards for men, in order to allow women to achieve a pass, is just storing up trouble for the future. The statistics, as stated in Fred Reed's column, are very persuasive of the point that women, generally, do not have the physical capability to undertake a wide range of battlefield tasks.
By lowering standards to meet the average female's physical capability, infers that you will then let in a percentage of males who would not otherwise make the grade. From some posts it would seem that this is happening.
I have the greatest respect for women who genuinely decide to make a career in the forces. I'm certain that the majority are dedicated and I've met some who are truly outstanding and yet, I feel, they are being placed in an invidious position, by insistence on artificial training standards.
Yes, any woman who joins the forces must to be able to defend herself; the battlefield is a fluid medium and the idea of FEBA went down with the Wall, but, for me, to have women employed in the Teeth Arms, goes against every instinct; military or otherwise.
My personal experience of being worried for the safety of a female colleague is echoed by others. I know that some women are 'hell on wheels'; female operators in 14 Coy owe nothing to anyone for courage, tenacity and skill, but those are exceptional circumstances.
I'm not suggesting that women should be excluded from the forces; DoorBundle could be considered just a tad reactionary, but that there is a need to stand back and examine how they are deployed, without becoming bogged down in PC rhetoric.
With the greatest respect OldAdam, your being worried about your female colleague is entirely laudable, but should be irrelevant - it certainly shouldn't be compromising your effectiveness as a soldier. If it is, deal with it. There is a curious dichotomy in the attitiude of the military man to women it seems to me...................on the one hand they get the vapours when it looks like their female colleagues might get hurt, and on the other the military man is six times more likely to beat up his wife and children than his civilian counterpart...........please explain that to me.

There is a tendency to associate women being employed in the military with the degradation of physical performance/restrictions imposed by Health & Safety, political correctness/civil service-imposed targets/liberal, left-wing, tree hugging and general deviant softiness - and by inference, a reduction in the manliness, virility and effectiveness of our fighting men.

Please gentlemen, let's raise the debate to something slightly higher than the very Freudian, school-boy intellectually limited argument that is currently being deployed.

If there is a problem with the fitness of women - only recruit women that are capable of reaching the necessary fitness levels.

If there is a problem with men turning to jelly when their female colleagues enter anything more scary than a fight in the NAAFI, then incorporate cognitive behaviour change into basic training.

If there's a manpower shortage because these measures are introduced then - there's manpower shortage. But then we won't have the unlovely spectacle of various men bleating about how untough everybody is now because there are women in their unit and it's all the womens' fault that the lads can't make it as soldiers anymore.

What I suspect might then become apparent is that we will find a lot of men, who are not physically capable of being soldiers, being exposed for the frauds that they are.
Interestingly, I've just watched an (unusually) reasonable programme on the US edition of the History Channel about the opening phases of the Korean war. It was repeated by about three of the talking heads (all former senior US Army officers) that during those phases, it was embarrassingly obvious that the soldiers and their officers had become, since WW2, so used to being trucked about the exercise area instead of forced marching, were so used to being lectured on the rights of man (or whatever) instead of being told what to do when the machine gun jammed, and were so accustomed to being given a second chance when their decisions proved wrong, that there was a possiblity that the entire effort would catastrophically fail. That was over 50 years ago, and we genuinely seem to have regressed in the relevant training and doctrine.
In the article posted by Mr Happy, we're told that the US Army has become 'gender-neutral', a fatuous and foolish term if ever there was one.
The less this deep stupidity about 'opportunity' and 'equality' is pushed in these circumstances, the better. The appalling episode of the woman captured during the advance to Baghded should have been the cap to the debate. To paraphrase the writer of the article quoted above: the duty of the soldier is to advance to contact with the enemy and kill him. It is not to bugger about with the latest equal-opportunities philosophies.

El Gringo

To focus on the core points of Mr Hackworths article, and keep away from the female/male angle, it would seem that the article makes the following points that are relevant to our army:
1. Many recruits are not of the standard, mentally or physically, that is desirable.
2. Training itself is now easier (too easy) and also insufficient - no section attacks, no orders process, to name but a few
3. It is difficult, if not well nigh impossible, to bin recruits who the training staff say are either too weak, unsuitable, or both.

