In The American Spectator, Kristin Moorefield, Assistant to the Editors at The American Spectator, wrote:
Recently, the Washington Times reported that the Navy plans to mothball nine more destroyers, a move which would reduce the fleet to 300 ships, a nadir not seen since the Depression. Devotees of Mahan might quail at this latest development, but not the intrepid Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton. These days, Dalton has a weightier matters on his mind -- namely, making the Navy " a model for gender relations." His latest target is F-14 Naval flight officer Lt. Patrick "Jerry" Burns, whose career, if Dalton has his way, will be mothballed along with the destroyers.
Last May, after 17 years of Navy service, Burns was recommended for a promotion to the rank of lieutenant commander by a selection board of senior Naval officers. Yet the day after Burns returned from a six-month tour of duty on the U.S.S. Constellation in October, he learned that the Secretary of the Navy had taken the unusual step of blocking his promotion. His crime? As a Naval whistleblower in 1995, he put his career in jeopardy to save the lives of two of his female trainees.
When he served as an instructor in Fighter Squadron VF-124, Burns released the training records of Lt. Carey Lohrenz, one of the first women pilots -- along with Lt. Kara Hultgreen -- selected for the F-14 Tomcat Training program. According to the records and contrary to official claims of "gender-neutral" training, the female pilots had been granted extraordinary concessions. Flight schedules were eased up to accommodate Lohrenz and Hultgreen, they were given additional opportunities to qualify at each phase of training, and a number of errors that would have led to a wash-out if committed by a male pilot were overruled by the commanding officer. As later acknowledged the Inspector General's report on gender integration in the carrier wing, the Navy lowered aviation standards in order to "win a race" with the Air Force to produce the first female combat pilot. When instructors like Burns voiced their concerns about the danger this posed to the women and the air crews that served with them, they were told by Commander Tom Sobiek, "You don't understand. These women are going to graduate regardless of how they perform."
Burns became sufficiently alarmed that he began to keep copies of the pilots' training records and alerted the chain of command. "I... specifically told individuals that I expected a catastrophic mishap to take place concerning one of these individuals sometime during their fleet tour, " Burns later testified. Nonetheless, the women were qualified as aircraft carrier fliers in 1994. Less than three months later, as is now well known, Lt. Kara Hultgreen was killed while attempting to land on the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Subsequently, the Navy launched a disinformation campaign designed to portray the crash as the result of mechanical failure. Several investigations later, it was revealed that pilot error was really responsible.
At this point, Burns had seen enough. "While the mishap that killed her was the result of pilot error, Kara was not to blame," Burns said. "The blame for Kara's death rests squarely at the feet of the senior officers and policy makers who pushed her through F-14 training. To me, integrity and the moral authority it conveys is what constitutes true leadership. Our sailors and Marines do not follow us into combat because we pay them to. They follow us into harm's way because they trust our judgment and our integrity. They trust that we as officers would never willingly endanger them unless it were necessary for the safety and the welfare of our nation to do so. We betrayed that trust." In early 1995, Burns passed on his copies of Hultgreen's and Lohrenz's training records to Elaine Donnelly at the Center for Military Readiness, an organization which has been critical of the lowering of standards in the gender-integrated military. Shortly thereafter, Lohrenz, who ranked 113 out of 113 pilot trainees, washed out of the F-14 program.
What did the "women in combat" agenda cost? By it's own conservative estimate, the Navy spent $30,000 to $40,000 extra during Lohrenz's tactics phase alone. Lohrenz's tendency to claim aircraft problems and abort missions -- something she did on 10 separate occasions -- forced the Navy to take the unprecedented step of having a spare aircraft turned-up and ready on all her sorties. Given that Hultgreen and Lohrenz received additional training during all phases, the total cost to the Navy for training the two pilots was between $210,000 and $280,000 above and beyond the approximately $1 million already required to train each as Naval aviators.
