Special Report

Collocating Coffins

Political correctness in the U.S. military did not end with the Clinton administration.

By 3.17.05

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Political correctness in the U.S. military did not end with the Clinton administration. President Bush's military is also pushing an ideology of "equality" at the expense of military effectiveness. For the sake of an absurd feminist experiment, the Bush military is willing to sap its strength, expose women to torture and death and mar the lives of children and families. The price tag of this experiment is on the body bags carrying mothers, wives, and daughters who have died in Iraq, and on the growing list of orphans produced by the war. Read the casualty reports: Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, mother of two preschoolers; Melissa J. Hobart, 22, mother of a 3 year-old; Jessica L. Cawvey, 21, single mother of a 6-year-old; Sgt. Pamela Osbourne, 38, mother of three children, ages 9-19, Katrina L. Bell-Johnson, 32, mother of a 1-year-old.

"Tens of thousands of children are struggling to cope while Mom goes to war," reports the Sacramento Bee. And if Mom does come back, she may return as an amputee. Or shell-shocked, reports the Bee: "Returning female vets are bringing back wounded minds, beset by post-traumatic stress disorder, an illness that affects women at twice the rate of men. Health care experts fear an avalanche of cases among female vets will smother the military health care system."

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness reports that the Bush military, far from reconsidering the feminization of the military under Bill Clinton, is advancing it. The Bush Pentagon has now done what Clinton didn't even do by implementing a de facto women-in-combat policy of placing women in front-line support groups alongside combat units.

"Under current federal law and military regulations, women are barred from ground combat groups," reports the Bee. (And Bush has said "no women in combat.") "There are indications, however, that the Pentagon is less steadfast than its commander-in-chief about maintaining the status quo. In February, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division acknowledged it has assigned women to units in Iraq that directly support combat troops by providing food, equipment maintenance and other services. The process, called 'collocation' -- literally to place side by side-- is at odds with an 11-year-old Army policy that bans women from serving in front-line support groups."

Elaine Donnelly tells TAS that a Pentagon attitude of "This is how women grow their careers" is driving the new collocation policy. The Pentagon has bizarrely said that these women will only serve alongside combat units when they are not in combat but should they find themselves in combat the military will "evacuate" the female troops. If that doesn't show the military's willingness to lose battles for the sake of a gender-integration experiment, what does?

What a lunatic scenario: the military is placing women with combat units on the assumption that they won't see combat but should they see combat it will dissipate battle resources to "evacuate" soldiers who shouldn't have been there in the first place all so that it can maintain a modified "collocation" policy that conforms to a careerist feminist ideology in the Pentagon.

Soldiers have told Donnelly that the new collocation rule is insane. An infantry officer described what evacuating the 24 women in these units will mean: "[Removing] 24 fully loaded soldiers [would require] two Blackhawk helicopters or six Huey helicopter or one Chinook helicopter or two 5-ton (or LMTV) trucks or 12 up-armored HMMWV's (with a full crew of three) and four to six unarmored HMMWV's to move. These are assets that cannot be spared simply to move females to the rear. In combat, helicopters are preferable but a very scarce asset. Imagine an entire brigade trying to chopper out these female contingents before combat -- it would require almost half of a division's worth of aviation assets to move them all at once."

A female officer told Donnelly: "The key question...remove females when combat begins. That is ridiculous. When does the combat begin? According to the President the war ended and we are not in a 'war zone' but in a 'Theater of Operations' now. I think it is a play on words and commanders in the field will not follow those guidelines. This is political language that we commanders are not aware of. Once soldiers are in the units they will all be placed wherever they are needed regardless of their gender."

In other words, the new collocation policy is a formula for at once losing battles and getting women killed. It is not even accurate to say that death is an equal opportunity provider on the battlefield as women will have less chance of surviving than the men.

But it is not surprising that the military is blurring the distinction between combat and noncombat field positions for women. The door blocking women in combat has been ajar since it became clear that "noncombat" jobs would mean de facto combat jobs (as evident in the fact that "noncombat" women carry weaponry and are dying in combat situations). The military's new collocation policy signifies that it is readying to kick the door wide open. In the meantime, however, female soldiers will learn the hard way what the military means by career benefits.

"You're not generally told as a female that you will be in that type of situation where you are in harm's way directly," National Guard Sergeant Brenda Monroe said to the Sacramento Bee. "I never dreamed that I would wake up every night and have to run to a bunker and take cover because we were being attacked or under direct fire."

The feminist dream that began under Clinton is producing a nightmare under Bush. How many women and mothers will have to die before a Bush military that should know better stops it?

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.