Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld has made immense contributions to the US military when one considers the legions of students at the various War Colleges who have written term papers specifically rebutting van Creveld’s crackpot theories.
In what is possibly Van Creveld’s most absurd reading of history to date, Van Creveld traces what he terms the “decline” of the US military, one which is inextricably linked to the admission of women in the 1970s. Since admitting women, Van Creveld argues, the US military has been a haven for illiterates and foreign nationals.
“So unattractive has military service become that the forces have been reduced to recruiting tens of thousands of non-citizens. In many cases so low is their quality that, once they have been recruited, the first thing they must learn is how to read”.
Those who remember the Armed Forces of the 1970s tend not to look back on it fondly. And for an institution which has been telling new recruits that it’s been getting softer since the winter at Valley Forge, that’s saying something.
The US military reached an absolute nadir in the 1970s. One Marine regiment reported that only 38 percent of Marines had high school diplomas. Race riots broke out on many military bases. Some units were so plagued with AWOLs and brig-bound servicemembers that they could barely muster 50% combat strength. In short, the US military had plenty of issues with readiness and discipline, none of which had anything to do with women in the ranks.
But had Van Creveld bothered to check the Army’s latest demographic data, he’d have realized that over 99% of today’s enlisted force has greater than a high school diploma or its equivalent. One in six recruits in 2011 had some college. Not to mention, US Army Recruiting Command reports that the US military is severely restricted from recruiting from those who score near the bottom on aptitude tests. And let’s not forget that in 1999, the US Army increased the standards on its Physical Fitness Tests.
Though standards dropped to grow the force necessary to fight two wars, the fact of the matter is that the US Army is comprised of men and women who are more intelligent, better educated, and more physically fit than their civilian counterparts.
Of course, Martin Van Creveld won’t admit that, even though the much-touted Revolution in Military Affairs (which has provided him with volumes of material) wouldn’t have been possible without a well-educated professional force to operate its equipment.
But that’s just the beginning of the egregious disregard for academic rigor in van Creveld’s op-ed.
By one count, almost one third of enlisted military women are single mothers. As a result, whatever the regulations may say, they are only deployable within limits.
The Philosoraptor is right, of course. Van Creveld’s unsourced claim that one-third of female servicemembers are single parents is irrelevant. Every single parent, as well as every dual-military couple is required to have a family care plan. In essence, the military forces single parents to make a choice: either give your children to a family member so you can deploy, or get out. No service member–regardless of gender–can be non-deployable based on their status as a single parent.
But perhaps most disturbing is Martin Van Creveld’s conclusion, in which he summarizes the traditional role of men and women in society–that men fight wars abroad, so they might protect the childbearers remaining at home. Some might call it mysoginistic, others anachronistic.
I call it historically inaccurate. For centuries, women accompanied armies on campaign, keeping up with the march, and performing many of the logistical functions within the camp.
My source? Martin van Creveld’s sucky book about logistics:
Martin, we all liked “no girls allowed” clubs…when we were eight. But most of us grew up; would that you do the same.