Re: The Integrated Military

From: Tom Cowper (
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 08:05:59 MST

On 17 Jan 2002, at 11:31, Brian D Williams wrote:

> I agree with the difficulties of front line units, and I know that
> despite the fact that in theory you should be able to stand a
> Marine at attention in the middle of a cheerleaders shower room
> without his eyes moving from "front and center", realistically
> things are going to happen.

Probably a safe bet.

> I think if this is instilled from the start then things can change.
> Most guys don't have sex with their sisters, and with proper
> training I'd think most wouldn't indulge in sex with their
> squadmates.

Ya, I think that if done from birth, if you could make it a fundamental
cultural change, sure. What's the chances of that happening in the near-
term in the face of the apparent resurgence of fundmental religious
beliefs? But it's not even just a matter of engaging in sex. The
psychological turmoil is there with or without the act. And you'll never
stop it altogether, so some will be gettin it and some won't, which
creates even more problems at the unit level.
> Come to think of it isn't "proper" sex just a matter of the correct
> time and place. Isn't the difference just a matter of
> professionalism?

In an ideal world, yes. Practically speaking "sex", with or without
actual physical contact, would be highly disruptive to a frontline combat
unit. That may change over time. But frankly, by the time most people
change the way they view and control their male/female sexual
relationships, we'll be far more technologically advanced. Warfare itself
will have changed, making the close association of men and women on the
battlefield less an issue. There are strong trends today towards making
the individual soldier much more autonomous, much more mobile, and much
more capable. Wireless technologies, augmented reality, smart munitions,
even things like exoskeletons, Solo-Trek and Segway technologies will
dramatically change infantry combat. Hell, that's certainly one of the
things Heinlein foresaw so long ago with the Mobile Infantry. Individual
soldiers miles and miles apart capable of great levels of destruction.
We're not far from that.
> This is brainstorming by the way.

> I spent mid '76 to mid 78 with VMA(AW)533 at Cherry Point N.C and
> mid '78 to mid 79 with VMA(AW)224 in Iwakuni Japan. (MOS 6637)

Swing with the wing. :)

> Yeah the original still had the sexes rigorously separated aboard
> ship, maybe Heinlein was smarter than us, but I thought the movie
> version with it's integrated units was very thought provoking. (And
> a great shower scene ;) )

Everytime I shower at the gym I dream of that future reality.

> Okay, lets play with the concept.
> We segregate men and women in the military now to avoid the
> consequences of potentially complicating sexual encounters.
> Now if we are to be fair and permit gays and lesbians to serve,
> where are you going to put them?

> It isn't fair to put the Gays with the "straights", or the Lesbians
> with the "Straights" and you can't put Gays with Gays, and Lesbians
> with Lesbians for the same reasons!
> Ball in your court...

Hey, I never said I had all the answers. I don't know. I'm glad I
don't have to deal with that particular issue in a frontline combat unit.
The leadership challenges required to keep a lid on things and
accomplish the mission would be monumental. There needs to
be some major cultural shifts before it would be accomplished without
major degradation of combat effectiveness. But again, I think that in the
next ten to twenty years the face of individual combat will have changed
so dramatically as to make it a moot point. The main issue is what
happens in the near term, and I don't know how you're going to overcome
the cultural biases and prejudices that make it a highly divisive issue.
And divisive issues make for poor unit cohesion and esprit.
> I agree that readiness is first and foremost and must be maintained
> at any cost.
> What do you think of the idea of creating some integrated units as
> an experiment? You'd get plenty of volunteers I bet!

Well, sure. The Navy is integrated. The Air Force is or almost is, and
the Army is a lot more integrated than the Marines. Desert Storm was an
interesting experiment. And the reports weren't all that good, though I
haven't seen any scientific evaluations of the problems. Lots of
pregnancies resulted in a lot of women being taken out of operational
positions because they couldn't perform. That in itself created problems
among the men who had to stay and take up the slack. But if they're as
good looking as those Canadian soldiersJames was talking about,
definitely. :)

Tom Cowper
Who thinks that Starship Troopers <the movie> was about the worst
adaptation of a fantastic book as I've ever seen.

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