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03 April 2014

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Patrick Lang

All

In my Army career I never had much contact with women soldiers (officers or enlisted women) except for my three years on the faculty at USMA. Before that I was always in the infantry, Special Forces or MI in the field. There simply were not women soldiers around in these activities. After my time at USMA I was on duty in the ME where there also were not women soldiers. After I became a civilian SES in DIA the women around were rarely military, so my experience of women soldiers was pretty much confined to West Point. What I learned there was that they were quite as varied in their virtues and/or bizarre behavior as their male counterparts. When West Point was required by law to admit women cadets in 1976 an effort was made to find prospective women cadets who were intellectually gifted in the bigoted belief that the science and math heavy curriculum would be too difficult for most women. This proved to be completely untrue but the emphasis placed on finding particularly brainy women resulted in a substantial number of women cadets who broke down physically under the physical regimen demanded of men. This quickly resulted in "dumbing down" of the physical program in spite of the simple truth that job requirements for the women officers that the cadets would become would be the same as for men even if the PT test in the army was also "dumbed down." The resulting body of female cadets was a cross-section of over achieving young America with a predominant "flavor' of feminism and/or a desire to satisfy the personal yearnings of male relatives who wished that they had attended WP. A substantial group of women captains and majors were brought in to mentor the women cadets. They were quite different from their male colleagues in the staff and faculty. The male officers were mainly graduates of West Point who had been selected when they were cadets to one day return as instructors in chemistry, etc. or as tactical officers. The women officers who arrived with the women cadets were a very different variety of people. In the main they were ardent feminists and few had any substantive Army experience. They had been very junior MP officers, Adjutant General corps paper pushers or people who managed some general's office. Some of them were truly memorable. 1 - There were quite a few obvious lesbians who did not bother to conceal their inclinations. The women's basketball team of that period became a "hotbed' of such activity. "Away" game trips were a convenience. I had a number of women cadet students and they were quite willing to tell me and my wife of the gay underground on post. I had known various closeted male gay people in the Army but there was an aggressive quality about what was going on at USMA then that was surprising. I particularly remember a woman officer (quite pretty) who worked in headquarters. She developed an obsession with regard to my wife, followed her around, etc.. My wife worked with me and this woman developed the habit of showing up at events at which we were likely to be present, walking up to us and inserting herself between us with her back to me while she chatted up SWMBO while trying to persuade her that hey should "get to know each other better." We had never seen this kind of behavior before and in the end my wife overcame her innate good manners and told this major to "back off." This gal retired as a major general. 2 - There were some of these women officers who were the spouses of retired senior male officers, often WP grads who came with them to re-live their college days. These women were really trophy wives and were astonishingly naïve about the Army, the world, human nature. etc. One pretty blue eyed blonde whose nickname was "Bunny" was married to a retired lieutenant colonel who had been her ROTC instructor somewhere. She often came by our office to be taught about the realities of service life. Her wide eyed astonishment haunts me still. 3 - And then there were also heterosexual women who thought they had to be as sexually aggressive as they imagined men to be. My male colleagues had many experiences of women officers "coming on to them" in the crudest possible way. My own experience of this involved a woman MP captain who developed an interest in my very average self. Her nickname among the male cadets was "Thunder Thighs." One day in the office I was busy typing something. (We used typewriters then) I thought I was alone. In a moment of concentration, I felt something warm pressed against my right upper arm. Looking up I saw that "TT" was standing next to me with her belly pressed against me. A welcoming smile shone down. I asked her to leave. On another occasion my wife and I were in a wine shop in Highland Falls, just off post. I was leaning on a glass case to look at bottles within. Suddenly I felt someone caress my buttocks. Looking up, I locked eyes with "TT." My wife saw this happen and crossed the shop floor to rescue me. My impression over three years was that West Point had debased itself in its clumsy attempts at integrating women cadets by accepting staff and faculty who did not meet Regular Army standards of behavior, much less West Point's previous standards of behavior. This impression contributed to our decision to not stay at the academy permanently when we were asked to do so. pl

David Habakkuk

All,

From a report in the ‘Guardian’ today:

‘The British army must seriously consider allowing women to serve in close-combat roles in the near future, the head of the armed forces has said.

