Tuesday, January 14, 2014
GI Jane Can’t Hang
In the January 2, 2014 issue of Time Magazine online, in a story by reporter Eliana Dockterman.1 "Marines Postpone Pull-Up Requirement for Female Recruits: After more than half fail test, the Marine Corps struggles to find fair fitness test for women pursuing combat jobs," it was reported that the U.S. Marine Corps has postponed instituting its new fitness requirements for female recruits. The new requirement, which calls for a minimum of three pull-ups for women considering undergoing combat training, was found to be too-difficult for the typical female entrant. For now, the Corps will give female recruits the choice of completing three pull-ups or a fifteen second static hang - in lieu of requiring pull-ups.
The Marine Corps has argued that pull-ups replicate the same muscular strength required to carry munitions, climb walls and perform other military tasks.
However, according to spokeswoman Captain Maureen Krebs, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos has asked training officials to "continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed."
"Gather new data"? Perhaps the Marine Corps should devote the time instead to figuring out to extricate itself from the ridiculous and illogical corner into which it has painted itself.
The politically-correct Pentagon-speak is getting so deep one needs boots to wade through all of it. What exactly does General Amos mean by the words "best opportunity to succeed"? Tell me, General - will a jihadist suicide bomber running toward a female Marine give her "the best opportunity to succeed" before blowing himself and her to pieces?
Ms. Dockterman, the author of the Time story, commented smugly that the Marine Corps was "struggling to find a fair fitness test for women pursuing combat jobs."
Ms. Dockterman, do you think that passing a "fair" fitness test will matter when an enraged North Korean or Chinese soldier charges a female Marine, his bayonet fixed, intent upon running her through?
The statements of General Amos and Eliana Dockterman and others in favor of putting women into ground combat roles have an air of fantasy and unreality about them. One is reminded of the 1895 H.G. Wells science-fiction novel The Time Machine. Wells imagined a world in the distant future where humanity has diverged into two separate species - the weak and docile Eloi, who live a life of corrupt ease and banality on the surface of the Earth, and the Morlocks, who live underground by day, doing the dirty work of sustaining Eloi society, while at night preying upon them.
Those who support sending women into ground combat are Eloi; they have led a life of affluence and comfort for so long that they have forgotten the meaning of pain, suffering and privation - if they ever knew them in the first place.
The ugly truth is that war is a meat grinder - the ultimate in Darwinian survival of the fittest, the strongest, and the most-aggressive. This is nowhere more truth than in the cruel reality of ground combat.
Does it matter whether a Marine can do pull-ups? Do physical strength, toughness and aggression matter in 21st century warfare? The feminists and their allies in favor of putting women into ground combat often argue that the nature of warfare has changed sufficiently to make the traditional rules barring women obsolete. In modern high-tech war, they contend, the traditional masculine attributes no longer matter - and are no longer decisive. They could not be more wrong.
On today's battlefields, raw strength, physical toughness and aggressiveness often provide the margin between accomplishing a mission and failing to accomplish it, between victory and defeat, and between living and dying.
In the First Gulf War, SAS (Special Air Service) Sergeant Andy McNabb and the members of his troop were inserted behind enemy lines to locate and destroy suspected Scud missile sites in a remote region of Iraq. Expected to operate on foot for extended periods behind enemy lines without resupply, each member of the team carried a ruck (pack) of two-hundred pounds in weight. Read that again; that is no mistake - two-hundred pounds.
Relatively few people (male or female) can carry over one-hundred pounds on their backs for any length of time - let alone two-hundred pounds; this author is aware of no woman who can manage that feat - yet the Obama White House and its allies insist that women belong in these most-elite of units. Skeptics might scoff that hundred pound-plus combat loads are atypical for the modern combat infantryman or special ops member. Think again.
Foot soldiers generally avoid carrying any excess pounds whenever possible; additional weight on a long-range recon patrol (LRRP) translates directly into more work, more pain and more fatigue. However, they do what is necessary to get the job done - and sometimes the mission calls for extremely heavy loads. Would-be "GI Janes" should know that - like their SAS counterparts - members of elite U.S. ground/special ops forces such as the U.S. Army Special Forces ("Green Berets"), Army Rangers, Delta Force, Marines/Marine Recon, and Navy SEALS, are often called upon to shoulder extremely heavy loads.
