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Bruce Loftin

Bruce Loftin 

ACT 2-14-13 Guest column

We know how this plan will play out
would like to share my few thoughts about the recent decision by the Defense Department to open combat Military Occupational Specialties to women.

Speaking from the perspective of a Marine infantry platoon commander in Vietnam, which I had the privilege to be, this is crazy. First, women would not be able to handle the strength part of the job, putting the unit at risk. The Marines, at the request of the Pentagon, recently allowed two women volunteers to join an Officer Basic School class. You have to assume they were physically fit and motivated. The news coverage mentioned that Basic School has a 25 percent physical drop rate. What it didn’t mention was that to get to Basic School you have to get through Officer Candidate School, which has an equally high drop rate. And you don’t even get into OCS unless you can pass an entry-level physical fitness test. One of the women DOR’d (dropped on request) during the first day and the other DOR’d after the first day. I went through Parris Island before OCS, and I can tell you it was no cakewalk either. While the Army ain’t no Marine Corps, it still has pretty tough requirements. In either case, you don’t get out of male boot camp unless you are physically capable of a combat MOS.

Second, all the social issues that come along with men and women wouldn’t just disappear because they put on uniforms. Among and certainly not all of those would be jealousies and what we called the John Wayne factor amplified with men trying to show misplaced bravery. The first would create unit cohesiveness problems, and the second command control problems. Notice, I’m not dwelling on all the bathroom and rape issues as commentators seem to be. I’m talking about combat effectiveness. The ability to inflict the most damage on the enemy with the fewest casualties to your unit. Isn’t this what our citizens want from the military? The official government line is that standards won’t be lowered. “We just think women should have a chance to try,” says Leon Panetta. But I believe we all know how this is going to play out. They’ll open up the combat MOS, few if any women will pass the PFT, combat units won’t reach proportional representation, someone will notice and go on TV, quotas will be set, qualifications will be lowered and combat effectiveness will suffer.

And our tax dollars will be squandered, our safety compromised, and our troops be placed in greater danger. 

Bruce Loftin lives in Swannanoa.