Special Farce

Given the modern British military is mainly an excuse to employ lots of middle class people in the MoD and do a bit of PR, they may as well do this:

Women will be able to apply for any British military role for the first time, the defence secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson announced that all combat roles were now open to women, including serving in special forces units such as the SAS.

He said for the first time the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”.

A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military was lifted in 2016.

As of now, women already serving in the Army are able to apply for the Royal Marines and the infantry. That will open the door for them to join special forces units such as the SAS after the necessary training.

Mr Williamson told BBC News: “We very much expect women to be joining the SAS and the Special Boat Service.

“The value that they’ll bring, the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal and all the services are looking forward to welcoming them.”

Williamson sounds like a bright-eyed head-office spokesman informing staff of a merger which everyone on the factory floor knows will be a disaster and cost half of them their jobs. What value will women bring to the SAS, exactly? What tasks are the SBS struggling to execute with their traditional, all-male teams?

Now this blog is fortunate enough to have ex-seaman Jason Lynch as a commenter, who often weighs in on the topic of women in the military. In the past he has said that, in damage repair drills, women can prove their worth by doing tasks which require small, nimble people rather than big, strapping lads. He also said women have been involved in actual damage repair operations and performed adequately. I have no doubt this is true, and I am not against women serving in military units if they can add overall value.

However, I am certain that for women to serve in the SAS, SBS, or even the Royal Marines physical standards will have to be lowered to the point of worthlessness. We’ve seen how these things go: first they say standards will not be lowered, then there are  complaints that no women are passing, then the instructors are told to cheat to allow women to pass, then the standards are abandoned altogether. I walk the Brecon Beacons along the SAS and SBS selection routes back in my early twenties when a few of my friends in the RMR were training for R-Troop (they passed). The difference was they were loaded down with monster bergens and I trotted along with a day-sack. I am also pretty good friends with this chap, who recreates SAS selection marches for civilians to test their mettle. The loads each man carries and the pace they move at is obscene: a common complaint among my friends was that 21 and 23 SAS only required 4km per hour, whereas R-Troop stuck with the regular SBS and 22 SAS pace of 5km per hour. Over the Brecon Beacons this is a blistering pace, and I knew blokes who practically ran the whole route. I was exhausted after a day’s hike with these guys, and I was carrying no weight and only did it for one day in good weather. I couldn’t even get my friend’s bergen on my back, and when someone helped me I found I couldn’t move. During selection, my friends were doing these hill routes day after day.

Unsurprisingly, some men picked up injuries, mostly knees and ankles but also backs. When my friends joined the regular forces and got a few years under their belt, a few of them tried out for regular Special Force selection (including the Royal Marines’ Mountain Leader’s course). The general advice was, if you fail the first one, you have to think very carefully about having another go because of the pounding your body takes. I know at least one guy who was talked out of going for SF selection because it would wreck his already suspect body, and he was a fit lad in his mid twenties.

The rest of the UK special forces selection process which follows “the hills” phase is also brutal: “officer’s week” and “the trees” (i.e. the jungle) are particularly appalling if my friends’ anecdotes are accurate. However, I don’t know whether these would present any great obstacle to women or not. What I am absolutely sure of is if women attempt the current SAS and SBS selection routes in the Elan Valley and Brecon Beacons they will pick up serious injuries at a rate which will later be considered criminally negligent. The course already extracts an awful toll on men at their peak fitness: about 10% pass the whole thing. I suspect the first time a woman attempts it she’ll fail so miserably the units will come under enormous pressure to get her through, which eventually they’ll succumb to.

The good news is once the last British jihadist in Syria is shot and we finally withdraw completely from Afghanistan, we’ll not be sending troops overseas any more, at least not for anything important we can’t leave to the Yanks. Give it another decade and our armed forces will be best known for mincing around a medical tent in a third-world disaster zone along with a bunch of Norwegians, Belgians, and Latvians in green clothes. That being so, why not let women serve in the SAS? After all, Williamson got one thing right:

the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal



45 thoughts on “Special Farce

  1. They’ll eventually get in. Then they’ll eventually participate in real life kinetic situations. And they’ll fuck up. And then what is certain is that the military will cover it up.

    The US Navy seems to have lost the ability to drive ships around without colliding with stuff in recent years. In all cases the bridge crew were female. This got massively hush-hushed but is common knowledge. What does that do for morale

  2. Not disagreeing – just getting through Dartmouth left me in bits, and I’ve got friends who have done the All Arms Commando Course and admit with typical understatement that it gets “a bit sporty”. A man’s got to know his limits – I prefer to serve Queen and Country through an indoor role with no heavy lifting.

    I’ve got no major problem with the announcement – provided the upshot remains “this is the test to get into this unit; it’s representative of what you’ll need to be able to do: anyone can attempt it but you have to pass to proceed.”

    As with opening AACC to women, a few very fit, motivated women may try for SF selection, some may even pass, and those that do will be worth having (if they’ve shown they’re capable, no problem). But if they number enough that you’d need two hands to count them I’d be very surprised. The All Arms Commando Course has been open to female applicants for nearly twenty years: only three have passed, can’t see SF being any easier. (And if Lympstone can fend off the pressure to “you must be seen to let enough girlies through”, Hereford and Poole should be able to do the same)

    We’ve managed to get women to sea with less fuss and trouble than the US, in large part by avoiding the special-pleading and lowered standards. To pick on a few COs I’ve known, Richard Farrington’s (all-male) bridge team wrapped HMS Nottingham around Wolf Rock, while Ellie Stack drove HMS Dragon around the Gulf for a mildly sporty tour with no need to reach for the pad of Form 232s. (Richard was court-martialled for hitting the rock, was promoted and ended up my boss later on – very good bloke, his well-trained crew saved Nottingham from damage that should by rights have sunk her.)

    If we start getting substandard candidates pushed through (whether SF selection or any other evaluation), there’s a problem. If not, there isn’t.

    One point Tim makes is correct – the injury rates are scary and female candidates will be at more risk. That said, you don’t just rock up at the AFCO saying you want to be Special Farces… you’ve got to have built a solid track record, usually in a very crunchy teeth-arms unit (the Paras always used to be a big feeder unit for the SAS, the SBS recruit from the RM) and been chosen as suitable to go for selection. Anyone taking on SF selection will have a fair idea of what’s coming, and grown-ups around them – as with some of Tim’s friends – to restrain them if their reach exceeds their grasp.

    It looks to me like a purely political announcement to silence easy criticism that the military ‘discriminates and won’t let women apply’; now, anyone (who’s made it as far as being selected as a candidate for SF) can try, and the onus is on candidates to pass. It has the potential to cause problems if abused, but run properly (and we’ve done so elsewhere) it’ll sort itself out.

  3. I always thought employing young men to blow shit up and kill foreign chappies when ordered was what the army did best, apparently I was wrong…..it did seem to work for quite a while though.

  4. @Jason Lynch: “We’ve managed to get women to sea with less fuss and trouble than the US, in large part by avoiding the special-pleading and lowered standards. “

    So far. Want to bet that changes?

  5. “That will open the door for them” I thought that sort of thing was very much a no no nowadays 🙂

  6. It’s a statistics discussion, ultimately. The special forces are at the extreme end of the bell curve of physical fitness (plus a lot of psychological factors, one assumes).

    We have plenty of data showing us the likelihood of females passing the existing tests; open two tabs on your browser and type “male Olympic records” and “female Olympic records” in them. Compare and contrast.

    I’ve not done a thorough check but I’ve yet to find a single event that is close to parity.

  7. My youngest son is 6 feet 2 inches, his girlfriend is 6 feet tall , they weigh about the same, but my son said he is three times stronger! ps he,s not a manual worker

  8. putting on the tinfoil hat here, but I suspect the great and the good putting these policies into place know exactly what they are doing. They are transforming Western armies from military forces designed to fight other armies into paramilitary ones designed to keep the their own citizens under control. Fill them with angry women, ethnics and the LGBT crew who have no liking for their own nations and societies, and you have armies who will have no qualms about machine-gunning straight white males who get a bit uppity. Sure, they won’t be able to march 40 miles in a day carrying 100 lbs of equipment, and they will certainly run like rabbits from anyone who is armed, but that isn’t really the point.

