Monday, June 24, 2013

Sex and Violence II: Electric Boogaloo

My friends Jim and Lisa over at Ranger Against War have been conducting an on-going discussion of the recent rescinding of the 1994 DOD "Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule".

Their last post here - "Sex and Violence" - made some of the points they're discussing but with a somewhat different context.

In their RAW posts I think they make some very good points about how we in the U.S. look at gender and roles and warfare. But I also think that they - and I may be advancing their position too far, here - posit that the DOD action is foolish in attempting to integrate men's and women's roles in the armed forces further than they already are, and I'm not sure that I agree that they are considering all the factors involved.

First, let me say this; frankly, if no American ever had to be an infantryman again, ever, that'd be jake with me.

I spent too many a weary klick under a rucksack to have any romance left about the Fucking Queen of Fucking Battle. That royal bitch can bite me. And that was in peacetime. The lot of an infantryman in wartime is a misery I can't even really begin to imagine.

Second, I don't see any real mainstream impetus to make this a real issue. The usual flank elements on Left and Right are spun up, but I don't sense any sort of popular interest in or push for female infantrymen and tank crews anytime soon. The reality is that most women - hell, most sane people - don't want to be high-velocity projectile interceptors for a living.


Part of "citizenship" in the U.S. means being on the parapet of Ft. McHenry "when freemen shall stand between their loved home and the war's desolation!"

While I don't like the idea of fighting as a qualification for citizenship it has been an important element of citizenship in republics since Greek and Roman times, and very definitely since the advent of "the army as the school of the nation" that came with the First French Republic in 1789. By restricting a citizen from taking up arms to defend her country you make her less than a full citizen.

Full stop.

To me that puts the burden on the person who wants to defend the idea that women are by their gender unsuited for the highest risk of mortal hazard they seek; that to insist that a woman's military service should be limited to Combat Support and Combat Service Support MOSes - which have historically and organizationally been considered and treated as second-class citizens in the U.S. Army - you have to make the case that restricting her military "franchise" is justified by the benefits to her, you, and the nation.

(And let me add here that I see no really serious push from anyone to open the infantry MOSes to women. But without the 1994 memo the possibility is there and the possibility has brought jim, especially, out of defilade and bringing direct fire on the subject of female soldiering.)

Jim has a series of points to his argument about this over at the first link to RAW. Let me list them here and try and put down some of my own thoughts in return:

--Men and women are different, and possessed of different strengths
Agreed. With the caveat that this is always and in everywhere true. It is also true that individuals are different and possessed of different strengths. That is material to certain things; a 4'2" midget is unlikely to play center for the Portland Trailblazers. It is not quite as clear how this applies to military service. I have served, and worked, and played various sports with women who were mentally tougher and physically stronger than some men. I have had the same experience within the genders; some men are tougher than others. I will agree that the strongest men are stronger than the strongest women. Toughness is another matter; I have known many women who can outrun and outruck men their own age.
--In male's compartmentalized brains, there is also a place for "his" women. These women elicit a different response.

--There are some spaces and subjects which are the chosen domain of men (see, Fight Club for the idea.) In his life, the Army's Combat Arms was such an area -- their real-world "Outward Bound" in which men tested their limits against their fellows and the enemy, and lived the Jungian warrior archetype.

Basically these two points boil down to "My head gets messed up when I have to deal with girlie stuff". I agree here, too; us guys, living in the U.S. as it is today, often have this problem.

However, it's OUR problem. There's no reason that the women around us need to make it their problem, or shape their lives around our prejudices.

Add to that the whole "mens domain" argument has ALWAYS been used to keep the "other people" out, whether they were women, or black, or Asians, or whoever the men on the indside didn't want. It was the argument against letting women vote, it was the argument against letting women into the sorts of fraternities like the Chambers or Commerce and the Rotary and the Lake Snootibottom Golf and Country Club where the Boys backslapped and made deals. As a man I agree that it's fun to shut the door on the He-Man Woman Hater's Club and keep the girlies out.

