He speaks truth . . . and will probably suffer for it

I can only doff my metaphorical cap in respect to Sergeant-Major Justin LeHew, USMC, for speaking up about the recent implicitly insulting and blatantly politically-correct comments made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.  The Marine Times reports:

An influential Marine leader who received the nation’s second-highest valor award and helped run the Corps’ monthslong study on women in combat slammed Navy Secretary Ray Mabus this weekend for questioning the validity of the experiment.

In a publicly visible post on his personal Facebook page, Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew said Mabus was “way off base” to suggest that female Marines of a higher caliber should have been selected for the service’s integrated task force experiment and that officials went into the test anticipating the women would not be successful.

Mabus’ comments run “counter to the interests of national security and [are] unfair to the women who participated in this study,” wrote LeHew, who played a key role in the service’s nine-month experiment as the top enlisted leader with Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

“No one went in to this with the mentality that we did not want this to succeed,” he added. “No Marine, regardless of gender, would do that.”

LeHew later removed or hid the post from his Facebook page. He did not respond to Marine Corps Times requests’ for comment sent via email and Facebook.

“Sgt. Maj. LeHew’s social media posts reflect his personal views and not those of Training and Education Command or the Marine Corps,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Rojo, a spokesman for the command. “He is not available for further comment at this time.”

Both Marine Corps Headquarters and Ray Mabus, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

LeHew, nicknamed “The Hero of Nasiriyah,” received the prestigious Navy Cross in 2004 for risking his life under heavy enemy fire to evacuate four soldiers and recover nine dead and wounded Marines following a 2003 ambush in Iraq. He was responding to comments Mabus made during a Friday interview with NPR.

. . .

Mabus said his mind was made up even before the results of the experiment were released, LeHew noted. But the data shows that the best women in the task force performed at or below the levels of the lowest 5 percent of male volunteers in the experiment, according to LeHew.

There’s more at the link.  Sergeant-Major LeHew’s full statement has been archived here.

I can’t help but recall comments made by then-Captain Katie Petronio USMC in 2012.  She stated bluntly:  “As a combat-experienced Marine officer, and a female, I am here to tell you that we are not all created equal, and attempting to place females in the infantry will not improve the Marine Corps as the Nation’s force-in-readiness or improve our national security.”

I also addressed this topic just last month, in an article titled ‘Women in ground combat: the blunt and bitter truth‘.  I can only applaud Sergeant-Major LeHew’s honesty and defense of the standards of his Corps.  I fear his career will probably suffer for it:  but I suspect his standing among his fellow Marines has seldom been as high as it must be today.  He’s taken the bull by the horns (or, if you’re speaking of the political correctness of the current Secretary of the Navy, the bull****!) and bluntly stated the truth.  That truth needs to be heard, because if it’s ignored, Marines will die unnecessarily in combat through being placed in impossible situations.  My only question is, why have the senior officers of the Marine Corps not shown the courage and dedication of Sergeant-Major LeHew in making the truth clear?  They seem to be ‘missing in action’ . . . covering their asses, perhaps?

When push comes to shove, one can’t force military reality to conform to political, social and emotional wish lists.  That hasn’t worked in the past, it won’t work today, and it will never, repeat, never work in the future.  Our enemies will be more than willing to demonstrate that, if necessary.

Sergeant-Major LeHew, I suppose it’s unlikely that we’ll ever meet:  but if we do, the beer and the steak will be on me.  From one combat veteran to another, I salute you, Sir.



  1. Peter – if the experiences of folks I know is an any indications, it is a HIGHLY political environment and speaking the truth is a career buster. Even talking amongst yourselves will can your career to stagnate (no promotions). Which means if you are passed over too many times you will be forced out.

    So nobody talks about the elephant in the room when they should be. And how many times ware the battles/wars lost because nobody wanted to be the one to say, "This is bull$hit!"? History is littered with examples.

  2. This is all nothing new. The military is being forced in this direction by politicians who want to win PC points with some group or another.

    Outlawing discrimination means being gender blind. Can you do the job? Great, it's yours. Gender doesn't enter into it; it's irrelevant.