I am not sure there are any solutions to these problems. Or at least, I am convinced that the answers to these problems are out of reach of the military. There are many reasons for this.

Firstly, our recent governments, especially the current one, are hamstrung by politically correct doctrine which simply does not recognise the needs and realities of the military.

Secondly, there is a genuine difficulty in recruiting and retaining the current generation of today. They have lower personal fitness than was the case 10 years ago, little or no concept of self sacrifice to benefit the group, have lower (if any) personal discipline, a poor attitude to authority and authority figures and have grown up in a liberal society where harsh punishments are regarded as barbaric. Consequently, modern recruits do have to learn a lot of concepts that older generations had already been taught. Throw into that a greater awareness of personal rights and an almost fervent belief in litigation and it is not hard to see why the army has problems with modern recruits and soldiers.

Finally, aside from the legal implications of changing the training regime to one more capable of meeting the demands of the military, there are both the 'face' problem, ie - someone, (probably more than one!) would end up being wrong and looking stupid and the increase in expenditure that would be needed to implement these changes.

As we are all too aware, whilst this government has been all too ready to send the countries armed forces out to do their bidding, they are much less willing to spend money on those same armed forces. If recent media reports about MOD being £1 billion overdrawn (or whatever the phrase is), it is inconceivable that this government will be prepared increase the Armys' defence training budget.

In short, I cannot forsee this situation changing for the better - ever. It would involve facing too many problems. Lets be honest - governments, whatever their colour, do not face problems they can leave alone, especially military problems. (Check your history - the British government has routinely underfunded the military for centuries!)

If we don't like it, we have to options - 1. put up and shut up. 2. Leave altoghter.

Me? I have 2 years left and can't wait to get out. My thoughts turn now to where to go when I leave......I'm seeing sun, lots of sun.......


Kit Reviewer
Prodigal, I've read your post with interest and, I must admit, a little confusion

With the greatest respect OldAdam, your being worried about your female colleague is entirely laudable, but should be irrelevant - it certainly shouldn't be compromising your effectiveness as a soldier.

You're right Prodigal, it should be irrelevant but if he was worried about the RUC lass you've got to ask yourself why. What were her skills and performance like ?

If it is, deal with it.

How ? Put her through remedial trg immediately prior to the patrol ? Or do you mean "Deal with it" as in the buzz word suggesting that OldAdam was the problem ?

There is a curious dichotomy in the attitiude of the military man to women it seems to me...................on the one hand they get the vapours when it looks like their female colleagues might get hurt, and on the other the military man is six times more likely to beat up his wife and children than his civilian counterpart...........please explain that to me.

Could be that military wives are six times more likely to drive a bloke to the point of insanity, possibly due to the fact that they feel neglected as he's always being deployed to one grotty place or another around the planet.

There is a tendency to associate women being employed in the military with the degradation of physical performance/restrictions imposed by Health & Safety, political correctness/civil service-imposed targets/liberal, left-wing, tree hugging and general deviant softiness - and by inference, a reduction in the manliness, virility and effectiveness of our fighting men.

I think rhetoric is getting in the way of joined-up thinking here.

Please gentlemen, let's raise the debate to something slightly higher than the very Freudian, school-boy intellectually limited argument that is currently being deployed.

I don't think that the argument is actually as you describe, physiological differences have been mentioned and the psycological differences have been beaten back and forth on these boards in a number of posts. Is it that you really desire everyone to be 'equal' regardless of creed, colour, gender, religon, sexual orientation and ability ? That's all very well in theory but the big bad world is a very spiky place and if we're going to continue to win conflicts then the theory must take a second place to reality.

If there is a problem with the fitness of women - only recruit women that are capable of reaching the necessary fitness levels.

It's hard enough to get anyone to join and remain, (male or female,) let alone looking for Demi Moore.

If there is a problem with men turning to jelly when their female colleagues enter anything more scary than a fight in the NAAFI, then incorporate cognitive behaviour change into basic training.

Great, and if there's not time available it could replace some of the more ridiculous old fashioned subjects such as fieldcraft and section attacks.

If there's a manpower shortage because these measures are introduced then - there's manpower shortage.

So what happens while we wait for the manpower shortage to be resolved ? Hang about Mr Hitler/Stalin/Hussein/Mugabe, we'll sort you out when we've raised another Army Group.