  9. There was a case reported of a woman going to court in New York, I believe, because she couldn’t join the city’s Fire Department as, er, she failed the test. That’s right, she couldn’t do it, so they turned her down. The test was demanding it was true and involved carrying effectively a body to get someone heavy out of danger. She couldn’t do it.

    So, the court ruled — as wise judges do these days — that the tests be lowered for this woman. She had less distance to run in a slower time, less body weight to drag to safety and still failed. But, the judge said the woman should still be given a place on what the NY fire people call a ‘ladder.’ Because you see, it’s only fair and sod those who might need emergency help.

    Apparently after two weeks of not doing much, this putative hero(ine) damaged her ankle on a real ladder and was invalided out of the service, allegedly on full pension.

    So that worked well, then. At least for her.

  10. I spent 25 years on active duty in the US Army as an enlisted man, in the combat arms. I got to be one of the mid-level leaders when the geniuses decided to start integrating females into our headquarters elements during the 1990s, so I know whereof I speak on this issue.

    At the beginning, I thought “Hey, well… It’s about time: They’ve had the right to vote for how long? About damn time they stepped up to the plate, and took the same risks as the boys, eh?”. I also rather idealistically thought that it’s probably for the best that the armed forces fully reflect the demographic background of the nation it defends, being as it’s kinda hard to turn the forces against the people who make up the ranks. So, there was that, which I mention to show that I went into the whole “Bring in the girls” experiment with a more-or-less open mind.

    What I concluded, after dealing with the resulting incessant BS that brought on, was that the idea was a non-starter, and for oh-so-many-and-varied-reasons–The vast majority of which have nothing at all to do with the girls and/or our species sexual dimorphism.

    Yes, there are issues of physical capacity and fitness, but those could be worked around with a judicious and cold-blooded attitude. The real problems, at least in my observation of the US military culture, is that the US military is fundamentally incapable of dealing with this issue either judiciously or cold-bloodedly, and because of that, the whole idea is a non-starter.

    Case study: In my element of the Army at the time this all started, I was running a support platoon, a small organization intended to provide food, fuel, and supply distribution to a battalion-size element. I had a small fuel section of four 2,500 gallon tankers, and was supposed to have the requisite personnel to man that section, which would have been three junior enlisted rankers to drive three of the vehicles, and one junior-grade NCO to run the section and operate one of the vehicles. Four people, all supposed to be trained fuel handlers.

    I had zero of the allotted personnel when I took over, the US Army being generally dysfunctional at providing units such as mine with the low-density Military Occupational Specialties. Now, the question might be asked, why was I short those people? Well, one reason was that the Army, in its infinite wisdom, decided that that particular MOS was one that the girls could do harmlessly, and had slotted an awful lot of females into, so there in the beginning of my tenure, there were no male fuel handlers in the pipeline coming to us from training. Then, the rules changed, and the girls could be assigned. Only thing was, there weren’t any, and when one did show up, the one that came in first was the NCO, the junior management slot. Slight problem–She was pregnant. Larger problem–Because of that pregnancy, she could not work around fuel, or in the motor pool at all. Fuels and the other things the fuel handlers work with are considered dangerous to fetal development, soooo… She went to work up in the personnel admin section, where she did a hell of a job. Unfortunately, that left me without adult supervision for my fuel section, and a bunch of guys who were not trained doing the job in it. That section never passed an inspection while I was in the unit, and mostly because of a lack of MOS-qualified personnel and the fact that the guys working there were not trained. We tried hard, but you can’t make up for that kind of thing at all easily, especially when the equipment you’re using is that specialized.

    My fuel handler NCO never left the admin section while I was there; post-pregnancy, the deal was that since she was nursing, she couldn’t work in fuels or the motor pool. When that period was ended, she was pregnant with her second kid…

    Actual effect of this was that I might as well have just erased that slot from the Table of Organization, because she couldn’t be replaced so long as she was there and MOS-qualified. I suggested transferring her to another unit, where she could work in an office doing fuel things, but that was shot down because sexist to say she couldn’t do the job she was assigned.

    Now, understand me on this: I’m sympathetic to the idea that you need to allow career soldiers to have families, and that’s what she was–A mid-term career soldier with about 8-9 years of active duty (that MOS promotes slowly…), so telling her “Hey, you–No kids while you are in this unit for an indeterminate time…” was a non-starter for a lot of reasons. But, the Army refused to acknowledge any of this, in any effective policy manner, at all. When I suggested that they might want to do so, while participating in an Army Family Action Program “sensing session”, I found that I’d be better off advocating for the extermination of the Jews than suggesting any form of restraint on motherhood.

    That’s just one example of how the system and culture simply cannot adapt to the entire concept of women in the military. I could recount others, ad nauseum, but the day is short, my blood pressure is high, and I really don’t want to start my day off with a trip to the ER. Suffice it to say that no part of the US military has managed to fundamentally comprehend or come to grips with the fact that when you stick boys and girls together, they’re going to have sex, and when they have sex, they are going to have kids. No matter what you do, it’s gonna happen, so you had better deal with it at a policy level, and deal with it fairly. So far, that ain’t happenin’, folks.

    Which is why I say that the entire idea of women in the armed forces is basically non-functional, within the cultural context of the US military. You could set up things so that it would work, but the observed facts are that the US military simply cannot pull that off, in any functional form. So, best to simply tell the girls that they need to stay home from the wars, because the idiots managing things at the policy level can’t deal with repercussions of the whole thing. And, those idiots are both male and female, military and civilian…

    To paraphrase one of my “urban youth” types I once had working for me, upon observing a rather distinct occasion of wholesale failure of equipment and personnel, “Shit don’t work, yo…”.

  11. I remember hiking in the Brecon Beacons a decade or so ago. I was walking up a very steep, rocky path at a decent pace, but puffing a bit. I was pretty fit in those days.

    I could hear quite a racket behind me and turned around to see what looked like a battalion of Gurkhas, all of them in full kit and carrying a rifle, running up the path behind me.

  12. Yes, once upon a time I lived near Aldershot. Retropectively, I was an extremely fit twenty-something, but being overtaken jogging on the Basingstoke canal by paratroopers carrying rucksacks full of rocks did get depressing.

  13. I’ll make a prediction – the army will find as the % of women increases that men will increasingly refuse to serve in it, either not joining in the first place, or leaving at the first opportunity. And that as the % of women rises, especially in upper echelons, the ability of the army to do what its supposed to do will reduce markedly. Its noticeable that organisations that have high levels of female management become increasingly dysfunctional and unable to carry out their stated tasks – the NHS is a classic case of this. And the Armed Forces being a very practical and results oriented organisation, the failings will be far more obvious than within organisations with more fuzzy aims and objectives.

    I’d give the armed forces no more than a generation before they become so feminised that they are functionally useless.

  14. Jim, exactly the point.
    What scares me is not that our lords and masters are trying to fill the armed forces with people who are functionally useless, but that they are actively detering recruits who might actually be useful. As a romantic civilian, I might be inspired to enlist with the old US army slogan of ‘Be all you can be”. But being all you can be in the company of ladies who can’t do five chin-ups?
    We won WW2 because while there was a lot of dead wood at the top in 1939, there were a lot of competent underlings available to replace them. The Montgomery-Massingberds got replaced by the Montgomerys, and the Fredinghalls by the Pattons. Our current overlords will not make that mistake again.

  15. I’ll repeat and reiterate: The problem is not the women. The female members of the US Army that I dealt with were just fine; they covered the spectrum from “great soldier” to “lousy soldier” about the same way the males did. As such, performance varied on an individual basis; some were assets to the organization that I’d cheerfully murder someone to keep, and others were people I’d be equally cheerful feeding to the wolves. There was also a vast middle, just like the boys, where I was more a “Meh… Well, they’re mostly decent soldiers…”.

