This past Monday, (July 25th) in these same pages, the estimable Lurita Doan outlined the Obama Administration’s intention to reduce defense expenditures by nearly one trillion dollars, as the President comes to realize the financial catastrophe he has created, however belatedly. A trillion dollar defense reduction would entail the scrapping of the Navy’s next generation of nuclear powered aircraft carriers and the effective cancellation of the US Space program, among other indignities. Miss Doan rightly concludes that this plan amounts to the Obama Administration “…gutting the military.” Miss Doan is quite correct, but she overlooks the damage the military does to itself by embracing every politically correct folly that comes ambling down the pike.
In news reports last week, the US Navy announced, with appropriate fanfare, that they will soon break one of the last remaining gender barriers in the American military establishment. They are training a cadre of 24 female officers for duty on combat submarines. Yes, the sea service has surrendered to the endless surge of politically correct propaganda, and will now place female officers (with enlisted personnel surely soon to follow) on combat subs, heedless of the damage to unit discipline and cohesion caused by this radical break with tradition. The truth that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link is being ignored in the headlong rush to placate the feminists and embrace this latest politically correct foolishness.
Despite the common sense opposition of many traditionalists like veterans groups, the Navy League, some active duty personnel, and Navy-Wives groups, the Navy will go ahead with the plans, which are already well advanced. The initial class of 24 women will be dispersed among four submarines, where they will be outnumbered by men, at a 25-1 ratio. The females will begin reporting to their assigned submarines in late November and early December.
Will the subs be ready to receive their new officers? That may be the material point, now in question. Even the largest submarines sport corridors barely wide enough for two sailors to pass through without contact. The Navy will deposit six women into the cramped quarters of each submarine, berth the women in a single stateroom, and will divide the work shifts, so that women will be assigned to each of the sub’s two rotating crews. The Navy’s official spokespeople have remained closemouthed, understandably, about bathroom and shower arrangements for the ladies.
Needless to say, this new test is fraught with difficulties. In addition to basic privacy issues raised by placing women in a formerly all-male environment, the great minds that divined this experiment bump up against the fact that submarines cannot be easily reconfigured to accommodate women. The privacy issues multiply when one considers the stark reality of co-ed submarines during six-month undersea periods. Many Navy wives worry that the extremely close contact during these deployments will facilitate romantic liaisons between male and female sailors, resulting in all-to-familiar “complications” ashore and back home. Few current military officials will comment on such questions, but many senior retired officers readily admit the potential scope of these problems.
What will happen when this policy is fully implemented? I say “when” this policy is implemented, because the Navy seems to have no plans to back off, come what may! They do intend to ram this policy change through, like a bull in a china shop, regardless of the effect on readiness and unit cohesion. There will, however, exist little audible dissent. In fact, the public will be informed that the new policy is “working very well.” Certain highly placed personages in the Navy have already decided that the new policy will work very well, and no matter how badly this turns out, it will be reported to have worked very well. Officers who disagree with the official assessment will be advised to hold their tongues, or to submit their resignations. This type of scenario has played itself out before (Many TH readers will remember the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” battle of the 90s) and will undoubtedly take place again. Certainly, the Fraternity of Arms has the right to demand that officers support official policy. The sea service is a hierarchical institution and it is imperative that junior personnel not undermine the decisions made by their superiors.
So, in conclusion, we must make ready for the co-ed submarine navy. Once again, military readiness and excellence are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. This is a sign of the times and one would expect no less from the likes of SecDef Leon Panetta and President Barack Obama. Still, to paraphrase Lurita Doan, it is a case of gutting the military, indeed!