Cal  Thomas

What was the cause of the loss of unit cohesion and breakdown of discipline at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?

Dave Bischel, a National Guardsman with the 870th Military Police unit who returned home last month from duty at the prison, was quoted in last Friday's (5/14) New York Post: "There were lots of affairs. There was all kinds of adultery and alcoholism and all kinds of crap going on."

When I was in the Army in the mid-1960s, I never saw or even heard of anything approaching this. I did hear of one sergeant in my unit who was court-martialed and reduced in rank for having an extramarital affair. Adultery was taken more seriously then by military and civilian culture. Discipline and a sense that one was representing the country were instilled from the first day of basic training until discharge.

The one dirty little secret that no one appears interested in discussing as a contributing factor to the whorehouse behavior at Abu Ghraib is coed basic training and what it has done to upset order and discipline.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba observed in his report on the breakdown at Abu Ghraib prison that military police soldiers were weak in basic operational skills. Is that because 10 years ago, for political reasons, politicians and feminist activists within the ranks established coed basic training to promote the fiction that men and women are the same and putting young women in close quarters with young men would somehow not trigger natural biological urges?

The fallacy of that thinking began to show up less than two years after the coed policy was implemented. Sex scandals were reported at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and at basic training facilities around the country.

Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, R-Kan., headed an independent advisory committee in 1997 that studied coed basic training. The committee unanimously found that bundling men and women together in such situations "is resulting in less discipline, less unit cohesion and more distraction from training programs." A year later, the House passed legislation to end coed basic training, but the Senate called for a congressional commission instead. Key findings of the 1999 commission escaped notice, but in 2002 an Army briefing concluded that gender-integrated basic training was "not efficient," and "effective" only in sociological terms. Should sociology be a concern of people who are supposed to know how to fight wars?

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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