That memorable line comes from James Mitchner’s Korean War novel, The Bridges of Toko-Ri. It refers to intrepid aviators lifting from a carrier, flying into untold danger. They know they may not return. They launch anyway. In boldness unfathomable to many, they willingly, artfully fly into peril. They are warriors, men of rare talent, intellect, and courage – a combination essential for victory.
Needed warriors are now being purged from the U.S. military. If America went to war right now with China or Russia, we could lose because of these purges. We’re losing top-level warrior-leaders to make the crucial differences in battle. They’re being systematically drummed out as politically incorrect. When the going gets tough, political correctness (PC) is useless. Then the brilliant, wily fighters, the coolest heads, the most courageous warriors, are needed to lead regardless of social views or record.
Today, in large measure, our fighting forces are led by briefcase-carrying busybodies, yes-men more interested in enforcing political beliefs and social change than leading in battle. They care more about their careers than what’s happening to the military and thus the country. Just last week, a new downsizing of the army was announced – without a protest.
Warriors are not prized. They are criticized and ridiculed. Up-and-coming warriors who admire the purged want to emulate them, see what’s happening, and are exiting as a result.
“Soldiers like George Patton or Curtis LeMay are no longer wanted,” writes LCOL Greg Lee, USMC (ret.) in a well-circulated internet forward. “The fundamental job of the military, ‘kill bad people and break things,’ has become critically hampered by ‘rules of engagement’ [and policies] who’s [sic] guiding logic is political outcome, not successful combat. If the US military is ever defeated, it will be because [rather than honing fighting skills, nurturing fighting thinkers and leaders] it is running the best Day Care centers in the world.”
Political correctness, social change, even care for the enemy are now the battle cries of the U.S. military hierarchy in the Pentagon. The rules of engagement (ROI), changed to limit civilian deaths under President Obama, are now so dangerous that American soldiers have been made into sitting ducks. In years past, generals and admirals resigned over such disregard for their troops. Today’s leaders acquiesce and espouse confusing non-military goals. The president confounds Coast Guard graduates saying their enemy is climate change. He sends 3,000 troops to battle…Ebola?
Pentagon priorities are women’s and gay rights and defeating the world’s social ills – disease, hunger, and poverty. These are worthy causes for a Peace Corps, church group, or diplomat, but not for the military, whose sole constitutional purpose is defending Americans against military threats. Do you send a sniper to nurse a baby?
Battlefield interrogation, once a life-saver for engaged troops, is now considered torture by the Pentagon and therefore almost eliminated. Commanders know it will bring immediate dismissal. Ask former representative Alan West, who, as an army commander, roughed up an Iraqi spy and saved his men from ambush. He was quickly relieved of command, and had it not been for public opinion, he would probably be in jail. Soft interrogation in the heat of battle is useless. Toughness, not empathy, is needed once war is declared. War is hell.
Leaders are increasingly chosen for race and/or gender rather than military skills. Under Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel a Pentagon training manual taught how white males in the military have an unfair advantage. A hushed story is that a Blue Angels skipper, Donnie Cochran, picked to head the famed Navy flying group largely because of race, resigned after admitting he wasn’t up to the job. Similarly, the first female Tomcat pilot, Kara Hultgreen, rushed into the cockpit because of her gender, died slamming into the rear of the carrier on approach because of “pilot error.” In both cases, PC rushed the assignments. The ignorance and bias of most media regarding warriors and warfare exacerbate the problem. Few have served. Most see only the social arguments.
Sexual orientation appears the next criterion – especially with the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. According to the Washington Times (June 9, 2015), a gay general in the Army recently introduced his husband at a Pentagon gay rights rally, where Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was the keynote speaker. In opening remarks, Brig. Gen. Randy S. Taylor, master of ceremonies, called attention to his husband, Lucas, “sitting up front.” Carter then told the audience, “We need to be a meritocracy. We can’t afford to close ourselves off to anybody.” Gays, as well as women, can certainly be warriors, but needed warriorhood was not mentioned at the rally. It is never mentioned, because it is shunned.
Religion, too, a bedrock of warrior culture, is being purged. Pentagon edicts have banned any expressions of Christianity in counseling soldiers. A marine lance corporal, Monifa Sterling, a black female, was given a court martial and bad conduct discharge for having a Bible verse on her desk and refusing to remove it. In contradiction to the old truism, will atheists now be the only soldiers allowed in foxholes? How about Muslims? In direct contrast to Christianity, militant Islam, a self-declared enemy, is coddled, even defended. A blind eye is turned to its murder, tyranny, and aggression, a prime example being the Ft. Hood shootings. The rugged individualism and fervor, sometimes religious, of warriors like Patton, Jimmy Doolittle, Pappy Boyington, and Robin Olds are now deemed bigotry and discrimination – a quick ticket out.
