According to Hagel, transgender troops are key to military success

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I can think of a thousand policy issues on which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should focus. Heck, as a Vietnam veteran, you might think he’d care a bit about the current VA “death list” scandal.

So this is a short story because, frankly, I’m at a loss for words. According to the Business Insider via Reuters, “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday the U.S. military should review its ban on allowing transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces, saying that “every qualified American” should have an opportunity to serve.”

We recently reported here of a US Navy F-18 fighter pilot who reported the Obama administration’s focus on social issues in the military is adversely affecting readiness. I guess no one in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership read the commander’s report.

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President Barack Obama has made lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights a priority during his time in office, and in 2010 signed legislation ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that had prevented gay men and women from serving openly in the military. Hagel didn’t make clear whether he felt the ban on transgender troops should be reversed.

According to the report, “The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it,” Hagel told ABC’s “This Week” program. “These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity.”

But in backing a review of the ban, Hagel said: “I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line: every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”

But here’s the question: what is the priority for our military? Why should it be social egalitarianism? Shouldn’t it be national security where strong force is a deterrent? Are we unable to provide a strong deterrent unless transgender troops can serve? I mean, I know we’re an all-volunteer force, but is it transgender troops who make up the deficit when budgets are cut and forces are reduced?

The National Center for Transgender Equality, a Washington-based advocacy group, said Hagel’s willingness to review the policy was “overdue but very welcome,” as it called the ban “arbitrary and archaic.” “If the secretary were able to meet and talk with the trans service members I’ve met, he’d understand the answer is self-evident,” Mara Keisling, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “These are amazing people who serve even though they must hide a basic part of who they are.”

Arbitrary and archaic? I’ll tell you what’s arbitrary. The fact that these special interest groups get more attention from the Obama administration than the thousands of veterans, active and reserve component servicemen and women, and military families.

We have a volunteer force, but if we now believe it is the mission of the military to conform to every single individual behavior — then why have a military, which is supposed to conform individual behavior to the organization? That’s what makes a first class, cohesive, fighting unit.

We’re turning our military into a social club.

And our enemies are delighted.

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