Gays in the military, Don’t Ask, Don’t tell

There are a lot of people in our society today who love to get up in arms about various military subjects, regardless of whether they know any of the boots-on-the-ground, battle-tested truth or not.  Politicians who have never spent a day in combat boots but think they know how to control military spending or combat operations, journalists who think they have the truth about women in combat, and sideliners who think they have the answer on one of the biggest hot-button topic of our time, gays in the military.

From a man who’s served as a Green Beret on all of the fronts in which we’re currently engaged, I can tell you that, to my brothers and I from my ODA, we couldn’t care less.  When it comes down to bullets on target, carrying your rucksack up that mountain, accomplishing the mission and watching my six, there are a lot of things that can mean the difference between life-or death for your entire team, but there are a few others that have no place in that equation: race, color, creed, and yes, sexual orientation.

I would consider myself very conservative on 99% of issues, but my belief that government has no part in telling Americans how to live their life applies here over my support for the RNC.  I have many straight friends who chose not to join the military, and harbor no ill-will or doubts about them, but when I hear that people want to serve this country, put their lives on the line for my flag and swear the oath to defend the constitution and are denied because of who they love it really bothers me.

There is a quote that I feel applies greatly here, from the great William Shakespeare and quoted again in a rather famous movie: “We few, we lucky few, we band of brothers; for he who sheds his blood with me today, he shall then be my brother.”  If you are enough of an American Patriot to sign up and put your life on the line to defend her, I don’t see how anything else matters, and I will consider you my brother.

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Women in Combat

Before the ladies start sharpening their knives and sending hate-mail, let me preface this; my wife is a better shot than me with a pistol (but I’ve got her with a rifle hands-down).  After two kids, it’s an easy bet that she’s tougher than me.  I can say without hesitation that she’s smarter than me.  But, I can also say that I would go back to war 1,000 times so that she never had to see it for a second.

The word has just come out about allowing women into combat, and it seems as if the wrong questions and people are being asked their opinions in the media, and a lot of people have been asking mine, so here it goes if you want it.

Firstly, I don’t deny the fact that there are women out there who want to be on the front lines, or that there are many women who could do a great job there (see above).  My main problems with this idea are the operational environments in which we are currently operating, and the effect this will have on general morale (keep reading….for different reasons than one would think).

From an operational environment standpoint, you have to realize where we are currently engaged in combat, and ostensibly will be in the near future.  I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iraq and North Africa, and these battles and environments are much different than those you see in the typical wars from years past.

Namely, that all of these countries are Muslim-dominated and put women below cattle on their “respect” list.  I’m not saying that all Muslims do or think like this, as you may very well have an American Muslim neighbor who is just as horrified by this as you, but from a guy who’s been on the ground in all of the places that we are engaged in combat, please trust me that this is the norm there.

In our current operational environment, our “hearts and minds” campaigns are fought on the streets and in the villages, where Infantry squad leaders and Special Forces ODA’s are routinely in Shura’s (meetings) with village elders, and much of our valuable on-the-ground intel comes from walking through villages and talking to locals.

If the “hearts and minds” COIN strategy is still our mission, how well do you think it’s going to go when we force a Muslim village elder in the mountains of Afghanistan to do business and negotiate with someone he sees as inferior and not worthy of talking to a man?  How about when she says something he doesn’t like, and does what he’s done his entire life and reaches out to give her the back of his hand?

You see, Americans love to look at the world in terms of America, and many of those who have never traveled outside of this country and “smelled the dirt” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa, have no idea what the mentality is like there, yet love to make assumptions of what’s the best way to operate.  Most of our current politicians can fall into this category, because landing at Bagram for an hour photo-op doesn’t count as “combat credit.”

It doesn’t matter how “progressive,” “PC” or “forward-thinking” we are; our enemy is not, and even our friends and allies over there are not.  When you are a guest in a house, you follow the rules of that house, and if we are not there as occupiers then we are breaking the rules of the house.  The locals became very upset when they were forced to speak with clean-faced American soldiers, and considered it an insult (we had a rather large loss of rapport ourselves in Afghanistan when our command forced us to shave our beards), and I can only imagine their reaction to this.

My second point has not to do with the toughness of women, but the hard-wiring of men.  Unless we are going to make a 100% switch overnight to all-women in combat, I can tell you that this will end badly on the battlefield.

As a Combat Medic, one of your highest priorities when soldiers are wounded in combat is triage.  It’s rare that only one person is hit, but not so rare that there is only one medic.  If you’re in a situation with 5 casualties, just one medic and at least a half-hour until the MEDEVAC arrives, your priority is triage; save those you can, pray for those you can’t.

