Transgenders in the Military: A Deadly Distraction

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, June 30, 2016, where he announced new rules allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The announcement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter that the ban on transgenders in the military has been lifted is simply one of the greatest examples of how there is no focus on military readiness in this administration.

The U.S. military has been at war for fifteen years and has experienced fatigue and frustration due in part to a lack of attention to their needs by the Congress as well as the Commander-in-Chief. Operating with no clear strategy to win, our military is beginning to question why they are even fighting. At a time when leaders in Congress and the White House should be moving heaven and earth to enhance readiness and providing a strategic plan for success on the battle field, the focus has shifted to social experiments with the concomitant training and education that accompanies these new programs.

Secretary Carter made no coherent case for how this will enhance the readiness of our armed forces to perform their single mission: to fight and win the nation’s wars. This will result in a distraction for commanders at all levels as they spend precious time implementing this policy.

We should reflect on the fact that the U.S. Navy is punishing several sailors from the two patrol boats that were captured by the Iranians in January of this year. Theses sailors were an abysmal failure as prisoners, humiliating our whole nation with their actions as they apologized to and thanked the Iranians. Moreover, they gave up passwords to phones and possibly sensitive computers. Long standing U.S. Navy rules are that one never surrenders the ship, yet they did just that. The problem is that it is not their fault. They were not prepared for what happened to them nor for the mission they were given. When the Iranians seized them and their boats, they had no concept of what they were allowed and expected to do while in captivity.

Contrast their actions to those of the Vietnam era POWs like Admiral Jeremiah Denton who was tortured for months before he would make a public statement before the cameras. Even then, he supported his government and used the opportunity to blink the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code while being interviewed.

The difference is that the sailors of Denton’s era were prepared for war because the military was focused on training programs that gave them the best chance possible to be victorious and to survive the rigors of combat including capture. The Military Code of Conduct outlines everything that service members are allowed to do and what information they are allowed to provide to their captors.

During the events in January, these sailors failed miserably. Why? Primarily because they spent all their training time in classrooms listening to lectures on diversity, tolerance, and inclusion instead of the Code Of Conduct.

Talk to any service member today and you will find that a majority of them will express great frustration with the amount of time they spend in these lectures at the expense of preparing for war. Now you can add another classroom lecture and more wasted training time, which will further degrade their individual and unit readiness.

Furthermore, the amount of time that commanders and leaders at all levels will spend trying to sort out the complex issues that this change will create will unquestionably distract them from what should be their primary focus: preparing their subordinates for combat.

I am very worried about the future of the military and the nation if sanity does not return to the Department of Defense. We must restore the warrior culture and ethos because the enemies of this nation will have no mercy and will not care about how well versed we are on tolerance, inclusion, diversity, or sensitivity. All they will be concerned with is whether we are capable of and willing to kill or capture them on the battlefield.

Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin was one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and was also Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. He currently serves as Executive Vice President at Family Research Council.


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