Eros mocks Mars

Repeatedly, thoroughly, and regardless of sex:
When Sarah West was appointed the first female commander of a major Royal Navy Warship, she talked about the toll life on the sea had taken on her personal relationships.

“There are drawbacks,” she said as she took charge of HMS Portland in 2012. “Years at sea probably explains why I’m still single. But every person in the military makes sacrifices.”

The difficulties of maintaining a relationship in the Navy may be one of the drawbacks of service, but having a relationship with a colleague can be even more problematic – as Cdr West discovered earlier this month, when she was sent home following an alleged affair with her third-in-command.

The case has been the subject of much media attention, with some claiming that Cdr West – who was previously married to a Navy pilot – has “let down other women in the Royal Navy”. Others have suggested that had a man been in a similar position, we might never have heard about the alleged affair - or at least it would not have made the front pages.

Because while her gender and high profile may have made this case exceptional, Cdr West is far from the first person in the military whose love life has impacted on their career. In 2011, for example, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Ainsley was sent home from another ship after allegedly having an affair with a female sailor. In 2009, it was revealed that General Sir Richard Dannatt, then head of the British army, had tried to block the promotion of Major-General Chris Hughes because of an extra-marital affair which Sir Richard believed would have reduced his moral authority over other soldiers. 
And the cases that are reported are only the tip of the iceberg. Rank-and-file soldiers have stories of relationships between military personnel which are never brought to the attention of the authorities, while military lawyers are often called upon to provide advice when investigations are launched.

One such lawyer is Christopher Hill, who has been working in the field for more than 20 years. In that time, he says he has represented around 40 soldiers who have been accused of having affairs with colleagues, and subsequently find themselves facing career-threatening disciplinary action. 
“The fact that someone’s having a relationship with another soldier – whether it’s an extra-marital affair or otherwise – doesn’t make them fall foul of the code of conduct,” he explains. “It’s only when it might affect the work of the military. [Didact: Which is EVERY SINGLE TIME, you lawyer scumbag.]
“There was a time when people did get thrown out just for having affairs, but the army can’t get away with that sort of thing now because of the Human Rights Act. You are entitled to have a family and private life, and they’re not allowed to get involved without good reason. [Didact: Wrong. You are not entitled to a damn thing. You are allowed to maintain a private and a professional life, as long as you can maintain good judgement in both.]
But sometimes – as in the case of Cdr West and many others – there is good reason. “If you’re somebody’s girlfriend, are you really going to send her on patrol in Afghanistan in an area where there’s a risk of IEDs? Of course you’re not. It’s going to affect how you write her annual report; it’s going to affect the way you command her and that will influence the way other people respond to your commands.” 
Could there possibly be any clearer evidence that letting women serve in the front lines of a Western military is beyond idiotic? We have seen this in the American military, time and again, with mixed-gender units. There are very good reasons why "fraternisation" between officers and enlisted personnel- regardless of sex- is expressly prohibited in almost any uniformed code of conduct.

To permit women to serve in the front lines, in the company of mixed-gender units, is to threaten to destroy the very fabric of military discipline. A strong military functions on esprit de corps- that sense of brotherhood and belonging that is almost exclusively the province of men at war. It is extremely difficult and time-consuming to build up that deep, spiritual bond between men of a military unit- and it takes very little indeed to destroy it.

A military unit functions because everyone in it believes fundamentally, and completely, in one very simple concept: that the skin of the man standing next to him matters as much as his own, because he is a brother and a comrade. It is an almost ephemeral concept- something that only men can really understand and experience- but it binds more strongly than steel. Military units function and excel because of mutual respect, loyalty, absolute discipline, and the Platonic love and brotherhood that their members share.

Yet even steel can break if subjected to sufficient stress. When applied in the form of conjugal relationships between members of the same unit, that stress is so great that discipline and loyalty break down; jealousy and distrust run rife; and even the most highly trained and ordered unit in the world becomes a lawless, leaderless mob.

Sordid affairs within the ranks of officers of a unit- or, worse, between officers and enlisted- can destroy, and have destroyed, the cohesion and strength of too many military units to count. It is high time that we recognise this equalitarian lunacy for what it is, and return military service to its traditional roots.

That means: no more women in combat service. No more female officers, now or ever again. No lowering of standards to accommodate the fact that women cannot keep up physically with men. If women wish to serve, fine- let them do so far away from the front lines, thereby freeing up able-bodied men to fight and sparing us the spectacle of watching female soldiers petition the government for better combat bras. (I wish I were joking.)

And absolutely, positively, no more homosexuals in the service- or at least, if we must allow gays to serve, then let them serve in their own completely segregated units, modelled on the Theban Sacred Band of antiquity.

Human sexuality is one of the most powerful shaping forces of our species. It is capable of making, and breaking, bonds of loyalty and love that would otherwise easily withstand any other test. For that reason alone, any attempt to override human nature, and thereby human sexuality, through fuzzy equalitarian nonsense will inevitably fail.