    The problem is that the institution itself, the corporate whole, if you will, is incapable of dealing comprehensively and honestly with the issues presented by the female soldier. Because of that, well… I’d have to say that the overall military utility of women is an overall “utterly useless”.

    Biggest part of that is the lack of adaptation to that solely female prerogative, that of having babies. There is no real recognition of the second- and third-order effects of that feature of femininity.

    The problem begins with the initial term of service; this tends to come at the late teens and early twenties. The young servicewoman is faced with two options: Become a professional, and eschew family-creation during her most fertile years, or basically become a parasite on her unit for her initial term of enlistment, when she should be laying the base for her career in terms of experience.

    Option “A” means that she’d better have made that choice up front, and been comfortable with the implications of it, or she is going to be miserable in later life, when her priorities have changed and military service has rendered her far less fertile in her thirties and forties than she would have been otherwise. I watched that sequence play out several times, and it was never pretty. One acquaintance of mine suffered a succession of miscarriages in her thirties, and lost her husband due to the stress of it all ruining her marriage while all that was going on. They’d always planned on kids, but did the responsible thing, and put it off until they were in a position to do so–Which was when the OB/GYN guys told her that she should have had kids in her teens, if she was going to have any at all. That whole thing led to a drinking problem, a suicide attempt or two, and a generally miserable later life. Also meant that she didn’t finish out her twenty years, and in the grand scheme of things, was a net loss on the Army’s attempt to turn her into a career senior NCO. Had she never been recruited, and a male of similar quality taken her place, that slot in the experience matrix would have been filled with someone far more likely to make it to the full twenty.

    These things have prices, beyond just what effect they have on the units and the short-term institutional military mission of daily existence. It’s not a net positive for society, when you tell a woman that she can have a military career, and then neglect to mention that she just needs to sacrifice having kids for that to happen.

    Option “B” means that when young chickie snack arrives at her initial assignment, she wastes no time in acquiring a partner and “falls pregnant” in short order, establishing a household and family. Or, not–Single motherhood happens, and while the requirements for creating a workable “Family Care Plan” in such cases are usually held to, it’s still a major distraction–“Oh, hey, we gotta work late, tonight…” “But, Sergeant… I have to go pick up my toddler from his baby sitter…”. Oh. So, I guess that means we either have a baby with us, turning wrenches in the motor pool, or we go short-handed… Either route means that the mission suffers, and the other soldiers wind up picking up the slack. Which they’ll also do, when that same single mom fails to make the next deployment, but fills out a slot in the Table of Organization until the last minute when her Family Care Plan falls through.

    The whole thing could be worked around, as could the problems attendant to the physical differences created by sexual dimorphism, but the problem is that the institution refuses to acknowledge the real issues, or to set policy appropriate to dealing with them fairly.

    It isn’t the women, themselves. It’s the institution.

  16. Agree with others that the issue isn’t really that women will be allowed to have a go at selection, its that eventually standards will be lowered to accommodate them. I can understand the reason its been done, it wouldn’t be long until a “human rights” challenge is made and it costs the MOD a small fortune to fight it all the way to the ECHR which they’ll lose anyway. Might as well go gracefully,

    I see the new mantra is “fitness for role”, so I guess that means the old “everyone is a soldier first and tradesman second” has already been compromised, so I won’t hold my breath about SF selection standards.

    I knew a couple of guys who wanted to join 264 (SAS) Sig Sqn in the late ’70s, in theory they had to pass full selection*. One of them was in Cyprus with us and he was doing a minimum 20 miles a day with full packs, 6 days a week in the full Cyprus summer heat. 1 Para was the resident battalion and he was making them look like sloths. I have it on good authority that he didn’t quite make the grade fitness wise but he was well known as a good guy to have around, so got through.

    *Once passed they could then apply for re-badge to 22 SAS without going through selection again and more than a few did.

  17. “It isn’t the women, themselves. It’s the institution.”

    But you’ve just explained it is the women – the institution copes quite fine with men. It can’t cope with women, because women and men are not interchangeable, primarily (but not only) because they have children. Which state of affairs is not compatible with fighting wars. Or even preparing to fight wars.

    There is no institutional system that can square the circle of either banning women from having kids if they sign up to the Forces, or operating the Armed Forces with a load of people who are functionally useless because they’ve got kids in tow (or are not physically strong enough to cope). The former is never going to happen in a Western society the way things are, and the latter is being attempted right now, ever increasingly so.

    And you wait until you have whole units that are female dominated – they will be functionally useless. At the moment you have mainly men with a few women, and the women are piggybacking on the men’s physical capabilities and the male nature of the organisation. Once those men become the minority (or even at the point they are still the majority, but not able to carry 30-40% dead weight) then the whole nature of the organisation changes and will no longer be capable of operating as it should.

  18. It isn’t the women, themselves.

    Yes, it is. Women get pregnant, men don’t. Changing the institutional culture to work around that fact is no different than lowering the fitness standards for combat roles/special forces.

  19. @ Jim,

    Note that I did say I’d pretty much ban the idea of women in the forces because the institution can’t deal with the implications, straightforwardly. And, a lot of that stems from the women themselves, especially in the commissioned ranks. All too many of those are looking out for their own careers, wanting their tickets punched with “combat arms leadership time”, and ignoring the second- and third-order effects that those selfish desires cause for the enlisted females.

    And, it is the institutions, not the women. I could write up reasonable policies that were honest enough to say the things that needed to be said about raw physical capabilities and endurance, but they would never be adopted or adhered to. The Canadians seem to be able to make it work–Their infantry is open to women, but the standard for them is the standard for everyone else, and damn few have evinced the interest or ability to meet that standard. The US military on the other hand? Basically, it says “Here is the standard; if you don’t like it, well… We have other, less stringent ones that we will happily put in place especially for you, princess…”.

    The Army’s old physical fitness test is a perfect example of this–So many pushups, so many situps, and a two-mile run in a set time. It is a fine way to assess how fit an individual is, for that individual, but it’s a damn waste of time to assess how fit-for-purpose someone is for combat duty.

    The test was graded on a point scale, max of 300 points, 100 per event. Looks reasonable, right? A guy who can score 300 is certainly more fit than a guy who can only score the minimum 180, right?

    Only thing is, since that test is based on the individual human body, the whole “fit-for-purpose” thing breaks down almost immediately. Towards the end of my career, I was teetering on the edge of being able to pass the damn thing, mostly due to accumulated injuries. Even so, I was able to out-work the vast majority of my subordinates when it came to doing things like loading trucks, and just generally moving things around. I walked past an office filled with females, on one occasion, who were trying to move a floor safe ten feet to accommodate some reorganization scheme, and were unable to do so because it was still filled. Total weight, probably around 400-500lbs. Five of them couldn’t shift the damn thing working together, and all five were in their mid-twenties, various ranks of commissioned officer and enlisted. They asked me to dig out the combination, because I was the custodian of that sort of thing, and empty it so it could be moved.

    I didn’t want to screw with having to reset the combination and do the paperwork that would be attendant to all that, so I asked where they wanted the safe, and just moved it by myself. Note that: Five females, all of whom routinely outdid me on the fitness test, and who were thus held by the system to be “more fit” than I, and they couldn’t do together what one superannuated broken-down soon-to-retire senior male NCO could.

    Run that physical fitness test thing by me, again? I don’t think I quite understand how the hell that works…

    Apparently, one person’s pushup isn’t quite the same as someone else’s. Yet, in the interest of “fairness for the girls” (and, the odd little skinny bastard male…), everyone’s pushups are treated the same. Even though I might be moving 180lbs with each, and Captain Suzy Smith is moving around 70lbs… She’s also getting more credit for fewer pushups, on what freakin’ theory I’ve never quite understood.

    Army’s changed all that, recently, but due to the complexity and expense, I expect the new fitness test to be abandoned in short order–Not least because there are gonna be a bunch of women who fail it.

