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Problematic Proposals in National Defense Authorization Act for 2015 (NDAA)

December 1, 2014
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The pending National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2015 includes elements that are problematic and needlessly disruptive to our military.  Provisions of concern to the Center for Military Readiness, which should be reconsidered, are excerpted here: H.R. 4435, Sec. 527 and here: S. 2410, Sec. 523 & Sec. 552 

A.  Mandate for Feminist Meddling in Military Misconduct Cases

The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA bill (S. 2410, Sec. 523& Sec. 552) would establish yet another power base in the Pentagon for feminists who believe that a person accused of sexual misconduct is automatically guilty, unless he is somehow (against all odds) found innocent because of "anti-women" legal procedures that must be "fixed."

The Senate bill calls for what could be called "feminist pork" − a 20-member committee to be called the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces. 

Establishment of a special-interest committee such as this would duplicate the vast array of existing programs available to persons reporting sexual abuse, while increasing the risk of command interference and violations of due process that would cause many cases to be dismissed.

B.  No Need for Gender Diversity Quotas at Military Service Academies

Meanwhile, in the House bill approved in May, (H.R. 4435, Sec. 527), Armed Service Committee members waived through several ill-advised provisions that feminist Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) was allowed to sponsor and roll into a package that was passed on a voice vote with no advance notice.  (Reportedly, this was done to avoid a debate over Sanchez proposals that were even worse.) 

Among other things, Sanchez wants to create the presumptive impression that Congress already has approved women in the infantry, despite the fact that the House has not had a hearing on the subject since 1979, 35 years ago, and has conducted almost-zero oversight since the administration announced its intent to order women into the infantry by January 2016. 

Sanchez' legislation questions the methodology of research efforts to determine what such a policy would mean, and calls for expensive female body armor that would put disproportionate weight on smaller-sized women. 

Budget cuts are shrinking the size of all branches of the armed forces, but the House bill also calls for a steep increase in gender quotas for the military service academies.   In particular, the legislation would step up recruiting efforts to "increase military service academy accessions by women by an additional 20 percent." 

There is nothing wrong with special efforts to recruit women and attract them into the military service academies, but the additional 20% quota would be divisive, counterproductive, and completely unnecessary.  The Department of Defense and even the liberal RAND corporation have confirmed several times that there has been no evidence of insufficient efforts to recruit, retain, or promote female military officers. 

If passed, this language nevertheless could be interpreted as a mandate to implement Defense Department-endorsed recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC). Among other things, the 2011 MLDC report called for elimination of women's exemptions from direct ground combat in order to achieve "gender diversity metrics" − another name for "quotas."  If fully implemented, MLDC recommendations would make military promotions contingent on support for gender diversity metrics, with mandates enforced by a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). 

An irresponsible mandate that would have the effect of excluding qualified men, in order to achieve female gender quotas at West Point, the Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy, would contradict an April 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of Michigan voters to forbid, by law, gender-based quotas and reverse discrimination. 

Congress should not force the military service academies to march in the opposite direction, mandating gender-based group rights that are not the same as non-discrimination.  Such a move would be contrary to the interests of women who wish to be evaluated on individual merit, not group rights. 

Consequences such as this are always denied but implemented anyway.  For example, overt pressure for gender quotas is showing up in the Navy's submarine community.  According to an October 3 The Hill report titled Enlisted Women to Begin Serving on Submarines, the women will soon be integrated onto ballistic missile submarines, which are larger than fast attack submarines.  According to Navy Cmdr. Renee Squier, head of the Office of Women's Policy for the Chief of Naval Personnel, the plan is to first integrate female senior enlisted sailors onto submarines and then junior enlisted female sailors.  Using the language of social experimentation, Squire said, "The goal is to have each unit have 20 percent in order to build a 'good ecosystem' for female submariners." 

Never mind that abundant evidence exists that the real "ecosystem" of a submarine involves constant exposure to recycled air with trace atmospheric elements that create unique health risks for female sailors:  Navy Ignores Warnings of Health Risks for Women on Submarines.

C.  Equal Opportunity (EO) Is Not the Issue

The claim that women need ground combat experience in order to be promoted is simply untrue.  In fact, there is no compelling reason to implement provisions that add nothing to women's career options in the military.  For decades, women have been promoted at rates equal to or faster than men.  And a Defense Department report submitted to Congress in 2012 confirmed:

 "The [DoD February 2012 Report to Congress] highlighted that there is no indication of women having less than equitable opportunities to compete and excel under current assignment policy...:" (emphasis added)

This is a Question & Answer summary that addresses key reasons why it is not necessary to order women into the combat arms in order to advance their careers, and why recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission should not be taken seriously:

D.  "Lower but Equal" Standards Would Weaken the Combat Arms

As in previous years, the pending NDAA for 2015 discusses "gender-neutral occupational standards" in direct ground units that are and should remain all-male.  Regardless of good intentions, however, a call to "validate" poorly-defined gender-neutral occupational standards would not preclude adoption of "lower but equal" standards.  CMR has published a comprehensive report on why expectations regarding physical standards in co-ed land combat units cannot be met:

Congress should intervene by codifying "Sound Policy for Women in the Military" − policies that would maintain high, uncompromised training and standards to prepare for the extreme demands of direct ground combat.

CMR has summarized in these Talking Points additional reasons why members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, meeting in the waning lame duck days of the 113th Congress, should systematically drop NDAA provisions that would do harm to both military women and men in the combat arms.  Interested Americans can reach their members of Congress and Senators by calling 202/224-3121, or by contacting them through individual Internet websites.

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More background information and historic documents on this topic may be available in the 'Essential Resources' section of this website, or in a previous edition of CMR E-Notes, archived here.