UPDATE: One point I haven't made is that the policy prohibiting gays is not due overriding special consideration because it is the status quo. We are not judges looking at Stare Decisis, we are citizens determining the composition of our military. The prohibition was based on an idea that openly serving gays would undermine readiness, but I am unaware of scientific evidence supporting this assumption. If it exists, and is credible and current, then I would change my position. If it doesn't then we should look at this decision from the perspective of what best serves America, and we have pretty strong ideals against discrimination. If there is no proven need to ban homosexuals then shouldn't the default position be inclusion, and the burden of proof on those who wish to exclude?
Personal beliefs, religious beliefs, anecdotal evidence and anything beyond credible proof of harm to readiness have no bearing on a decision about an institution that serves and ought to be composed of all Americans fit and desiring to serve.
The main point of contention is the simplest, yet most difficult to resolve. Does the mere presence of openly gay troops undermine morale, camaraderie, and esprit de corps?
My view is that since there are currently a number of gay troops and little difficulty due to their presence, there is no need for the ban. We have effectively progressed beyond the point where most members of the military even care about sexual orientation in any way that would preclude them working side by side with gay people.
The opposing view is one I probably would have argued 10 years ago, and the first thing I would point out is that it is absolutely not a hater-based or homophobic argument. It is a pragmatic view that sexual tension of any sort undermines the bond needed to form a cohesive combat unit. The homophobic charge resonates to me with as much import as the chickenhawk one, reasonable people can differ without a need to belittle them. The most effective and diligent opponent of removing the ban was Chris Roach, who writes the Man-sized target blog at AFF's online mag Brainwash. He puts out the main reasons detailing the difficulties this could cause and defends them well in the ensuing discussions, which I have excerpted after the break.
I would like to note that I received a number of emails similar to this from Rachel, a college student working on a military R&D project:
"I'm reading the comments on the post at blackfive about gays in the military, and have to say I'm stunned at how civilized the discussion has been. While I was thinking this, I also thought that this is one of the things that makes me happy I live in the US. I feel that I am seeing a rational discussion of both sides of an issue that hasn't degraded to name calling and spiteful comments. Oh there may be a hint of snark here and there, but it is within some invisible, magical boundary that is keeping the conversation from turning into a cat fight."
Amen to that sister. When I wrote it I hoped we could air the issues and see how they play today, using the smart folks who read and write in the blogosphere to tighten up my own opinions. Having heard and digested the thoughts of many I still believe it should be changed, but have a better feel for the specifics necessary to make it happen.
If Matt isn't going to blow his own horn, I will. Blackfive has crested 4 million site visits and that is incredible. Congrats to Matt and as a reader for several years, thanks for all the good news we never would have heard without your voice.
Hater alert, this is Uncle Jimbo sending, not Matty O' Blackfive.
In discussing the mindset of the Rational Hawk and where it comes from, I mentioned my belief that the ban on gays serving openly in the military is wrong. I made the statement:
"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."
That sentiment fits not only gay troops, but any other group that experienced discrimination. The military has been the leader in leveling the playing field for women and minorities for a long time, and it is well past due that we terminate the farce of "Don't ask, don't tell". I have received a fair amount of feedback from military, former military and related folks and I have heard almost no one saying the policy is correct or even needed. That is far from conclusive, but it is certainly indicative.
Whatever need their once may have been for this prohibition, it has long since passed. I think that when the many gay troops who served honorably and often heroically in Iraq return home they should be able to live honestly. Let's tack an obvious good act onto an already happy return and push the administration and Congress to set this right. I have added the names and info on all members of the House Armed Services Committee at the end and if you don't have a Rep on it, I suggest Duncan Hunter, CA who is a powerful friend of the military and who could probably make this happen.
Sgt. Dominic J. Sacco, killed Sunday in Iraq, is recalled as
someone who put others first
By RICK KARLIN, Staff writer First published:
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
ALBANY -- Sgt. Dominic J. Sacco's luck was running out.
Two weeks before he was killed in Iraq, his Abrams tank hit
a roadside bomb and he suffered a concussion, said his sister, Lisa Livingston
He got a Purple Heart, but was ordered back on patrol the
next day, despite cuts and headaches from the blast, she said.
On Sunday, it wasn't a bomb, but a bullet, that killed
Although the hatch on Sacco's tank was shielded by armor
plates on the front and back, Sacco caught a round from the side, possibly from
a sniper, Livingston said.
"They said he died instantly," she said.
Sacco stuck his head out of the tank to make sure it was on course
during a patrol in Taji, Iraq, a town north of Baghdad that previously was home
to a missile plant.