‘General Sir Peter Wall said that such a move would make the armed services “look more normal to society” and demonstrate that there were equal opportunities within the organisation, boosting recruitment of women to all roles.’

(See http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/06/british-army-women-combat-roles-general )

I would dearly love to know what the Colonel and RSM referred to in the anecdote by ‘Tyler’ on the accompanying thread would say about General Sir Peter Wall.

As to the notion of making the armed services ‘look more normal to society’, I cannot for the life of me understand what in the creation the man means.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

IMO Wall's statement announces the end of the British Army as a serious combat force. War is not an equal employment opportunity. what matters in maintaining an army is how well it would fight, not on job programs for the needy. pl

Tyler

Mr. Habakkuk,

Sorry it took me so long to get over here, but to answer your last statement: social petri dish. Nothing less and nothing more. Wall has swallowed the Frankfurt School doctrine hook, line, and sinker, whether he knows it or not. The idea that institutions have to reflect "society" is fantasy land bullshit that is more about feel goods than any sort of effectiveness.

The 'problem' I guess you can call it, is that the Western world has not had a serious enemy that threatens it in a generation or two (no matter how much Mark Levin calls HA, Iran, and all the rest ISLAMOFASCISTS or whatever). You can have these notions because there's not an existential issue.

Maybe when their daughters and wives are being raped, or their sons left to die because the women couldn't buddy carry them out, they'll wake up. But I doubt it. Secular egalitarianism is the new State Religion.

Tyler

So no shit, there I was in the middle of FOB Salerno, pulling a patrol schedule of five days out/two days in while the base was getting some upgrades thanks to a National Guard engineer company.

Up to that point, there had been maybe ten females on post, most with the helicopter battalion that was stationed there. We had a few in our medical platoon, but for the most part it had been an all male base. No longer!

Now, I don't have any stories of romance on the hesco barriers or anything like that because I didn't feel like competing with the thirty other studs who turned the gym into a grunting contest anytime one of these women walked in. Plus, there was always something to do to prepare for the next week of patrol - rations to be gathered, ammo to be drawn, batteries located, and all the little tasks that you have two days to accomplish before going outside the wire again. We were only two three man gun teams, and each team was responsible for making sure it was ready for what was coming up.

However, when we got in one day from a seven day stretch of running and gunning over the mountains (long story!), I noticed something odd about Charlie Company. They would march to chow, to the laundry, to the showers, and then vanish all day inside their tents. What could be going on?

Well, apparently they had gotten caught with some steroids that they had convinced their interpreter to buy for them telling him it was totes legit, and were also giving it good to the National Guard ladies. Apparently the lid got blown off the entire thing when one of the ladies (who would have been a 4 on the outside) got mad that when one of the girls who was a 7 started to give it up, all the boys stopped paying her attention.

So she found the battalion commander, told him about the steroid use and the screwing, and the shit hit the fan at that point and Charlie Co spent a month going from location to location as a company.

A related story involved AAFES sending a bunch of Russian masseuses to FOB Salerno, and long suffering LTC Glenn about hit the fucking roof at this. "I'm trying to fight a war here! This isn't Spa Khost! Send them back!" he was rumored to have shouted.

Upon hearing that they were going to be kicked back, unemployed, the women gathered together and asked to speak to the good LTC. He demurred, and they explained the situation: They had borrowed money from the Russian Mob to afford the fees necessary to get out here and make some cash, and without that money they were in the shit. LTC Glenn is staring at the AAFES rep while this story is going on, who can't meet his eyes. So LTC Glenn asks, "What can you do? Masseuses are trouble," he said, knowing the problems in Bagram with the masseuses giving handies and more (!!) there.

"We can cut hair!" they told him, and that's how FOB Salerno got its first barber shop.

Fred

Tyler, that's the first base barbershop I ever heard of with a happy ending.

Fred

They didn’t train me for this.

