One of the strongest objections to allowing women to serve in every branch of the military was not regarding their competence, but of the fact that mixed-sex crews serving in close proximity will inevitably result in liaisons which breach codes of conduct and damage operational effectiveness. Last year we had this story:
A Royal Navy nuclear submarine commander who took part in cruise missile strikes during the Libya campaign has been removed from his vessel amid claims of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.
Cdr Stuart Armstrong was taken off his Vanguard class submarine and relieved of his duties as a precaution while naval chiefs investigate the allegations.
Naval sources said the investigation had been launched amid suspicions Cdr Armstrong’s relationship with an unnamed female officer was “closer than it should have been”.
Just as it is highly inappropriate for a department manager to start shagging members of his or her staff, it is equally the case in the military chain of command, if not more so:
Navy rules forbid any relationships between sailors in the same chain of command for fear it would lead to favouritism and undermine orders.
Relationships outside the chain of command are allowed, but there is a strict “no touching” rule during deployments.
Sources said the rules were considered particularly critical on submarine missions where sailors work in cramped conditions underwater for months at a time.
It seems as thought the Royal Navy put in place robust guidelines which the submarine commander broke, and he got fired for it. This is fair enough, but it is also inevitable: if you put servicemen on ships or submarines with servicewomen then relationships will develop, and often this will involve officers who in theory should know better. The Tailhook Scandal in the US involved numerous allegations of navy and marine officers assaulting and harassing servicewomen. A popular theory is that many of the allegations arose from women who were spoken for fearing their partners were about to find out what they got up to on deployment, so claimed coercion. The Tailhook Scandal rocked the US Navy and brought about sweeping changes in the culture, which mischievous types cite as the reason US Navy ships now seem to be crashing with alarming regularity.
One of the first women to enter the Marine Corps infantry is being discharged from the service after admitting to having an intimate relationship with a subordinate — a fellow Marine she eventually married.
On their own, the legal charges against Cpl. Remedios Cruz, 26, are not uncommon in military investigations of American troops. But they highlight the struggle the Marine Corps has had in integrating women into jobs that were only open to men before 2015.
It is not inevitable that every woman who enters the military will enter into an inappropriate relationship. However, if enough women enter the military it is inevitable that inappropriate relationships will occur. No amount of training, hounding, threatening, and cajoling is going to stop men and women in close proximity from having sex; those who take the issue seriously, such as conservative Muslims, do so by maintaining segregation, because it’s the only thing that works. It’s up to the government to decide whether the drawbacks of having women mixed with men in the military outweigh the benefits, but they ought not to deny that drawbacks exist.
“The biggest mistakes I’ve made in the infantry were from my personal relationships,” Corporal Cruz said in an interview. “I really want to move on.”
As part of a deal to avoid going to trial, Corporal Cruz pleaded guilty to fraternization in July and decided to put the Marine Corps behind her. She is awaiting her final separation from the Marines.
It’s rather difficult to see how admitting Cruz to the US Marines has been a benefit to the organisation, who didn’t want her in that role in the first place:
Corporal Cruz, of Fleischmanns, N.Y., joined the Marines as a supply clerk in 2013 and completed infantry training in 2014. Two years later, she requested to transfer to an infantry unit after then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ordered that women be allowed in all previously restricted combat roles. The Marine Corps vehemently opposed the change.
So it was a political decision foisted on them by an administration more interested in social engineering than governance. This probably doesn’t help, either:
She was accused of three charges — fraternization, adultery and accessory to larceny — in separate investigations that would have been sent to court-martial in June.
I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of this sort of thing, and as the numbers increase there will be calls for the rules to be changed so that such conduct is no longer prohibited. As I’ve said before (1, 2), modern militaries serve a different purpose than that which they claim.