Sacco was the kind of sergeant who put his troops first and
tried his best to make sure they were safe, his sister said.
"He always said he looked out for his men,"
Livingston said, recalling talks with her brother about Army life and the
perils of serving in Iraq. "He was very proud of that."
It was that sense of pride, along with his easygoing nature,
that Sacco will be remembered for, said Livingston and Bryan Swim, who had
known Sacco since they were in first grade together at the old School 23 on
(click on thumbnail for larger version) Ubaydi-A suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist was captured in an Ubaydi
hospital dressed in women's clothing. The terrorist was discovered by a
Desert Protector, specially trained scout unit of soldiers recruited
from the Al Qa'im region. Desert Protectors are part of the 1,000 Iraqi
Army soldiers taking part in Operation Steel Curtain in the Al Qa'im
Photograph was taken on 11-21-2005.
[Nice dress! I heard that ladies in New York were paying top dollar for that.]
The Christian Science Monitor talks to a few Marines from Ohio that some friends in combat. It's a must read.
...Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not
solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the
hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent
stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the
hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But
most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens
and Oreo cookies...
Time and time, again, this is what I hear from our troops that have come home...
I spend considerable time writing about Iraq, the War on Militant Islam, and US Security & Foreign Policy. I have always understood intuitively what my reasons were and why they made sense, but I had no ideology to hang my hat on. Even though I held many positions consistent with the neo-con view, I am not Jewish so the media would only allow me to be a fellow traveler or associate cabalist, and I require a primary role in any scheme for global domination. So I was a man without a cloak for myself and the like-minded, and I thought about who I had the largest number of important beliefs in common with.
It became apparent that there is one group which cuts across all the segments of society minus the very rich and the very liberal, that is current and former military and their families and friends. That is not to say that there is ideological lockstep among these people, no happily there is plenty of disagreement but it is never taken to the extreme of harming the mission. There is an implicit and explicit understanding that together we were engaged in something more important than ourselves and that every situation has a time where it is proper to shut your mouth, salute and move out sharply. Beyond that it requires the embrace of the idea that you may give your life, not just to save a buddy in combat, but for the much more ethereal ideas of Duty, Honor & Country. This environment requires tolerance and I have no doubt society at large would take a large step to be as inclusive as the military family.
Rational Hawk Culture
Colleges nationwide cheat to artificially create a diversity that the military has long been a shining example of (the current policy against gays serving openly excepted, so lets change that). Working, living and dying in the close proximity of all races, religions and flavors of people renders the need to classify them using these descriptors irrelevant. In the military the only classification that matters is competence. If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there.
Major Tammy Duckworth - Someone You Should Know - Follow Up
Posted By Blackfive
"I'm not letting some guy who got lucky one day in
Baghdad decide my future." - Major Tammy Duckworth, KATU 2 (Portland, OR)
One of the most popular requests for follow-ups or an email address has been Major Tammy Duckworth. Major Duckworth is an Illinois Army National Guard helicopter pilot who lost both of her legs to an RPG in Baghdad. Her recovery and attitude is nothing less than miraculous and courageous.
Recently, there's been a lot of buzz about her running for Congress as a Democrat in Henry Hyde's (R) district here in the suburbs Chicago. Congressman Hyde is retiring.
I have received more than a few emails expressing concern about Major Duckworth being a Democrat. Personally, I don't know her political leanings, but the Democrats need people like Duckworth perhaps more than the Republicans do. And I'm sure Major Duckworth would be a fine Congresswoman. She's a leader and has always been a very caring citizen in uniform and out - she'll be a leader in Congress, if that's what she wants to do.
Story by Stacy St. Clair Photos by Brian Hill Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005
— On the morning of Nov. 12, Army Maj. Ladda “Tammy” Duckworth lies
half-awake in her bed. An IV pumps antibiotics into her right arm.
the treatment is finished, a ringing telephone ends any chance of
falling back to sleep. Fellow Black Hawk pilot Dan Milberg is on the
line, his first words a reminder of the life-altering moment they
shared 12 months earlier.
“It’s almost 4:30 in Iraq,” Milberg says, skipping the normal pleasantries. “In five minutes you’re going to be shot down.”
Duckworth, a 37-year-old member of the Illinois
National Guard, looks at the clock and realizes it’s true. At this
moment exactly one year ago, a rocket-propelled grenade ripped through
their helicopter and forever changed their lives.
insurgent attack took both of the Hoffman Estates woman’s legs and
shattered her right arm. She lost nearly half her blood, but
miraculously survived. Milberg was among those who saved her and who
sustain her still. There are many others, and on this, the anniversary
of her trauma, she thinks of them...
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.