People have asked my opinion regarding the latest “Tweet-storm” by POTUS regarding the so called “Trans-Ban.” Here are some thoughts. It must be stated, however, that the “Trans” issue, in my opinion, is extremely complex because many people identify as such, but with wildly varying, self imposed definitions.
Some folks rail against the Military being a place for social “experimentation.” I suppose I agree with that, HOWEVER, it is an institution that is a direct reflection of the society it represents and defends. There was a time when the military segregated their units by race. This changed. There was a time when women were not allowed to serve in ANY capacity. This changed.
Now, I believe, the question of openly homosexual men and women serving in the military has been settled. Which is a good thing. I think that the thousands of gay Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines that have served before and now, have by and large, (just as their heterosexual counterparts), contributed greatly to the freedom of the United States. The thing, however, to realize, is this: whether they served in the shadows or now, in the open, they were and are required to MEET A STANDARD of capability and conduct. Therein lies the rub.
Women serving in combat roles is also a new thing. Some would say it is more difficult in coming around because of the word I just used above – STANDARD. Combat is the actual conduct of engaging in activities that include moving to and engaging the enemy with lethal means and violence of action in order to kill and destroy them and their infrastructure. Period. Units must move at one pace, carrying equal loads, in often extreme, harsh conditions. In order to facilitate the integration of women into combat roles, it has been determined that, in some, (but not all), ways, equal standards must be set and met. There are some who have met the standards, and others who have tried, and come up short. While some may feel that women are not sufficiently represented in the combat arms, the fact that they now have the right to try, I believe, is both noteworthy, correct, and sufficient.
Serving in the military is NOT a right. In fact, it is a path in which one actually GIVES UP rights and liberties freely when they chose to serve. Once the oath is taken, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen may no longer participate in politics, (with the exception of voting), give up their right to privacy to a large degree, give up their right to freely come and go at their pleasure, their right to free speech, and MUST submit and subscribe to a collection of values and ethos associated with the military in general and their branch and Military Occupational Specialty specifically. Even further, they place themselves under a separate, unique set of laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as other unique rules and regulations that have little or no comparison in the civilian “world”.
There are many things that may keep a person from being allowed entry into any of the branches of the service. Here are a few:
-Pre existing medical conditions
-Pre existing psychological conditions
-Illegal drug use
-Use of performance enhancing drugs
-Membership in groups known or suspected to be subversive to the government and/or ideals of the United States
-Inability to meet the minimum physical ability standards set by the respective branch
-Inability to meet the minimum academic/intellectual standards on the entrance exam, (ASVAB)
So, one can see that in order to even begin to qualify for entrance into military service, there must be conformity. One must be able to change and to adapt to meet the military. The military does not change to suit the needs or desires of individuals.
The entire, primary purpose of the military, as a whole, is to meet the enemies of the United States on the field of battle and kill them. Period. Blowing stuff up and killing. That’s it in a nut shell. Those not directly engaged in these activities, or training to do so, SUPPORT those who do. The clerks, cooks, supply personnel, parachute riggers, mechanics, lawyers, chaplains, water purification specialists, navigators, etc, etc all support the killers and blower uppers.
In order to meet this goal, the entirety of the military, (each in his or her role) must be able to do their job to the best of their ability, and more importantly, to standard. This is one reason that there are very few “elective” procedures offered to members of the military. For example, if a Soldier becomes obese while in the service, he or she is given an opportunity to re-obtain the standard and if unsuccessful, are chaptered out. Harsh as it may be, that’s the way it is. Obese people, by and large, in the mindset of the military, are undeployable due to the negative health effects and equipment restrictions. Surgery is not an option. A service member wishing to have larger breasts will also find themselves out of luck.
So, my point is this. With regard to a “Trans” service member feeling that he or she identifies as a member of the opposite gender, this is fine, with the caveat that they joined as their biological gender and so should remain for the duration of their service. To expect the military to continue to pay a member for time spent in elective or voluntary non-deployable status due to treatments and/or surgery is, I think, beyond the agreement made when the member swears the oath. Further, I don’t, with regard to the military, believe in biological males bathing and such with Females and the other way around. I will say that the entire pretense of gender specific latrines and showers could be dropped at this point, however, if it really needs to be a “thing.” I’m not against the idea of perhaps a “transitional leave of absence” during which the member may suspend his or her career… I don’t know.
At the end of the day, it’s all about LETHALITY. If you’ve been in, or are in now, you understand what that means. I truly believe a lot of folks weighing in on this issue, on both sides, have no idea what that means. Having units at as close to 100% strength at all times is CRUCIAL to mission readiness. Frustrating commanders with hours and days of sensitivity and compliance training when troops should be at the range, or in the field, sharpening their skills and preparing for the next fight needs to be lessened, not increased.
With all this said, it’s above my pay grade, I’m out now, so it’s not up to me, or you, or the guy and gal over in the corner. Be good to each other, God Bless America!
The author is a former Army Officer and Enlisted man who has served with the 82nd Airborne and 2nd Infantry Division. He is currently employed as a Detective in a large metropolitan police department.
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