As a well-circulated piece in the Beaufort (South Carolina) Observer lamented: “Can you imagine someone today looking for a leader to execute the Doolittle Raid [on Tokyo] and suggesting that it be assigned to a dare-devil boozer whose attributes [nonetheless] are [those of a needed warrior] he had respect of his men, an awesome ability to fly, and the organizational skills to put all together?” No way. “Where are all the dynamic leaders of the past?” I’ll tell you, adds the piece: “[t]hey were fired before they made major.”
Numbers tell the tale: 197 officers purged in the five years up to October 2013 – this according to Stand Up America, a media organization founded by army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (ret.). That’s an extraordinary number. Later figures are unavailable (probably hidden). It appears that senior officers who wanted to aid those under siege at Benghazi were purged. A January 2015 article at AMAC.US named Gen. Carter Hamm, in charge of African Command, and Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette, a carrier commander in the Mediterranean at the time, as believed relieved because of their indications to aid. “Take a look at some of the nine who have been fired or relieved of duty [since Benghazi],” writes AMAC’s Joseph R. Carducci. “This is one of the largest and fastest purges of military commanders that has ever been recorded.”
The White House is behind the purges. For the first time in American history, a U.S. president, Barack Obama, disdains the military from the Oval Office. From ignorance of the military word “corpsmen” to not acknowledging fallen heroes like at Benghazi to championing huge and dangerous reductions in the military budget, Obama, even as threats mount, has shown his contempt for warriors. While speaking out on questionable deaths of black youths, he says little to nothing about warrior deaths. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is woefully undershipped – from 600 to 300 in a matter of years. This despite military buildups in China and Russia. The Air Force and Navy need new and better planes to keep pace. We’re ridiculously withholding arms from those fighting ISIS. Only lip service is given to shamefully treated veterans. In addition, Obama refuses to identify by name America’s most vocal enemy – militant Islam. The religion’s fighters rape, murder, and torture, and assault almost every PC belief Obama and his aides expound, yet Obama dismisses them as “JV” (junior varsity), “terrorists,” or an aberration. They know he won’t fight.
Like Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister on the eve of WWII, Obama and his advisors have a naive and dangerous belief that appeasement and concession are the ways to avoid conflict and aggression. Chamberlain, waving his meaningless treaty from Hitler, learned the hard way. Once Hitler started WWII, the British people saw the error of Chamberlain’s beliefs and elected Winston Churchill, a warrior if there ever was one, to lead them in crisis.
But it may soon be too late for America. Few, if any, of Obama’s aides seem to know this gallant history. Few, if any, have served in the military. They disguise a low opinion of warriors by casually referring to anyone in uniform as a “hero” while privately ridiculing soldiers as ignorant, offish, and war-mongers – the “bitter clingers” Obama has spoken of. They certainly do not embrace the “warrior culture,” one of the phrases most used by the purgers in calling for good riddance.
No less than John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has called attention to the purging. In a recent U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, he wrote, “[T]he attributes of naval aviators – willingness to take intelligent, calculated risk, self-confidence, even a certain swagger are the very [attributes] that make them particularly vulnerable in today’s zero-tolerance Navy.” Zero tolerance means one strike and you’re out – no second chance. Commanders, especially warrior-commanders, are being “bounced for the bad luck of being breathalyzed after two beers, or allowing risqué forecastle [shipboard] follies.” Such follies, usually to commemorate events like crossing the equator, have been international naval tradition for hundreds of years.
Today’s purgers, writes Lehman, are PC “thought police” who, “like Inspector Javert in Les Miserables, are out to get [the offenders] and are relentless.” Any infraction means dismissal. A soldier’s previous record or potential means nothing. He has no chance to learn from his mistake. “Adm. Chester Nimitz [who led the U.S. Navy’s Pacific victory in WWII] put a squadron of destroyers on the rocks. But while being put in purgatory for a while, he was protected by seniors who recognized his potential talent. In today’s Navy, Nimitz would be gone” – as would any officer who wanted to keep him. “Political correctness just might do more damage to American security than did the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets.”