Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sixty Years Since Truman Desegregated the Military

July 26 is the 60th anniversary of Truman's desegregation executive order. The AP has an interesting Insight piece on the subject.

Our comrade, IRRSoldier has posted often about ROTC abandoning certain demographics. Well, according to the AP piece:

A review of congressional nominations to the military academies shows that black and Hispanic lawmakers often recommend fewer students.

The fewest appointments to the academies came from Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who forwarded just three names for the classes of 2009-2012. Two other members of Congress _ Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano and New York Democrat Jose Serrano_ sent up five names.

According to Pentagon data, the number of lawmakers who failed to nominate at least one candidate to each academy increased from 24 in 2005 to 38 this year. Of the 75 lawmakers overall who did not nominate someone to each academy in all four years, 40 were either black or Hispanic.

It would appear that some members of Congress have no interest in people from their constituencies becoming career military officers. Or, perhaps, the people in their districts do not seek military careers, even for a free education. IMHO, another downside of the AVF.



Andy said...

That is a very interesting piece Al, thanks for posting it!

Hope you and yours are doing well in your Greek paradise.

Charles Gittings said...

The last couple of weeks I've been sitting in on a series of local meetings by Obama supporters to draft some suggestions for the Democratic platform. Last week there was a conference-call 'town hall' meeting with our Congressman, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA 1st). I able to ask a question, and was pleased to hear him respond quite intelligently on the topic of Gitmo and torture (and he's in the Intel committee, so I was doubly pleased).

Meanwhile, one of the other questioners asked him to look into a program called 'warriors in transtition' at Fort Campbell, where her son (who was "injured" in Iraq) has apparently spent most of this year waiting for separation (his enlistment was up in January) while getting run through the bureaucratic wringer.

So today there's a story in the Post...

Washington Post --

July 23, 2008
by Dana Milbank

J.D. said...

This 60th Anniversary of racial desegregation of the US military is also the day that Congress will hold hearings on the "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals in the military.

I fully support ending that disgraceful policy - which is federal law and not a military policy - as well. If a citizen of the United States is capable and willing to contribute to our national defense, WHY NOT ALLOW THEM THE PRIVILEGE OF DOING SO?

I'll tell you why - because there are many in America who do not agree with our republic's founding principles: that all men (read: people) are created equal, that they have certain rights, and that our government exists to ensure freedom for all, not just for some.

I "hated" gays once - because society taught me I should. I joined a very homophobic Army in 1985. I did not know anybody whom I knew to be homosexual - they were alien to me. I was not prepared for the Army doctor that asked me in rapid order "are you queer gay funny homo suck dick like boys more than girls?" "Hell no" I answered angrily, and he checked a box on my form and sent me on my way.

And then, after being a rifleman in the 101st ABN for a short while, I learned a fellow soldier - a damn good soldier too - was gay. I had already served long enough to know it made no damn difference to me, he was a good soldier and that was more than enough for me. He never "came out" and I never "outed" him, but he should not have had to hide who he was. He was a good soldier, and dammit, that is enough. I trusted him with my life without hesitation. That, it seems to me, should be more than enough to qualify somebody to serve in uniform.

This is off-topic, my apologies, but I think it is relevant to this anniversary - if we don't allow all of our fellow citizens to be "full" Americans, our republic is doomed to never achieve the very purpose for which it exists - to ensure all power is held by the People, that consent of the governed is the rule rather than tyranny, and that the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence remain our national mission and purpose for our very existence as a nation. Unlike most "nations," we are not a nation because of race or geography or religion, but because of a shared idea - the idea of equal rights and self-government. We use a single word to describe that idea: Freedom.

The ban on homosexuals is antithetical to that idea - because gays and lesbians are created equal to the rest of us, and the reasons for the ban on their serving is based on hatred and ignorance, not military necessity.

I hope we can soon celebrate the 1st anniversary of the end of the ban on homosexuals openly serving our nation in uniform. I oppose George Bush, John McCain, and Osama Bin Laden, all of whom agree that gays are not fit to serve.

basilbeast said...

Here's a colorful and happy outcome ( in the present at least ) of past US military action.


bg said...

Here is a related article in Army Times:

"Blacks have made great strides in the military since it was integrated 60 years ago, but they still struggle to gain a foothold in the higher ranks, where less than 6 percent of U.S. general officers are African-American."

I think this article nails it on the head. A huge reason we don't see more black senior leaders is because of the difference in how different ethno-economic groups view the AVF and what they hope to achieve.

Black and Hispanic typically, with many notable exceptions, view the AVF as an opportunity for social upward mobility in terms of future college plans or job skills. To be a military flag officer, you typically need to serve in combat arms, a set of branches that are not known for their "real world application."

As far USMA is concerned, if a young kid is interested in social mobility, if he wants to get a job to improve his status in society, does the US Military Academy degree really do that? Not likely. With this new GI Bill, which is a great deal, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw even less USMA applicants coming from minorities if their motivation is truly social mobility.

Ael said...

Has the army decided to desegregate the sexes? Can women join the combat arms? I know various NATO allies allow this (and Canada even lost a female FOO in Afghanistan a couple of years ago.)

bg said...


No, woman can still not join combat arms MOSs, however, we are seeing a lot more tolerance than we used to which is a good thing.

6 years ago, it was unheard of to have a female officer on staff of an Infantry Battalion, today, there are support companies with female soldiers, some led by female officers, that are integrated within infantry battalions.

But this is all semantics really because even known you don't have female infantryman, you have female MPs and other jobs who are out on the streets every day doing jobs that are very much combat related.

We have a long way to go, and I don't expect to see females in the infantry any time soon, but I think you will start to see more and more female officers and NCOs working at the staff positions in what were traditionally male only jobs.

Do we really need females serving as infantrymen with the boys? Here is my take, and my reason I believe it will never happen. Females today live by a different standard in physical fitness, which makes sense because females are physically different. In the infantry, there can be only one standard. If an female were to join the infantry, that female must meet all male standards. If all the guys are carrying 80lbs of equipment, show must she. There are a few females out there who can meet this standard to be sure. But we are talking very low numbers. In my mind, it doesn't make sense logistically or practically to make allowances for one soldier in a platoon (special hygiene requirements as per Army regulation, etc). It just doesn't make sense, and is just not needed. Is it about being fair, or doing what makes the most sense?

Charles Gittings said...

"Is it about being fair, or doing what makes the most sense?"

Well bg, that strikes me a bit like asking if math is about addition and subtraction or multiplication and division -- the two go hand in hand. I wouldn't say it was unfair to exclude someone if they can't carry 80 pounds and that's a requirement; where it gets unfair is when you tell someone they can't even try to qualify for the job because they are a woman or black etc.

Last week there was a hearing (don't remember whether it was senate or house) on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that I watched a bit. One question they asked the witnesses was: if that had been the law when you joined (most had entered the military before the law was enacted), would you have still joined?

One guy who answered that said he'd joined as a 5' 1" 90-pound 18-year-old, and YES he would have still joined, because his greatest ambition was to serve and prove what a runt like him could do (or words to that effect).

Seems like you want to accommodate folks like that... not by lowering the standards, but by allowing them the opportunity.

sheerakahn said...


I'm a civie, so I won't pretend to tell you how the military should include of exclude whomever...but I will lay out my observations.

Women are tough.
They're a lot tougher than we males think, and believe it or not I've seen scrawny women who weigh 90 lbs soaking wet carry a 90 lb bail of hay, power lift it over their head and heave it up the side of a truck for the other scrawny woman to lay it on top...over and over, repeatedly.
At the time I was doing that with them I was 6'0" 240lb body builder, and I was having a hell of a time walking through that field with my cousins bailing hay.

Like I said, I am not going to tell the military they should or should not let women try out for combat arms, but what I am willing is to place my cousins side by side with any of your SF boys and watch them eat crow as my cousins out shoot, out lift, and out endure your best.
And on top of all that, my cousins are pretty damn cute...sassy, overconfident, but extremely cute.

Don't let dimunitive cuteness fool you...I did, and it ended up costing me a round of icecream cones.

basilbeast said...

More 60-or-so anniversaries coming up. Aug 6 is the 63rd for the nuking of Hiroshima, as well as being also the 7th for the day Bush got the PDB about bin Laden "determined to strike".

I heard Olbermann mention David Kilcullen

on his show

I'd be interested in seeing what he really had to say. I haven't been able to google much about him recently.

Anybody know much about him?


bg said...

Sheera, trust me, I know how tough woman can be. And if it were only a matter of toughness.

I've thought long and hard about this topic over the past 10 years, this is not an opintion I've come to lightly. I've worked with some of the most elite woman in the service, but at the end of the day,most of them had at least one physical or mental limitation that made them a liability in some mission profiles.

I have not doubt that there are a handful of "perfect" female soldiers out there who can do anything a fit infantryman can do. But they are the true exceptions, and I have yet to meet one despite the many, many talented and tough woman I've had the honor of working with. The closest I came to was an MI MAJ, but she was Australian.

The 90lb girls lifting 90lb bails of hay, I just don't see those girls in today's America, at least not in the Army. If you find some, please send them my way.


It is nothing like denying somebody a job based on race or creed. There are no physiological differences between races. There are significant physiological differences between gender. The Army institutionalizes this by having different standards for physical fitness.

