If Infantry Culture Precludes Integration, Just Change It, Cont.

In Tuesday’s post on gender integration of the infantry, I argued that the military’s indoctrination program provides the tools to change infantry culture to be compatible with integration. I also quoted Soren Sjogren, a Danish infantry officer. Yesterday, Soren commented on the post:

I guess that military culture is changing. We might affect the recruits but we are also affected by trends in society if nothing else at least then through legislation. Denmark is a small country and the culture in our military generally reflects the culture in civilian society. My principles for leading mixed gender units are deeply rooted in Scandinavian civilian norms.

How to conduct that transmission, however, is interesting and rather complex. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

I suppose I have not fully thought out my ideas on this topic. In fact, looking through previous posts, I realize I once argued that military boot camps “can only strip away so much.”

Indeed, part of the challenge seems to be that American society is conflicted on this issue. It’s not hard to find US servicemembers who believe that anyone who can meet an occupational standard should be afforded the opportunity to do the job. These folks are probably drawing in great part from values inculcated during their civilian upbringing. It’s also not hard to find servicemembers who believe that women are of an essentially inferior nature that makes them unfit for combat. These people are probably likewise drawing on values from their civilian upbringing.

But military professionalism should unambiguously stipulate that the only valid measure of an individual servicemember’s merit is whether they can accomplish a given mission according to procedure. In my experience, the prevailing conception of Marine Corps professionalism treated open sexism as an exception to this norm. It strikes me as within the capabilities of the indoctrination toolbox to clarify that military professionalism does not permit such exceptions.

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