As an adult I can't defend that as behavior really appropriate in an adult.
--We have no warrior princesses today, no Boudiccas, outside of Hollywood or cartoon versions of Zena the Warrior Princess and ilk. For most girls today, that image has been superseded by Snow White or Cinderella. For most women, their reality lies somewhere in between (They can bring home the bacon, serve it up to a man, all the while retaining their ineffable femininity.)
The Snow Whites and Cinderellas aren't going to volunteer to go to the Fort Benning School For Wayward Boys.


Let me tell you a little secret; I was on the trail as a reserve drill sergeant at FBNC. I ran part of the 11B POI. I watched guys I didn't trust to be in the Army, much less in the infantry, get pencil-whipped because Benning had numbers to meet and couldn't afford to wash them out and didn't want to recycle them. A typical U.S. Army infantryman isn't some sort of Spartan soldier all whipleather and steel. The best are outstanding. The average are actually damn good troops. The worst are total shitbags. My guess is that the "average" infantry Joe is about as good as the top 5 or 10% of the Mollies. And don't forget - this is in a society that has told it's women for 200+ years "you're a dainty thing, you're Snow White, you're Cinderella". Open the door to the gals who want to kick ass like crazy monkeys and who the hell knows what could happen?

And the reality is that only a tiny percentage of U.S. women would want to give the Infantry a shot. An even tinier percentage would be capable of passing the physical qualifications (assuming the the U.S. Army put it's boot down and insisted in a physical standard just to go to 11B OSUT. My fear that political pressure to "pass" the women would force the Army to let some slide is about as great as my fear that the Army would refuse to institute such a standard knowing how many male recruits couldn't meet it) required to get in. And I'm betting that tiny percentage which remains pretty much excludes anyone with the slightest pinkish poofy tint of Snowhiteyness.

But as much as this is a charming image, in my opinion the difference between it and the sort of tough country gals and urban gang girls who would actually take a whack at Benning is pretty huge.
Basically what I get out of the bulk of jim's argument - and I should add that he makes a hell of a lot more cogent and sensible (and savory - someone in his comment section has already basically classified a large proportion of military females as whores who fuck their fellow troopers for extra TDY pay; looking at the images of women in that guy's mind must be like lifting up a mossy rock - ugh) than a lot I've read elsewhere - is that a hell of a lot of the argument over keeping the girls out of the male-only MOSes comes down to "the girls will have to just accept this because the boys can't get over the way they feel about the girls."

But we HAVE gotten over a lot of the way "we" feel about "the girls". We don't consider them property anymore, most of us don't consider them a life-support system for either a womb or a vagina anymore, we've let them do a lot of the sorts of civilian jobs that men do.

We've gotten over the notion that black people can be slaves. We've gotten over the idea that people with mental illness are possessed by the Devil.

Why CAN'T we get over the "girlie" stuff?

Here's another thing; I have had issues with female soldiers in my past.

Many of them went back to the fact that men, both in the women's civilian pasts as well as men who were their military equals and their superiors, had expected them to "retain their ineffable femininity" while changing the tires on a deuce-and-a-half or repairing electronic equipment or packing parachutes. They had learned - largely through the men in their lives - that they could play the "girlie card" and get out of some of the hardest, dirtiest work.

Not because they couldn't. But because - no fools they - they didn't want to do it and knew that if they played the men right they could "...elicit a different response."

This was bad for the women. And it was bad for the men, too, because in doing what the women got them to do they developed a sort of big-brotherly contempt (at best) or snarlingly misogynistic (at worst) contempt for the women's abilities to do hard, dirty work.

I think that both men and women would be a LOT better off if the default position for us guys was a little less studly and for the women a little less poofy. I mean, you should be able to be as studly and poofy as you and whoever you're dealing with enjoy. But I think some hardcore in women, and some recognition that women CAN be hardcore, would be good for us both.

Again - I DO understand the difficulties, I DO understand the arguments against this. But - given the reality that the only women capable of making the grade as 11-bush are going to be the hardest of the hardcore - I'm not sure that those arguments trump the political reality that if you can tell her she "...can't do that because you're a girl" then how is she your political, military, and social equal?