    These are the reasons I say the institution is the real problem, not the women. I’ll grant you that there may be only a few women out there who could function in combat as infantry on the front lines, and even fewer who would want to take that set of attributes and become soldiers, but if they want to, it should be open to them under the same sort of conditions it is to the males. Which probably means we’d have about two women nationwide who’d want to serve, and who could make it, but that’s the reality of it all.

  20. “He said for the first time the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”.”

    That sounds great, if true.

    But I don’t think its true. And even if true, I don’t think they’ll keep the standards if ‘not enough’ women can meet them.

    I mean, already, in the present day, basic physical fitness standards for men and women are different. And not just on things like bodyfat percentage – where a ‘healthy’ woman’s percentage will normally be higher than a same-weight healthy man’s – but in how fast you can run a set distance.

    We already demand different levels of basic performance out of servicemembers depending on their age and sex – does anyone really think that won’t be extended to MOS/Rate specific standards?

    ““The value that they’ll bring, the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal and all the services are looking forward to welcoming them.””

    1. But I thought men and women were the same?

    2. Yes, I bet their impact will be ‘phenomenal’. All except the handful of female applicants that can actually compete with their male colleagues. Those women’s impact will be unnoticeable – because they’re *actually interchangeable*.

  21. ‘Patrick on October 26, 2018 at 12:04 pm said:

    The US Navy seems to have lost the ability to drive ships around without colliding with stuff in recent years. In all cases the bridge crew were female.’

    Uhm, no they weren’t. There were certainly women on those navigation details, even women in senior positions. They were not all women operations. Not a single one of them.

    Women have been running navigation details for over 30 years now – remember that women on *combatants* is (still) a late-90’s thing, they’ve been serving on non-combatants for a lot longer – a sudden spate of collisions in the last 5 years is not indicative of the effect women have but that the Navy’s become laxer with training and discipline, especially among command echelon officers who are there, on scene, but not paying sufficient attention to what’s happening to prevent their JO’s from making mistakes that quality training would see them not making in the first place.

  22. Warriors fight, Priests write. The British Army is largely a Priesthood whose main focus is the promotion of progressive feminist values. It’s busy promoting them all over the world.

    If our Priesthood ever feel sufficiently holy to start a war against evil fascist misogynistic homophobic Russia that may or may not change.

    This is not to say that there are not individual warriors in the British Army, just they often end up in Jail.

  23. but if they want to, it should be open to them under the same sort of conditions it is to the males.

    If a male soldier were to intentionally engage in an off-duty (or what the hell, on-duty) leisure activity with a high probability of rendering him unfit for duty for a year or more, how would the military react?

    Because that’s what getting pregnant is. If a male soldier would be disciplined or court-martialled for clowning around off-duty and breaking a leg two weeks before deployment, then I expect every female soldier who mysteriously falls pregnant a month before getting sent to the sandbox to be similarly disciplined.

  24. @ Daniel,

    And, that’s precisely how I would treat it, were I made King for a day over this set of issues.

    To my mind, there should be a clear-cut policy, one that’s made crystalline-clear to all prospective soldiers and sailors: “Ladies & gentlemen, here’s the deal: You are expected to be fit for duty and learning the basics of your chosen MOS as a full-time member of your unit during your initial term of service. During this phase of your career, you will not willfully render yourself incapable of performing these duties in any way, shape, or form; should you do so, you and all who assisted you in becoming incapable of performing duty will be discharged and required to pay back every red cent spent on recruiting, training, and paying your happy little ass from the first moment a recruiter spoke to you… If, at some future point after you attain career status, you decide that you wish to start a family, we’ll accommodate that by placing you on inactive duty the moment your pregnancy or other reproductive issue renders you unfit to fully serve. Once you are ready to serve again, fully deployable world-wide, we will place you back upon active duty to complete your contract. Time spent unfit for duty due to personal choice and/or your own irresponsible behavior will not count towards retirement or career progression, nor will it count towards completion of any enlistment contract. All enlistment contracts are based on the premise that you will be fit for duty and ready for deployment throughout that contract. If you willfully render yourself unable to perform those duties and are unable to deploy, you are responsible. That includes pregnancy and doing stupid things like getting into non-line of duty accidents, such as by driving drunk…”.

    Simple solution, and when spelled out up front, a serious discouragement to those looking to game the system by getting pregnant to avoid actually performing duty. In my Army, you do that stuff, and we’ll just stop the clock on your contract until you’re fit to deploy again. If you keep abusing the system, well… We’ll discharge your happy little ass, and then charge you every single dime we spent training and paying you, based on the idea that you’d be available for deployment for your contract.

    Obviously, you’d have to work out something for the career folks so that they could manage their careers a bit more rationally, as well as account for the occasional “good faith” hiccup that will happen, birth control notwithstanding. Things happen, even to good, responsible people who are acting in good faith, and they shouldn’t get screwed over because they happen to fall into the same category as a lot of shirkers.

    Of course, precisely nothing like that will ever be implemented in the US military, and if it were? The poor bastard proposing such policies would likely suffer a worse fate than any of the people we tried at Nuremberg.

  25. Don’t the Paras have to have a boxing match in basic training? Seriously how would women recruits not get seriously hurt?

  26. My assumption is that the left are not stupid. They identify strongholds of right-wing thought and then demand access to them so they can fill those places with their own people and replace its culture with a leftist one. They couldn’t care less about military effectiveness, the objective is to put the armed forces under leftist control or at a minimum, make sure it is not a bastion of the right

  27. In Australia, since 2014 females have been able to undertake selection to become operators in either the S.A.S. Regiment or the 2 Cdo Regiment. Almost five years later, none have been successful. There are also a raft of special programs to assist females join the infantry. I fear however, that the writing is on the wall for UK special forces in Williamson’s quote, “we very much expect women to be joining the SAS and SBS”. That is political speech for IT WILL happen. If some females do make it through selection, then have no doubt, their comparative lack of physical strength will ensure their injury and perhaps death during reinforcement training e.g. fast roping from helicopters with full kit, et al.

  28. I have been watching the phenomenon for a few years now and although I could paste links to the many articles and essays I have downloaded relating to the issue, I won’t simply so that you are not bogged down.

    However, there is a basic “rule” that the maximum a fit, young man can carry without running the risk of serious injury is about 20% of his body weight or 25% tops otherwise the stresses on his musculo-skeletal system WILL cause injury unless he is lucky.

    A modern combat load for the US Army deployed in Afghanistan is about 100 pounds. The only thing a 9 or 10 stone woman (for any Americans, a stone is 14 pounds or, for those two weights, 126 to 140 pounds) will do with a 100 pound combat load is sit on it. They CANNOT function under such a load.

    There is also the not publicised or made clear in the recruitment literature is the real possibility of rape if captured (men AND women). The military tend to hush that unpleasant fact up, more than somewhat. Some of the turd world (no, not a spelling mistake) countries have a rather different approach to that sort of thing than the West so that is also something to bear in mind. try whingeing about “Rape Culture” to a Taliban member holding an AK47 to your head while his mates gang rape you and see where it gets you.

    I would have no objection to an all woman infantry regiment being deployed to the front line and see the casualties that would result. If they cannot dig trenches and foxholes or lug enough ammunition and combat stores to survive, then let them suffer the consequences. However, the massive hole in the line would have to be plugged and made good by – you guessed it – men.

    We could actually run an experiment to test the theory out. Simply allow men and women to play football or rugby together and see how the relative performances and injuries stack up. If we are all wrong and the women can indeed perform to the same standard as men, then roll it out to the forces. No takers? I wonder why …

  29. The “elite” seem to have utterly lost sight of the most important thing a society, any society, must achieve if it is to survive. That most important thing is reproduction. Without it a society has no future. Only women can actually do this, hence that should be their first priority. Sure they should also do other things if they can be fitted in. Those who can’t have children should help out any way they can, including defence. But there is no point defending a society that is dying out anyway.
    We can afford a few fertile women failing to have children but not a majority.
    We need to get away from teaching girls that status comes from roles normally carried out by the helpers, it’s killing our society and too often results in unhappy women, after they’ve run their biological clock out too far in pursuit of a career as a helper.

