Welcome to the (Harriet) Harmanisation of the army, the final British institution to fall prey to the gender equality agenda and to send itself voluntarily into a re-education camp.
It couldn’t come at a worse time. The UK faces unprecedented threats and lacks intelligence and information at every level from Vladimir Putin’s adventurism to the explosion of Islamic extremism. We have lurched from engagement to isolation. Defence and front-line troop numbers have been first in line for government cuts.
You’d think that the army top brass might find the dramatic loss of 27,500 soldiers troops a more pressing issue than feminising those still remaining. If so you’d be mistaken. The army’s current radical overhaul that Belinda Brown explains here seems more preoccupied with strategies to improve ‘inclusivity’, family friendliness and flexible employment than with the effectiveness of this enfeebled fighting force.
That such policies are diametrically opposed to the ethos of the army and its capacity for deterrence and defence and so corrupting of them seems, extraordinarily, not to have occurred to the generals. Or if it has, the forces of feminism have silenced these time-servers into self censorship. Woe betide the general who says a plague on all these women in our ranks!
Yet they cannot pretend that their new determination to reconcile the incompatible can do anything but seriously weaken the army and its essential values of discipline, selfless commitment, limitations on individual freedom, courage, integrity, and loyalty.
Far from being troubled by this diminution of operational effectiveness stemming from family and female-friendly considerations, army chief, General Sir Nick Carter, like Dave Cameron before him, appears to think he has a woman problem to solve. The demands of gender equality have trumped the need for defence, for seeking out the enemy and defeating him .
I suppose it was inevitable. One by one the institutions that once defined Britain, the judiciary, the Church and most recently the Conservative Party, have fallen foul of these new imperatives and the denial of gender difference.
It was only after of time that an army general as well as an Archbishop and Conservative Party leader would make modernisation his mission come what may.
So much so that General Carter, who becomes as Chief of Staff of the Army this September, took to the airwaves last Sunday to flag up his right-on credentials and to condemn unacceptable levels of sexual harassment that he has so assiduously sought to ‘evidence’, however trivial, this last year.
Despite the rather leading questions in his survey for the rank and file to answer, the answers suggested that they were more grounded than their boss. The majority said they ignored any such behaviour; over half said they avoided the person in question.
That did not put him off from bigging them up or encouraging the BBC to wheel out a weepy young former female soldier to tell her tale. You’d be forgiven from the report that the army had just become a branch of the social services – and Sir Nick head of social work for Camden – providing succour to no hopers and no copers.
If this fat young woman who complained that her fatness was the cause of bullying that led her to breakdown and attempted suicide is a typical example of Britain’s female soldiers, then heaven help us.
A less appropriate recruit I cannot imagine. Nor can I blame her male colleagues from pointing it out. She had hardly been pressed into service. Only the army is to blame for recruiting somebody of such mental fragility and inappropriate build in the first place. That is what should have been at the forefront of Sir Nick’s mind.
He should have told such young women that if they can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen, that they army is no place for them, that they must prove a level of fitness, strength and commitment on a par with male colleagues in the roles that require this, and be ready to put the army and work first – no compromise.
None of this, however, fits with the ethos of a ‘Harmanised ’workforce in which the rights of benighted and unstable female recruits trump all others; where quotas not competence determine promotion; where flexible working must be allowed despite the obvious need for total time commitment.
The Conservative Party has just put the final dots on the ‘is’ and crosses on the ‘ts’ of their ‘Harmanisation’ programme. Mr Cameron will not rest content until he has ended the non-existent gender pay gap and forced firms to publish their average pay gaps – never mind the unintended and wasteful consequences.
The Prime Minister has demonstrated which side of the culture war he is fighting for – the feminist front.
No wonder, perhaps, that the Army, undermined by cuts and besieged by criticisms of its role and actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, feels that compliance with the cultural imperatives set by the PM is the price of its survival.
May be this is why a General described as risk averse by his US counterpart when they were fighting together in Afghanistan together has been promoted to lead the enemy within.