The collateral damage to standards for Naval aviation has been costlier still. A case in point is Lcdr. John Bates, a squadronmate of Kara Hultgreen's, who lost control of his F-14 in Hawaii in 1995 and was forced to eject. The cause of the mishap was pilot error of the same type that had killed Hultgreen. His commanding officer, Cdr. Fred Killian, faced an impossible situation -- he had no way of revoking Bates's flight status without giving the lie to higher-ups' official exoneration of Hultgreen's performance. Bates was allowed to continue to fly, and in January of the following year, he crashed another F-14 in Nashville, Tennessee, killing himself, his radar intercept officer, and three civilians on the ground. Cdr. Killian, then the most experienced F-14 aviator in the Navy, was subsequently relieved of his command.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted, six people are dead, and at least one career has been destroyed -- all to produce two female combat pilots, one of whom was killed and the other who subsequently washed out. Now the career of an exemplary naval officer is in doubt. None of this has improved combat readiness one scintilla. Given the record, maybe Secretary Dalton should spend less time playing gender politics and pay more attention to our rapidly disappearing Navy.
Here is another good article that criticizes the military for fighting human nature and endangering the security of America.
Our Latest Quagmire
Today's Army is fighting a losing war against human nature.
by Richard Cohen
My drill sergeant was a short fellow with a wild look in his eye. He had a fierce temper and no sense of proportion. When our barracks once flunked inspection, he called it the worst day he could recall in the whole history of the United States Army. I wanted to say something about Little Bighorn but, to tell you the truth, I was afraid. The man was a beast.
So it comes as no surprise to this onetime trainee that some of the female trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Ground said they had sex with their drill sergeant because they were afraid not to. This was the man, after all, who was more than just their supervisor. He was their lord and master, in almost total control of their lives. In basic training, you do what you are told.
We have been told the last few years that everything is now different and that my experience, as a result, is worthless. Somehow, the beasts have been tamed. They remain marvelous trainers of troops, but they are now sensitive and warm-cuddly types who feel the pain of their troops rather than, as was the case in my day, inflicting it.
What's more, all the old rules regarding men and women have been changed. Males and females can now be thrown together in their most sexually rambunctious years and almost everyone will behave because, of course, they have been told to. Aberdeen either shows that the military is deceiving itself or that something was terribly wrong at this one base. The court-martial there has elicited testimony that drill sergeants vied with one another to see who could have sex with the most recruits. Trysts were held both on and off the base at private homes, at motels. Some of the sex allegedly was rape; all of it was against the rules.
Frankly, I haven't the foggiest whether Aberdeen is your normal training facility or whether it is unlike any other in the Army. I do know, though, that the Army has mixed together some awfully impressionable young women and some awfully tough men and tried, in the name of a wonderful ideal, to make things work.
But have they? Some specialists suggest they have not and even the Army chief of staff, Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, said the Army should reconsider the joint training of men and women. Others say that the Army, and indeed all the services, should reconsider their commitments to steadily increase the percentage of women in the ranks. After all, men and women ought to be equal, but they are not the same. Maybe upper body strength should not matter. Maybe. But it does.
Whatever comes out of the Aberdeen mess ought not be preordained by an ideological commitment to the status quo. It comes as no surprise, really, that the company commander of the troubled Aberdeen unit, Capt. Scott E. Alexander, said he never knew anything was amiss. To complain or question current doctrine is, we were told in a recent New Republic article by Stephanie Gutmann, a career-ender. In some ways, the military has become the most politically correct institution in the country. The question is whether that has affected its fighting ability.
And fighting war is what the military is all about. It is not the place where an ideology, unproved no matter how worthy, should be imposed so that the rest of society will follow. The rest of society is not expected to engage in combat. The rest of society is a place where the natural aggression of young men is a menace; in the Army, it's essential to the job at hand: killing.
The Army, especially basic training, is unlike almost anything in civilian life. Aberdeen may amount to nothing more than a sordid anomaly, but it's also possible that the scandal is a warning to both the brass and the civilian leadership that they are attempting the impossible a fight not against a few bad men, but against a more formidable foe: human nature.