  30. If a male soldier were to intentionally engage in an off-duty (or what the hell, on-duty) leisure activity with a high probability of rendering him unfit for duty for a year or more, how would the military react?
    Give him Regt or Corps colours for rugby?

    Anecdata alert – when I was a moderately sprog officer, I set about buying a house. I already had a flat, rented out, and was living in singly accommodation but the bank manager suggested a buy-to-let mortgage so … Anyways, letter came through (this was the early 90s) that the bank’s insurers wanted a medical cert saying I didn’t, at the time, have HIV (notes, this was when being a poof in the RN was still illegal.) The medics at Manadon had a dreadful reputation for loathing the students.

    So, cap in hand (literally), I was ushered in to the Surgeon Commander’s (may have been Surg Capt – long time ago, but the Head of the Shed) office, expected to be bollocked for wasting his, and his staff’s, time. Nope, perfectly nice to a very junior Lt, “there’s nothing you want to tell me in confidence*, Lt Evil?”, see the POMA for a blood sample and I’ll see you back in a week.

    Shocked, I stumbled out, barely remembering the “Thank-you, Sir” as I left.

    The moral behind this story – nearly everything they saw in their reasonably busy days were sports injuries** (to the point that the medics were muttering about discipline charges for self-inflicted injury). They hated it. Young officers being grown-ups and buying houses? That was fine as far as they saw it.

    * Not only wasn’t there but if there was, there wouldn’t have been any “in confidence”. I was a sprog, not an idiot!

    ** Or the international students being idiots, often on motorbikes. Which the medics also despised but didn’t chunder about where juniors might overhear them.

  31. I’m opposed to women in infantry combat roles, All else being equal I’d say that women should be allowed if they meet the training standard required, but all else isn’t.

    In Australia there’s a big effort to reduce violence against women by men, and I assume there are similar campaigns elsewhere in western countries. You can be a new style progressive or an old fashioned follower of the code of the west or knightly chivalry, and still agree that men shouldn’t hit women.

    I would ask the advocates for women in combat roles “So … male on female violence is OK if she’s wearing a uniform?”

    There’s a difference between women as pilots in the air force or crew on navy ships and in combat roles. The air force and navy fire at blips on a screen or a thing that might contain men, might contain women. Infantry will have to be trained and willing to shoot or stab women face to face, knowing full well that they’re doing so.

    And since in western countries the civilian society controls the military, as a society civllians like me will have to say we allow this violence against women. Which, to me anyway, weakens or even contradicts the effort being made elsewhere. So on balance, I have to say no.

  32. squawkbox (26th,3.43pm): ‘They are transforming Western armies from military forces designed to fight other armies into paramilitary ones designed to keep the their own citizens under control.’ Lean towards that view myself, wrote as much in past comments. But on reflection, maybe it’s less they’re readying to turn the guns on us as ensuring there is no possibility of a military coup against them—not with an armed forces composed of NPCs, LGBT-types and zdrong-independent-womyn.
    Jim (6.06pm): ‘I’d give the armed forces no more than a generation before they become so feminised that they are functionally useless.’ Might be there already, the navy anyway: surrendering to the Iranians without a fight (2004 and 2007), and watching British subjects (the Chandlers) being kidnapped before their eyes and guns.
    Spot on Phil B (27th,8.21am); re the experiment, you’re aware of the Australian women’s national football team losing 7–0 to 15 year old boys? (Matilidas versus Newcastle Jets in 2016.) Then there were the tennis matches between retired 55 year old professional Bobby Riggs and women half his age and ranked No.1.
    Absolutely spot on, Pat (2.31pm), I keep on about that, being bred out of existence, but too many prefer virtue signalling.

    managed to get women to sea with less fuss and trouble’ Really?
    (Headlines only as spam protection bounces post if too many links.)
    “First woman commander of Navy warship is sent home over ‘affair with male officer’ on board.” Daily Mail, 25 Jul 2014.
    “25 pregnant Navy sailors airlifted from ships.” Daily Telegraph, 19 Apr 2015.
    “Pregnant Royal Navy sailors airlifted off warships: 30 troops flown home.” Daily Star, 4 Jun 2017.
    “Married Royal Navy officer jailed for sexually assaulting sleeping woman at air base in Oman”, Sun, 28 Apr 2016. (She voluntarily went to his room after a night on the town and woke to find his hand ‘inside her underwear’. How naïve does a bint have to be to go to a bloke’s room and not expect him to try it on? So he had his hand in her knickers—give him a slap and walk out, sorted.)
    “Nuclear submarine sex and drugs scandal: Nine Trident crew expelled from Navy amid ‘cocaine’ and affairs allegations … Nine crew members on HMS Vigilant tested positive for drugs after claims of inappropriate sexual relationships on board the submarine”, Independent, 28 Oct 2017.
    “Royal Navy lieutenant is cleared of raping female sailor twice after she lap danced for him naked in her hotel room.” Daily Mail, 15 Jun 2017.
    And so it goes, on and on and on, story after story—false accusations, exaggerated accusations, men and women doing what men and women do (does someone need to sit down with our generals and admirals and gently explain the birds and bees to them?); wasting time with investigations and courts martial and criminal, and careers and lives being put on hold at best and ruined at worst.

    One more: “Royal Navy bans sailors from having porn on ships”, Metro, 20 Feb 2017:

    The regulations … were reportedly brought in after female naval servicemen said that pornography on naval vessels left them feeling intimidated.

    And the US are redesigning and retrofitting their submarines to accommodate the smaller statured women (“Women in the military: US Navy redesigning its submarines”, Navy Times, 19 Apr 2017). If we’re not already doing that, we soon will be—we’re already having to waste time and taxpayer money on dealing with female coplets suing because their hands are too small for the standard issue pistols (“Pictured: The two ‘petite’ police firearms officers set to receive £35,000 each because the guns were ‘too big for their hands’”, Daily Mail, 18 Feb 2014; btw still complaining and suing a year later: “‘Petite’ female firearms officers who won case against police chiefs because guns were too big for their hands say the force is ‘malicious’”, Daily Mail, 24 Mar 2015); and make customised uniforms and body armour for the midgets our clown forces are recruiting (“If you thought PC Laptop was short, meet Britain’s tiniest policewoman who, at 4ft10in, is even smaller”, Daily Mail, 15 Jan 2010).

    Our air force recently passed the first woman as a qualified front line jet fighter pilot—You go, girl! She did 11 years service, the first six as a fighter controller; it taking 4 years (and £4m) to qualify, suggests she jacked it in a year after qualifying. And what pearls of wisdom has she to share in her Independent article (“As the RAF’s first woman fast-jet pilot, I know we need to question the psychological effects of war on our pilots in Syria”, 15 Dec 2015)? ‘No-one I knew, joined the military to kill someone. … No-one mentions the killing clause.’ She… doesn’t… know… being… in… the… military… involves… killing… [Infinite facepalm]

  33. @ScotchedEarth…

    “Our air force recently passed the first woman as a qualified front line jet fighter pilot—You go, girl! She did 11 years service, the first six as a fighter controller; it taking 4 years (and £4m) to qualify, suggests she jacked it in a year after qualifying. And what pearls of wisdom has she to share in her Independent article (“As the RAF’s first woman fast-jet pilot, I know we need to question the psychological effects of war on our pilots in Syria”, 15 Dec 2015)? ‘No-one I knew, joined the military to kill someone. … No-one mentions the killing clause.’ She… doesn’t… know… being… in… the… military… involves… killing… [Infinite facepalm]”

    Oh, my poor wee innocent bairn… You have no idea. None.

    It is entirely possible to go through the entire recruitment, enlistment, entry, and initial training process in the US Army and not have that very salient fact brought up before you. I will relate to you an anecdote, one which I experienced, and which you will likely not believe, and term me both a fabulist and a liar:

    There I was (as all good war stories will begin…), one fine late-summer day on the rifle range at Fort Lewis, running a rifle qualification. While doing so, one of the soldiers who was outside my immediate span of supervision, but yet still someone with whom I had established a “leadership relationship” with, in the absence of her having a really solid chain of command over in her section (I wound up running a bunch of their junior enlisted during missions due to a lack of NCOs over there…), and she’s upset. Very upset. Existentially upset, even.