For the sake of those who fight and die so that the rest of us do not have to, it is far past time to end this ridiculous farce once and for all. Return the military to its all-male roots, or suffer the consequences the next time a real fighting war breaks out, and we see shattered and demoralised units entering the field with no sense of purpose or cohesion, just because the company commander is porking his staff sergeant, or the platoon leader is getting nailed by her regimental commander.

Comments

  1. Actually, Aphrodite and Ares were lovers. Love and war go together. The Greeks understood these things, which we have forgotten.

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    1. Eros was Aphrodite's child (in some myths; in others he is a primordial god). Ares is referred to as the father of Eros, and Eros kindles passionate, deep, but often fickle and mischievous love.

      Love is a root of many human emotions and actions: love for country and countrymen begets a sense of honor and duty for them, love of beauty and form begets a drive for excellence and pride in accomplishment. Yes, when this love is threatened, war will be fought to reclaim the noble virtues.

      Camp followers aside, the Greeks knew a woman on the battlefield was poison, and the Amazons were a distinctly man-hating/fearing cult who were only subdued once by a man of exceptional strength and cunning (Hercules).

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    2. Actually, Aphrodite and Ares were lovers. Love and war go together

      That is true. It is also true that Aphrodite was the wife of Hephaestus, and the jealousy and rage that he felt when he found out that he was being cuckolded by Ares very nearly caused a civil war on Olympus and had further very unpleasant consequences for Aphrodite's children.

      The Greeks understood love and war- and they understood why the two needed to be kept separate. Which is why war was made the exclusive province of men, a tradition that persisted down the centuries until various "enlightened" Western governments, in their infinite folly, decided that letting men and women serve together in mixed units was actually wise.

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  2. "Eros Mocks Mars" is a favorite phrase of SF author Tom Kratman when referring to the feasibility of mixed-gender units.

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    1. Indeed. I got direct inspiration for this post (read: shamelessly ripped off) from his writings on the subject.

      As you probably know, he also wrote a fiction book based on the same ideas. Which I thought was rather good.

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  3. Mr. C. was a Navy man. He served aboard a frigate, where no women were permitted when he was in over 20 years ago. When he came ashore and was assigned to a base duty and women were in the unit, catastrophe seemed to follow, always. Fraternization was rampant and destructive to everything from everyday friendships to hierarchy of command and rule of law. He was happy to board his ship again and get away from that.

    He had a rule: no matter what, don't get involved with a military woman. He saw more than a few false rape accusations come against his fellows, especially when it was time for ratings to be issued and the women received substandard rates. Crying rape was a quick way to get your rate adjusted and stick it to your CO. Ridiculous.

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    1. Not to mention that it's impossible to apply wall-to-wall counselling in such situations, no matter how thoroughly deserved...

      I can't think of a dumber idea than letting- forcing, really- men and women to serve together in mixed units. That sort of thing leads to potentially disastrous breakdowns in discipline, efficiency, morale, combat effectiveness, and generally leads to a situation that is more f***ed up than a football bat.

      Oh, hey, look what I just found!

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    2. Both of my parents were also in the Navy. Mom was a Navy nurse in the 'Nam era. Many a wounded Marine was happy to see her pretty face when they woke up in the hospital after being brought back stateside. There is a place for women in the military, but the frontlines or any combat command is not it.

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    3. Notably, the people who hate women in the military the most, in my former Navy experience - the women who actually do their job as "one of the guys."

      You will never hear more scathing language or commentary against the "wups I got pregnant" and "gee, will you lift that/write that/fix that for me" crowd than the women who are actually willing to pull their share of the load.

      Those selfsame women will also admit that the ones like them are few and far between.

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  4. With respect to the chief engineer on the Cowpens, her Linkedin profile shows no engineering background at all.Only a degree in public policy and other military experience. I was doing a Wikipedia search for the chief engineers position on a ship and it requires engineering background with power certifications for operating and maintaining power plants running the systems on the vessel. I would expect a person in that capacity whose rank is on par with the captain of the vessel and has earned a master mariners license, have a degree in mechanical, electrical or marine engineering degree. How is this possible? Am I missing something here?

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    1. Not sure where you're getting the impression that the chief engineer of the vessel was involved. The article states that the captain of the USS Cowpens was involved in "an inappropriate relationship" with his acting executive officer. (Read: he was boning his XO.)

      I was very amused, by the way, at the fact that the woman's name is "Destiny Savage". Apparently the Navy is permitting strippers, hookers, and/or porn actresses to enlist and become senior officers on their vessels. Part of a new drive to raise flagging morale, perhaps?

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    2. Ms. Savage according to her Linkedin profile is chief engineer aboard the Cowpens. My question is, how did she get promoted to this rank without engineering background in the 1st place? So, am I missing something here?

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