Not that anyone is asking anymore

“Don’t ask, don’t tell?” Smitty don’t care:

While I’m essentially done with my military involvement, I’m confident that my opinion is mirrored by a huge chunk, if not the overwhelming bulk, of people in uniform: we don’t care. Specifically, no one really cares about anybody else’s junk. Sure, we live and conduct personal hygiene in some relatively immodest ways. Yes, the transcript veers a bit into the graphic from time to time. Indeed, there was some historically reactionary attitude offered toward the alternative lifestyles crowd.

Yet the military is first and foremost about rounds on target in support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. It has never been about being a dating service.

My own military involvement ground to a halt several decades ago, during a period where you could be drummed out of the service just for looking crossways at the wrong time, but I suspect — admittedly, it didn’t occur to me to ask — that most of us 1970s-vintage grunts really didn’t give a flip one way or the other, occasional bouts of OGA* notwithstanding, and if the NCOs and the officers were doing their job morale-wise, none of us were likely to rat on a suspect unless he’d slipped from latent to blatant, and possibly not even then. There was a war on at the time, after all, and we might have been thinking that if our unit drew too much of the wrong kind of attention, it might mean an unexpected billet for one or several of us in, um, a less-desirable duty station somewhere down the line. Of course, we wouldn’t say that out loud, either.

* Organized grab-ass [a term poached from the Marines, who, well, organized it].


  1. McGehee »

    22 September 2011 · 3:29 pm

    I think an all-volunteer military probably has a better chance of handling a diversity of orientations better than one staffed largely by draftees.

  2. CGHill »

    22 September 2011 · 3:42 pm

    Seems reasonable to me, though I’d hate to set up a control group for this experiment.

  3. Jeff Brokaw »

    22 September 2011 · 3:54 pm

    To me at least, this issue seems much more important to young folks and the media than the other 75% of the population. I never served, but have read reasonable objections to DADT from those who did, or who serve today. I tend to value the opinions of those who serve over those who lecture those who serve. But, hey, whatevs.

    With all the bad shit going down in the economy and running guns to Mexican druglords via ATF and the Eurozone ready to implode and Iran going nuclear, I’m not sure how much I care about “the gays” or any of these social issues that so many people fuss about. It’s a big yawn-fest. But at least now we don’t have to hear about this one any more, so that’s a win.

  4. McGehee »

    22 September 2011 · 5:20 pm

    But at least now we don’t have to hear about this one any more, so that’s a win.

    Wanna bet?

    It’ll only take one guy posting a comment to some blog for some other guy to whip up a frenzy about some kind of movement to “turn back the clock.”

  5. Luther »

    22 September 2011 · 8:36 pm

    “turn back the clock.”

    Let me help out here then. First off, I don’t care either, though I think this decision could eventually be regretted. But if that were to happen, regret, it would likely never become public knowledge. That’s because the people it would most directly affect would never have a large enough stage for such regret to be heard. So this is the new way forward, I understand that.

    I also understand that my past history/status is of little relevance forty-four years later. Things have changed, so to speak.

    So look, this is just my opinion. I’m not trying or attempting to sway minds, effect public policy or in any way pronounce on any particular INDIVIDUALS capabilities, desires, patriotism, or willingness to serve their country. Man or woman.

    I was a Marine, a squad leader of twenty or so Marines in South Vietnam in 1967/1968. I was in combat, in the bush/field for almost a year. We were once out in the bush for forty-seven days straight. I remember that number because at the time I thought… two days shy of seven weeks. I won’t bore with the details but as one might imagine it was all in all a highly stressed environment.

    To be a fair and reasoned leader takes a lot of effort, even, or perhaps especially so in such a small group of individuals. Frankly, morale and unit cohesiveness were my largest challenges, every hour of everyday. It was a hard job. I realize now that it was the job I was born for, though at the time I did not know it.

    Now, to add to the stresses of small unit command let me add two or so… persons of a different sexual orientation. And oh, one thing to keep in mind, most front line troops are eighteen to twenty years olds, an age group not particularly known for its maturity, true then and still true now I believe. So let’s suppose that these young individuals, being young, and horny, which as we know affects people in peculiar ways, discover an affection for one another. An affection that could not, would not, go unnoticed by other members of the unit. No matter how well an attempt was made to disguise it. Just take my word for it, in the closeness of small unit combat everyone knows almost everything about everyone. Every nuance, every habit, we sleep, eat, and shit together.