    “Sergeant K… Is it true? Is it true what they tell me?” She’s almost in tears, obviously highly wrought over something.

    Now, I’m completely at a loss as to what the hell is going on, as this is one of our better soldiers, a smart, level-headed, hard working and very responsible young lady we were grooming for better things, like leadership positions. She was, however, a bit… Trusting? Gullible? Easily misled, by our other, more worldly, junior enlisted? Yeah; all of the above.

    So, I put on a bit of a stone face, and asked the natural question:

    “Uhmmmm… And… What are they telling you, and just what is this all about…?”.

    Tearfully, she asks me, “Sergeant K, are all these targets supposed to be people….?!?!”.

    Now, we’re on a range that uses the standard US Army E-type silhouette, which is admittedly somewhat stylized, but it is pretty much the outline in olive drab of a torso and a head, so I’m kinda like… “Uhmmmm… (slowly) yeeaaaaah… They’re supposed to be people, I guess… When you get down to it… Yeah, they are…”.

    Understand me on this: I was a Combat Engineer for the entirety of my career. Killing people and breaking things in wholesale quantities has been my job and my mindset, at this point, for well over 22 years. Being a soldier was my vocation, and the skills of a soldier were my avocations; I was comfortable with that from the get-go. When I was younger, I actually kind of looked forward to the opportunity to use those skills, in an intellectual sort of way, as most young peacetime soldiers probably are. I never had any question that killing people and breaking their stuff was what it was all about, and I took a bit of nihilistic glee back in the early days about the possibility of doing so. Just trust me on this point–Had the third Great War in Central Europe ever gone past the run-up stage we were at during the 1980s, the smartest investment you could have made would have been in concrete plants near what would be left of West Germany, ‘cos, baby… We were going to have us some fun with high explosives and West German infrastructure. “What is Combat Engineering?” “Large-scale vandalism, and the wholesale destruction of public property…”.

    As an aside–Only with age and responsibility do we career military types become the professional pacifists that the vast majority of professional soldiers actually are. Nearly all of us would ask the civilian leadership questions like “Are you sure, absolutely certain, that you want us to do this…? People are gonna get hurt… Have you thought this through? There’s no other option…? Have you tried talking to those other guys…? I mean, people are going to have to be killed, and we’re gonna get some of our guys killed, too… Is this really, truly, y’know… Necessary…?”.

    You’d be amazed at how positively unattractive war really is, to the guys at the coalface… After all, it’s conducted out in the weather, under really nasty conditions, and consists mostly of heavily armed strangers trying to kill you. Much better to stay in garrison, and only go out to play at war in training…

    In any event, in the midst of my non-plussed state, talking to this young soldier, a couple of things came sharply into focus that I knew, and yet had not connected: One, she was an Indian immigrant, one who I knew to be a practicing Hindu, of the Brahman caste, and that two, she was fairly observant. I knew this from having eaten meals around her, and having had to ensure we had the vegetarian combat rations on hand for her. I’d also spent some time getting to know her, because she hung out with the females I had working for me, and there’d usually be a bit of BS session going on over lunch when they got together in our offices. I also knew that Brahmans were not supposed to kill, that being the near-exclusive purview of the Kshatriya caste, in the Hindu religious system…

    I had known all these facts, but had never connected them, realized the likely implications of it all, or considered what I knew of the Brahman strictures against killing. I just figured she’d already known all that, and had worked through whatever compromises that might have entailed for her personal values and ethics. I mean, seriously… A practicing, observant Hindu Brahman, joining the Army as a volunteer…? Who’d expect to have to worry about that person actually, y’know, believing that silly stuff about killing things? I mean, really, now…

    And, yes, that’s how little the average American knows about Indian culture–Nobody besides me and maybe the Chaplain would have had the fingertip-knowledge that there was something wrong with a practicing Brahman carrying a rifle off to war. And, even though I knew that from reading, and knowing a couple of actual, honest-to-Vishnu practicing Hindus over the years, I still didn’t make the connection. Should have, but didn’t. Everybody else was like “Indian? Like an Apache…? They don’t have problems killing people…”.

    A lot of my peers and the officers I worked for were not… Shall we say, culturally aware…? If they were, y’know, trained to be area officers for India, maybe… But, those are vanishingly rare, and not likely to be found in a line Combat Engineer brigade. Also, factor in that the Indian immigrant community in the US isn’t exactly large, nor does it reside near areas where our “propensity to enlist” numbers are very high. The word “exotic” comes to mind, as well as “esoteric”…

    That day on the range, the epiphany that no, she hadn’t, and yes, I should have twigged to the whole thing a lot earlier than I did… Well, that drilled me right between my eyes. I’d been focused on running the range, but that whole “…are those targets really supposed to be people…?” thing took me right out of context.

    She went from being a high expert with her M16 to not being able to hit jack with it as soon as I confirmed for her that, yes, those are supposed to be people, and hasn’t anyone helped you make the connection before now? I mean… We gave you a uniform, a rifle, and put you through what is still termed “Basic Combat Training” before training you as a draftsman, so… Didn’t any of that cue you in?

    Apparently, no, it did not.

    We had to initiate a full-scale Conscientious Objector investigation and discharge packet on her, and right before our deployment to Iraq. Rough on the unit, as we weren’t going to get a replacement in before leaving, rough on her because she’d lose the college benefits she’d enlisted for (wanting to make her own way in life, without obligation to her fairly well-to-do family…), and the whole thing was just a bit of a “WTF…? Seriously, What. The. F**k…” moment for all of us. Being as the majority of the folks running our unit were, like me, Combat Engineer types who were fully on-board with the whole ethos of killing people and breaking things on a professional basis, well… We were all a little shocked that we were in that situation, but there you have it: The system and institution had never pointed out, in any clear or emphatic fashion, to this young lady that that was what we were all about, and she’d genuinely thought we were going into Iraq in order to build schools and just kind of, y’know… Help people. The funny green clothes and the guns were just kind of fun toys we carried around, apparently.

    I blame the Army, really. The recruiters never made it clear, and just talked about college money and job training, the folks at the training establishment never made it clear (which flatly blows my mind–During my initial training, killing people and breaking things was about all we ever talked about and sang cadence to… Nowadays, apparently, all that emphatic violence inherent to the training process is sort of… Ignored, I suppose…) that our purpose and mission was the elimination through intense personally-inflicted violence of the enemies of the people of the United States…

    Whole thing still blows my mind, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for disbelieving me–The idea that a genuine sincere and practicing Hindu of the Brahman caste would somehow get through the entire process of becoming a soldier in the US Army, and only have it become clear to her at about the one year mark what the hell we were doing in the Army… Well, let’s just say that the word “incredible” is both accurate and, yet… Entirely inadequate.

    Yet, this is gospel truth: This actually happened. I witnessed it, and participated in it.

    Oh, and to provide resolution…? We solved the problem. Kind of. Once our Sergeant Major and senior officers got on-board with believing the whole thing (I had to produce a sort of “one-over-the-world” on Hinduism, in my capacity as the Intel section second-guy-in-charge, for them…), we worked out a compromise: She’d go with us, do her job as a draftsman, and we’d simply just do our best to ensure she wasn’t ever in a position to have to actually shoot at anyone. She was OK with that, and thank whatever God or gods were responsible, we never had to find out if she’d have been able to use her rather impressive marksmanship skills on real people, defending herself or her fellow soldiers. I had retired by the time her term was up, but I later heard that she’d made it to the end of her term and then got out to go to college, as planned. On her own terms, not her family’s…

  34. @ Kirk,

    It is a good job that she wasn’t in the British army and had to shoot at Fig. 11 targets:


    They are life sized and proportioned accordingly. Fig. 12 targets are the head and shoulders version to represent a soldier in a trench or similar. When they were assembled in a panel of three targets together we referred to them as Happy Holiday Makers. Just our sense of the macabre, I suppose.

