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Jewish World Review
August 22, 2006
/ 28 Menachem-Av, 5766
Birds and bees teach an old lesson
The Army and the Navy have discovered in a decade what it took the rest of us thousands of years that if birds, bees and educated fleas do it, so will boys and girls.
A six-month investigation by the Associated Press finds that the military attempt to repeal nature has failed again. More than 80 military recruiters have been disciplined for sexual misconduct with the young women they were trying to recruit.
The scandal runs across all branches of the services in all regions of the country, putting at risk the recruiting efforts that cost the Pentagon $1.5 billion only this year. So far the Army has disciplined 35 recruiters, the Navy and Marine Corps 18 and the Air Force 12. The scandal grows. The Pentagon had to deal with 400 incidents in 2004 and 630 last year. Not all complaints were found to be justified, but nobody knows how many women were harassed, or worse, and did not report it. The reported misconduct ranges from harassment to seduction to rape. The cost to recruiters and their families has been high, too. Several men have been cashiered from the service, losing their pensions and through divorce, their wives and families.
The girls, many in their early teens and still in high school in poor and inner-city neighborhoods, are easy marks for smooth-talking recruiters in sharply pressed khaki and polished brass who, to the girls anyway, sound like they've been in some big towns and practiced some big talk. How can a girl understand that when the big talking is done they'll only be left to sing the blues in the night? "We had been drinking," says one girl. "We went to the recruiting station about midnight." One of the recruiters climbed into her sleeping bag on the floor of the recruiting station and took off her clothes. "When I woke up, I was sick and ashamed." Her clothes lay in disarray around her.
"There's a power dynamic here that's obviously very sensitive," says Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group that studies military policy and opposes, through its considerable research, the assignment of women to combat and to situations where they could be subject to combat. "Let's face it, these guys are handsome in their uniforms, they're mature, they do a lot of the same things that guys do when they want to appeal to girls. There's a very fine line there, and it can be very hard to maintain a professional approach."
Several of the recruiters and their lawyers describe how the girls, often flirtatious and adventuresome, shower their wiles on the recruiting officer. One recruiter, who served 15 months in a prison in upstate New York for engaging in sexual relations with a 16-year-old high school student he met while working as a Marine Corps recruiter, says she flashed her lingerie, and more, at him as a prank. A few days later, as they were driving to a recruiting event, she caressed him suggestively. "I pulled over and asked her to climb into the back seat," he said. "I should have pushed her away. I was the adult in the situation."
The Pentagon can look to the National Guard for one solution. After seven women accused an Indiana National Guard recruiter last year of rape and assault, the Indiana authorities set out a "no one alone" policy. Even allowing themselves to be alone in an office, a car or anywhere else with a prospective recruit invites disciplinary action to recruiters.
But if these sad, lurid stories are a scandal for the Army and the other services, the implications are more sinister for the rest of us. The powers that be, including the secretary of defense, the joint chiefs, the service chiefs and ultimately the president, understand the implications. A recruiting scandal now, it will be an operations scandal one day in the future when the presence of women in or close to combat will invite catastrophe. The powers that be, fierce and brave and courageous as they may have demonstrated themselves to be before the fire and thunder of the enemy's guns, nevertheless quail at the thought of taking on feminist fire and thunder in Congress and in the media. Better for someone else to deal with catastrophe later. Powerful men, who know better and are unable to stand up to the stamp of little feminist feet now, can expect to be safely in retirement, embroidering their war stories at the country club bar.
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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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