I'm not saying a woman should have to be a fighting soldier if she doesn't want to be.

Hell, I don't think anyone should have to be a fighting soldier. The food sucks, the pay is shit, and the working conditions would embarrass a Tijuana maquiladora.

But given the connection between soldiering and citizenship in a republic...shouldn't we have to make a hell of a massive case against giving the woman or women who want to take it, that chance?


  1. Chief,
    You've forced me to employ the reserves.
    You fail to evaluate the psychological aspects of the sexes. You always focus on the physical aspects. A female might bench press more than a man , but that doesn't mean a bean.
    I get your argument about citizenship and all that, but i do not accept this as being a valid construct. THE ARMY IS NOT A SEXUAL SOCIAL PROGRAM. What greater good would come from women in the combat arms?
    Would this enhance combat effectiveness?
    As you always point out soldiers are rightly expected to win tactical battles. THIS IS THE MISSION. If we don't win the battles why /what does the experiment amount to? We cannot afford to play games with the concept of the battlefield.
    pls tell me how having women in the trenches would have enhanced US forces in these fights.
    What is the price of this foolishness.?
    Now for equality. I saw the first class of females go thru jump school and this was the beginning of my opposition of women in deployeable units.THE STANDARDS WERE NOT EQUAL.
    I will consider changing my attitude when i see a regulation requiring a woman to wear the same hair cut that men must wear.If my protective mask won't seal b/c of long hair then why is a womans mask any different?
    If you start at such a simple concept the whole ball of wax is based in different applications of logic.If my hair gets dirty then why doesn't a womans? That's where i start my thinking.

  2. Chief,
    Now for sexual conduct.
    I will not talk about prostitution in the ranks b/c i don't know, but i will talk history of my time in the reserves and on active duty.
    In the late 70's i saw a lot of sexual activity in reserve units. I never saw this until VOLAR. Illicit sex that is.On AD in the early 70's i saw the start of this.I can't say that money was involved but it was there and it was an open joke.
    The true DADT is about the sexual activity in every unit. We as a institution are not gonna turn this rock over.

  3. "THE ARMY IS NOT A SEXUAL SOCIAL PROGRAM. What greater good would come from women in the combat arms?"

    What good came from integrating the infantry in 1948?

    "What is the price of this foolishness.?"

    The same price that has always been exacted when outsiders push their way inside; anger, pushback, frustration, argumentation...pretty much what's going on here now.


    That's the crux of the biscuit, isn't it? Standards. And I agree with you; there must be a single standard and that standard must be difficult. But the whole problem with "affirmative action" is the lingering notion that those "actioned" got where they were by bending the rules and lowering the standards. And so it was Catch-22; if they couldn't hack it then they were inferior to you and me. But if they did, because the rules got bent and the standards lowered, they were STILL inferior to you and me.

    So, yeah. IF this happens - and I say IF, because it is still purely a hypothetical, the prospective female grunts would have to meet the same standards as the guys. If none could make it, then, too bad; so long as the testing was fair, then xin loi, gals.

  4. "The true DADT is about the sexual activity in every unit."

    Yep. True dat. And it happens in every workplace and every town and every village in the world. It would happen even if there were no women and men in the same unit; the boys and girls would find each other. Dig out a copy of What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War II France to read about the fuckery that took place in units without a woman in uniform in sight.

    Look, I'm not trying to say that this is simple, or easy, or is gonna happen, or should happen. But so far pretty much all the arguments against it come down to "people are fucked up and so we shouldn't even try this."

    But the same arguments were throw out against blacks and Japanese and then against women in the CS/CSS units. All those people seem to have managed to work things out just fine. Women are full citizens in the U.S., and it seems to me that if they want a shot at a shitty miserable job that I wouldn't do over now that I know what it means if you payed me my weight in dollars they should get it.

    That's all.

  5. And, finally, if we're going to fight this fight based on the raging inevitability of who puts the snotty end of the fuckpole in whom, there's this:

    ...26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those cases, the Pentagon says, 53 percent involved attacks on men, mostly by other men."