    Yes, Petunia. They are supposed to represent the enemy and you are supposed to ruin their day by putting in a bullet centre mass.

  35. Phil, I figure that someone in the UK would have had the cultural awareness to clue her in at some point during the recruitment/enlistment process, being as there are a lot more observant Hindus in the UK than the US… Maybe.

    The thing that was really bad about the whole deal was that the young lady was an excellent soldier, conscientious, responsible, and a lot more mature than most of her peers. There was just that one little problem… {sigh}

    The human material I was given, sometimes… I swear to God, you would not believe some of the stuff that makes its way through the mill, and out into the line units. Some is excellent, to the point where you’re looking at these young people and going “What the hell are you doing here…?”, and others…? Dear God, but the sheer wonder of it all, when you have to deal with them: “How on earth did you manage to pass the tests, let alone get through training…?”.

    The really depressing thing is, having been a recruiter, knowing that you are actually dealing with the actual cream of the crop, the ones who did manage to get through the screening, the testing, and the initial entry training. Knowing that there are some of my fellow citizens, who have as much right to vote as I do, and who couldn’t make the cut to get in the military…? That’s not what I’d term even slightly reassuring.

  36. One of my kids is in year 8 of her service. I raised all of my kids to be proficient at arms. When she first went in, I figured our range time would be a valuable asset for her.


    Every time she comes home, we end up at the range. Since the day of her enlistment, except for one short day during her first month spent “qualifying”, she has only shot weapons with me, on those trips home. Other than her qualifying day, she has not seen a weapon during her service.

    So I can easily see it escaping someone’s attention that they are in an armed force.

  37. “So I can easily see it escaping someone’s attention that they are in an armed force.”

    The truth of that sentence is rather depressing, when you consider the nature of modern war. I think that many of the Western military forces are in for a very ugly set of surprises, when they finally discover that the linear battlefield is essentially an historical curiosity, and not something to plan around. Lee Rigby, and what happened to him in London? That’s an incident which historians are going to look back at and go “Yes. That’s the canary in the coal mine, that is…”. Assuming that there are any Western-sympathetic historians remaining in the future–I’m sure the “other side” would frame it differently, like “…the first step on the path to victory…”.

    The unpleasant fact of reality is this: The battlefield is no longer strictly linear, with neat lines laying out “the front”, the “battle area”, or the “rear”. As well, the idea of there being any such thing as “Zone of Communication” which is sacrosanct and unlikely to be attacked…? That’s a dead and rotting corpse; all that is left is for the nice people from Graves Registration to show up and start the interment process.

    In the future, there will be no such things as lines of battle, or uniformed non-combatants; if you’re in uniform or the immediate family thereof, you’re going to have to get used to the idea that you can be attacked anywhere and everywhere. I expect that the first time we take on even a moderately competent foe, one of the first things that’s going to be struck are all the UAV operators living off-base at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV. Like as not, with the casual way that the Obama administration allowed the penetration and compromise of the OPM database, the enemy knows everyone with a clearance in that line of work, and will be able to selectively target them. It won’t take many agents-in-place to conduct a few select home invasions, probably initially disguised as criminal activity, and then the ensuing panic and operational disruption is going to demonstrate just how permeable our borders and defenses really are. I’m actually surprised that something hasn’t happened yet, but it may be that the people in charge of things on the other side are working to keep anyone from demonstrating our vulnerability until they can get the most effect out of the attack.

    Likewise, there are no sacrosanct “rear areas” in the combat zones, either–With the risk of what they’re laughingly calling “insider attacks” from our supposed allies, the fact is that you cannot count on anywhere being safe. Everyone in uniform must be prepared to fight, and they had better be equipped and trained accordingly. The days when we could draw a line between “combat troops” and everyone else are over–Every person in uniform has to make themselves a true combatant in mentality and mindset. If you are attacked, you cannot just call for help and let the supposed “combat specialists” deal with things; you must close with and destroy the enemy exactly as if you were a line infantryman.

    Adapting to this set of facts is something that our military forces seem unable to do–It’s going to take a dozen Lee Rigbys, and a host of dead dependent family members before they wise up, and start hardening the targets. I foresee the day when the armed forces have to live and work within armed and defended enclaves, even in their home nations.

    If you’re unable to cope with that, well… You’re going to have a hard time adapting to the new world our idiots-in-charge have created.

  38. Fascinating and enlightening posts, Kirk. Wrt your first, are you familiar with Lt Col Dave Grossman (On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (1995) and essays online)? He also appears in a documentary on the same theme, The Truth About Killing—recommended (two episodes, not commercially available; unfortunately split into segments but viewing time c.1h40m). An interesting and counter-intuitive argument that man is hard-wired not to kill fellow members of our species and that the history of warfare is actually the history of finding enabling mechanisms to provide conscious/subconscious psychological distance to overcome that disinclination: physical distance being the primary enabler, but authority and distribution of guilt are also effective. The argument also holds that US training has become increasingly realistic to ‘condition’ (see behavioural theory of B.F. Skinner) recruits to kill—from human-silhouette targets to paintball to weapons effect simulators and now to ‘simunition’. Targets apart, you did not see much of that?

    Regarding your second (very good) post, agree with your conclusions. Just one addendum: Britain, of all nations, has least excuse not to be fully cognisant of this ‘non-linear battlefield’ as we have been encountering terrorism since at least the 19th Century. The ‘Fenian Dynamite Campaign’ opened with the bombing of Manchester’s Salford Barracks on 14 January 1881 (injuring a woman and killing 7 year old Richard Clarke); in 1909, Lt Col Curzon Wylie was murdered in London by an Indian separatist terrorist; in 1922, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was shot to death on his own doorstep by IRA terrorists; etc. And while the Second Boer War extended little beyond South Africa (some British undercover operations in Portuguese Mozambique), when it entered its guerrilla phase (described by ‘Breaker’ Morant in the eponymous film as ‘[A] new kind of war, George. It’s a new war for a new century.’), front lines effectively disappeared in South Africa itself. (Btw, Breaker Morant (1980, s. Edward Woodward) is another great film: ‘I’ll tell you what rule we applied, sir. We applied Rule 3-0-3. We caught them, and we shot them, under Rule 3-0-3.’ Line also appears in George Witton’s 1907 account Scapegoats of the Empire, so it’s pukka.)

    Back on the main topic: ‘he has said that, in damage repair drills, women can prove their worth by doing tasks which require small, nimble people rather than big, strapping lads
    This is just ex post facto justification. Are we imposing maximum height and weight limits on female entrants to obtain maximum advantage from their ‘small, nimble’ builds? Of course not: Have Vajayjay, Will Be Hired is the criteria. Does this lot look ‘svelte’?

    Latest: ‘British Army to consider allowing soldiers to have long hair or tattoos – just weeks after relaxing its ban on beards’ Daily Mail, 31 Oct 2018.

    [M]ilitary top brass are looking at easing prohibitions on male soldiers sporting long hair and earrings. … [A]n anonymous member of the military raised the issue in a letter to the Army’s Soldier magazine. The letter said: ‘The move to open the infantry to women is a good thing but the rules are changing for some, not all, and there is no consistency. … We should also forget all race, religious and sexual orientation and gender identification. It’s time to ditch the labels that separate us. They are a negative not a plus for our Armed Forces.

    (For the Daily Mail-phobic, it is in the current November issue and can be found via MoD site.

    It’s possible the letter’s author is satirising current policy and framing it in SJW/NPC terms (à la Boghossian, Lindsay & Pluckrose, see ‘hoax papers’); it’s also possible that he/she/zhe/it is sincere, in which case we might as well replace our Union Jack with the white flag.

    SJWism (Progressivism, Cultural Marxism, call it what you will) is the most destructive of ideologies that Western Civilisation has ever faced. Not Islam: as a /pol/ comment went that’s been cited before: ‘Muslims are like the common cold. Easy to defeat, look at the Gulf War or the British occupation of Arab countries in WW2. Leftism is AIDS and ruins your immune systems, so even a cold can kill you.’ It’s SJWism that most needs to be defeated (perhaps starting with a purge of HMF, its officer-class at least).

