BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
16 November 1999
"WHY THE TROOPS ARE HANGING IT UP"
"The purple fingernail polish and the dreadlocks covering her face and the hole in the side of her nose where she wears a diamond stud on weekends were bad enough," a command sergeant major says. "But then Specialist Flake asked me if she had to take that 'pointy sticky thing that goes on my gun' when she went to the M-16 rifle range."
Flake is a single female soldier with three children by three different fathers. The "pointy sticky thing" is her bayonet. You know, the one that's stuck in an enemy soldier's belly when things get close and nasty.
Beats me why this soldier is concerned with the bayonet or why her commander insists she qualify with her rifle. When her outfit moves out on a combat mission, Flake will be left behind to care for her kids, along with the sick and lame. She is nondeployable. She is like a firefighter who can't ride on the firetruck.
The U.S. military is filled with Flakes. During Desert Storm, the equivalent of a light infantry division of women couldn't deploy with their units or had to return from the desert because their baby sitters went AWOL or they'd gotten pregnant.
Today's armed forces are about half the size they were during "The Storm," but I'll bet you a cold one that the number of female nondeployables is higher now than in 1991. The end-figure is guarded more closely than the discretionary budgets which buy those sexy pilot jackets that Clinton, Cohen and Albright like to wear when they're playing war leader.
Some U.S. Army infantry divisions have a battalion-equivalent of pregnant soldiers. Add this to the single moms who can't ship out, and you don't have a lean-and-mean fighting force, you have a Dr. Spock moment.
The refusal of the top uniformed brass to tell the civilian leadership that the Flake problem is killing the force is just as criminal as their endorsing a defective weapon system or inoculating soldiers with an untested vaccine -- both of which also occur too frequently.
Instead, they should stand tall and shout: "The two-decade gender-blending experiment has only proven that force-feeding women into front-line units to satisfy the feminist movement kills combat readiness."
A recent congressional study finds 40 percent of officers and 62 percent of enlisted personnel plan to leave military service when their hitch is up.
More than 60 percent of those interviewed cited "work circumstances" as the final straw that broke their spirit and commitment to the military.
My own informal survey of more than 3,000 serving soldiers and sailors a week confirms the study is dead-on target and that "work circumstances" often should be read as code for "dealing with the Flakes."
But another factor that's fueling the mass exodus is the troops' complete loss of trust in their seniors over the issue of women in the ranks -- the gradual movement to make the military kinder and gentler that is slowly destroying the vitally needed warrior ethic.
And it's getting worse. Harvard graduate Kate Aspy, a former soldier and an expert on women in the military, says, "The 1999 Army cannot make its recruiting objective, and they've kicked up the recruiting quota for women to 22 percent. More alarming, surveys show that over 50 percent of serving women are in the military to get the benefits, not to fight."
A soldier now in Basic Training reports that "five females in my platoon were so weak they couldn't pull the charging handle back on an M-16 (rifle)."
Every male general and admiral that is not ROAD -- retired on active duty -- or brain dead knows in his heart that the Bush/Clinton women-in-the-foxhole-or-fo'c'sle experiment has been a disaster. But in 20 years, not one senior officer has sounded off. They've put promotion over truth, self over mission and men, and compromise over their sworn oath to always put duty, honor and country first.
Meanwhile, jerks like you and me lay out $300 billion a year in hard dough that the Pentagon blows on the joke (less the Marine Corps and a few other special units) that it's defending America.
Tell me another one.