Here’s a recent headline that caught my attention: “U.S. Elite Commando Units Lack Diversity.” Question: Can someone please tell me what race, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference have to do with the training of Army Rangers and/or Navy SEALs?
I always thought elite military units like the Rangers and the SEALs were comprised of people who could meet rigorous physical and psychological requirements, and nothing else. So I’m troubled by the idea dubious diversity tests would now be applied to applicants for those elite units. Pardon me but the U.S. military isn’t some sort of social engineering laboratory; it’s a war fighting machine designed to defeat the enemy and win wars.
Army Col. Michael Copenhaver, who studied diversity in the military, told USA Today our troops encounter “different cultural backgrounds” in other countries and “having a diverse force can only increase our operational capability.” That’s a politically correct statement for sure but I hope the colonel isn’t telling us that diversity is more important than operational capability and readiness, because it isn’t. In my opinion it’s a sideshow in a PC world.
The first two female recruits graduated from Army Ranger School on Friday. Good for them! I assume they passed all the demanding tests their male colleagues passed — exactly the same tests with no exceptions. That’s what equality means; the same requirements apply to everyone equally.
According to USA Today, Ranger students “are required to survive on little food and sleep despite demanding physical activity, including carrying more than 100 pounds of gear through mountains and swamps,” quite a demanding course for young people of any color, ethnicity, gender or sexual persuasion. I admire those who are able to pass such rigorous tests of stamina and physical fitness.
The original newspaper article reported only eight of 753 Navy SEAL officers are black. Well, here we go again. What does skin color have to do with SEAL training? Either you meet the requirements or you don’t. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said many years ago, people should be judged on the content of their character (and other objective criteria), and not by the color of their skin. Period.
Let’s turn to gay and lesbian athletes in professional sports for a moment. If they can shoot jumpers and make tackles in the open field, they make the team. And if they can’t, they don’t. We remember the high-profile cases of gay basketball player Jason Collins, who averaged one point and one rebound per game before being cut by the Brooklyn Nets, and football player Michael Sam, who flunked out of the NFL because he couldn’t compete at such a high level; currently, he’s attempting to make the grade in the Canadian Football League. I wish him well.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also believes “diversity makes for a more effective fighting force.” We’ll find out as more women and minorities attempt to join elite military units. I endorse vigorous minority recruiting efforts, but oppose attempts to dilute rigorous requirements for membership in elite units. In that regard an Army spokesman acknowledged “the lack of diversity in special operations forces stems largely from the choices young recruits make when they join, not overt bias.” So now we’re clear on that point. We’re dealing with personal choices, not racism.
Another related issue revolves around LGBTQ soldiers who seek sex change operations at taxpayer expense, soldiers like jailed Sgt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who delivered military secrets to our enemies. Sorry, but I don’t think we should spend $50,000 in taxes to turn him into a biological woman. We owe him nothing. Next question.
Guy W. Farmer is a U.S. Air Force veteran.