You imply that to be fair, we should at least just let them try. It has been experimented with. I agree with your example, the little guy should be given the opportunity because there are jobs he may be able to do. But not every job is for every person.

But there is just no requirement for the infantry. We are not short of infantryman. If you can make an argument that the infantry would be stronger if females were integrated, than we can talk. But that argument has never been made effectively, the argument is about fairness. Fairness and war are two diametrically opposed concepts. If it is not broken, don't try to fix it, especially if you have no reason to believe the fix has any potential to fix anything.

sheerahkahn said...

"The 90lb girls lifting 90lb bails of hay, I just don't see those girls in today's America, at least not in the Army. If you find some, please send them my way."

It's them farm girls, BG, they're all over...not the ones bellying up to the mickey-dees, but the ones who get up before the chickens, eat what they can from the refrig, and then out in the field till the sun goes down, which is about the same time the dinner bell rings.
I can guarantee you that all you've been seeing are the city girls or the rural princesses...get a farm girl who has callouses on her hands, and knows that missing the buck during deer season means hot dogs with the pork and beans.

bg said...

"It's them farm girls, BG, they're all over...not the ones bellying up to the mickey-dees...I can guarantee you that all you've been seeing are the city girls or the rural princesses"

All the more reason we should consider a draft. No doubt that there are many well conditioned, tough kids from the heartland to fill our ranks. Yet another slice of American society not represented.

Out of curiosity, do you think their exclusion from the tougher jobs keeps them from enlisting?

Charles Gittings said...


"It is nothing like denying somebody a job based on race or creed. There are no physiological differences between races. There are significant physiological differences between gender. The Army institutionalizes this by having different standards for physical fitness."

Well that first sentence is plainly false, since the concept of race isn't about anything BUT physiological differences between distinct genetic groups, but you do say "significant" in the following sentence, and that's more accurate.

But it's still insufficient. It might be the case that the physiological differences between men and women are such that the average woman who can meet the minimum physical requirements weighs 150 lbs while the average man weighs 140. So what?

The fact remains that some number of both groups are physically capable of doing the job. What you are interested in, I trust, is having the very best people you can get, yet here you're literally arguing that reducing the pool of eligible candidates is a good idea, when there isn't a doubt in my mind that some percentage of the top women would be superior to the majority of the males.

I can't imagine why you wouldn't want them when it's a virtual lock (just as matter of statistics) that you're actually reducing the overall quality of the force by excluding them. And why?

Everybody has to qualify in training, and some always wash-out. The fact remains that some can do the job, some can't, and some of those who can are women. You say this isn't like racism, yet how many times have we heard racists talk about the average IQ scores of one race vs. another like it matters?

For any set of human traits some individuals are exceptional, and that's as true of women and blacks as it is for anyone else. Whatever happened to "be all that you can be"?

Fair isn't an issue, but you wouldn't have infantry if you didn't need them. I doubt you worry much about having too many good ones -- my understanding is that's impossible.

Ael said...

It is interesting how "fitness" to be an soldier can change dramatically in context.

Modern fitness tests tend to measure things that take minutes (or at the most, hours).

The British in the Falklands found that the soldiers that could keep going were the chubby ones (i.e the ones that had the greatest trouble meeting the standard fitness tests).

The marathon running soldiers were very slender and wiry, but had no body reserves to draw on. They invalided out quickly.

The Chindits in Burma had a similar experience where nobody could last longer than 3 months or so (and would loose between 60-80lbs of body weight).

Given the changes gunpowder and motorized vehicles have wrought, I wonder if females would actually make better soldiers?

basilbeast said...

A woman in the military story, Missouri girl

What is it with the finest military on earth covering up corruption like this?

This was ruled suicide.

The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault.


Aviator47 said...

This is such a complex issue that it defies real examination in the short bursts given here.

bg raised a point ignored by the rest of you: "In my mind, it doesn't make sense logistically or practically to make allowances for one soldier in a platoon (special hygiene requirements as per Army regulation, etc)."

In short, is the reason for the infantry's existence to provide opportunities for any and all who are interested, or to accomplish a military mission. Further, is it appropriate to have to go to extra expense to accommodate those who aspire to be in the infantry?

Yes, I have seen female soldiers who would probably make fine infantry soldiers. But, if to incorporate them into the infantry causes the expenditure of additional resources, what is truly gained other than a nice check in the "equal opportunity" block? Again, is the mission of the infantry to provide opportunities for individuals or to perform it's mission. If the former, then we should accept any and all extra costs involved in providing opportunities. If it is the latter, then we should focus on fielding the leanest and meanest force possible.

I won't even begin to address the social, cultural and personal issues involved in the low privacy/no privacy environment in which an infantry platoon is called upon to operate.

bg said...

"Given the changes gunpowder and motorized vehicles have wrought, I wonder if females would actually make better soldiers?"

Aell, there is some profound truth in this statement. Warfare today has changed significantly, and those changes have forced the lines to blur. In Iraq today, there are a high number of woman performing extremely well in combat positions. In my company in Baghdad, my best .50cal gunner was a female. I would take her into any fight in Iraq, providing that she was mounted in her gun turret. Outside the vehicle, that was another story.

But that is not the infantry. The mounted fight is an aspect, a single method of fighting. We can not plan our future force structure on one fight. We must always retain the expectation that our infantry will fight wars in jungles and mountains (such as Afghanistan) where mounted warfare is impossible.

Again, this doesn't say that there are not some, very exceptional females (none of whom I've ever met in over 14 years) who could do every job asked of an infantryman, but as I pointed out early, as Al amplified, is the purpose of the infantry to serve as a platform of EO and fairness, or is it to fight and destroy our enemies?

(Ael, what you state about judging fitness is also very true. The Army PT test is a very poor barometer for measuring capability of combat arms soldiers, it is meant to be a general fitness test.)

Charley, your argument remains on the lines of "fairness" and is not convincing that opening up the ranks to the female population will have a significant positive impact on readiness and capability. Your increased population argument is similar to the one used to open up recruiting to GED graduates and criminals. Sure, it does open the population, and sure, you will very likely find some stellar performers. But does it overall improve the quality of your force, or just the numbers on paper?

bg said...

With all this talk, woman in certain combat positions simply will not happen. But let's talk about something that could and needs to happen.

Woman are still excluded from positions such as Battalion staff for infantry units, specifically, the S2. One of my best friends is very frustrated because she is better qualified than any male MI officer in her Brigade, however, she is relegated to the Bde staff, while they have positions in the infantry battalions.

There are some male coded positions, especially staff positions, that should be opened up to females. We should focus on making those needed changes first.

Charles Gittings said...

Well I don't know what to tell you bg -- I'm the guy who made the flat statement "fairness is not an issue".

Meanwhile, you're the guy who is willing to deny facts and logic because you can't let go of an irrational prejudice. You not only won't let them try, you won't accept them even if they're superior to the majority of male candidates.

This isn't about fairness bg, it's ultimately a question of YOUR mental and moral fitness to be an officer in the United States Army, and your unreasoning prejudice towards women is not a good sign.

It's also just a little bit much given the clear fact of your willingness to serve a demented incompetent war criminal like George Bush five years deep into an idiotic fiasco like Iraq. That case is BARD: the man is absolutely unfit to hold any position of public trust, let alone the office of President. He's a murderer and a war criminal in exactly the same sense that Adolf Hitler was, and that's a sad fucking fact.

So get real -- there is no rational basis for excluding women from combat, and anyone who claims otherwise is either a liar or a fool. There are women police officers, fire fighters, and construction workers aplenty.

There's only one word for it:


sheerahkahn said...

"Out of curiosity, do you think their exclusion from the tougher jobs keeps them from enlisting?"

TBH, I'm not sure...a lot of them are home grown, and live within an hours drive of their parents (my aunts and uncles), and if the rest of them are like my family back east I would assume then that that is the norm.

"Further, is it appropriate to have to go to extra expense to accommodate those who aspire to be in the infantry?"

I'm not sure I should be saying this, and when I do, please take it that I say it with the utmost respect (yes, I'm prefacing a very snarky response, but its all in fun cause I like you and respect you)...but t'ah...the last I remember there are various combat arms MOS that are not infantry.
:::cough::: armor :::cough:::
:::cough::: artillery :::cough:::
:::cough::: air-assault :::cough:::

Nothing but love, Al, nothing but love!


sheerahkahn said...

About your mississippi girl story, yeah its shocking, and omg, disrespectful, but you know...murder is murder, and regular military guys get offed as well.
What makes this shocking is it happened to a female, and from the description of the victim it was definitely a hate crime...but if you left out the female part and said, "a soldier brutally murdered and the body severely desecrated was found outside of fort..." and the story is now about a soldier.

Aviator47 said...


My career was as a Marine Infantryman (6 yrs) and an Army Aviator (29 yrs). I addressed the infantry simply because it was expedient. Similar problems would exist in Armor and Arty, which are subject to the same low/no privacy issues, as well as gender specific logistics. Armor, more so than Arty, as Arty does not generally engage in small unit operations in the same isolation as Inf and Armor.

