Editor’s Note: This Op-Ed was written by former U.S. Marine Jude Eden and submitted to Breitbart Texas.
This morning I had an intense conversation with a mother of a new female Marine. Mutual friends had messaged us about yesterday’s announcement by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter that all units without exception would be opened to women. This marine’s mother thought that only women who want to will be assigned to combat units.
She was understandably upset at being informed that repealing women’s combat exemption removes choice from the equation for recruits and active-duty women and subjects all young American women to Selective Service obligations. Before the House of Armed Services Committee Marine Lt. General Robert Milstead was asked about this directly and confirmed: “That’s why they call them ‘orders.’” That was 2013, and earlier this month Ashton Carter re-emphasized the same:
Q: Mr. Secretary, will the women’s desire to enter combat roles or missions be entirely voluntary? Or will there be a time to — where they could, like many of their male counterparts, be required to go into combat missions?
SEC. CARTER: Absolutely. If you’re a service member, you have some choices, but you don’t have absolute — absolute choice. People are assigned to missions, tasks, and functions according to need as well as their capabilities. And women will be subject to the same standard and rules that men will.
That mother’s shock and distress is something I knew would come and will never leave me. I have seen it over and over again. Most people don’t understand that this is not a matter of what a couple of willing and able women want. A 2013 New York Times poll and others like it would have us believe that Americans generally support putting women in combat units. However, the questioning always includes the critical and false caveat if women want to. In the military we’re all under orders and women are no different. With exemption fully repealed, top-performing women can be plucked from their units and placed along with highly athletic female recruits at the very front to wage offensive action at point blank range whether they want to or not. Where the idea that military men and women are interchangeable is being pushed and our unchanging biological differences are ignored, there will be even less consideration to women’s unique concerns. If you think assignment against consent is unlikely, consider the case of Army Pfc Stephanie Filus. Promised she wouldn’t be sent to the front lines by her recruiter precisely because Department of Defense policy prohibited it, the light wheeled vehicle mechanic was later told by officers of her 101st Airborne unit that she would be deployed to Iraq in a forward support company (FSC) with an infantry unit:
“Filus was aware, however, that the FSC would be physically attached and collocated with an infantry maneuver battalion, despite the collocation rule. Her attempts to obtain a discharge prior to that deployment were denied, and she was sent to Fort Polk, Lousiana, for pre-deployment training. Filus finally obtained her discharge from the Army in May 2005, but only after she took the desperate and dangerous step of attempting suicide with pills in front of the commanding officer at Fort Polk.”
One shudders to think what unwilling women might do to avoid being placed at the very tip of America’s spear.
The combat exemption was also the only thing constitutionally standing between women and the draft. Some think drafting women is only fair, and that might be true if the risks among men and women were equal. But they are far from it — rendering combat a very unequal opportunity in which women are at a severe disadvantage. Imagine your daughter in a one-on-one cage fight with a member of ISIS. No rules, no ref. Hand-to-hand combat is not a relic of Vietnam and prior wars. Get to know those who’ve been there and what they went through in direct combat missions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Read their accounts which chronicle having to bludgeon fanatics on methamphetamines with their bare hands or whatever they could grab. This is what direct ground combat means despite our technological advancements. How is this an equal opportunity when women don’t have the same chance of survival?
This policy will destroy more women than it will help, and more men and missions in the process. When viewed along with Obama’s refusal to name our radical Islamic enemies or even acknowledge that we are at war with them, it’s clear this is all of a piece: the fundamental transformation of America is nothing but destruction. The repeal of women’s combat exemption is nothing to celebrate. It’s more appropriate to mourn.
Jude Eden addresses women’s military and other issues on her website, Political Animal. She served in the Marines from 2004-2008 as an 0651, Data Communications Specialist and was stationed at Camp Lejeune. In 2005, Eden deployed to Camp Fallujah’s computer communications where she served 8 months and was assigned checkpoint duty working with the Marine Infantry frisking women for explosives outside the wire.