A young Marine infantry officer, a combat veteran of Afghanistan writes:
I think the foolishness of the new policy is well captured in Gen. Martin Dempsey's comment that the separation of men and women within the military was the cause of high rates of sexual assault. There's an exercise in Alice in Wonderland logic if ever I've seen one. Such reasoning requires a powerful capacity for failing to see what's right before one's nose: that the increasing proximity of large numbers of aggressive young men, living in the most stressful, difficult circumstances they will ever encounter, to a smaller (but sizable) group of young women is--believe it or not!--the cause of increased rates of sexual assault. Every time Congress pressures the Defense Department to solve the sexual assault problem, it needs to look in the mirror: the military's civilian leadership and Congress itself have created the conditions which lead to these disturbing rates.
James Taranto put it well yesterday: "One way of defining feminism is as the pursuit of the mutually irreconcilable goals of sexual equality and sensitive treatment of women. You'd think that contradiction would be a weakness, but it's actually a strength: Every advance for equality creates a demand for more measures to promote sensitivity, and vice versa. Feminism's failures perpetuate feminism, at the expense of other goals such as defending the country." In pursuit of this agenda to squeeze more from the ever-diminishing returns of the women's rights movement, we are causing grave social harm: in this particular case, both in the sense of putting men and women into situations together which will cause lasting harm to their souls (and not just the assault business: would you be prepared to let a woman bleed to death in front of you because she is less likely to survive than another male casualty in circumstances where you only have one medic? If you do that, what are those nightmares going to be like for the rest of your life?) and in the fact that this policy will do nothing to add and much to detract from our ability to fight and win wars.
And this business of Gen. Dempsey's coming to these conclusions because of his experiences and observations on the battlefield: spare me. General Dempsey has, I'm sure, heard shots fired in anger in the last ten years: at a very great distance, or from a very great height. We are led by men who have no real experience in combat (the most senior leaders in actual combat today are captains, and the men who were captains in 2001 are, for the most part, not even colonels yet), and who are desperate to pander to the Utopian political goals of their civilian masters.