You obviously have no concept of the difference between police work and extended infantry operations at the platoon level. For one, the police are rarely deployed 24/7 for weeks at a time, away from access to "creature comforts" and logistics. Indeed, a police officer's personal hygiene requirements are the officer's responsibility, for example. Police officers are rarely going to have to take a leak in the open or find themselves 100 miles away from the nearest source of tampons for a month.

Having fought in extended combat and led troops in extended combat, I do not see the profession as one that is best served by opening all the floodgates in the name of "opportunity". Getting someone killed or injured so that someone else can have a job of choice is pure and simple bullshit, and the soldier on each of another soldier's is vital to that soldier's survival, no less mission accomplishment. I cannot support any notion that might diminish the quality of any of my soldier's flanks, however slight that diminishment might be.

Your hatred for all in the military really masks any intellect you have to offer.

FDChief said...

My, my.

I checked JD's blog a couple of days ago and there were something like 4 comments to this post; I return and there's a furious argument about fairness, opportunity, gender discrimination, the role of the combat arms and experience in/dislike of the military.

For what it's worth...

My experience is similar to most of the other green-suiters here. I've encountered several women who are unqualifiedly capable of serving as infantry. Add the other combat arms and I'd throw in maybe a dozen more. This is over 22 years of Army service in the RA, AR and NG. I'd say that a total of perhaps fifteen or twenty of the female troops I knew, either personally or professionally could hack the physical and mental demands of the job.

But balance this against the difficulties involved. Let's start with the personal: for all the talk about "don't ask, don't tell", I NEVER saw a problem with homosexuality during my service, even though I served with both men and women who were homosexual and were known to be homosexual.

But I saw and dealt with DOZENS of heterosexual problems, from icky loverlike banter through deals for sex all the way to full on breakup rage and restraining-order hate. Screw the gays, it's the breeders that are the problem, and a problem that is VERY easy to eliminate from the already-delicate cohesion of a combat outfit.

IMO there is a problem. And the problem isn't that no gals are allowed into CA units; it's that WAY too many men who have no business being in 11-, 12-, 13- or 19-series MOSs are being pushed through their branch OSUTs and shoved along to the line units. Kids with mental problems, kids with profiles, tiny little smurfs who can barely carry their rucksacks...again, we're arguing about the mote in the Army's eye (whether it's gays or women) while ignoring the beam, the voluntarily limited manpower pool available to the VOLAR and the resulting constant trickle of substandard grunts we get out of it.

I read somewhere that something like 10-15% of all draftees were rejected for infantry training in WW2 because they just weren't up to it for physical or mental reasons. Admittedly, this was an earlier time when Americans as a rule were more likely to be small, weak or sick than today's vitamin-packed monsters. But it was also a truly existential struggle, a genuine national emergency when fighting soldiers were critically needed. So I suspect the two needs cancelled out. I'd be shocked if more than a couple of percent of today's volunteers are rejected by Ft. Benning.

I have no illusion that we will settle this argument. It will persist as long as infantry need to carry a ruck and Western society tries to crosslevel the social positions of men and women. It seems to me a lot of sound and fury about very little, but most really good arguments always are.

Charles Gittings said...

Well Al, I get your concerns just fine and love you just as much as Sheer does, but I have to repeat:


Women can be trained for anything a man can, and hygiene isn't any more or less of a issue than sleeping or eating is. It goes without saying that an infantryman might find themself needing to take a dump 100 miles away from the nearest supply of toilet paper as well, and gee -- they might even find themselves in a situation where the only practical alternative is to take one for the team and shit their pants when there's a functional porta-potty sitting 20 feet way.

I suppose we could even argue that ALL combat infantry should be women because women tend to be more emotionally mature than men of the same age, and also have less risk of serious injury by virtue of not having a dick to get shot off. The only difference is that those arguments have some actual merit, though not enough to change my view of the matter. This is just simple sexism, and it has no place in any branch of the US government.

It's just a silly argument based on prejudice. The most dangerous weapon in existence is the human mind, and women can do anything men can do.

Aviator47 said...


I will defer to your much more extensive experience of the hardships of combat and leave the decision making to you.


sheerahkahn said...

"I addressed the infantry simply because it was expedient."

Well, I tried...sorry ladies, but since I have squat experience in infantry, and even less than that in combat I'm going to have to bow out for lack experience.

Dam, you win this one Al, but the next one...well...I'll probably loose that one as well.

Charles Gittings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gittings said...

Al, this has nothing to do with experience in combat. I've never been in combat myself, but I've been a serious student of military history for over 40 years and have no illusions about the hardships and difficulties of warfare at all. The problem is that there isn't anything that's any different about those hardships or difficulties than any other kind, and there isn't any means of dealing with anything except HUMAN REASON within the broad limits of reasonable health and competence.

The reality is that you have exactly the same experience of women serving as combat infantry that I do: zero. Do I really need to dredge up all the stale 19th century arguments that were used to justify excluding women from education, work, voting, or owning property?

If there's any significant difference in our experience and knowledge here, I'd have to say it's probably that I've studied the abolition and womens rights movements a lot more than you have. I don't disrespect your experience at all -- indeed, based on what I know of you from past discussions, I have a very high opinion of you.

But you aren't speaking from experience here -- you're speaking from prejudice, and I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who's been fighting an all out battle against the prejudices and fallacies of the Bush administration for six and half years. I've heard all sorts of experienced people give all sorts of elaborate reasons for why they think it's a good idea for to rape Iraq or why it's an even better idea for George Bush to have the same powers as Adolf Hitler because they've managed to convince themselves the Constitution says so, but I haven't heard a single one that was true, let alone actually based on experience. There's a huge discussion going on over at Opinio Juris that just makes me want to cry, even though several of the participants are people I greatly respect on the specific issues of the the detainee cases. Six and half years and most still can't even state a coherent set of objectives there any more than anyone has in Iraq.


I just don't see where the numbers matter at all. How many women were even in the military over your time, let alone got the chance to see combat?

That's a relatively small sample under circumstances that warp the evidence a lot. That bottom line remains the same: some women can hack it, and there's no rational reason to exclude them.

As for the sex biz, discipline is discipline. I'm not willing to make accommodations for that sort of problem at all, for the simple reason that anyone who has such problems doesn't belong in the military in the first place. What about the concepts of conduct unbecoming or dereliction do we not understand here?

Do we need to start contracting with Halliburton to import comfort girls from Thailand in order to reduce the number of US soldiers who rape Iraqi women or their fellow service members?

Bottom line: I think you guys are smarter than this, dammit.

bg said...


Now you are the one changing the argument. I never said woman should not be allowed in combat. I said that there are some very specific jobs that woman are currently excluded from, and that those reasons continue to remain relevant.

As far as being a student of Military history, than you as a scholar should know better than anyone the difference between study and practice. The difference between theory and reality. In theory, communism should have worked fine. Reality does not always follow academic or idealistic notions.

I appreciate your questioning of the status quo, but sometimes things simply are not broken, no matter how much you want them to be.

Now go ahead and call BULLSHIT. :)

bg said...

And Charley, you still haven't answered the most important question about changing the policy to include woman in combat arms units.


What is the potential gain compared to the potential risk of damaging an institution? This is not prejudice, this is simply a question of risk vs. gain. You can't answer the question, what do we expect to gain????

sheerahkahn said...

Anyone familiar with how Israel handles women in combat?
What special accomadations are made, if any?
Just thinking...hmmm...anyone?

Charles Gittings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gittings said...

I'm not changing anything. We're talking about women as infantry, and we both know women already serve in other combat roles. The point is simply that are no reasonable grounds to exclude them from that either. A given individual can either meet the requirements or they can't, and it's obvious that some women can do the job as well or better than most men.

As for the rest of what you say, I'd call it more confusion and sloppy thinking than bullshit, and oh man, did you pick a bad example.

Communism you say. I've been studying political systems as long as I've been studying military history. Calling a system "communist" and it actually being genuinely communist are two different things, and the same is true for concepts like "democratic" or "capitalist". If you're talking about Marxism per se, I consider that more as nutty theology than anything else, because the theology ends up sucking the life out of the socialism, a lot like capitalism does to what we somewhat optimistically describe as "democracy". My understanding of it is that no political system yet devised has been a real success, and capitalism has some very serious defects. It is equally my understanding that both socialism and capitalism have their good points, and I suspect the optimum system might very well be a balanced mix of the two in the spirit of Aristotle's doctrine of the Golden Mean. Equally, my understanding of warfare is that there hasn't been a valid reason for anyone to wage war on anyone else for over 6,000 years, yet here we are, still acting -- and thinking -- like animals.

The governing principle here could not be any more clear: it's simply the right of every human being to be judged strictly on his or her merits, and not on the opinions of other people as to what is or isn't a suitable pursuit for someone like "them".

You keep saying this isn't racism, but it's completely obvious that it's a form of BIGOTRY in exactly the same sense that racism or religious bigotry is.

Women have special needs. So do men. So do people who need glasses. So do Kosher Jews. So what.

I don't have to show a valid basis for your policy, you do. From my perspective it's just needless and immoral, and displays a lack of sound judgment on the part of those who advocate it. What's the objective of the policy?

Only to enforce your prejudice on the theory that your personal sensibilities are more important than the actual ability of someone to do the job.

And that tells me something about you, just like Iraq tells me something about David Petraeus and Dick Cheney. What it tells me is that your judgment is fundamentally unsound.

