March 2018 Readers’ Letters | HistoryNet MENU

March 2018 Readers’ Letters

By HistoryNet Staff
2/19/2018 • Military History, MH Letters

Woman in Combat
With great alarm I read your interview with Mary Jennings Hegar [“Shoot Like a Girl,” September 2017].

I am a career infantry officer with three tours in Iraq. I served in combat infantry roles as well as various levels of staff. Hegar’s assertion that people who oppose women in combat simply have not worked with women in that capacity is patently false. I have worked with military women both in and out of combat. I remain deeply opposed to the move to open ground combat specialties and schools to women. The overwhelming majority of the men with whom I served felt the same way.

Our opposition is grounded in seeing firsthand the indiscipline, sexual misconduct and low standards of mixed-gender units. That these problems will now be allowed in our fighting units is appalling. The purpose of the military is to fight and win, not to provide a sense of equality to young girls. Combat is, inherently, not an equal endeavor. Like many gung-ho military women, Hegar appears either ignorant or cavalier about the effects that just a single woman has on the cohesion and discipline of a unit. Hegar’s effort to sue the military, under which she served, should not be lauded or given any more public attention. Her actions were shameful, self-centered and self-aggrandizing.

Hegar’s conduct in Afghanistan was laudable, and she received just reward. Nonetheless, her performance did not provide a justification for ending a practice that evolved over the history of conflict. Men derive the need to protect their families and homes from a deep biological sense driven by their larger size and strength. Likewise, we regard the opposite to be cowardly and perverse. Hegar’s dismissal of the masculine role and identity is not only wrong, it is an insult to the generations of fighting men who left their homes because they chose to defend their families and loved ones.

One would be left wondering if the Greatest Generation would have been so great if the young men of that generation opted to stay home and play games and let their mothers, wives and sisters fight and die en masse in their stead.

Maj. Philip Mase
Fort Benning, Ga.

The Fighting Parson
Correction: In the November 2017 Valor article “The Fighting Parson” by Frank Jastrzembski, we incorrectly stated that the Rev. James Adams was the only clergyman to have received the Victoria Cross. Adams was the first but not last clergyman so honored. The editors regret the error.

Ontos Encore
[Re. “M50 Ontos,” by Jon Guttman, Hardware, September 2017] From what I understand, the Ontos was used against tanks in the Dominican Republic incident in 1965. The 82nd Airborne was sent there along with other units and made quick work of the whole episode. The Dominicans had Swedish light tanks—virtual antiques going back to the 1930s. They also employed French AMX-13 light tanks with an oscillating turret—quite more modern. The Ontos took them all on without loss—that I am aware of—and cleaned house. Can you confirm this?

Mark Cohn
Cockeysville, Md.

Research director Jon Guttman responds: Thanks for bringing up an overlooked incident in the history of an overlooked weapon. The M50 Ontos did, indeed, engage opposing armor when the United States intervened in the Dominican Civil War. The Dominican military at that time had 20 Swedish-made Stridsvagn L/60L light tanks armed with 37 mm cannons, along with 13 Swedish Landsverk Lynx armored cars and 12 French AMX-13 light tanks, thinly armored but packing potent 75 mm guns. During the civil strife a few L/60Ls and AMX-13s fell into constitutionalist hands, and it was these that were engaged when the 6th Marine Expeditionary Unit landed in the Dominican Republic on April 29, 1965. During the ensuing fight an L/60L took on an M48 Patton medium tank and lost, while an Ontos knocked out another L/60L. (The United States left the Dominican Republic with 12 of the surviving Stridsvagn L/60Ls.)An Ontos was also credited with knocking the turret off an AMX-13. All of the American vehicles involved were from the armored element of the 6th MEU, not the 82nd Airborne Division, which landed the next day in Operation Power Pack. As mentioned in the article, only the Marines adopted and used the M50 Ontos.

 

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