    Look, I get it. This isn't neat, it isn't nice, it's about some people we like to think of as sugar and spice mixing into a genuinely shitty job that takes a hell of a lot of "strong-like-bull-smart-like-tractor".

    But the bottom line is still; if some woman wants to try that job, if the standards are high and applied consistently, what do we have to lose by letting her try? If she fails, it it fails, we can go back to how we did it before, no problem.

    But what if she succeeds? What if it turns out that the REAL problem was that us guys just need to stop thinking about women with our dicks? In the back of a track, in business, in our social lives, in life in general, for that matter?

    What if?

  6. Chief,
    You've thrown a lot of nice Portlandian words at the screen ,BUT YOU FAIL to discuss how putting women in the combat arms improves anything except womens aspirations.
    You compare this to the 1948 integration which did improve the Armies fighting abilities. The 2 are not similar.
    Comparing women in combat to black males in combat is a no go in my book.
    Infantry is not a job that 1 just tries on like it's a dress at a boutique.
    As an old man i know it'll happen , but i can still call bullshit. I also say that females are suffering ptsd at high levels and they aren't even combat arms. What'll it be like when they go grunt?

  7. Chief,
    Sorry i sent the previous post.
    I didn't clear the name line.

  8. jim, all I DO here is "fine Portlandian words". I'm sorry that irks you.

    Anyway, what I get from what you're saying is

    "Women are different" and "Women shouldn't fight".

    And I'll be the first one to agree with you. Hell, I'll go you one better and say "NOBODY should fight".

    Infantry is the suckiest job in the Army. Critical for warfighting, yes, but the shittiest for the people who do it. If I had my way no American would ever have to dodge bullets armored in nothing but 10 pounds of Kevlar again.

    OK, that said, here you are: "You compare this to the 1948 integration which did improve the Armies fighting abilities. The 2 are not similar.
    Comparing women in combat to black males in combat is a no go in my book."

    I get that. My question is; why?

    Everything you've said about women was said about blacks. They can't hack it. They'll fail. They'll destroy unit cohesion. They can't fight. Being around them will distract the other guys.

    But getting mixed into the other line dogs was an important part of civil rights. It happened, and nothing fell apart. The line dogs stayed line dogs. The world didn't come to an end.

    Did putting minorities into the combat arms "improve them"? No, of course not (other than opening the units to a wider range of human skills - turns out that some of the people we were keeping out were damn good troops and even damn good leaders). It was done as exactly the thing that pisses you off; a "social experiment". It was done not for the good of the Army or the good of the infantry but for the good of the country.

    But here's the thing; most people in this country think like you do. So this ain't gonna happen.

    So what are we arguing over again?

  9. Chief,
    Portlandian words don't irk me. I find them highly entertaining.
    I think where you went/go wrong is confusing roller derby with rolling grenades.
    Your talk about 48 and today is funny in a way. In 48 we integrated the army but in 50 the 24th infy regt was still an all black unit fighting in Korea. So maybe if my memory is correct we really didn't integrate until post 50. FWIW.
    As for arguing i guess i do it because it makes me feel less disconnected.

  10. Yep, the Army was still pretty much segregated in '50/51; I came across that researching Chipyong-ni, where the Corps artillery units (155mm) were black. From what I've read it was the replacement problem that really ended segregation - the repple depples just fed guys into the line however, and the brothers ended up in the regular line units. Thing is, that the segregated outfits like the 24th and the 93rd Division in Italy got bad reputations for combat performance, desertion, SIW, shit like that, and that was one of the big reasons that soldiers and officers against integration argued against it; the negroes just couldn't and wouldn't fight - experience proved it. Course, once the white boys and the brothers ended up in the same outfits turned out that some brothers could fight like motherfuckers and some were completely worthless - just like the white boys...

    I dunno, man. What with the slew of Supreme Court decisions this week I'm tired. Just tired. It seems like the people who want to turn this country back into 1910 are winning. And people like me, the wage-slaves...we didn't do so good in 1910. So I don't want to go there, and there just doesn't seem like a way to stop these bastards short of wrecking the country to do it.

