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Patrick Benham-Crosswell: The world’s most successful army surrenders to feminism


On 8th July 2016, the British Army surrendered to political correctness when it allowed women to occupy combat roles – crewing tanks and fighting as infantry. All the objective evidence, all the experience of those armies that had tried this and all the opinions of experts were ignored. The feminists, led by Mr Cameron, triumphed.

As yet the only female (in the widest sense) in a combat role is a former male on the tortuous journey to becoming female. There has never been a large cohort of women seeking these roles, for the simple and obvious to anyone (other than a fool) reason that running about carrying heavy stuff and eviscerating men with a bayonet is not something that women have evolved to do.

This post is not about the argument. Rather it is about the processes behind that fateful decision and its consequences, which are even more depressing.

The Prime Minister’s first duty is often cited as being the defence of the realm. Given most modern prime ministers have no military experience they are heavily reliant on the advice of the Chief of the General Staff, the senior soldier who runs the Army. As is often the case, the then CGS, Nick Carter, was an infantryman. There is no way in hell that he can have believed that, person for person, the average female infantry soldier would be as capable as the average male infantryman. Given the costs of defence, he must have argued that spending taxpayers’ money replacing Tommy Atkins with Thomasina was not value for money.

So why did Cameron proceed? Presumably he had some delusion that the ban on women in combat arms was sexist. Of course, plenty of British servicewomen have been in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there is a huge difference between being in combat as an adjunct of one’s main job (translator, medic, searcher etc.) and doing as a primary role. Somehow the Army let the forces of feminism conflate being in combat with fighting.

The second defence is that there is no such thing as a right to be a member of the British Armed Forces. There are physical and security restrictions that apply for obvious reasons, as well as medical requirements. There are hotly denied but persistent rumours that physical test standards are being adjusted downwards. Whether this is to accommodate the weaker youth of today is a moot point.

The final defence is that the CGS could state that “In my professional opinion the weight of evidence is that this change will reduce the effectiveness of the Army. If you choose not to accept my advice you must accept my resignation.” Clearly this has not happened.

Of course, the Army is fighting for budget on several fronts. Following the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan it’s taking a pounding in Whitehall. The Army’s further misfortune is that both the Navy and Air Force have infantry components and women in (non-infantry) combat roles. Possibly the CGS focused on fighting other battles and chose not to fight this one.

What does it matter? For the Army, it is yet another CGS losing Whitehall and, cravenly, failing to resign. Weak leadership leads to exodus, and it’s the best who go first (as they know they have sufficient ability to thrive in civilian life). In the words of one of them (now very successful in commerce) a career in the upper reaches of the Army is simply the miss-management of decline. The brain drain has continued for more than a decade and the Army is descending into mediocrity.

It’s far worse for the country.

The nature of political correctness is that it expands; success simply emboldens its adherents. For example, we are getting a daily diatribe about the lack of women and minorities in the Supreme Court. The argument is now being advanced that the Supreme Court’s eminently sensible defence, (that massive courtroom experience and legal knowledge are fundamental requirements of a Supreme court judge and that this cohort contains few women and fewer minorities) is wrong. After all, if the Army agrees that women are now the physical equivalent of men surely sex or ethnicity trump legal ability (this is already enshrined in the selection of judges – given two equal candidates the woman must be preferred).

The Army’s abject surrender to feminists is the collapse of a final bastion of reason. The organisation that has defeated every terrestrial threat to the realm since 1688 has abandoned the country to political correctness. The realm is probably no longer defended, but no matter – it soon won’t be worth defending.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here. He is the Reform Parliamentary Candidate for Swansea West.

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