While few are headlining it, I don't believe anyone of any true military experience believes this latest move by SecDef Panetta and Gen. Dempsey -- excising the ban on females in combat -- is anyone less than a continuing attempt to de-militarized the most effective military on the planet, the military with the most experienced and most recently blooded troops. The goal is surely a benign group of peaceful men and women on whom you need not spend much money.
The U.S. Marine Corps, I submit, will forever be the problem in accomplishing that end. Everything about Marine Corps training is aimed at producing warriors who break things and kill people. Unless things have radically changed, even cooks and law clerks are taught hands-on tactics and how to call in an air and artillery strikes. Individual leadership will forever chafe against the socialists' commune military.
While both Panetta and Dempsey may feel this is a paradigm-breaking decision, it merely shows how out of touch they actually are with the American military and the U.S. Marine Corps in particular.
There were several occasions when I was in Iraq 2003-2004 as a federal civilian with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when we were under the protection of uniformed U.S. Army, several times including and often led by female soldiers. We usually traveled with contracted protection, but because our group included an Army one-star, it was often active duty Army.
On one occasion a convoy got hit in weather which meant no air support. The senior soldier was a female Sergeant who took charge, deployed her troops, counter-attacked and drove them off.
The one that sticks in my mind is riding in the back seat of a Humvee accompanying the one-star, with a female infantry in the front seat by the driver, she had an M-4. I'm talking with her about her home life, husband, kids, she's softened a bit and talking about home when suddenly a sedan of all males swung up close on her side. Without missing a beat she hung halfway out the window, stuck that M-4 up the driver's nose and in language a Marine would have understood told him where the bear did it in the woods. He swung off and stopped, she sat back down in her seat and picked right back up talking about home, hubby and kids.
Point being, if you're well-trained, your training kicks in when you need it, no matter the gender.
But it goes back further than that. I wish I could remember which Marine Corps Commandant was involved, but at some point the Commandant was "reminded" by the Secretary of Defense that women were not to be assigned to the battlefield. Seems to me it was either Gen. Louis H. Wilson, Jr., or Gen. Paul X. Kelley. But their response was to "remind" the Secretary of Defense that at no time had any women Marines been assigned duty beyond the Final Protective Line, but that it was CMC's prerogative to decide exactly where that FPL was located. I don't see this latest SecDef decision usurping anymore of the Marine Commandant's authority now than it did then.
As much as the current crop of social experimenters are concerned, they would like to see a kinder, gentler military; Marine Corps in particular. But I submit that the rear rank Private's opinion remains golden. That is that when the discussion is about anything beyond the Marine's mission, Marines really don't give a sh*t.