The Military’s Heterosexual Problem

As of today, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is implementing a military-wide modification to current Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, pending congressional repeal of DADT.  Gay servicemen and women who have been outed by jilted partners or third parties will no longer be forcibly discharged, so long as they don’t out themselves.

Since President Obama announced his intention to do away with DADT, retired generals have taken to cable news and editorial pages to declare that the presence of openly gay soldiers will hurt “unit cohesion.”  One retired general even tried to blame the Dutch army’s failure to protect Muslims in Bosnia on the fact that gays are permitted to serve in the Dutch military.

A few nights ago I had an interesting conversation with a female USAF officer who recently commanded a communications unit operating in Iraq.  She told me how, when her unit would finish working in the field and go onto American operating bases to spend the night, she’d be sent to the “female tent” to sleep.  In many cases, she’d find herself either alone or one of only two or three other women in the tent.  When that happened, she’d direct her team to pitch its own tent and then bed down with her men, rather than take the chance that male soldiers not under her command would try to rape her during the night.  From what she described, male-on-female sexual assault is common in American military units in combat zones, and the military bends over backward to cover it up.

So what’s the real problem, retired generals?  From what I’m seeing, it’s male-on-female sexual assault, and it’s endemic.  How does that not affect unit cohesion?  Why are you so wrapped around the axle about a few gay soldiers?  Why didn’t you do something about male-on-female sexual assault when you were in uniform and it was happening under your command, and why aren’t you speaking out against it now?  You’ll talk about gays and unit cohesion all day long, but you won’t talk about this.

Retired generals, thank you for your service.  You can just shut the hell up now.

© 2010, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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