My objection to it is the same one I'd make if you restricted blacks to being cooks and truck drivers. You are casting a implied slur on your fellow soldiers based on their personal characteristics to the exclusion of their actual ability and competence.

Charles Gittings said...

"What is the potential gain compared to the potential risk of damaging an institution? This is not prejudice, this is simply a question of risk vs. gain. You can't answer the question, what do we expect to gain????"

So then there's all of this.

Risk vs. gain?

The risk of not doing something that I have no reason to believe has any rational purpose is zero; the risk that doing it will be a waste of time and energy is a certainty.

How many times have I asked you what the objectives in Iraq are bg?

How many times have I gotten a straight answer?

I don't know who you think you're kidding. I told you exactly what the risk is, only it isn't a risk it's a statistical certainty.

You have two populations of candidates, male and female, and both sort out on the standard bell curve. The only practical effect of the policy is to substitute the least qualified men for the most qualified women, thereby lowering the overall quality of the force. That's just basic demography, and all you're arguing are intangibles.

mike said...

On gender desegregation in the infantry, I concur with Al and BG 100%. That does not mean that in special situations that women could not serve in or perhaps with combat units in support roles for a limited timeframe. 18-year old SPC Monica Brown, a medic who was recently awarded the Silver Star, is a case in point.


FDChief has a good point also. There is nothing wrong with assigning people to specific job based on their body type. It is done all the time in the civilian world.

The Soviets did it in WW2 and maybe still do. They used women, small ones, as fighter pilots over the homeland defending against Germaan bombing runs. Using a 90- or 100-pound female pilot instead of 180-pound male saved a lot of weight for either more fuel or more ordnance. Even their male shturmovik pilots who were on the front lines dive bombing and strafing Panzers were small build and light weight. Beats me why we have six foot two, 200-plus-pound pilots in the Air force and Naval Aviation???

Soviet ground forces had body type restrictions also. I understand that a typical Soviet draft/induction office had a series of rooms with different size doors. At the first door, the jam was at six feet. If a conscript had to stoop going thru that door, then he would end up in either the MPs or possibly artillery. Another door was set at just over five feet. If a conscript did not have to duck going thru that door, then he would end up in a T-34 which had restricted cabin space. All the in-betweens ended up in the infantry.

Changing the subject back to blacks in the military:

I think that as a WW1 doughboy that Truman must have known of the reputation of the all-black US 371st Infantry Regiment, which served with distinction attached to the French Army's "Red Hand" Division. They suffered over 40% casualties. Cpl Freddie Stowers of the regiment's 1st Battalion was awarded the Medal of Honor.

basilbeast said...


"About your mississippi girl story, yeah its shocking, and omg, disrespectful, but you know...murder is murder, and regular military guys get offed as well."

What I found most shocking about this story is that it was swept under the rug, as if this soldier's life was just refuse, and labelled suicide, an obvious lie that discredits her life and service.

So much trash to dump. So also the case of the Tillman story, but at least he got the hero's story of dying for country.

To me, each story like these 2 and others splatters the honor and character of every US citizen who has ever served in the military with a stench that's not easily removed. Do stories like these accurately represent the type of military system we have? Does our military support a system that winks at sexual assault, hides and protects rapists and murderers? And if the dead soldier is female, well now, write it off as suicide, PMS, or just "well, you know how women are"?

I hope not. The honor and dedication of millions who have served demands a system of command that respects any citizen who answers the call of country, and, to follow the rest of the posts here, who have the ability to do their duty well.

As for fdchief's comment about the heteros, I used to have a book written by a woman who served in Iraq as an Arabic linguist with an intelligence unit, Kayla Williams.

She was asked several times by her male fellow soldiers, "Show us your boobs".

She never did, I forget why, and I let the book go a couple of years ago.

As for the abilities of women serving in the infantry in combat, sorry, no expertise at all other than Demi's G.I. Jane.


basilbeast said...

Speaking of boobs, sometimes the internet is spooky, and up pops the subject just talked about.

It's the 2nd selection, if you want to get there first.



Anonymous said...


Aviator47 said...


The Soviets were not and are not unique in setting physiological standards. A very unique example would be the case of one of the most outstanding NCOs I knew, who was precluded from his dream of airborne infantry due to his huge feet. The Army just couldn't ensure they could effectively supply him with boots in a job that placed significant wear on same.

Similar restrictions have been in place for aviators for years. Our feet need to reach the pedals, and our heads need to clear the overhead. If you don't meet these requirements, we don't put you into flight training. The probabilities of failure are too high to waste time and money this way.

In short, service members with very unique logistical requirements are restricted in their assignment latitude.

Charles wrote: "The governing principle here could not be any more clear: it's simply the right of every human being to be judged strictly on his or her merits, and not on the opinions of other people as to what is or isn't a suitable pursuit for someone like "them"."

The governing principle in the Armed Forces is "Mission Accomplishment", followed by the welfare of the troops. Each of us is expected to subordinate our own personal desires for the accomplishment of the mission, and nowhere is the principal mission of the military stated as allowing individuals to achieve their dreams. I have no problem with anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, etc, etc serving in the military in a role that maximizes the effectiveness of the force. But, to use the military as a vehicle that is primarily intended to make social statements or to provide a venue for personal ambition is foolishness.

Since you refer to the "bell curve", I would suggest that you study the demonstrated scores on the physical fitness tests administered to males and females in the Army. Exhibited strength and endurance is significantly lower amongst females.

But, I would say that two of my truly outstanding females NOCs put it more elegantly than anyone else I have ever heard. After listening to a long diatribe by a female captain about how "if I am willing to sacrifice my life for my country, no one should tell me what duty assignment I can accept", they responded, "Captain, if you are so upset by being called upon to sacrifice your freedom in picking your job, we have to question your true willingness to sacrifice your life should the situation arise. We prefer to serve with soldiers who sacrifice without regard to who's terms are imposed."

Is it really necessary or wise to go to great lengths to open infantry postings to a handful of people simply because they desire it, when there are already sufficient qualified folks on hand? As bg said, from a mission accomplishment standpoint, it ain't broke. So why dick with it?


FDChief said...

Charles: For heaven's sake, man, I may talk like an Old Soldier now and then but I didn't serve with Black Jack Pershing!

I spent much of my career as a medic, a heavily female field, as well as putting in time in a field hospital unit that was 40-60% female. I've worked with and for female officers and NCOs and had female soldiers work for me for much of my service.

I have to agree with Al on this.

But first, we need to accept that the Army has been used, and useful, as a social test bed before in breaking racial prejudice, so as much as the mission is a priority, we can't claim that it supercedes EVERYthing. Many of our arguments were used against minorities then as we're using them against women now.

That said, I would still argue that the gains are not worth the cost.

The costs, when you eliminate all the bloviating are:

1. Extra logistical headaches (seperate latrines and billets, etc.), and
2. Extra work (preventing fraternization and punishing the inevitable cases that will occur)

The gain is the gender equity of the Queen of Battle.

It's all very well to say that "As for the sex biz, discipline is discipline" until you stop for a minute and remember that the only two things humans have never stopped getting enough of through history are war and lechery. Sex DOES change everything, and we'd be fools to kid ourselves that it doesn't. I see the costs of sexual dscipline as real - very real, in the case of fraterniztion, which in real life is difficult to untangle, leaves a much wider halo of gossip and discipline problems than the two (or three or four - humans are truly inventive creatures) involved and often fractures sections, platoons or companies into hostile cliques supporting one lover or the other. Plus the byzantine complexity of leading troops in battle - which is more than just "follow me" or "do that" - becomes even more complex when sexual tensions are added. I spent some time in the racially-charged Army of the early Eighties and that was no fun; racial tensions made simple military tasks very difficult because you had to factor in not just what was done but who did it and who gave the orders. I watched hard NCOs have to find ways to work around giving orders they knew would be disobeyed...or have to force confrontation in order to preserve their authority. And this was the Eighties! Oldtimers told me horror stories about the Late Sixties and Seventies...

The other real world reality is the physical gender differences and their impact on military tasks. In my experience, the typical Army female soldier is stronger and faster than her civilian counterpart. But slower and weaker than her male soldier buddy. When that reality has butted up against military standards, the standards have been lowered rather than eliminate the females from the job. Just as an example: the medical aidman (CMF 91 when I was a medic) MOS used to have a requirement to deadlift so many pounds, roughly 1/2 the weight of an average soldier, to simulate lifting a stretcher. But to its horror, the Army found that too many females - AND SMALL MEN - couldn't pass it. Did the Army conclude that it needed to better train it's medics, or retain only the stronger ones? No. It eliminated the test. As a result, as staff duty NCO I had to work some of my medics double shifts in the ER or receiving because I knew PFC Snuffy was too little to help get stretcher cases off the ambulances. Sure Snuffy could do other stuff. But we weren't a civilian hospital - we were supposed to have a tactical flexibility they don't need. But we didn't, because all of my medics couldn't be crossleveled to do all my tasks...

So. To make a long story short, if I don't see a clamor for the gender integration of the combat arms - and I'd opine that we'd be better served working on better gender equality in our boardrooms and legislatures first - I don't see a compelling reason to make my combat commanders' lives more difficult. The social gain and the benefit to the individuals, which I accept as valid, are not worth the practical hardship to the units, to me.