    Well, and this thought applies equally to women serving in small combat units by the way. We now have a situation, a situation where two members of the unit have bonded. And please, I’m not talking about being good friends; I’m talking about feeling so strongly about another that you would place that person at the top of the list as to where your responsibilities ultimately lie, which should be with your fellow squad members. This isn’t necessarily a conscious decision by the way. One may only discover it when there is extreme chaos and disorder. A firefight in other words, when everyone relies on everyone else.

    But, I’m your squad leader. And I’ve watched as this situation developed, but have no power, and certainly no authority to change it. It’s the new order.

    So, bottom line, my job has now become extremely more complicated. As when the shit hits the fan I don’t know where this person’s loyalty will be. Will it be to the person of their affection, or to the unit? So now I can’t trust them… not because I can’t trust them, please understand, as an individual, but because I can’t trust them to be fully in control of their loyalties.

    This is a shitty summation, but I’ve now had a drink, actually two and a half. My point is that my job as a squad leader hasnow become vastly more complicated due to internal circumstances. Instead of worrying exclusively about the enemy I now have to worry about the reactions of my squad to force. I now have one more threat to worry about… when I don’t need more threats to worry about. SEX, human beings being human beings, detracts from my mission needs and goals.

    This isn’t about me; understand… it is about the multitude of squad leaders who are out there now doing the job. We’ve just made it tougher… and less efficient. Efficient in the terms of lives, not political viewpoints.

  6. Jeff Brokaw »

    22 September 2011 · 10:29 pm

    @Luther – first, thank you for your service, and thank you for that compelling comment. Your story is exactly the type of criticism I’ve read elsewhere as a general theory, but obviously this one is grounded in reality.

    This illustrates exactly the problems that crop up when politicians determine military policy – they are more worried about polls and votes than military missions and the facts on the ground. They are quite willing to sell out people like you for popular platitudes. Somehow the media misses this angle – shocking, eh? Most politicians have never served, have no clue what military culture is about and don’t respect it, and since most of them today are around my age (52), give or take a few years, they are children of the Vietnam generation, when the military was viewed with general contempt and suspicion. It shows.

    Frankly, it bugs the crap out of me that military culture gets so little respect today, and I believe it reflects weak moral character. Culture and respect for tradition doesn’t just happen by accident- people have to actively promote the ideas and stories that matter to them, and the last 30-40 years, we have done a really poor job of serving the cause of heroism, sacrifice, leadership, and honor in our schools and through the media. It’s a national tragedy. But hey, DADT is over, so I guess this is “progress”. Sure it is.

  7. smitty »

    22 September 2011 · 10:59 pm

    Actually, you just explained my dis-interest at going back to sea on a co-ed ship.

  8. McGehee »

    23 September 2011 · 9:30 am

    First: I ditto Smitto.

    Second: formerly hypothetical paranoid gay activist initiating $#!+storm in 5… 4… 3…

  9. Tatyana »

    23 September 2011 · 3:42 pm

    LabRat has answered very persuasively to this objection. Way back in February.

  10. Luther »

    23 September 2011 · 11:59 pm

    My screed has nothing to do with what ‘LabRat’ is talking about. He’s words, I was deed. There’s a difference.

    Thanks, Jeff, but it was an honor to be allowed to serve.

  11. Tatyana »

    24 September 2011 · 11:31 am

    Luther, it has very much to do with it.
    Your objection is, in short: sex is a distraction to soldiers in combat zone, because it shifts their loyalties and the unit can not afford it in risky situation. You refer to homosexual sex, but as LabRat said, it equally applies to heterosexual sex, and she lists examples to that. She says- distraction of sex has always been present where military is concerned, and military learned to deal with situation. So let the army apply the approach it deals with extra-curriculum intersexual relations to extra curriculum homosexual relations. There is no fundamental difference.