Contrary to popular belief, the basic combat load of an infantryman has not decreased over time; it has increased. Technological advances have made much of the equipment carried by today's grunts lighter and stronger, but that is more-than-offset by the additional gear the modern infantryman carries - which now may include body armor with ceramic plates, as well as sat-com gear, laptop computer, laser range-finders/target designators, and all of the other tools used by today's fast-movers - in addition to primary and secondary weapons, ammunition, explosives/grenades, first aid kit, shelter, camouflage materials, bed roll, additional clothing, and food and water. Crew-served weapons - such as mortars and heavy machine guns - and ammunition for them add additional weight.
Under the best of conditions, to be an infantryman is to be a beast of burden. That is not hyperbole. Current operations in Afghanistan provide a case in point. The Hindu Kush is one of the most-remote and inhospitable environments on earth in which to wage war; our military - which possesses unrivaled logistical capabilities - is sometimes reduced to getting men into battle in remote areas by using pack animals, horses or by walking them in.
Why? Because the remote mountains and passes where the enemy - the mujahedeen - are to be found are often roadless and too-dangerous for sustained aviation operations. Many readers will recall the now-famous photos of Special Forces soldiers riding horses into battle against the Taliban in the weeks and months after the 9-11 attacks.
In such conditions, brute strength matters; toughness matters. Good intentions aren't enough. Placing female personnel in ground combat in places like Afghanistan will get good men - and women - killed and maimed and will jeopardize the successful completion of the missions their units have been assigned.
In the old-breed U.S. Army and Marines, and - rumor has it - a few of today's surviving hard-core outfits - a pull-up bar was hung outside the mess hall. No Marine or soldier was allowed to eat unless he did his ten or fifteen pull-ups first. No muscle, no chow. It was a bare-knuckles reminder that war isn't a game and that it demands hard, tough men.
It is time for voters and military leaders - retired and active-duty alike - to demand that common sense and wisdom prevail. G.I. Jane can't hang; America's daughters do not belong in ground combat.
Parents reunited with the baby NINE MONTHS after she was taken by British social workers convinced their father was a terrorist
A couple has been reunited with their baby nine months after she was taken into care by a council who accused her father of being a terrorist and tried to put her up for adoption.
Misty Barnes was removed from her parents Cheryl Rich and Jack Barnes when she was one-month-old after social workers decided she was in danger.
In adoption papers Mr Barnes, 39, said Thurrock Council in Essex called him a terrorist and a threat to national security, who had knowledge of making bombs and had threatened to blow up buildings.
They also alleged he was a violent armed robber, who had served eight years inside Belmarsh Prison and had pumped his dogs with steroids so they could cage fight.
Mr Barnes was jailed for arson and handling stolen goods when he was younger, and has also been convicted of growing cannabis. But he adamantly denies the claims made by the council and the couple have won a legal battle to get their child back.
Mr Barnes added: 'We have had to stay strong through this. The council tried to break us. 'I've had run-ins with the law before, and they were all a long time ago.
'I haven't got any convictions for violence. I would never hurt Cheryl or Misty.'
He said being accused of being a terrorist was just 'ridiculous'. He added: 'I'm not perfect, but that was unbelievable. I think the council were looking for a reaction from me.
'I know how the legal system works and so I told Cheryl that we need to write everything down and keep all our evidence.'
He added: 'The council hasn't apologised to us. Now we want a full inquiry to take place.'
Jackie Doyle-Price, Tory MP for Thurrock, said the council was guilty of a major injustice and owed the couple, of Grays, Essex, a huge apology. 'While the family are reunited now, nothing can replace the time they have lost. A major injustice has taken place her,' she said, adding: 'Thurrock council owe this family a huge apology.'
In addition to the false accusations, the council managed to mix Misty's case up, putting the authority in breach of strict data protection rules.