  11. Chief, one thought from under the mossy rock that is my skull is this: that word, "experiment" actually means something. In an experiment you test a hypothesis under certain conditions to prove whether or not it holds water. The combat effectiveness of blacks was tested in WW2 and they proved they added value. That being proved, all that was left was to deal with integration issues.

    BTW, my understanding is that integration was an issue through the VN war and after. Interracial conflicts between white and black members of the same units was not entirely uncommon.

    At any rate, there you have just one difference between blacks and women in combat MOSes. Blacks proved their value and women, as of yet, have not.

    Also, keep in mind that future wars may not be the same as the ones we are fighting today and the armed forces must be prepared for that. It is entirely possible that a future war could more resemble WW2 or Korea than the lower intensity COIN type operations - this with corresponding increases in the extreme conditions that women would have to endure. Women at Chosin?

  12. A couple more thoughts are;
    1. Why should we get over the "girlie" stuff? An alternative would be that we learn to appreciate and respect femininity. That the feminine is undesirable is an underlying premise that seems, to me, totally unexamined in your position.
    2. Sooner or later you gotta take a stand. Either you truly believe that infantry/war is something that no American should have to experience or you can be a cheerleader for it. IMO, by supporting women in infantry you are supporting the notion of war as a positive - maybe even glorifying it some way - yet you say otherwise. It sounds like a we have a disconnect at the Portland hub.

  13. Chief and no one.
    Try as i may i can't shake the thought that wanting women in combat is a socialist/communist concept. Brotherhood and class equality and all that jazz.
    In capitalism nothing is guaranteed and really there is no equality beyond power and money and influence.
    Women going into combat will have none of those things, just as i didn't.
    In capitalism there is failure and castes. In communism not so.
    In theory.

  14. Jim, Communistic ---> Yes! That is one of the things I have been thinking too.

    And that thought, IMO, is not without support. In part it just reminds me of soviet women fighting the Nazis, but mostly I am thinking of the social ideology behind the "equality" movement in this country. Post modern liberalism denies gender differences, denies racial differences, denies athletic differences, shuns competition in any form. Everyone is equal and everyone is OK no matter what they say and do*. Government is the solution to all of our problems. Ideologies and beliefs and policy is to be formed by central committees of elites. Religion is mocked. Wealth is to be redistributed to the masses (even if they don't work). That is communism! That is where the same people that want women in combat want to take this nation.

    Because for the people driving this ideology competition means someone will fail and failure, we are told, is just too painful to the self esteem for those who experience it. Risk is too scary and the promise of perpetual comfort too alluring. The government will coddle us and provide us nourishment from cradle to grave if we will only just surrender our wills to it.

    Communism depends on the suspension of human nature. The revolution must create a New Man. Similarly, the idea of a successful implementation of women in infantry is dependent on dispensing with natural historic behaviors and biology around gender and gender interactions.

    Or, in other words, communism ground up tens of millions of people trying to force an idealistic square peg into a natural round whole and that's what our own home grown idealist socialists are attempting.

    BTW, this fear of failure and the centralized committees comprised of elites is why I think Chief is waaaaaaay downplaying the notion that there will be quotas and lowered standards.

    *As always, though, some comrades are more equal than others. If one's opinion goes against the party line one will be shunned and, whenever possible, destroyed.

  15. Jim and No One-

    It's not Communism in any form. It is simply a matter of America's obsession with opportunity over responsibility. We are trying to sell employment in the military, and to do so, people are being offered opportunity to advance. Since the Combat Arms provide the best advancement opportunity, gotta make that opportunity available to all, not just the guys.

  16. Aviator, I hear you and don't disagree with the notion that the issue is arising from a sales strategy, but isn't the strategy playing on a form of socialism that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society? Where, in socialism, we are all equal and deserving of the same outcome regardless of our contribution and effort we have now more of the same, but with the add-on of everyone gets to have the opportunity to play at anything that tickles their fancy; regardless of whether or not they are the best and brightest at doing it.

