Saturday, March 12, 2005


GAY WARRIORS. And, I don't mean "happy." This is an issue that continues to surface and now is brought even more to the forefront with the critical shortage of troops. This is one of those almost unique American ideas; most armies don't even consider such an issue. However, the American style democracy is a pretty unique thing. Bill Clinton tried to deal with something like an "open" sexuality which didn't work. (And, I'm not talking Monica). We ended up with the "Don't Asked, Don't Tell" policy which didn't' please anybody.

It's estimated that at least 10,000 gay troops have been discharged. Among those are some with highly critical skills: percentage wise, this may sound small since we have well over 2 mil in uniform. The Economist, a mag I don't read very often had one of the best overall views of the problem that I've read. They said something like, "The reasons that we have such a Neanderthal policy toward gays is a mentality rooted in three tiers: (1) gay soldiers would hurt teamwork and morale. On the battlefield, soldiers do not fight for King and Country; they fight for each other--for love of their "band of bothers", as Shakespeare put it or Easy Company of TV fame. (2) Gays serving openly could actually be bad for recruitment. (3) An army reflects the mores of the societies from which they are drawn and America, it is said, is unwilling to allow its heroes to be gay."

This is all pretty iffy in a sense. I persoanlly have to come down on the side of gays serving. Afterall, there is a concept of pluralism that the military has always honored: the rights of the minority are not dwarfed by the majority. But, that having been said, it is tricky. Because of the Volunteer Army, we have a very conservative Officer and NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) core; any spin can be put on it but there's a reason that most of the military votes for the President and supports strongly our efforts at war. They have to believe in what they are doing. It is in their psyche. And, you can take this to the bank: Officers and senior NCOs are a bunch of conservatives, often ultra conservatives. End of discussion.

Although The Economist claims that attitudes are changing and discharges are actually down, my belief is that this may be true moreso because of the shortages that exists and the "stretched thin" mentality than attitudes softening. The war fighters are a bunch of macho, kill types that must exist to have a competent military. War is No Day At The Beach even if the media often acts like it is. Combat soldiers are trained to kill and there's no dressing that concept up with PC type pronouncements. If we had an AllServe military, I have no doubt that the idea of gays serving would be no issue. And, this is probably true with support units but not so with elite Special Operations troops who are just a millisecond shy of being militiamen.

I personally think that there are many minefields in this social issue. In the present military, we all are better off with a "closet" mentality as relates to gay soldiers. Soldiers aren't stupid and they know who their gay breathren are and most don't give it a thought but don't want to talk about it.

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