Written very quickly. YMMV.
I was not best pleased, picking up a copy of The Scotsman on Saturday, to read another piece of proof that political correctness has infiltrated our military. There’s a war on in the Middle East, a tidal wave of refugees coming our way and tremendous rumblings in the Ukraine, but apparently the biggest threat facing our military is sex pests and bullies. Yes, folks; the serious shortage of front-line combat troops, poor care for Britain’s wounded and appallingly bad supply and procurement services are apparently less important than pandering to political correctness.
I admit that I have never served, so you may take what I say with a grain of salt, but certain points seem obvious to me. (That said, I ran it past someone who had and he agreed with me.)
First, the military exists to deliver controlled directed violence onto the enemies of Britain. That is its core function. Everything else, from nation-building to humanitarian relief work, comes second. The type of men who make up our fighting force are not the type of men who can easily switch to being sensitive types – and if they did, they would give up a great deal of their edge. Asking them to be politically correct is absurd.
Furthermore, when you put a group of young men together, they have a habit of jostling one another as a way of testing the group. (Male conversation is studded with insults; a healthy male group is one where everyone is insulted and insults.) Men who stand up for themselves earn respect; men who run whining to superior authority earn nothing but contempt. What use is the latter going to be in a combat zone? This goes double for women in a male-dominated environment. If a woman gets called a whore by a man and responds by punching the man in the face, she will earn respect; if she goes and complains to a superior officer, she will earn contempt. If the men start telling rape jokes and she responds with jokes about castration, she will earn respect; if she starts moaning about a hostile working environment, she will be hated by the rest of her unit.
Second, the type of young officers we need to lead men into battle are generally tough, smart and realistic. They are not the sort of people to be impressed with political correctness. Nor will they think much of treating one group of recruits as different from the others, knowing that all that matters in wartime is unit cohesion. Indeed, they are the sort of people who are most likely to call bullshit on the whole business. They know that introducing diversity into the armed forces is asking for long-term disaster.
If you judge our combat leaders by any standard other than how they perform on the battlefield, you will significantly weaken the military. The officers we need will leave in disgust, or be left in the lower ranks because they refuse to pander to the politically correct, while the ones who do get promoted will be utterly unable to handle themselves when the bullets start flying.
Third, soldiers have to cope under incredibly stressful situations. A standard battlefield is bad enough, but policing an enemy town (when it is hard to tell the difference between an innocent civilian and an enemy combatant) is a great deal worse. Our soldiers will be exposed to all manner of abuse from the locals (who either hate us or have no choice but to pretend they hate us) and that abuse will include racial and sexual taunts that will be far worse than anything you will hear on the streets of Britain. (Not to mention that there has been at least one case of an Arab man, in Basra, slapping a British servicewoman.)
A soldier who is unable to cope under such circumstances is a dangerous liability. You cannot wrap our fighting men (and women) in cotton wool, then expect them to be effective when confronted with a riot that could turn nasty at any second. It’s quite bad enough when academics bow to the demands of idiotic teenagers who are children in all but age. The military doing the same is a dangerous threat to Britain’s security.
The army cannot afford to be tolerant of weakness. It cannot risk introducing tribalism into the ranks. Military training exists to shape young people into soldiers and, hopefully, remove those who are unable to hack it before they’re pushed into combat. It cares nothing for race, religion or gender, only for performance under fire.
And if we lose sight of that, we lose sight of what an army is for.