    This is equality for equality's sake - the idealism of the whole thing - not equality for the sake of giving the right people the means to find their most productive niche in society.

    Furthermore, if women need to be promised promotion all the way up to sign up, then they are not serving their country. Rather they are asking to be served in a selfish manner. Males coming out of state and private college ROTC programs realize soon enough that regardless of performance their chance of reaching the top is far less than that of the ring knockers. Right? Yet they still do it.

  17. No One

    You miss the point. The military needs women to meet their strength goals, and thus the clamor for equal promotion paths. The words, "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...." are not from any Communist creed. Since the founding, America has tended to hold that the individual's rights trumps the collective well being, and this issue in the military is just a natural outgrowth of that.

    We just don't seem to place as big a priority on individual responsibility as we do on individual rights.

  18. It's a phenomenon we called "Careerism". Some officers were more concerned with getting the proper career enhancing billets than performing to the best of their ability in the billet they held. During Viet Nam, it was very common, as people knew there would be a draw down after the war, and having all the proper tickets punched was essential to both promotions and surviving the inevitable RIF. We had an inept CPT fresh out of flight school who raised a stink over being assigned to a WO slot in our company, when a 1LT (former CWO) held a Section Leader billet in another platoon. "He's denying me promotion", was the claim. Our CO put the best man in the job. Other COs let rank drive assignments, so proper "tickets" were punched. Back then, it was just the "boys" jockeying for promotion enhancing billets. Now it is everyone. It's just the military exhibiting the ethos of the general population - he who dies owning the most toys is the winner.

  19. No Aviator, I get all of that re; careerism.

    A much simpler solution would be to end careerism, if the issue truly is equal opportunity to develop a career. There could be a decreased emphasis on infantry experience. I think it is a bad idea given what the military is actually supposed to do, but it is a viable option that would also benefit non-academy males.

    Since addressing ticket punching and all of the other situations you mention isn't on the table, I have to explore the possibility that some other ideologies are at play here.

  20. Actually, in the Army, I don't think that infantry experience is a functional pre-req for making general officer these days. So this further dilutes the careerism argument.

  21. no one

    Ending careerism is easier said than done. It is a mindset, and in an AVF, where opportunity is stressed to boost recruiting and retention, it is part and parcel to the game. The Combat Arms are a major portion of the Army, and thus, a major portion of the career paths. "Tickets" will always exist, and people who want their most advantageous "punches" as well. It's all about "opportunity" versus "responsibility".

  22. Aviator, so ending careerism - a move with little or no downside that would truly benefit the armed forces as well as a large number of commissioned personnel - is too difficult to even attempt.

    However, integrating women into infy units - a move that may benefit a miniscule proportion of those in the service and that could have enormous downside effects - is not only what we should try to do, but is going to be accomplished with a waving of a magic wand?

    I am afraid this thinking makes no sense to me.

  23. If you want to be a ticket puncher par excellence

    -- marry the daughter of the Superintendent of West Point, check
    -- ranger school, check
    -- aide-de-camp to division CG, check
    -- C&GS College, check
    -- PhD, check
    -- mil assistant to SACEUR, check
    -- exec sssistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, check
    -- get some serious media savvy by hanging around with Tom Clancy, Rick Atkinson, et al, check

    I always wondered if Petraeus got his COIN theories from his father-in-law who was Director of CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) for Westmoreland back in the day.

  24. Careerism is a behavior one can choose to adopt. It is how individuals take action within their ability to seek and capitalize on specific assignments primarily to advance their careers. How do you bar human behavior?

    Assigning women anywhere and everywhere is a policy choice. It can be adopted by simple assignment rule changes. The impact of those assignment rule changes on combat effectiveness is a different story.

    I do not claim to be able to predict what such changes will do. I am, however, quite concerned, as one cannot take the general population as the model, since the military does not have the same demographics as the general population. Thus, any cultural and behavioral assumptions based on the "interoperability" of the sexes in the general population just isn't applicable to the military.

