Race and Sex in the Military

The Washington Times (10/2/98) carried a story, by Rowan Scarborough, about a Marine Corps internal memorandum dictating that by 2003 its officer corps shall be 12 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic and 5 percent other ethnic origins. In the wake of the memo's controversy, Marine Commandant, General Charles C. Krulak did the Clintonist double talk saying that "12-12-5" stemmed from guidelines he approved earlier but, "The fact of the matter is I confessed to signing something I was not really attuned to." General Krulak feigns offense at the idea marines would have standards lowering racial quotas. But that's the same military rope-a-dope about not lowering standards to accommodate women. Let's look at it.

The "USMA report on the Integration and Performance of Women at West Point", cited by Mackubin Thomas Owens, in Proceedings (July 1998) reveals sex-norming schemes whereby women receive A grades for the same performance that earns a man a D. Navy women pass physical readiness tests by performing 11% fewer sit-ups, 53% fewer push-ups, and running 1.5 miles 27% slower than men. The Marine Corps discovered that only 45% of female Marines could toss a hand grenade beyond its burst radius; one Army study reported only 12% could. Navy studies show that only 12% of women can accomplish the two-person stretcher carry, a requirement critical to ship security. Women may be able to drive a five-ton truck, but need a man's help if they must change a tire. Women can fire field artillery pieces but often can't handle the ammunition.

Senator Olympia Snowe (R.ME) says, "Every time a woman is excluded from a position [in the military], she is devalued." That's the kind of stupid thinking that ignores important physical and psychological sex differences and has compromised our military readiness. A partial listing of those differences include: the average female soldier is five inches shorter than her male counter-part, has half the upper body strength, has significantly lower aerobic capacity (at her physical peak, ages 20 to 30, the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male), and 37% less muscle mass. Women have a much lighter skeleton that means, among other things, she can't pull G forces as well as men and is at greater risk of skeletal injuries.

Women soldiers are four times more likely to report ill. The percentage of women being medically non-available at any time is twice that of male soldiers. Then there's pregnancy. Each year, between 10 and 17 percent of servicewomen become pregnant. In certain posts the rate is higher. In 1988, James Webb, Secretary of the Navy, said 51% of single Air Force and 48% of single Navy women stationed in Iceland were pregnant. During troop deployment in Bosnia, between December 1995 and July 1996, a woman had to be evacuated due to pregnancy every three days. These and other factors mean that women suffer a higher rate of attrition than men and because of the turnover they are not as profitable training investments.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of military social engineering is official coverup of failure. Officers who criticize double standards or expose official lies and deception, risk their careers. If General Krulak's quota plan goes forward, you can bet there will be just as much lying and deception about race.

Blacks are 11% of Army officers, and 6% of the officers in the other branches. Hispanics are roughly 4% of the officers in each branch. Black and Hispanic officers should be at the forefront of the protest against Krulak's quota program, or have their achievements seen as handouts. More importantly Krulak should be fired.

Walter E. Williams


October 1, 1998

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