The couple's solicitors were sent paperwork regarding the wrong child and a document was submitted to court by the council with the wrong child, wrong sex and even the wrong local authority council listed on it.
She said: 'Whilst there were reasons to be concerned for Misty's welfare, social workers treated Cheryl as a victim of domestic violence, which she was not.
'The council argue the court would not have approved the first care order unless the action was fair. 'However, the papers filed with the court by the council contained untruths which Jack and Cheryl could not challenge.'
The council refused to comment in detail on the case, but a spokesman said: 'The family has been asked to provide a detailed written complaint, setting out all their issues so it can be investigated properly by a non-council, independent person.'
L.A. mayor Garcetti bemoans white males studying too hard
The first new Los Angeles Fire Department recruit class in five years is nearly all male and mostly white despite repeated promises by the agency to diversify its ranks, according to figures released Monday evening by Mayor Eric Garcetti's office.
The class of 70 firefighters, which is scheduled to begin training Monday, has just one woman and is 60% white. Twenty-three percent of the recruits are Latino, 11% are Asian American and 6% are African American, according to the figures.
Earlier Monday, Garcetti said that he had not seen the complete breakdown for the class but was not satisfied with the racial and ethnic balance based on preliminary information he received from the department.
His office obtained complete figures and released them Monday evening after requests from The Times.
"Mayor Garcetti thinks these numbers are unacceptable and wants the Fire Department to reflect the city it serves," spokesman Yusef Robb said Monday evening. Los Angeles is 29% white, 49% Latino, 11% Asian and 10% black, according to the Census Bureau.
Robb said the mayor's office is committed to working with the department to improve recruiting and ensure future classes include more women and minorities.
Robb noted that recruiting for the class starting next week took place before Garcetti took office. Another class of trainees could begin later this year.
Fire Department spokesmen could not be reached Monday evening for comment.
For years, the LAFD has struggled with racial discrimination and sexual harassment, allegations that have cost taxpayers nearly $20 million since 2005, city records show.
In November, a Superior Court jury awarded $1.1 million to a black firefighter who said he had endured three decades of discrimination. The verdict followed payouts totaling $1.5 million in other bias cases for the budget year that ended in June.
Suing the fire department on some sort of discrimination grounds, as in the famous case of veteran black fireman Tennie "Big Dog" Pierce, who was given $1.5 million by taxpayers for a firehouse prank involving dog food appearing surreptitiously in his spaghetti, is known as AARP: African-American Retirement Planning.
The department, which has 3,200 sworn personnel, has diversified its ranks over the last two decades, city officials say, noting that the last four fire chiefs have been African American. But the agency is still 50% white, 31% Latino, 12% black and 7% Asian.
Those darn white fire nuts keep studying how to put out fires.
And despite past scandals involving firefighter attitudes toward female recruits, the ratio of women in the uniformed ranks remains at just under 3% - the same as in 1995.
So the huge city of Los Angeles is hiring firemen at the rate of 14 per year -- in other words, as the number of fires decline, it just doesn't need new firemen. So, this ought to be a non-issue.
Still, we get these ritual denunciations by white male authority figures of working class white males for the sin of burning the midnight oil studying how to save people from fires.
That's what important white people do these days: denounce white men. It's a very weird kabuki rite, but nobody seems to notice there's anything odd about it anymore.
Why boys need a boyhood to become good men
Comment from Australia
Given the current deep community outpourings of concern for the senseless violence present on Australian streets at night, the disturbing numbers of little boys being suspended and expelled from our schools, and the decreasing numbers of young men attending and graduating university, something is going wrong in the world of our boys.
I lay blame on society, which seems to have stolen boyhood in the name of a sanitised, politically correct, gender neutral, bland childhood.
One of the world’s leading writers on boys and men, Michael Gurian, believes the invisible drive at the biological core of manhood is the pursuit to prove self-worth. No one can give a man his self-worth – he has to give this to himself. The guidance of good men, of course, helps.
