JULY 16, 2001
Run Jane, run
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com

The feminization of the military has been, and apparently remains, a virtual cancer eating away the essence of the warrior spirit and preparedness of the U.S. military.

"Readiness" is the pulse of the military. Do the individuals and units have the ability to perform their combat mission? Do they have the technical, professional and physical skills required? There are a variety of tests and evaluations designed specifically to determine if military units are ready to pack up, ship out and perform their military jobs in combat or combat support.

When I read Kate Sheehy's "Teasing Puts Military Out Of The Running" in the Washington Times my over-modulated obscenities scared both my dogs. My hunting dog ran out of my office into the kitchen then cautiously crept back with the "I'm sorry; I won't do it again" look on his face.

Reportedly the military brass, perfumed princes were intimidated into pulling the plug on a weekly mandatory fitness jog at a major U.S. command post -- after a female officer whined that her feelings were hurt. Huh? Apparently she was teased for her slow pace. Awwww. And the only defense this would-be leader of men and women, an officer in the United States military, could muster was to fire off a salvo of letters to congressional and Pentagon saviors. "Mommy, Johnnie called me a name!"

I immediately thought of Gen. Willard Latham. Latham was the post commander of Fort Benning when I attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course. He was renowned (admired and hated) for insisting on physical fitness. Latham's policy was a true equal opportunity offender. Regardless of race, creed, sex, political affiliation or rank. Everyone was required to complete a five mile run in a specified time, and complete a quarterly 25-mile road march. Everyone. From general's staff to chaplains to cooks and clerks. It was the standard and efficiency reports and promotions were contingent on meeting or exceeding the standard.

Of this recent incident, the Times reported, "The Friday-morning run through a park near the massive U.S. Southern Command in Miami typically lasted less than 30 minutes -- but it could be hell for some of the hundreds of participants required to make it, the woman charged in a letter to congressional and Pentagon officials. The officer complained that slow runners were subjected to stinging remarks from faster ones during the jog. Her complaints led to a probe by the Department of Defense, which has since widened its scrutiny to include the entire "command climate" at U.S. Southern." Since when is "readiness" a negative in the military?

In the wake of the chairborne investigation, the center's honcho, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, called off the jog. What? Tell me this is a joke, please.

Command spokeswoman Kelley Spellman said such jogs are typical for military units, since running is part of physical-fitness exams that personnel must pass twice a year. In the Marine Corps exam, for example, men must run three miles in less than 28 minutes, while women must be able to make the distance in 31 minutes. "The intent of the run was for camaraderie and esprit de corps," Spellman said.

Hey, camaraderie and esprit are the whip cream on the policy (or should be). The purpose of all the running is to maintain and ensure physical fitness.

General Latham's annoying policy (which some claim lowered the elevation of sections of Columbus, Ga.) was a direct result of lessons learned. The way the story was told to me, Latham had been a company commander in the Korean War and suffered significant casualties because of his unit's inability to retrograde (retreat) fast enough. Soldiers died because they were not physically fit. The tragedy of those losses apparently served as an epiphany for Latham who subsequently insisted on physical fitness as being axiomatic to readiness. Subsequent to Korea, Latham's battalions, brigades, divisions and posts all got the memo.

When I met Latham he was a major general and post commander of Fort Benning (home of the Infantry). He has his critics and cheerleaders, but he epitomized leadership and led by example. Latham and his staff not only ran with everyone else, no one ever knew when or where he would show up to run with his subordinate units. He would just show up, unannounced, run the five miles, and go back to work. One of his staff (a full colonel) showed up the day we did our 25-mile march.

The troops griped about the running and the long marches, but everyone understood it wasn't arbitrary, capricious or "form" BS. It was a policy grounded on substance, practicality, reality, and lessons learned.

Gen. Pace's Southern Command has about 800 military personnel stationed at the center. These are the troops that oversee all military operations in Latin America. These troops are at the top of the list for getting "the call." The fact that some closet feminist officer got her panties in a bunch because she couldn't keep up is in and of itself a depressing commentary on the negative consequences of trying to impose political correctness and social engineering on warriors. However, that a Marine Corps general would fold to the sniveling of his perfumed prince superiors is sufficient to gag a maggot.

Teddy Roosevelt once observed, "It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

There is much about this story that is troubling. Outcome-based homogenization in which protection of artificial self-esteem is lauded as superior to actual ability and excellence may make for warm and fuzzy academic bliss. However, it is a terminal cancer on the body of our diminishing warrior class.

The young female officer should write letters to prospective employers seeking job opportunities less demanding instead of bitching to Congress critters because someone who may someday have to put their life in her frail hands is concerned about her physical fitness.

Gen. Pace should spend a few more days out running with the troops to remember he is a leader of warriors and not a politician or social engineer.

Finally, although I probably did my share of griping about Willie Latham's Fort Benning policies, I thank Gen. Latham for the many lessons learned. It has been said in many venues in many ways, but there is real merit to the understanding of the need to "sweat now to avoid bleeding later." I am saddened to learn the politically correct, feminized, homogenized military of today may have forgotten. The consequences could prove fatal.