I’m assigned to the six month course at the EM C-School at scenic Great Lakes Naval Training Center; and with the that wonderful luck of mine - as in being in the right place at the right time - got assigned as platoon leader for 35 fresh faced seaman in Gas Turbine School. My good fortune landed me in a three story barracks building with, in keeping with the ‘progressive’ spirit of the age, the third floor housing the enlisted women attending various training programs on base. Trouble brewing you say? Why would that ever happen, with 300 male 19 year olds and only 80 women in one building? My compassion for my high school teachers rose quite a bit after this tour. But back to the story.

There I was one Saturday; Off duty this weekend I had planned on head back into town, where one of my old friends from nuclear power school and I shared an apartment. I stayed over to tutor a couple of my guys on electrical theory and to do a little studying of my own. As I’m walking out of the office the Chief with the base duty, one of base’s instructors, asks me to cover for him while he goes to the mess hall to grab a couple of sandwiches for lunch.

“Sure” I say, “I’ve got a couple of loose ends to tie up anyway.” So I sit back down at the desk to finish my paperwork. Not five minutes later one of the seaman from the third floor comes pounding down the stairs and blows past the ‘quarterdeck’ watch-stander and out the door. “What’s this?” I’m thinking. I step out in to the passageway to ask Tony, seaman 3rd, with the unenviable duty of checking ID cards, liberty passe and civilian cloths chits, just what was going on.

Down come three more female seaman, excited as can be, almost in a panic. “Stop there. Just what is going on?” I order. All three start talking. “She’s bleeding!” She’s dying!” “Help!” We’re taking her to the hospital in Sue’s car.” About this time a beat up Chevy bounds over the curb and comes to a stop outside the door. Apparently Sue’s taken lesson from Darrell Waltrip.

“No, you are not. Stay here.” “Seaman Jackson, call the emergency line for an ambulance. One person injured and bleeding, state of injuries unknown.” “Aye, Aye” comes the replay. “You” - I point at the least shaken of the young seamen - “Come with me.” Up the three flights of steps we go. There’s another watch station, to stop the fraternization - it is a barracks after all, not frat house. “Where’s the duty petty officer?” I ask. Given directions I head on down the hall, the now calm seaman in tow.

In one of the rooms at the far end I find the Carol, another E-6 like myself, she’s got the duty. I report in and tell her I’ve called for an ambulance, then ask what’s happened. With a rather resigned air she tells me that one of the woman in her section was about twelve weeks pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. Otherwise everything is stable.

“The ambulance should be here in a couple of minutes, I’ll send them up to you.” Back down the stairs I go. “They sure didn’t train me to handle miscarriages in that first aid course.” I’m thinking to myself. Fortunately my shadow is still following me. We meet the ambulance team at the bottom of the steps. I give them the details and send them and my helper and her two cohorts, now calmed down, back up the stairs.

“Are you Sue” I ask the one that’s left. “Yes” comes a rather confused voice.
“You are in the Navy. If there is another emergency again, and in your career there undoubtably be one, and it’s not something you were trained for then report it and ask for instructions. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir” she says. “That’s yes petty officer” I reply, “Don’t call me sir. My parents were married - to each other.” I can’t help but add. “Yes petty officer.” “Good, now move that damned car off the parade ground and don’t pull another stunt like that again.” Off she goes at a run.

About this time Chief Thompson comes back from the mess hall, a brown bag in one hand, surveying the scene. Beat up Chevy driving off, Ambulance with lights flashing right outside and now the base MPs are pulling up.

He steps into the office. “What the hell happened? I was gone ten minutes. It’s 11:30 on a Saturday morning for Christ’s sake.”

I take a quick sip of now very cold coffee. The gurney comes down the stairs and out the door as I’m filling him in. “Just what I needed.” He tells me, shaking his head. “Don’t worry, Carol had the situation under control. She’s sharp.”

“I know, but I”m the one on the base staff. I’m the one who has to fill out the paperwork” He says, sadly. An easy day shot to pieces. “They didn’t train me for that.” I tell him, as I head out of the office. “Oh, by the way, I stand relieved.” I say, giving a quick salute.

Tyler

Fred you've got the best ending lines.

Fred

I think Mr. Farrell and our host are rubbing off on me.

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