    I was in the Air Force, and knew of one woman technician who was unable to carry her own toolbox, because it was too heavy (or she said it was, anyway). This had to be accepted, and could not be mentioned in her fitness reports. If a guy had been unable to carry his toolbox, he wouldn't have lasted very long. That is discrimination.

  3. Peter:

    The Sargent Major's career will not "suffer" for this. His career will be put out of it's misery.


  4. There are things women cannot, CANNOT! do. It is just that simple. Politicians and lesbians are wrong to push this issue to its disastrous conclusion! What the hell is so hard to understand about this??!!
    God wanted women to be different in the first place, that is why He made us different.
    Let us be very clear about this – there are two issues here: this administration wants to see it accepted because it will mean the weakening of our Military and subsequently our country, and the heads of the Services are willing to accede because they do not want to lose their jobs.
    The destruction of America is being orchestrated by Obama and his ilk.

  5. Funny thing is it not how speaking "truth to power" is a good thing except when the speaker is saying something the progressive left doesn't want to hear.
    S'Maj LeHew must obviously be a misogynist for claiming that women aren't every bit as good as men in every respect.
    When faced with a choice between the narrative and reality guess which one gets picked.

  6. Too many people conflate physical ability with mental ability or ability to lead.

    We are by no means inferior intellectually, or lacking in leadership skills, but it is true that women are not as physically strong as men. No one should dispute that.

    That said, I am all for letting women *try* for the positions: with one caveat – no handicapping. If the requirements say to run a mile with a 100+ pack on your back then everyone has to do it. If you finish the run, then on to the next test. If you fail, well better luck next time. That pack has things that may keep you and your squad alive.

    If physical strength, particularly upper body strength, is not relevant, but something like hand/eye coordination is, then there is no reason a woman could not compete on a truly level field. (And by that I do mean level, not one that has been torn down re-leveled to allow the woman an advantage.)

  7. It is a fallacy to think that we can simply "set a standard" in matters like this.

    The only standard that matters in surviving and winning in a brutally Darwinian field……. Which means that if you have 100 or 100,000 places that must be filled, you fill them with the best candidates, not the first to meet your standard.

    Because the enemy will not respect your standard.

    You do not win wars by fighting to a standard. You win them by being better than your enemy.

  8. One other thought: maybe this is the place to hide their new transgender "soldiers" – in a special elite platoon, one for each company. 🙂

  9. @PeterW Only true if there's a fixed number of places and you must then turn away eligible (and as per your argument, better) candidates. Last I checked this wasn't the case, but I may be very wrong about this (and it may vary by nation).

  10. So women, in general, are unsuited for ground combat. Why try to force the issue? There are plenty of ways for them to serve their country in battle; ask Maj. Heather "Lucky" Penney or Capt. Kim "Killer Chick" Campbell. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, no matter our gender, so let's concentrate on how to most effectively utilize our strengths, rather than trying to make reality conform to our wishes.

    Oh, sorry. I forgot logic and reason weren't Politically Correct. Carry on.

  11. both my sons went thru basic training with women who could not throw a hand grenade far enough to keep from killing themselves.

  12. There are things women can do substantially better in combat than men. For those slots there should be very few if any men.

    The prime example is the role of fighter pilot in any high-g aircraft. If we truly put the best people in these positions, meaning the ones who can survive and fight in high G environments, then there should be almost no males, and almost no females who are not of Asian descent in those cockpits. That's just the way the physiology works. The distance between the top of the aorta and the bottom of the medulla oblongata determines about 90% of one's ability to withstand high G and maintain consciousness and rational thought. Almost all the people with that dimension being very very short are Asian females. So why are there any white male f 16 fighter pilots? Answer, there probably shouldn't be very many.


  13. Being able to handle high-G is a small part of being a fighter pilot. Quick thinking and reflexes are key. Thinking? No problem. Reflexes? Big problem.

    Don't believe me? Look at fencers. The rules of fencing make strength all but irrelevant, and reach isn't that big either – otherwise giants would rule instead of the average sized top fencers. When I fenced in college, I found that I had mediocre (at best) reflex speed, but was still faster than all but one of the women in class.

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