  39. The story of “Breaker Morant” and his execution for obeying orders, his legendary horsemanship, writing skills, his naval father and mother, birth in the poor house and relationship with Banjo Paterson are truly an intriguing part of Australian military history.


    “Despite his foolhardiness, Morant did genuinely love horses, dedicating poems to his favourite horses, Cavalier and Harlequin; in 1896, he had Cavalier immortalised in a portrait by the famous painter Frank Prout Mahony.33 This held him in good stead with the gentlemen’s clubs, but the myths must be balanced with stories from those who knew the devil in him.

    Many biographers claim that Morant was charming, but some accounts of his early life in Australia depict a man whose character was not so innocuous. Morris Hawkins, the son of one of Morant’s early employers, recalls that Morant stole a treasured bugle made from a bullock’s horn and used it as a smoker’s stand. As a child, Hawkins had been too afraid to take it back; he and his brother kept their distance from Morant.34 Hawkins also describes Morant’s cruelty to Indigenous Australians: he would use his charm to lure Aboriginal men into a roundhouse or stable for a friendly boxing match, but would lock the door to prevent escape and beat the man unconscious.35

    Most telling of Morant’s sadism was the frequency and vividness by which he described his cruelty to animals to Paterson. In a letter from August 1895, he bragged about a dingo he had finished off ‘with that good old weapon, the stirrup-iron’.36 On another occasion he had used a knife to hamstring a heifer after bullets failed to drop her, and he proudly confessed to owning a lancer’s spear for hunting pigs. He told Paterson that ‘pigsticking is not bad fun’.37”


    Dramas of Yesterday.


  40. “Everyone in uniform must be prepared to fight, and they had better be equipped and trained accordingly.”

    I would argue that perhaps we ought to be dropping part of that sentence to ” Everyone . . . must be prepared to fight, and they had better be equipped and trained accordingly.” Our greatest challenges defensively are going to come, eventually, on our own ground, and the bad guys aren’t going to be equipped much better than I am, so there’s a realistic basis for thinking this isn’t just civilian bravado.

    It might not be in the actual training, but you can tell it’s on the minds of the thinking members when the sailors are discussing where their place might be in 4GW. And they are.

    (P.S. I’ve met quite a few young sailors and soldiers and while they might have a more liberal, SJW mindset than I’m comfortable with them having, and for the most part they’ve not had to decide between service or Harvard, they are a generally bright hardworking lot, and are far more impressive than the public’s picture of the Vietnam era draftees.

    They desperately need the numbers that opening up to the other half of the population can bring them, and, if they can find a way around the idea that everyone must be allowed to do every job, I think they’ll make this work. There are many, many MOS’s that need to be filled and that can be filled irrespective of gender or strength or body odor.)

  41. Interesting article, Bardon, thanks.
    Of course Edward Woodward makes the film what it is and defines Breaker—an excellent film, but not history.
    From what accounts I’ve read so far, I cannot judge whether Breaker was closer to Edward Woodward’s portrayal or the notorious ‘Colonel Callan’ of the 1976 mercenary episode in the Angolan civil war. (‘Col. Callan’ was the moniker chosen by Costas Georgiou after ‘Callan’, another character played by Edward Woodward. Georgiou was a Para kicked out after robbing a post office; hired to train the FNLA faction, he proved an utter psycho, haphazardly murdering random FNLA members and also 14 British mercenaries under his command (Maquela Massacre).)

    bobby: ‘They desperately need the numbers that opening up to the other half of the population can bring them’ They have recruiting problems largely because they’re ruining the armed forces. The UK’s ONS records 774,000 unemployed males aged 16–64 in Jun–Aug 2018; they don’t provide greater detail than that but if just one-sixth are aged 18–25(*), that is more than the entire f/t British Army. Why they are not enlisting is the problem to be addressed, not wasting time and effort with workarounds that at best cope with the problem but usually exacerbate it. That is how the Left operates: first identify a non-existent problem, then create actual problems, then demand Left-oriented “““solutions””” to the problems they created.
    (* Assuming for argument’s sake that each age is equally represented gives an average of 15,796, giving 126,367 aged 18–25.)

    Recruiting women causes trouble outweighing any value (debatable) they bring; in addition to articles supplied in previous posts (again headlines only, to avoid post being bounced by spam protection):
    “MoD must pay gay soldier £190,000.” BBC, 26 Nov 2008. (‘The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been ordered to pay nearly £190,000 to a lesbian soldier who was sexually harassed by a male sergeant. … was pestered at an Army stables in North Yorkshire. The 32-year-old’s career collapsed as a result of the sergeant’s actions.’)
    “200 women troops sent home for being pregnant: MoD won’t impose war zone pregnancy tests due to ‘privacy’ fears.” Daily Mail, 16 Feb 2014.
    “Army to review maternity uniforms.” Daily Telegraph, 4 Jul 2014.
    “Officer accused of raping Navy girl who kissed him goodbye has been cleared.” Daily Express, 8 Jun 2016.
    “Women joining the armed forces are becoming pregnant at the rate of one a fortnight despite relationships with male soldiers being strictly banned.” Daily Mail, 5 Feb 2017.
    “Army must tackle its drink problem, military judge says.” Daily Telegraph, 1 Jun 2017. (‘Lieutenant Colonel … was cleared of the single count of rape against a subordinate in her room after a UN meeting in an African hotel.’)
    “MoD admits over 350 sexual abuse complaints have been made by cadets.” Guardian, 4 Jul 2017. (‘Figures released by the MoD show that, of the 363 claims lodged between 2012 and 2017, 282 were referred to the police. The allegations also led to the dismissal of 99 instructors across the three cadet branches: army, air and sea, as Whitehall paid out more than £2m in compensation to the survivors.’)
    “First woman to join infantry regiment since defence chiefs lifted ban on females serving in combat units quits after two weeks admitting she underestimated the 18-week course.” Daily Mail, 27 May 2018.
    “Navy commander accused of sexually assaulting colleague cleared in 57 minutes.” Daily Telegraph, 30 Oct 2018.
    O Jesu, make it stop.

    As already observed, story after story after story: of women who seemingly have no notion of where to draw boundaries, and other men and women doing what men and women have always done—but only now is it subject to time-consuming criminal investigations and courts martial.

    But never mind, technology to the rescue: “New submarine technology to allow more women onboard.” Daily Star, 7 Sep 2014.

    Top brass feared high levels of dangerous gases on board the vessels could harm unborn babies conceived before or during missions. But now the subs are to be fitted with special “clean air” filters to cut the risk. … The filters are the result of years of work by government scientists and cost millions of pounds to develop.’

    Forget developing technologies that improve our subs’ abilities to escape detection, that could help our subs detect the enemy before they detect ours, that one way or another increases the lethality of our subs… The armed forces no longer exist to fight wars, apparently.

    There is no surer way to destroy a nation’s armed forces than to admit women on equal terms. They did a fine job as QAs (Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps) and I’m sure they’re fine as qualified doctors in the RAMC; anything else, as a general rule (of course there are some, usually theatre-specific, exceptions), they are not worth the effort. Barring occasional outliers, the best women—even in the office cube environment never mind the military—are only as good as the average male (be honest: how often do positive experiences with female colleagues arise more from the poverty of low expectations than their actual ability?).

  42. @ScotchedEarth

    From the accounts, I would say that Morant was a far better soldier than Col Callan ever was. He had shown bravery in action on numerous occasions, had disciplined criminal soldiers, was combating in a new type of guerrilla warfare and he was following orders on the matters that he was held accountable for. The verdict was most probably right although the sentence was wrong. Had they crossed paths I don’t think that Banjo Paterson whose character is not in question would have struck up a friendship and professional relationship with Georgiou a relative nobody, nor would he have attested to the soundness of his character as he did Morant’s.

    Morant was a slippery bastard, no doubt about it, he was most likely an accidental perfect guerrilla warfare leader, but in the end he was nowhere near slippery enough to avoid becoming a scapegoat of the empire.

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