  25. Mike, Yes (sadly).

    Aviator, "How do you bar human behavior?" I don't know. I don't think you can, at the end of the day. But this is key to the issue. Chief, like other supporters, thinks you *can* bar it and he relies on barring it to successfully implement this little scheme.

  26. Dunwoody (1st female four-star, but retired now) was in the Army quartermaster corps. Wolfenbarger (2nd) started her life in the AF as an intel analyst. Mutter (1st Marine Corps three star), with a math degree, was a computer analyst. Pottenger (a Navy SWO hopefully soon to be a four star) has probably more command experience than Petraeus, and those ommand assignments included not just fleet support ships and shore establishments but also an Expeditionary Strike Group.

    One out of 38 four stars is way less than the ~14 percent of women in the Armed Forces, so they do have a beef. Although I can the screams already of many congressmen who I am sure would say "no quota system". With the importance of CyberWar, why aren't more women with computer backgrounds being made flag officers? Same for intel, comms, and logistics

    Something shoul

  27. Mike,
    Were your examples of female GO's Academy grads?
    I think DP could have gotten his COIN ideas from cribbing US Army experience in the Philipines 1898-1916 experience.

  28. jim-

    Only General Wolfenbarger was a ring knocker. She graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980 so I think she is one of the female plankholders. Wasn't the first group of women admitted to the service academies in 76? I believe the other three I mentioned were not eligible when they enrolled in college.

    General Dunwoody (retired) was a phys ed major from a small state university in Upstate NY, a former Normal School for teachers.

    LtGen Mutter (retired) was a math education major at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, again another former Normal School for teachers.

    Vice Admiral Pottenger was a history major at Purdue and participated in the NROTC program there.

  29. Mike

    Space precludes trying to explain the "choke points" in the promotion process to O-6 and above, but CS/CSS officers have a proportionally lower level of access to "career enhancing ticket punches" to O-6, and an even lower level of access to those required for entry to flag rank.

    While promotions to one and two star are handled by promotion boards within each service, three and four star billets are nominative based upon existing or forecast vacancies, a fair amount of which are "purple" billets outside one's own service. There is a fair amount of timing and circumstance involved in a two star having a shot at the third star, and similarly for a three star to have a shot at four.

    CS/CSS officers do make it to flag rank, but not at the same rate as Combat Arms weenies, often because making it through the maze to the first star is a bit more torturous.

    As to "Ring Knockers" versus the rest of us, that advantage lessened significantly when all career status officers were given "Regular Army" commissions, versus the old days when the majority were Reservists on active duty. That's another long story in itself.

  30. @jim - "I think DP could have gotten his COIN ideas from cribbing US Army experience in the Philipines 1898-1916 experience."

    Yes, DP probably got many of his ideas from the Philippines. His FM on COIN also got some input from the Marine Corps Small Wars Manual of the Banana Wars in the Caribbean and Central America of a century ago. But I believe that his interest in his father-in-law's involvement in CORDS was a factor also. Consider that these major premises of COIN are in both CORDS doctrine and Petraeus doctrine:

    1] Security for civilian population
    2] Community rebuilding and development
    3] Destruction of enemy infrastructure among the civilian population
    3.a] Open Arms approach to encourage defections from the enemy (i.e. Chieu Hoi program in Vietnam, Anbar Awakening in Iraq)

    Al - I agree with your 2:49 comment. But just because it is true does not make it a smart or efficient way to do things. CyberWar, space-based warfare, intel ops, weapons acquisition are too important tom be led by tourists from infantry, fighter pilot, cavalry, submarine, or cannon cocker communities just to give them a broadening experience.

  31. Mike: "CyberWar, space-based warfare, intel ops, weapons acquisition are too important tom be led by tourists"

    Ain't gonna get an argument from me on that.

    When Goldwater-Nichols was passed in 1986, one flaw was the requirement for "joint duty" to be eligible for flag rank. Some of the more exotic fields (e.g. - Cyberwar) do not lend themselves to "joint duty" on a scale large enough to breed a broad population from which to select flag officers.