But then we won't have the unlovely spectacle of various men bleating about how untough everybody is now because there are women in their unit and it's all the womens' fault that the lads can't make it as soldiers anymore.

I wouldn't say that it's the fault of females in the forces that the lads cannot hack it, if indeed they can't, so the gender question is only muddying the waters.

What I suspect might then become apparent is that we will find a lot of men, who are not physically capable of being soldiers, being exposed for the frauds that they are.

Don't quite understand this last para.

Please feel free to reply, I'd like to hear your views more clearly explained. :D
OldAdam said:
I spent more time worrying about her safety than doing the job!

Apologies if I am repeating anything but I couldn't be arrsed to read to the bottom of the post.

Whatever anyone says, the quoted statement hits the nail on the head. When it comes to the crunch, blokes will instinctively try to protect women. It's called nature and / or evolution and no matter how much training you have, 99.9999% of blokes will revert to evolution as opposed to basic training. Basic lasts weeks; evolution has a bit of an edge.

Women in combat units might be good, they might be bad. In my opinion, regardless of the competence of the female, they are a disruptive influence.

Blokes will leave equally qualified and experienced blokes to fend for themselves (not in the Jack sense, simply in the "know what they are doing and do not therefore need me to hold their hand" sense). But blokes will always be looking out for the Doris, regardless of how good the Doris may be in peacetime exercises.

They have their place in the military, but not in places where it may be expected that unit cohesion would be affected by the likelihood of them being filled full of holes.

This is not a sexist statement, simply a realistic view of the human condition. Males are pre programmed to look after females. If you want to argue that one, I suggest a trip to Westminster Abbey to dig Charles Darwin up; he may be able to cast some light on it.
Cutaway, the remark about Old Adam was directed at him, not the RUC girl. OldAdam was describing his gallant but, in my view, unnecessary, reaction. The reaction has been described in more detail by Aunty Stella.

So, summarising the debate so far:
1. Mens' performance degrades when there are women around because of the protective instinct. This cannot be altered in training because there isn't the time or the money.
2. Women cannot be employed in roles that would then be assumed by men when deployed, because there aren't enough men to assume those roles in theatre - so it seems reasonable to only employ men in all roles, because the whole unit can then be deployed, without having to leave behind the female-filled posts.

That all seems perfectly logical. So, do it. Remove all women (that would have to include all medical staff as well, of course, because we must assume that the male medical staff feel this overwhelming sense of protection as well).

In fact, all those lardy recruits that can't hack it, put them in the roles traditionally filled by women (who are physically weaker anyway). You solve two problem with one swipe of the sword - no women and using weaker men where they won't have to be 'carried' by the others.

That leaves the muscular elite to do the Real Men's work of closing in on the enemy and winning the battles.

The reality of manpower shortage is with you anyway. Perhaps all those men leaving because they can't stand working alongside women will then stay in, that would be good, wouldn't it? And then, think of all those men out there who have been put off joining because they would have to serve alongside women - they could be encouraged to join up, which would further reduce the manpower shortage.

And then let's imagine that golden scenario of 100% men only units - without a single woman anywhere - ever. The only face you would see would be a man's, the only conversation you would have would be with another bloke, the only people you will see, day in day out, morning, noon and night will be - other men.

In fact, the only women you will ever have any contact with will be those at home or those you manage to pick up in the pub.

This is obviously a deeply attractive scenario to all of you out there, including the senior officers who publicly deride the contributions their female soldiers make, so I think it's something you should stop whining about it and start actively campaigning.

Of course, the politicians will bleat on about Equal Opportunities, but you could just use the lack of physical aptitude to slow down or prevent promotion of any women (should be easy enough to prove, as you keep producing all this anecdotal evidence in your posts), ex-soldiers could write continuously about how their lives were put at risks by womens' presence, serving men could ignore and cold shoulder and refuse to interract socially with all women in their units.

The message should be received loud and clear very quickly - women are not welcome, there is no career for them, they will find no friends in the Forces and the best jobs will be denied them. I think you will find that, very quickly, you will have achieved your aim of a male only Armed Force, because no woman in her right mind would waste her time working in such an organisation.

There, I've worked out the startegy for you - so get off your backsides and start campaigning.

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