Will Allah Protect Them?

Pesky thing, that war stuff. If the enemy is not shooting at you, they try to blow shit up with you in close proximity. War is hell, and pretty dangerous to boot but we try to equip our soldiers with the best and latest in an effort to keep them safe. And the heavy weight of that protection is their Kevlar helmet, of course, it only protects you if you wear it.

In an effort to get closer to the local population, American female soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are being encouraged to wear a Muslim headscarf when interacting with civilians. But some question whether the practice constitutes cultural sensitivity or a form of appeasement that is degrading to U.S. soldiers.

Major Kyndra Rotunda, executive director of the Military Law and Policy Institute and AMVETS Legal Clinic at Chapman University, told The Daily Caller that while the women are not being ordered to wear the head scarf, encouragement is tantamount to a demand.

I remember Kyndra Rotunda from her stints on the Dennis Miller radio show where she talked about what really happens at Gitmo, she is as sharp as they come.

I think her parsing of request/order is an important one. It is clearly understood in the military that when you come across the word “should” in any field manual, interpret that word as “shall”. Any career soldier depends on positive yearly service reports to move them up the chain and on these reports an evaluation of things like attitude, willing to be a team player, and group cohesion are prominent. Rocking the boat by not going along is pretty much a death knell for career advancement.

Does anybody think this is a good idea? Aside from the clear issue of safety (notice in the photo provided that the male soldier was wearing his helmet) is this “gesture” really going to endear themselves to a community where their very presence in a military uniform, tooting guns, driving cars, giving orders, not lowering their eyes when a man is present is a continual insult?

Retired Col. Martha McSally, whose grievance about being forced to wear the Muslim abaya while stationed in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s resulted in 2002 legislation outlawing the practice of making female soldiers wear Muslim religious garb in Saudi Arabia, told The Daily Caller that the sanctity of the uniform should not be sullied with outside accessories like the hijab.

Agreed. If you are going to go all wobbly why not just take away their guns and dress them up in one of those black sheets with two slits cut out for the eyes. This seems pretty lame to me, sexist, and dangerous for our troops.

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  1. Hal_10000

    I have no problem with people adhering to local customs … when they’re civilians. If we were to move to Saudi Arabia, I think it would be reasonable for my wife to wear a headscarf. And if Saudis move here, I think’s it reasonable for them not to stone/rape women for not wearing one. But I’m hesitant when it comes to the military, who are not really there by choice.

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  2. InsipiD

    Absolutely not. I think it’s vital for our service members, regardless of gender, to show professionalism. I think that includes some clarity that the women are absolutely equal to the men and treated that way under our system. We don’t require our women to wear anything that interferes with performing their duties. I think it’s far more important to set the example of how our women are treated as well as the respect sufficient to say that their duty comes before foreign customs. I wouldn’t have that any woman’s military career be harmed in the least by not wearing a “suggested” cultural garment.

    I’ve never understood this kind of thinking anyway. I wouldn’t want anyone to wear crosses or yarmulkes just to blend in. Why would devout religious people want non-believers to adhere to a superficial religious custom without the belief that backs it up? Unless the Muslim “submission” is really what it’s all about, and that is a great reason in itself not to require them to wear it.

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    I think wearing the rag OVER THE HELMET will serve as a big “Fuck you” to the camel-fuckers…

    Other than that, we should be telling the local to go fuck themselves, we’re Americans, and by golly, we aren’t going to take their shit when we’re dying for them in their country because they can’t keep their shit together well enough to keep the local fundie/terrorists from taking over.

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  4. InsipiD

    I seem to remember a few years ago that one of our resident liberals vocally defended the way LGBT people were treated in Muslim countries as being more tolerant than our own. I don’t see how they’d believe or say that, but it was here. I think some of it was related to gender reassignment surgery covered by tax funded programs and a general acceptance of dressing in drag (how can you tell?).

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  5. TxAg94

    So is everyone prepared to insist that the male special forces soldiers get rid of the practice of growing a beard and wearing local garb to cultivate relationships with locals? All in the name of professionalism? I think it should be truly voluntary but none of us here, so far as I know, are in a position to judge what they may feel is a way to cultivate trust in an otherwise unenviable task.

    From everything I’ve seen, this practice is one of few tools in the arsenal to get the local female population to open up to us. And trust me, we need them to. The men think the women are stupid so they probably have no idea how much the women see and hear that they may just be willing to share. I’m not ready to condemn the practice, just hope for some clarity on the policy, perhaps.

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  6. richtaylor365 *

    So is everyone prepared to insist that the male special forces soldiers get rid of the practice of growing a beard

    what does a beard have to do with safety?

    I think it should be truly voluntary

    Sorry, but anything to do with safety should never be voluntary. Wearing a helmet, body armour, going out on a mission with a sufficient amount of ammo, wearing the proper military uniform, we don’t make any of this voluntary. All this stuff is hot, cumbersome, heavy and uncomfortable, but they need to be protected in the field.

    And as far as trust, I think the simple fact that we give them food and medicine, rebuild their villages, educate and feed their children, and help them to stand up for their rights and be a more integral part of Afghan society, all those things trump some silly head adornment.

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  7. hist_ed

    So is everyone prepared to insist that the male special forces soldiers get rid of the practice of growing a beard and wearing local garb to cultivate relationships with locals?

    I can’t beleive this but I am going to sound like Andrea Fucking Dworkin here:
    A beard is not a symbol of opression; quite the opposite, beardless men in Afghanistan are thought as less than men (maybe has something to do with the massive cult of pederasty that is so widespread in Afghan society). The burka, veil, and all the other things they do to women are there to stigmatize and oppress them. That is the difference. It’s like barring women from driving in Saudi Arabia–fuck that. If a female soldier is ready to put her life on the line for the house of Saud then they can fucking let her drive a humvee.

    It’s also a sign of weakness and of a lack of cultural confidence (thanks hippies). What major power in history allowed foreign sensibilities to affect the way their troops operated. Can you imagine if some Celtic cheiftain had said to Caesar “we’d really feel better about you presence defending us if you gave up wine and drank the local beer”. Fuck the veil and fuck the ban on booze and pork chops too (I bet they would feel even better about our women in uniform if we hacked off their clits and vulva too). A more confident country and leadership would have told them they can follow their customs but we will follow ours.

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