So if you ask me: SHOULD a woman be able to be an infantryman, I'd agree. But if you asked me to DO it, I'd argue that before I put a single woman through Infantry OSUT you'd have to let me purge every single swinging dick with a permanent profile, every sick call commando, every slacker and weedy little dandelion out of my units first. Then backfill with qualified males capable of meeting my higher combat arms physical and mental standards. THEN, and only then, would I look at taking the women who meet those standards.

almost drafted said...

I'm late to the party, but here's my 2 cents worth. The argument seems to have bounded itself to combat arms in which physical capabilities lower the level of actual performance in the field, so nothing below applies to specialties where that is not the case.

Charles is correct in that women are at least as durable as men when it comes to hardship. But hardship endurance is not the same as physical capability, and the rest of his stuff is just argument by foot stamping.

Al nailed it in one word: logistics. Simplifying logistics is a good thing in terms of mission accomplishment. Do we let soldiers choose their own weapons? Why not?

And there is no doubt that women in certain combat arms present a logistical complication -- physically and emotionally. One might argue that integrating gays and blacks presents emotional difficulties as well, but I would counter that the male/female sexual tension at issue has evolved in us at a much deeper level than intra-human xenophobia.

When a black soldier and a white soldier and a gay soldier realize they can rely on one another, that's pretty much the end of it, at least until they leave the fray. But even after a male and a female reach that same realization, that is _not_ the end of it -- because sex is damn near as strong a drive as self-preservation.

This issue does not apply nearly as much as gays, who are a small subset of soldiers, and probably as unlikely to hit on heterosexuals as heterosexuals are to hit on gays.

There is also no doubt that there have been ferocious women warriors throughout history. But they have typically been employed when one side is in serious danger of losing an existential conflict -- the Russians in WW2, Boudicea, Isreal, (the possibly mythological amazon warriors being a potential exception) -- but at that point the losing side is probably pretty close to throwing rocks, too.

Finally, it's really great to see y'all back in action -- still throwing high, hard ones along with the occasional knee-buckling curve.



mike said...

"...but I didn't serve with Black Jack Pershing!"

Carlo D'este in his biography of Patton claims that Pershing got his nickname serving as a white officcer with Black regiments, the Buffalo soldiers in particular. It was originally a slur by the War Department good old boys, but he rode it to glory against Villa and the Kaiser.

Al: Agreed, but that is th 95th percentile stuff. The Russkies made an art out of it, almost like the NFL where each position is recruited by body type.

Charles Gittings said...

Well guys...

First, you'll have show me where I've said anything about lowering the standards. The physical requirements for any particular MOS are what they are. A given individual is either qualified or not -- but there's no mission that requires a penis or excludes a vagina.

Second, the curves are what they are. When you assess particular traits across groups it's commonplace for the curves to show some degree of separation. Looking at men v. women, we'd expect to see a relatively large separation irt physical traits, and a relatively small separation irt mental ones.
That doesn't change anything unless the separation is so great that no one at the top of one group can equal the capabilities of the least qualified candidates in the other.

Third, I'm not interested in using the Army as a "social test bed". The Army's job is to field the most capable force that it can with the resources allocated to it by Congress, period.

But then there's all this mission stuff, and this whole thing is starting to get a little bit surreal.

Let me repeat: discipline is discipline.

Fraternization and hazing, etc, are problems regardless of the policy: you're only arguing that in the real world this policy will exacerbate them -- as if the problem was merely the incidence of such misconduct, and not the propensity of certain individuals to engage in it in the first place.

The argument then is that we must coddle such folks, even if it means adopting a policy that actually reduces the quality of the force. So you're willing to reject the best-qualified females in favor of the least-qualified males on the theory that this will reduce the criminal misconduct of persons who exhibit moral unfitness to a degree that should exclude them from the service entirely.

And you want to keep the lid on it, when, IN REALITY, such folks are a latent cancer which threatens to undermine any and every mission you undertake, just as it's undermining your ability to select the best candidates here. From my perspective, that's just one more reason to change the policy. I want those people out of the service, and I don't want anyone in the service tolerating or abetting misconduct for any reason.

The mission you say?

As it stands, the US Army's only real mission is to commit crimes for George Bush and Dick Cheney, and in reality, we would better off today if we had simply disbanded the Army six and half years ago.

Just exactly what mission has the Army performed over the last six and half years that would make up for its catastrophic crimes and failures over the same period?

We would be better off today if we had simply disbanded the Army in 2001 and done nothing: doing nothing is always better than harming yourself.

The Army doesn't have to be that way, it's that way because the people running the Army have allowed it to be that way, and the people in the Army were willing to go along. Same goes for the nation itself, a failed state with a government of demented murderers.

Yet I'm supposed to believe that Tampax is a worry, as if Tampax can't be handled the same as toilet paper or MRE's or any of the other supplies that armies have had to worry about forever. Count your blessings: nobody has to wear powdered wigs or clay their stockings anymore.

basilbeast said...

Johnson's story is starting to get some much-needed publicity and attention.

I'm surprised Cenk kept his comments free of beepable comments.

This a national scandal, not because the victim is a woman and it's a sex crime, but because of the outrageous lying cover-up and disrespect towards a bona fide member of our military.


Charles Gittings said...

Almost Drafted,


You need to study some Kant. I'm talking about basic human autonomy. A human being isn't merely a body, it is a mind; and the mind is what makes it more than an animal, not the body, which in and of itself is nothing but a species of animal. We all have our physical limitations, but our physical capacities are only a fractional element of our full capacity as humans.

And where you say...

"One might argue that integrating gays and blacks presents emotional difficulties as well, but I would counter that the male/female sexual tension at issue has evolved in us at a much deeper level than intra-human xenophobia."

Some serious foot-stomping is in order, because you're making the same argument that every racist and religious bigot who ever lived made. It's just the worst sort of special pleading, based on the notion that the differences you see are more important than anything else just because you say so and all your buddies agree with you.

The bottom line here is simple: you don't have any more right to pass judgment on someone's ability to function as a human being any more than they do on yours, which is exactly zero within the broad limits of the criminal law and basic adult competence.

And that's where Kant's principle of autonomy comes in: each of us is an end onto ourself, and you don't have any right to slaughter me for food just because you are hungry and don't think my life and my abilities are a greater concern than your need for food is. You don't get to exclude me from anything just because I have black skin, or blue eyes, or need to wear glasses or happen to be female. Any one person can either do the job or they can't, and your sexual hang ups and opinions about other people are your problem.

Publius said...

Holy cow! 46 posts! Buggie boy would be proud of y'all.

Here's number 47, and it's brief. To my old bud Charly. You're out of your lane here, my friend. There is a reason why us old dogs, most of whom you know perfectly well are not sexist pigs, are unanimously opposed to women in the infantry.

As a flippant aside, I've been in the infantry, and for the life of me, I don't why any woman—indeed the smarter sex—would want to be there. My parole came through and I bailed.

Seriously, Charly, you're the one peddling the bull shit. You've been given some very sound military reasons why it's not a good idea, yet you persist in viewing the issue as solely one of equal opportunity. All I will say to that is that you apparently don't give much of a damn about the combat effectiveness of YOUR Army. It ain't about the women, Charly, it's about mission accomplishment.

For the rest of it, Al, very well done in noting the desegregation anniversary. You are to be commended for remembering what is a very significant milestone, one that has strengthened the US military considerably.

I will also agree with JD about the whole damned homosexual issue. Let 'em serve, I say.

Bg, I like your stuff, but I have always had some issues with having MI officers of either gender serve as S2s at battalion level.

Nice to see you so riled up. I can see the fingers flying on the keyboards. Especially good to see Sheer, Basil and Mike in there pitching. And Almost drafted. Wow. I won't even say anything about the Chief, who I think actually did serve with Pershing. Shit, he flannel mouths all over the place. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And, on that note, I will leave you gentlemen. Heat index is 105 degrees and I must go drink beer with some other reprobates.

basilbeast said...

Good idea. Same conditions here in KS, 90 degrees, 60% humidity, HI up to 103.

And I've promised to do yard signs for a candidate.

Any pity out there will be much appreciated.


sheerahkahn said...

"And, on that note, I will leave you gentlemen. Heat index is 105 degrees and I must go drink beer with some other reprobates."

Publius, how you doing!

I'm still hovering around...watching and observing...seeing what there is to see.
Waiting for the next installment of Al's...I'm think it will be, "The difficulties of Living in Paradise, the trials and travails of an expat suffering the good life on a Greek isle."

Charles Gittings said...


What sound military reasons?

You guys haven't stated ANY reason that proves anything but your own prejudice and confusion.

There's no reason to worry about preventing any possibility of exposing someone to the temptation to commit a crime against someone else -- that's what we have laws and regs for, and the arguments here are all along the lines of those who claim women get raped because they ASK for it by dressing or acting provocatively.

Publius said...

Basil, that's what you get for being in Kansas. At least I've got the beach. And a pool, which gets used pretty frequently these days. So you do get some pity from me. Glad that you're still being politically active, too.