  12. Luther »

    24 September 2011 · 4:40 pm

    Tatyana, I’m not sure you read my entire post, as if you did I believe you have misunderstood my point, admittedly and most likely due to my poor skills in writing.

    I wasn’t speaking from the point of view of a “combat >i/i<". I was speaking specifically of 'being' in combat. A situation where one is under constant and unrelenting danger of sudden violence, and where one must be prepared for that violence. Think of an ambush, as one example, these could, and did happen, at any time, anywhere. And I would be happy to explain what an ambush is like for you if it would help you understand my point. It is an event such as an ambush where my thoughts about loyalties come into play.

    LabRat is speaking in more of a broad philosophical way. She is not addressing the concerns I have expressed, but speaking more generally of the 'military' in a larger sense. I was a grunt, Tatyana, an infantryman. My world was of a different sort, and had different demands, than the one LabRat is discussing.

  13. Luther »

    24 September 2011 · 4:43 pm

    “combat >i/ii/i<".

  14. Luther »

    24 September 2011 · 4:43 pm

    I don’t do html very well either it would appear.

  15. CGHill »

    24 September 2011 · 5:24 pm

    Could be just a WordPress attempt to keep unwanted characters out of the hands of commenters: there have been several times when I’ve been caught trying to exceed the boundaries they’ve set.

  16. Luther »

    24 September 2011 · 5:33 pm

    Thanks. Funny though, just last week it worked. Let’s see.


    Nope, still broke. Or, yep, that feature still works.

  17. Tatyana »

    25 September 2011 · 6:37 am

    Yes, Luter, I understood you were in combat. That does not change the argument in principle.
    Imagine, now, that instead of a love interest in the unit that soldier had a lover in one of the local villages. A woman. I suspect that you don’t have to”imagine” this thing – this occurrence is common enough in war zones, has been happening time and again for millenia. You can probably recall actual examples, with last names.
    So, you have an American soldier who’s in love (let’s be generous here) with a local woman. Where would his loyalties lie if, say, the ambush you are so patiently explaining to me was set in her village?

    And this is just one of a 100 plausible scenarios. Which I am sure happened to real-life soldiers like yourself and in real-combat situations like you were in.
    So? Army has rules to deal with that.
    Or are you prepared to tell me that homosexual sex somehow is more damaging to loyalties and morale of infantrymen than heterosexual sex?

  18. Luther »

    25 September 2011 · 8:24 am

    Tatyana, you seem to be trying to make me out to be a homophobic. Whether I am or not has no bearing on the points I am making.

    Also, Tatyana. You seem dead set on not seeing my point. I was in a jungle, a free-fire zone (look it up), there were no women. There was no heterosexual sex. There was no homosexual sex. The only sex was of the masturbatory kind.

    Again, you and LabRat are drawing your examples from a different kind and type of war, a war of occupation, which also has no bearing on my concerns for our present small-unit leaders. As in, your example above has the woman outside the unit versus being a member of the unit.

    In addition, you seem to have missed that I also spoke of women being in small combat units, and that women would be just as extremely disruptive to small-unit command.

    Try looking at it this way, Tatyana. And understand that I’m primarily speaking of land combat and combat specific naval vessels. Men are monks when in combat, or, in my opinion, should be. That is ultimately the most effective and efficient fighting force.

  19. Tatyana »

    25 September 2011 · 10:04 am

    No, Luter, it’s you who persist in not seeing my point.
    But that’s OK. Your views belong to previous generation of the Army; it has changed with the times, as it should be and will be, no matter what. I’m sure in 40 years present debates will sound irrelevant and senseless to the new generation, too.

  20. Luther »

    25 September 2011 · 10:51 am

    It’s Luther, Tatyana. And as you’ve made up your mind we’ll end the conversation. But one last thing. I don’t think my views belong to a previous generation. I think my views are shared by the current generation of small unit leaders, too. It is just that they don’t have a voice in the debate, they are being ordered to do something that goes against their base instincts. But, that’s the military, and the small unit leaders will do their duty and find a way of following those orders. Though it will make their jobs even tougher, and less effective, needlessly. Which was really, my only point.

  21. Tatyana »

    25 September 2011 · 11:19 am

    My apologies for misspelling.

RSS feed for comments on this post