ShareThis Page

Harming unit cohesion

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Obama administration's Pentagon has reversed policy on assigning women to land combat operations by taking incremental steps to implement the recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission.

The psychological aim of training men for combat is to develop in them a sense of the mission, of being part of a dedicated whole. The bonds fostered among men in combat may be seen, at their best, in the television series “Band of Brothers.”

This “unit cohesion” brings with it a sense of mutual trust, teamwork, individual sacrifice and determination to jointly complete the mission. It is a unique bond of male friendship; comrades-in-arms have an intergroup relationship that few other social units will ever know or enjoy. Just ask any veteran.

Now, what happens when we introduce young women into that mix? Immediately, new attachments arise — binary attachments between men and women who are at the same age developmentally, when such attachments represent a powerful drive. All the emotions so vividly displayed in soap operas are at work, writ large: love and sex, growing attachments, split allegiances, rivalries, jealousy, betrayal, rage and revenge, to name just a few. As binary attachments grow, unit cohesion is weakened; competing values bring inevitable conflict in small groups.

Placing healthy young men and women in their sexual prime together in close quarters has already had predictable results. The Pentagon's decision would be just another loss for common sense if it weren't so important.

Louis Chandler


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.