Sheer, I am doing very well. I kind of slacked off from posting because I felt stale. I'm also pretty much bummed out on the world in general, with our political scene in particular, and am spending time working around this damned house I bought and catching up on some reading. Oh, and golf. Nothing like golf with the heat index of 105, which I did today. The wife and I are going to head out to the Bay Area on 8/30 to see the daughter, who lives in Alameda. I am looking forward to the fog.

Charly, what can one say? You focus on the he'in and she'in, which can't be so simply addressed by discipline as you seem to think, but you ignore other input. I didn't raise the issue of sexual misbehavior. What troubles me is that folks like you have no conception of the sheer physical demands on infantry troops in combat. The overwhelming majority of women—as well as a lot of men—just can't cut it. Combat is not fun for anyone, especially the infantry. It's also not a place for social experimentation or for placing soldiers into a situation where they feel they can't rely on the person next to them.

Charly, what you know about the Army is what you've seen in garrison situations. That's clear by your hopelessly inapt comparisons of combat soldiers with police officers. There is no comparison.

Stick with what you know best, Charly. Pursue your legal actions. Work for Obama. I'll root for you. But I'm not going to root for you here. You're way off base.

Charles Gittings said...

Well Publius, what I know best is LOGIC, and you'll have a very hard time convincing me there's ANY part of military affairs (or any other human endeavor) that is more important than that. False premises generate false conclusions in any discipline -- GIGO.

And some of your claims concerning my understanding and position are simply false.

You say I don't understand?

In reality, I understand it just fine. I've read literally thousands of first-hand accounts of combat dating back to classical times. My understanding of the demands of combat is EXACTLY the same as yours and the others who have tried to make similar arguments -- the ONLY point of difference is that I don't buy your bullshit arguments re the inability of mixed infantry units to function effectively. People are people, you can train them to operate however you think is best, and in the Army, you can even order them do it and like it, or else. Frederick had a maxim that applies here: "Argue all you want, but OBEY." What part of military discipline do you not understand?

I did not claim that police and infantry are the same, I simply listed police along with fire-fighters and construction workers as examples of jobs that lots of women do every day that were once thought to be too demanding for women, and while those jobs are by no means identical to infantry, I will claim this much: I'd expect that most people who qualify for police or fire work could be trained and function as infantry just fine as long as they can meet the basic physical requirements.

The reality here is that I actually understand this stuff a lot better than you do. Sorry to have to say that so bluntly, but it's just a plain fact. You think your experience trumps logic, but nothing trumps logic, and that's all that any of this stuff is. I'm a systems analyst, and the system includes the hardware, the software, the technical staff, and the end-users. It's the science of everything.

You mention my legal work, The funny thing about that is that I'm more of layman there than I am in military affairs, even though I've been studying law VERY intensively for six and a half years within a relatively narrow spectrum. The difference is that I've been studying military history and science for 47 years over a very broad spectrum, though rarely at the level of all-out intensity. I make the lawyers just as uncomfortable as I make you, for much the same reasons.

FDChief said...

Oh, and golf. Nothing like golf with the heat index of 105, which I did today.

"Golf is a perfectly good walk spoiled" (P.G. Wodehouse)

Publius. Great to hear from you, man! Have another one on me and my old battle buddies in the Continental Line.

First, you'll have show me where I've said anything about lowering the standards.

You didn't, Charles, which is what I wanted to point out. My point was that I see a problem, actually SAW a problem, that stemmed from the VOLAR's selfselected smaller manpower pool and resulted in men who have no business being grunts being fitted with a blue rope. My wish, were I Chief of Army Staff for a day, would be to raise the physical and mental bar for those desiring to be infantry. And my Army experience has been, rather, that where physical requirements have met gender differences it is the physical standards that have been lowered.

So. Let's say that we did it your way, in that we opened the MOS to female soldiers AND did it my way, so that Infantry OSUT became the most highly selective in the Army, where a prospective grunt had to meet 85% of the Expert Infantryman's Badge standards, a standard so tough as to eliminate, say, the bottom mental and physical 15% of a typical Benning trainee outfit.

Would you be willing to accept the outcome if it meant that it rejected 99.8% of the female recruits? And that the remaining females, to be accepted, had to surpass at least one male trainee in those EIB tasks (i.e. we don't pass a bunch of grunts on to the line units where every class has a comet's tail of females bringing up the rear of the group; I can't think of anything so well crafted to fail)

I would.

Charles Gittings said...


Ah -- now you're talking my language. So you're the CSA, I'm the President, and to answer your question...

I don't want the standards for that MOS or any other to reflect anything more or less than the best judgment of the US Army as to the acceptable minimum standards for that particular job. Further, I don't just want that MOS integrated, I want every MOS integrated.

If that means only two female candidates out of a thousand can make the grade, so be it -- the requirements are what they are. However, you should carefully note:

1) Audie Murphy was 5'5.5" and 110 lbs when he entered the service as a recruit, and 5' 7" and 145 lbs three years later when he separated as a 1LT.

2) If I ever find out that standards or evaluations are being manipulated to exclude women, those responsible for it will regret it -- a lot.

As for the requirement that a female candidate has to out-perform the least qualified male, I think that's reasonable under the circumstances. Indeed, one thought I've had here is that perhaps we might just set the standard for women 10% higher initially, as I believe any woman who makes the attempt will be aiming higher than that in any case.

Another scenario that's crossed my mind is segregated all-female units as an interim approach, but that would be counter-productive IMO. However, being mindful of some of the concerns which have been raised, I want you to re-assign Col. bg to the Quartermaster Corps immediately to oversee global feminine hygiene logistics.

Do you have any other questions General?

FDChief said...

Charles: fair enough. I thik you have a workable solution. I need six copies on my desk Monday morning, along with the staff assessment and a tabbed action plan that I can convert into a Powerpoint format to handwalk over to the JCS.

Joking aside, I see no reason why your solution wouldn't work. Well reasoned, counsel.

mike said...

Just for some background perspective on this issue:

(per VFW magazine cover story "Applauding Women Veterans", March issue)

- 195,605 ladies have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

- 25,243 ladies are currently deployed there

- 105 killed (59 due to hostile action) (as of 25 Jan)
In comparison, female hostile deaths totaled the following in previous wars:
Persian Gulf (1991): 6
Vietnam: 1
WWII: 16

- two silver star winners
- - Leigh Ann Hester (She was an MP with the Kentucky National Guard and is the first woman to receive the honor for actual combat.)
- - Monica Lin Brown (18-year old medic)

- the ladies make up 15% of today's military

Charles Gittings said...


Heh. See how easy that was?

Notice that I was actually willing to accept discriminating against the women by holding them to a higher standard in order to promote the objective of integration. That was a classic systems decision. On the one side we had my basic objectives, on the other we had some reactionary intangibles mixed with the shared objective of fielding the best possible force.

You broke the impasse by clearly framing a concern which hit one of my own dead center -- that we shouldn't be worrying about maintaining the status quo so much as making some serious improvements. I was willing to accept the higher standard for women because it isn't based on the fact that they are women, it's based on the fact that we both understand there are going to be some serious growing pains and the pioneers not only have to be able to do the job, they have to be able to put up with all the shit they're going to get before they are accepted by their peers.

And gee, after all the flak on this thread, it would hard for me to think this change would be anything like easy or smooth. It's the Jackie Robinson scenario: we KNOW there will be problems, but the long term benefits -- including the intangibles -- will ultimately balance out in favor of the change.

But that won't happen if it falls flat before it can take root and stabilize. I don't want marginal females, I want exceptional ones, and politically, if anyone on my side of the fence tries to ream me out for being too tough on the women I can say in all honesty that we're only doing that because we want the program to succeed long term and believe the women can handle it.

So we are balancing trade-offs, and the key difference, as is so often the case, is in the intent -- not to preserve the status quo on the irrational ground of sex, but to improve performance and competence.

Charles Gittings said...

The numbers are interesting Mike. If we assume 140K total in Iraq, there's a higher proportion of women in the military there than there is worldwide -- 18% v. 15%.

Assuming the numbers are accurate; but it's clear integration is already well-advanced.


But I'd like to propose a new topic for a new thread --

The strategic situation going forward in 2009 and what to do about it.

basilbeast said...


"And gee, after all the flak on this thread, it would hard for me to think this change would be anything like easy or smooth. It's the Jackie Robinson scenario: we KNOW there will be problems, but the long term benefits -- including the intangibles -- will ultimately balance out in favor of the change."

This may be true, but Robinson for the most part only faced threats and mental abuse.

Granted, I'm sure there were some who wanted him dead, but he wasn't buggered, beaten, burned, murdered and then slandered by the claim his death was suicide.

"Oh lookie that! Poor ol' darkie climbed up that tree and hung hisself!"

Google: sexual assaults us army.

I got the link right here.

If you want to discuss mixing the sexes in the military and to discuss who's fit for what job, again as chief mentioned above, the issue of heterosexual sex and its consequences must be addressed.

Ever since armies gathered, marched, invaded, and occupied, there has been rape and of course sex sold freely.

And as stories today about sexual assault within the ranks constantly emerge, we know that it's not just the foreign girls who are attacked.

"By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2004; Page A01

Allegations of sexual assault in the U.S. Army have climbed steadily over the past five years, and the problem has been abetted by weak prevention efforts, slow investigations, inadequate field reporting and poor managerial oversight, according to internal Army data and a new report from an Army task force.