Israel has seen this before, yet we’re choosing not to learn from their lessons.  They found that time and time again, in the situation I mentioned above, if there were both women and men injured in combat, the men (medics and Infantry alike) would spend all of their time focusing on the women, even when they were long gone.  Time and time again the “savable” men would die because the others would try to save the woman even after she was far gone.

Again, it doesn’t matter how much you brow-beat the PC and progressive ideas into us, we are hard-wired as men to protect women….if you’re any sort of decent man, that is.  We will focus all of our efforts on saving and protecting women, even to the dire consequences of losing others, sacrificing security, or neglecting other men that are injured with the “suck it up bro” mentality.

In closing, I just want to re-iterate that I’m far from anti-female, not saying that they can’t hack it, or are inferior in any way.  I’m just saying from my experience, and the experience of other combat-tested troops, that this will not end well.

We have too many politicians focusing on polling data and progressive ideals, forgetting to ask the people who will be affected and who have played these games before.  Open your eyes and ears, ask questions of soldiers on the battlefield, not those in the Pentagon focusing more on political gain that what’s going on downrange.

 

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Robert Patrick Lewis on The Jiggy Jaguar Show 12/4/12

Tune in to The Jiggy Jaguar Show today at 3:15 PT/ 4:15 CT to hear author Robert Patrick Lewis talk with JJ about “When your brother becomes your enemy- A soldier’s Comment On The Fort Hood Killer.”

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Veterans Day

The time of year is upon us again when the patriotic emails begin to circulate, people hit the grocery stores to get ready for the traditional BBQ, and we as Americans try to do whatever we can to show support for our brothers-in-arms, those who have served, are serving, or who aren’t with us anymore. 

The media and popular opinion do a great job of forming their own opinions, but those of us who have served over there, spent a significant amount of time with the people of the lands  we are in (officially, unofficially, and completely covert) have a very different opinion.  It’s very easy for the media to portray the trigger-happy, massacre-inducing and menacing vigilante-soldier, but most people in our great country don’t understand the reality…..soldiers are people too.

I don’t know the soldier in the above picture, I only know that he’s a Special Operations soldier (I think Special Forces, but not 100% sure) in Afghanistan, and portraying one of the aspects of a deployed combat soldiers daily life which the media doesn’t see as fit to report to the American people.  As a medic, I’ve participated in and seen situations just as the one pictured above more times than I can count, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Africa. 

Not long after Kanye West was screaming “George Bush hates black people,” I, several doctors and other medics were in Africa on orders from George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld treating and feeding thousands of Africans who had never seen a medical professional before in their lives.  That’s a very strange way to show hatred, isn’t it?

I didn’t want to get on too much of a soapbox here, but do want to help people to realize that soldiers are people too, and for all of the combat, death and destruction you hear about in the news, there are an uncountable number of instances like the one above being played out every day in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Soldiers are people too, and more so than the general public, we know the horrors that war brings. 

People think that we as soldiers are all warmongers, but look at it this way: every night, after I tuck my son and daughter in to sleep, I say a prayer for my brothers in harms way, my brothers who never made it home, my brothers-in-arms still in harms way, and all of their families.  I, more than anyone else wish that I didn’t have to lose a part of my soul every night fearing for their safety, but as a realist I understand that it is necessary.  As long as this country is great, we will have enemies, and as long as we have enemies, there will be amazing patriots willing to lay down their lives to fight them and defend her.

So enjoy the BBQ on Sunday (actual Veterans Day, the 11th day of the 11th month every year) or Monday (the Federal Holiday this year)….I’m not one of the people who wants anyone to feel guilty about enjoying themselves that day.  But as you play a round of golf or bite into a tasty mouthful of ribs, remember and say a prayer for those great patriots and their families.  Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be Veteran’s Day for you to personally thank one.  Every minute of every day that you live in Freedom is thanks to a Veteran, so thank them accordingly.

Now that I’m a civilian again, I’d like to say thank you from my family to any active-duty military or veterans who may be reading this: thank you for all that you do, thank you for keeping my family safe, thank you for putting our safety before your own.  I truly believe that certain souls are put into certain bodies for a reason, and that the warrior’s soul is that of a warrior for time eternal.  I’ll proudly stand with you, my brothers on another battlefield in another life, and will happily share a drink with you when it’s out turn in Valhalla.  De Oppresso Liber.

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