To find this place, however, boys and men seek external ways to demonstrate potency, victory and independence – and this is what helps shape their search for meaning and purpose in life from a very early age. It is the warrior unfolding from within.
There have been several shifts in society that have undermined our children and particularly impacted on our boy warriors.
In days gone by, boys had the freedom to roam unsupervised on adventures that allowed them to be massively engaged in pursuits that helped them to learn and grow using life’s greatest teacher – experience.
Our modern-day phobia that our world is unsafe, especially for our boys, is creating an environment where they are finding it ever more difficult to find that place of self-worth through external moments of potency and success. We now run the risk of creating a generation of frustrated and angry young men.
The dominant male hormone testosterone is associated with sex and aggression and the search for social power, ambition and independence. Another key influencer (alongside cultural conditioning of course) may be that men have more receptors for the hormone vasopressin – which some researchers have associated with territoriality, hierarchy, competition and persistence, as well as the capacity to bond.
Generally, boys are soft wired to be competitive and active, and are constantly in search of moments to prove their worth and value (in girls and women, oestrogen and oxytocin influence us in different ways, along with their cultural conditioning).
The playground provides an early opportunity for boys to demonstrate worth but the safe, ‘fantastic plastic’ playgrounds of today are emasculating boyhood.
We’ve removed the traditional monkey bars, seesaws and maypoles which were all wonderful opportunities to stretch oneself, hurt oneself when a poor decision was made and learn how to play well with other children – this is where we learnt healthy risk management.
Today’s playgrounds are less engaging and statistics show that children are injured more in modern playgrounds than in the scary old playgrounds because they no longer know how to cope with and manage risk. And keeping kids indoors certainly hasn’t made them any safer either.
The demise of vigorous play as a valid and accepted part of the school playground has also had an impact. Not only did it allow for boys to discharge energy, it was another way children learnt the code of good play versus bad play.
As boys tend to be less efficient at using language to resolve conflict, this is where they learnt non-verbal cues telling them it was time to leave and walk away.
Leading play expert Dr Stuart Brown argues that we only develop an understanding of ‘play code’ in our childhood from playing endlessly with other children.
Without a play code we can badly misread social situations and interpret a threat incorrectly and, without the ability to defuse the situation, this can turn into violence quickly, especially with a bellyful of alcohol.
Other trends that are sucking the healthy warrior spirit from our young lads include the ban on keeping score in junior sports competitions so nobody under 14 loses (or wins!). This must be so exasperating for lads, another stolen validation.
Some early years’ centres have banned superhero play so children are not allowed to dress in capes and masks to lead the fight of good versus bad – this actually needs to be encouraged rather than shamed as this courage settles deep within a boy’s psyche.
We’ve also seen bans on tree climbing, playing chasey and even removing sandpits to be replaced by more mat time, phonics in isolation, more desk work, less free play and homework for 4 year olds. If I was a 5 year old today I would be angry too.
Boys need to learn at a young age what happens when they make poor choices in the pursuit of conquering the world.
Our modern-day warriors need to become accountable for their own actions before they hit the party scenes of late adolescence and make a mistake that may be life-changing.
We need to celebrate the bruises, the occasional stitches and the rare broken arm because boys learn deeply from real experience and seldom from lectures, especially from well-meaning mums. These wounds are external signs that you are a warrior.
Our children’s lives tend to be micromanaged, over-supervised and planned, and there is very little freedom and autonomy.
I believe the impact on boys is particularly negative and increasing levels of depression and mental illness in adolescence may be telling us that there are some very deep instinctual drives that need to be nurtured in a healthy way, rather than denied and crushed.
As Michael Gurian explains, the strong drive for self worth and value is a profound and sacred journey that is the core to a healthy manhood and it starts at a boy’s birth:
“This core of manhood represents maleness at its best – self sacrificing, devoted to service, loving, wise and powerful and at its worst – brutal, shaming, destructive, dangerous,” Gurian writes.
We need to seriously consider giving boys back their boyhoods and opportunities for authentic growth in the company of good men, or we are going to continue seeing more and more 'coward-hitting' warriors wreaking havoc in our communities.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.