The May 27 report, sparked by complaints from women's groups and female lawmakers about an apparent increase in reported assaults against U.S. servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan, states that the Army lacks "an overarching policy" for dealing with the problem, and that as a result it "does not have a clear picture of the sexual assault issue." "

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

"And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore."

Of course, when it does happen to foreign girls, the discharged rapist often goes home and leads an exemplary life.


"In the 1995 case that is referenced by virtually every Okinawan one speaks with, three American servicemen kidnapped and gang-raped a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl. In August 2006, one of the perpetrators of the 1995 rape, strangled and raped a 22-year-old female college student in Georgia, after which he killed himself.

In 2002, Marine Major Michael Brown was charged with attempting to rape a Filipina bartender at a club on a U.S. military base. Following a 19-month trial, on July 8, 2004, Brown was convicted by the Japanese District Court of “attempting an indecent act” and “destruction of property” but was acquitted of the rape charge. The court gave Brown a one-year prison sentence, suspended him for three years, and fined him US$1,400. The Japanese Judge said Brown was given a light sentence because the 21-year Marine veteran had no prior criminal record. Brown appealed the verdict to Japan’s Supreme Court which dismissed the appeal in July 2004. Brown was transferred by the U.S. military to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia in August 2004.

In October, 2005, Brown was arrested and charged with kidnapping an 18-year-old girl from a flea-market in Milton, West Virginia. Brown was subsequently indicted in January, 2006 on felony kidnapping and grand larceny charges and, as of May, 2008, currently awaits trial scheduled to take place in Huntington, West Virginia. In the meantime, the U.S. Marine Corps demoted Brown to Captain and allowed him to retire at that rank on February 1, 2006."


Charles Gittings said...

"If you want to discuss mixing the sexes in the military and to discuss who's fit for what job, again as chief mentioned above, the issue of heterosexual sex and its consequences must be addressed.

"Ever since armies gathered, marched, invaded, and occupied, there has been rape and of course sex sold freely."

Well the second paragraph is obvious, but I'm sorry, the first is simply mistaken.

Any change to a system destabilizes it, and any destabilization creates friction that increases the potential for misconduct and mistakes. Further, all systems, especially systems as large and complex as the military, change over time whether you want them to or not, and even when you want them to change, the changes you make always have unintentional consequences that act to change it in ways you didn't intend.

Think about basic security for example. If nobody ever changes their password, over time, the number of people who know passwords they shouldn't will increase. OTOH, if everybody changes their password regularly, the number of people who can't recall a password when they need it will increase. Those folks will then takes steps to remedy it, but they'll spend time doing it that they could have used to do something else; with the result that over time, a certain number of things won't happen that would have happened if they had remembered the password in the first place. Every tiny thing can have consequences if you give it enough chances, and that, in turn, produces changes over time all by itself.

That is a never ending battle in all things, so there isn't any "If I want to discuss" about this one thing, because that that problem is a problem in EVERYTHING that we discuss -- it's a given.

The real problem here is the predisposition of certain individuals to sexual misconduct, and keeping the lid on it or sweeping it under the rug isn't a treatment or cure, it's tacit aiding and abetting, and a much worse problem in itself than the one you're saying I need to worry about.

Look at Iraq. A huge destabilization that has fostered a huge increase in the number of crimes committed by the military, including crimes by service members, by contractors, and even the military itself as an institution. This with a government that not only isn't enforcing proper discipline, but is actively subverting it in order to commit crimes unrestrained by any oversight or legal limits.

Some soldiers commit crimes. The only cure for that is to charge them and convict them. Under the Bush gang, we don't actually have law enforcement as such -- law enforcement is in essence degenerated into a process of political commissars enforcing party discipline. The law itself is just a window dressing to maintain the illusion of legitimacy.

The flak here is just a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, and / or putting the cart ahead of the horse.

basilbeast said...

Well the second paragraph is obvious, but I'm sorry, the first is simply mistaken.

Yes it is obvious, and no it's not.

My point is that I'm sure there are women who are very capable of doing nearly anything our military requires its members to accomplish.

I say "nearly", because I think men do excel in physical strength, although women excel in endurance. I have no proof of this other than my opinion, and I may be proved wrong.

The real problem here is the predisposition of certain individuals to sexual misconduct, and keeping the lid on it or sweeping it under the rug isn't a treatment or cure, it's tacit aiding and abetting, and a much worse problem in itself than the one you're saying I need to worry about.

That's the point I'm making here. No matter she performs her job just as well or better than any man, if a woman has to fear being ambushed in a latrine, fer cryin' out loud, or blindsided while on duty, and possibly murdered, what the hell kind of progress is that?

And such attacks are not for money or some revenge, but primarily for sex.

All I'm saying is that there must be IMO some previous groundwork laid in before a change like adding women to male units, whether they're combat or other.

I'm thinking along the lines of all female, or mostly female units established to start, much like the all black units in WW2, like the fighter squadron which provided such good protection for bombers that they were specifically requested.

Would that work, you think?


Charles Gittings said...

"That's the point I'm making here. No matter she performs her job just as well or better than any man, if a woman has to fear being ambushed in a latrine, fer cryin' out loud, or blindsided while on duty, and possibly murdered, what the hell kind of progress is that?"

Well that's obvious: the kind of progress you ALWAYS get when people try to keep the lid on a problem instead of dealing with it.

All female units are workable, but having them then requires specialists in every MOS who are specifically female. Oh, except I guess maybe my critics wouldn't want to argue that mixing in a few male specialists would reduce the effectiveness of the unit and expose the poor dears to being raped by a dyke with a strap-on, even though I've known enough dykes to think they might be wrong about that assumption.

Give me a break. Who do you know who joined the military because they thought it would be free of occupational hazards?

You are merely describing one among many: it's a job where people sometimes try to kill you just for getting up in the morning and going to work.

basilbeast said...

Give me a break. Who do you know who joined the military because they thought it would be free of occupational hazards?

You don't have to cite the example of the military for that.

Nobody wants to farm hoping their arm won't disappear up a grain augur, or postal service recruits hoping their workmates don't pull out assault rifles.

I would bet good money a sizeable percentage, maybe even a majority of folk enter the military for educational benefits and a chance to see the world a bit before settling into the great gray abyss of "normal" civilian life.

For that reason, you do very well to advocate similar chances in the military for our women.


Charles Gittings said...

Exactly, and nobody ever thinks they're going to be one of the ones who takes a hit anyway. I chose that example because it was specific to the context.

Anonymous said...

Charles, please do your homework before accusing us of being racist, biased defenders of the old order. I was an Engineer in Iraq, and other than the fact that I rode all over in a Humvee and occasionally shot at people I had almost nothing in common with your average Infantry mission. Not sure if any of the women cited here died clearing houses or engaging the enemy in close quarters, either. That is the primary difference between Infantry and others - their job is to close with and kill the enemy. In a war zone, that should be the primary consideration for the military - how effective are we at destroying the enemy and their assets. Not how effective are we in integrating the service to make the numbers look good for the special interests. Show me the large numbers of women that will engage the enemy effectively in close up and personal urban combat and I'm all for them to enter, but in 24 years of active, guard and reserve time I haven't seen too many that I'd be willing to risk my life on. And that is the primary difference between your number crunching and reality - lives are at stake in this game, not numbers.


Charles Gittings said...


I have done my homework.

What I've said in essence is that certain arguments are inherently 'sexist', meaning that they are 'bigoted' in relation to sex. When I refer to bigotry I mean something very specific:

"To look at another human being as an inferior being, animal, or thing."

Beyond that, you might want to try thinking about what I said instead of just tossing more rhetoric at me.

Anonymous said...

No rhetoric here, Charles. My observations are based on actual experience, not wishful thinking. Try it out, sometime - it might give your tirades an air of plausibility.


Aviator47 said...


I would never suggest that there are not women in the Army who are physically and emotionally capable of serving in the Infantry. Possibly a good 20% of the women are so qualified. Assuming that half of them might aspire to infantry billets, that means 1.4% of the Army is women willing and able to serve in the infantry. Were we to begin training and assigning qualified women to the infantry, that would mean that every other platoon of infantry (approx 35 soldiers) would have one female member, and each company would have approximately 2 female soldiers. Hardly a necessary special needs population for which one should expend the resources to find these two women per company, train them and have COL bg set up a special logistics system for. All to meet a philosophical objective. You have offered no sound mission oriented benefit.

As to the number of women willing and able to serve in the Infantry, even if you doubled my figure above, that would result in four women per infantry company. Again, what is gained other than symbolic ends?

I won't even begin to go into the personnel management burden arising from attempting to manage such a small population.

Yes, Charles, it would be possible to assign qualified women to the infantry. It would carry considerable costs and complications. It would probably not improve the capabilities of our infantry, but if that's what you want, then go for it.

Charles Gittings said...

Well PFM, I don't know what to tell you except that when somebody tells me that 1 + 1 = 3, it seems probable their experience is mostly being ignored.

You say you haven't seen too many you'd be willing to risk your life on, yet the fact is that you were doing just that every minute in Iraq, because you were dependent on the whole Army for your support, and there were women at work in every part it one way or another.

