Republicans Adopt Solid Platform on Military/Social Issues

Strengthening the All-Volunteer Force

September 5, 2012 - The 2012 Republican National Platform, titled We Believe in America, includes this affirmation: "We are the party of peace through strength."  The unequivocal statement is supported by a comprehensive platform section "American Exceptionalism," which clearly signals a positive turn toward national security as the highest priority in a future Romney/Ryan Administration.  The following excerpts from that section, which address military/social issues, appear on pages 42-43:

"Supporting Our Troops - Standing by Our Heroes"

1.  "We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness."

This statement affirms support for military/social policies that advance  national security and military necessity as the highest priority.  It also recognizes and opposes experiments to test controversial social theories in the military, including "diversity" policies based on the theory that men and women are interchangeable in all military occupations, and the belief that human sexuality is of no consequence in policy matters affecting discipline and morale.

2.  "The all-volunteer force, begun on the watch of Republican Presidents, has carried America to victory from the Caribbean and Central America to the Balkans and Southwest Asia.  We oppose the reinstatement of the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service."

This plank has been in the platform since 2000.  Compulsory Selective Service registration for military or national service would be an unwarranted extension of government power that would weaken the special culture of the all-volunteer force.  This plank also addresses a legal consequence of the Obama Administration's push to eliminate women's exemptions from direct ground combat. Authorizing women to serve in land combat, on the same basis as men, would trigger yet another ACLU lawsuit, which would probably succeed in imposing equal Selective Service obligations on young women, without a vote of Congress.

3.  "We support the advancement of women in the military...[and] We support women's  exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions."

This plank, which has been in the platform since 2000, expresses respect and appreciation for our women in the military, who have served courageously in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks on America.  It also contrasts with the intent of the Obama Administration to abolish military women's exemptions from direct ground combat.  All deployed personnel serve "in harm's way," but missions of Army and Marine infantry battalions, artillery, armor, and Special Operations Forces have not changed. 

"Tip of the spear" land combat battalions seek out and destroy the enemy with deliberate offensive action under fire.  In this environment, women do not have an equal opportunity to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive. Military personnel policies should improve combat effectiveness, without imposing civilian social agendas that would make military life more difficult and more dangerous.

4.  "We affirm the cultural values that encourage selfless service and superiority in battle, and oppose anything that might weaken team cohesion,  including intra-military special interest demonstrations." 

Strict Defense Department regulations prohibit the wearing of uniforms at political, commercial, and special interest events, or in ways that "may tend to bring discredit upon the Armed Forces."  Nevertheless, uniformed personnel were given permission to march in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade on July 21, 2012.  President Obama has celebrated June as LGBT Equality Month four times in the White House − the most recent reception involving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered personnel who showed visible contempt for the portrait of President Ronald Reagan.  Marine Band members performing there were not free to express their opinions on such antics.  All military personnel are duty-bound to follow orders. 

At the Pentagon and elsewhere, the Obama Defense Department has allowed military personnel to participate in conferences that promote controversial special-interest goals, such as marriage status and benefits for same-sex couples. In the same way that labor unions are not allowed in the military, intra-military activist events promoting special interest causes are inherently divisive and harmful to team cohesion.  

5.  "We will support an objective and open-minded review of the current administration's management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action."

It will be important for the next Commander-in-Chief to give permission to all personnel − especially close combat troops whose views were ignored by the Obama Administration − to candidly report on the true consequences of social experimentation and LGBT law in our military.  Appropriate administrative or legislative action to repair the damage will help to restore sound priorities and strengthen morale and readiness in the all-volunteer force. 

6.  "The spiritual welfare of our troops and retired service members should be a priority of our national leadership.  With military suicides running at the rate of one a day, with post-service medical conditions, including addiction and mental illness, and with the financial stress and homelessness that is often related to these factors, there is an urgent need for the kind of counseling that faith-based institutions can best provide.  We support rights of conscience and religious freedom for military chaplains and people of faith.  A Republican Commander-in-Chief will protect religious independence of military chaplains and will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities." 

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees rights of conscience and religious liberty to both chaplains and military personnel who are deployed far from home.  Servicemen and women have a right to receive counsel from chaplains who are free to discuss matters of morality during all activities, not limited to worship services.  Conscience clauses are common in civilian law but missing from legislation to repeal the 1993 law regarding gays in the military.

The fact that chaplains will continue to minister to persons of all faiths and backgrounds is not in dispute, but they should not be required to endorse certain life choices that traditions of most major faiths consider to be wrong.  In view of Obama Defense Department policies, there is a need to deter infringements on religious liberty, which are creating a "chilling effect" due to fear of career penalties.  Legislation already passed in the House would protect rights of conscience and religious liberty for military chaplains and people of faith, and deter adverse discrimination or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment. 

7.  "We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act  (DOMA), in the armed forces as well as in the civilian world."

The Obama Department of Defense has attempted to circumvent the Defense of Marriage Act by allowing the conduct of same-sex unions or marriage-like "ceremonies" on military bases.  As CMR reported in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, on May 19, 2012, a chaplain conducted a same-sex marriage in a dedicated chapel at Fort Polk, Louisiana, a state that does not authorize same-sex marriage or civil unions.  This incident has divided the faith community driving a wedge between chaplains and congregants.   Pending legislation, already passed in the House, would reaffirm congressional intent (inscribed in the repeal law)  that same-sex unions or "marriage-like ceremonies," involving anything other than the union of one man and one woman, not take place on military installations.

More information on other sections of the National Platforms on matters of Defense and Foreign Policy is available here: 

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The Center for Military Readiness is an independent, non-partisan public policy organization that specializes in military/social issues.  CMR does not endorse political candidates.

 

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