What you really mean is that you haven't seen too many you'd be willing to rely on in action, based on your experience. Well I'm a programmer myself, which is in practice a lot like being an infantryman in a fire fight, where every little thing that goes wrong can potentially be fatal to the mission, and everything is in motion at once, so there all sorts of things that can go wrong at any given moment in time.

Give me a break. There isn't anyone that you served with in combat who didn't start out as an untrained recruit or cadet, and there isn't any untrained recruit or cadet that an experienced infantryman would be willing to rely on in combat unless there simply wasn't any other choice. When you have a policy that excludes ALL women from combat, it's hardly surprising that not many women have a lot of combat experience, and it's equally difficult to believe the women serving in the Army get nearly as much serious infantry training as the men do when the policy means that ALL such training is of secondary importance in the specialties that they are allowed to pursue.

My understanding of it, both from my long study of military history and my programming experience, is that team-work, morale, and espirit d'corps are a function of training, doctrine, and leadership, and that anyone of reasonable intelligence can be trained to do anything within the broad limits of their capacities. This is where you're arguments are a denial of ALL human experience, which clearly shows that the ability of humans to do anything depends ultimately on their intellectual capacities regardless of their physical limits.

Get real already.

Charles Gittings said...


I said exactly what I thought the benefit was: a net increase in the quality of the force.

I don't care how many women end up in any one unit any more than I care how many Dodger Fans do. There are better reasons to exclude Republicans from military service than there are to exclude women from combat.

mike said...


The numbers were from me, but they were not posted to bolster any gender desegregation efforts. I personally believe that permanently integrating women into the infantry or any other combat arms is asinine and would be detrimental to our national security.

On the other hand, I think the ladies play a vital role in Iraq when attached to small unit infantry patrols that could end up dealing with Iraqi women and children. The Army and Marine leaders who encouraged that are smart cookies in my book.

My intent in posting those numbers from the VFW article (I assume the original source was the Pentagon) was to show that women are contributing. They definitely have a role in the middle east. Without them, we would not be getting any cooperation from the Iraqi people.

Charles Gittings said...

"I personally believe that permanently integrating women into the infantry or any other combat arms is asinine and would be detrimental to our national security."

Which proves exactly one thing: that the real problem here isn't your prejudice, it's your fundamental misunderstanding of warfare. AS IF anyone ever much gave a shit who won the war for them, or that mattered as much as how and why it was done.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:


Meanwhile, C-Span's In Depth program this week is with Ralph Peters, and will interest most of you. His support for McCain is insane, but aside from that, it was fascinating. Asked about the future of the Army, he said "It's all about the people;" of equipment, he said "ARA -- Able, Robust, Affordable," and then observed that there was pressing need to take positive steps to end the wanton malfeasance of defense contractors such as Lockheed-Martin.

almost drafted said...


I think your "logic" is essentially reasoning by analogy. Like the drunk's lamppost, analogy should be used for illumination rather than support.

You seem to be saying that, because invalid reasons were used to exclude blacks and gays from entire categories of service (e.g., limiting blacks to the mess and gravedigging, and excluding gays entirely) -- then there cannot possibly be any valid reason for excluding anyone from any type of service.

Reductio ad absurdum pretty much blows that argument out of the water. Quadraplegics should be able to serve anywhere they want to? The US military fails even your "glasses" example -- try getting into a US military flight school with 20/400 vision or color blindness.

It's conceivable that a color-blind or even a one-eyed pilot could excel (see Saburo Sakai). But the chances are very slim, and so they don't even let them try. Do you think that exclusion is wrong?

The point is that women are not excluded from honorable service in the combat arms the way blacks and gays have been. Neither are people who are color-blind. But I don't think it is unreasonable to exclude people from particular specialties based on the statistical likelihood of their success in that job.

Kant be damned. In my experience, complex problems get solved by making trade-offs. I see nothing wrong with examining such trade-offs (e.g., logistics, mission capability and yes, even unit cohesion) in this instance, while you seem to think that your vision of anybody-can-do-anything-they want cannot be traded off against any other concern, period.

Frederick be damned, too. If "OBEY!" is the only response to a question about any order or policy, why doesn't that apply to those who are excluded from a specific job, as long as they can still serve in combat?

And note that I am not simply asserting that I am right, as you seem to be doing. I'm just trying to contribute to the discussion. Even when you swayed fdchief to your point of view, he still wanted to see the plan, which would of course include pros and cons, facts and figures -- you know, those pesky things that might have to be traded off against one another before a decision is actually made.



Charles Gittings said...



Human beings are NOT "analogous" to human beings, they ARE human beings; and blacks and gays, etc, are NOT separate species of beings, they are HUMANS of different descriptions, each of whom is entitled to be judged in relation to other human beings only on their merits.

More to the point, ANY human of ANY description is ONLY useful in regard to a particular military purpose or objective by virtue of their own specific merits.

You have no case here at all.

almost drafted said...

Charles, I said your arguments were based on analogy, not that some humans are analagous to other humans (whatever that might mean).

In general I agree with you when you say "each of whom is entitled to be judged in relation to other human beings only on their merits."

That is even a matter of law most ways in this country. But I'm not at all sure it would be interpreted as the law by the SC if suit was brought against the DoD.

See, your job in the military is whatever the Secretary of Defense says is your job. You might have joined up with a contract that says you're to be a computer operator, or the infantry, and you may have failed all the requirements for any other specialty.

But if the SecDef says you carry a rifle, that's what you do. Right and wrong in the philosophical sense doesn't enter into it.

But have it your way; you will anyway.



Charles Gittings said...


BS. My arguments are explicit, while your misunderstandings, misrepresentations, or inaccuracies are nothing that could be described as my arguments.

I've never claimed that the existing policy was unconstitutional -- I am well aware that the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification. My arguments are moral and pragmatic, not legal, and my ultimate claim is that integration will provide us better infantry than we have now. I'm not saying you're violationg the law, I'm saying your pragmatic arguments are WRONG, and that the policy is, as a matter of FACT, detrimental to the service.

And I resent your insinuations that I am in any way, shape, or form arguing against facts, logic, or the law merely for the sake of "having my own way" -- the only one doing that here is you, QED.

Aviator47 said...

"my ultimate claim is that integration will provide us better infantry than we have now."

Pray tell, what is currently lacking in the infantry that the assignment of 3 or 4 women to each rifle company will cure? Or 6 or 8?

Charles Gittings said...


Framed in those terms, the case is:

1) The existing policy selects some of the available men and excludes all of the available women.

2) Some of the available women are superior to some of the selected men.

3) Therefore the policy excludes some of the best available candidates in favor of less qualified individuals. It follows that changing the policy will produce an incremental improvement in overall quality, and hence, performance.

sheerahkahn said...


Publius said...

I'll second Sheer here. How about a new topic here, J.D.? Or whoever's in charge.

It's been more than two weeks since the last topic was posted, and that was by Al, who in fact is holding this whole blog together.

You going to do this or not?

Incidentally, for those of you who want to stay in the game and need to scratch the itch, I highly recommend Ranger Against War (retired SF officer) and Armchair Generalist (Army reserve officer), two bloggers who are still out there fighting on a daily basis and who I'm sure would welcome the traffic.

Aviator47 said...

I'm in the final days of preparations before we head off, on our Vespas, for Italy for a month of touring by motorscooter. So, the ball's in JD's court.

If you guys want, I can open a thread for discussion on the recent events in Georgia (not the one that's home to Atlanta). Otherwise, I have to pass. Will be back on the island in mid-Sep.

Publius said...

Not your responsibility, Al. You've already rendered yeoman service. I'd do something if it weren't for two minor problems. First, I'm not authorized. Second, even if I were, I wouldn't have a clue as to how to do it. Spirit may be willing, but the technical knowhow is lacking.

This is JD's blog. He was the one who said he was going to keep the Intel Dump flames burning. Unfortunately, we don't hear from JD anymore. Not a knock on him—I'm sure he's got a whole lot of more pressing matters—but still, one wonders about the long-term future of Buggie Boy.

Have a great time on your Vespa tour, Al. You're a braver man than me.

Charles Gittings said...


The software for adding a post in blogger is pretty easy to use. You do need to set up a blogger account though.


Charles Gittings said...

I just put up a new post on the PEGC blog HERE.

basilbeast said...

We former I-D-ites seem to be like Xenophon's lost army.


bigbird said...


I envy you for bopping around Europe on a Vespa, although to me, a Vespa is a small scooter that was used on college campuses in the sixties.

How do you put up with the heat in Southern Italy? I've always wanted to visit there, but have been counseled by several people, not to go there during the summer.

I finally convinced my wife that we should try Space A to Europe. Living in NJ, McGuire and Dover AFBs are convenient. What holds us back is the dreadful exchange rate. Back in the day you got 4 DM to the dollar. Granted the currency is now Euros, but I'll probably never again see a deal like that.

Publius said...

"My favorite part of the Dump was the comments, though. The level of discourse, the (usual) civility, and the ability to "vent" were all what brought me to the Dump. I don't think that is possible on a blog that is part of the Washington Post.

"I would like to try it here."

Five posts in July, with the last on July 23; none in August.

"We former I-D-ites seem to be like Xenophon's lost army."

"The sea, the sea." Maybe we'll find it yet, Basil.