James Dobson and Gen Robert Barrow: Women in Combat and the Draft

The following article has been edited slightly for length. You can read the full letter here. The Congressional testimony referenced in the letter can be viewed here.  Formatted for readability.

By Dr. James Dobson

While most of us Americans were thinking about something else, a decades long struggle has been going on within the leadership of our Armed Forces and the political decision makers to whom they are accountable…It concerns an effort to redesign and reshape our military and has far ranging implications for the security of this country.

Since the early 1990s, each branch [of the military] has been under unrelenting pressure to conform itself to the principles of political correctness. It has been driven by powerful left-wing social movements, including radical feminism, the gay rights movement, LGBTQ ideology, and most recently, transgender influences that have swept the nation…This revolutionary social experiment has weakened the U.S. military and made our troops march to a different set of drums. But, that is where we are headed.

For example, Congress first began considering the radical notion of authorizing women in combat 26 years ago. Hearings were held on that concept on June 18, 1991, which featured generals, senators and feminists who testified on behalf of what has never been permitted in the 217-year history of this country.

Gender studies confirmed what has been known about male and female physiology, psychology, sexuality, family issues, gender norming and other dimensions of military life. What had to be considered is the undeniable fact that most women can’t run, swim, fight, climb, carry, or endure hardship like men. [Women] were designed by the Creator with feminine physiological characteristics that influence every aspect of their lives.

To be sure, women have made positive impacts in our military. However, if women are put on the front lines of battle, they will be subjected to the most brutal and demanding challenges known to humanity…These challenges go beyond the individual soldier or marine. The impact on the remainder of her unit could very well make them combat ineffective and lead to unnecessary loss of life. This is what is at stake for you and your daughters if assigned to combat duties…

During that first morning in a Senate Chamber, the 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Barrow, sat listening to one military expert after another as they tried to make a case for putting women in harm’s way.

I have a video and transcript of General Barrow’s testimony from that morning. If you have any interest in what I am writing, you should read his words of warning. It may someday be highly relevant to you—to husbands or sons, or daughters. This is what the venerated General Barrow said:

You’re most kind, Sir. I, for a moment thought I’d perhaps been rendered irrelevant with some of this testimony. I will try to be brief and to the point.

This is not about women’s rights, equal opportunity, career assignments for enhancement purposes for selection to higher rank. It most assuredly is about combat effectiveness in the next conflict, and so we’re also talking about national security. Those who advocate change have some strange arguments. One of which is [the meaning of combat]. That women have been shot at, they’ve heard gunfire, they’ve been in areas where they could have been hit with missiles. Well, exposure to danger is not combat.

Combat is a lot more than that. It’s a lot more than getting shot at or even getting killed. Combat is finding and closing with and killing or capturing the enemy if you’re down in the ground combat scheme of things. It’s killing, that’s what it is. And it’s done in an environment that is often as difficult as you can possibly imagine–extreme[s of] climate, brutality, death, and dying. It’s uncivilized! And women can’t do it, nor should they be even thought of as doing it.

The requirements for strength and endurance render them unable to do it. And I may be old fashioned, but I think the very nature of women disqualifies them from doing it. Women give life, sustain life, nurture life; they don’t take itMost harm that could come would probably come from what it would do to the men in that kind of situation.

I know, in some circles, that it is very popular to ridicule something called male bonding, but it’s real. One has to have experienced it to understand it. It doesn’t lend itself to easy explanation. It is cohesiveness. I heard some of those words this morning. It’s cohesiveness. It’s mutual respect and admiration. It’s one for all and all for one. It’s believing that as a unit no one else could do what this unit is being asked to do. Perhaps Shakespeare said it best of all, “We few, we precious few, we band of brothers.” For that’s what it is. And that would be shattered; it would be destroyed. If you want to make a combat unit ineffective, assign some women to it. It’s a destructive proposition.

And the thing that puzzles me about it is that there is no military requirement for it. There’s no military need to put women in combat. We have all the men we need for that kind of thing…The young soldiers and Marines, women. They are terrific, I know them well. They serve with great skill; they have a spirit about them, the crème de la crème. And most of them, I’ve never met one who wanted to be an infantryman.

Who wants them to be an infantryman? The hard-lined feminists do! That’s who wants to be an infantryman. They have their agenda, and it doesn’t have anything to do with national security. They want to put our daughters at risk. And the other attendant problems to being in such situations where you have sexual harassment, fraternization, favoritism, resentment, male backlash, all these things would be an insurmountable problem for someone to deal with. Who deals with that? Not some faceless political appointee over there in the Pentagon, but the corporals and the sergeants, and the lieutenants and the captains would have to maintain good order and discipline and also fight the war. Doesn’t work, doesn’t work…

If you persist and push this down into the combat area, it would destroy the Marine Corps. Simple as that. Something no enemy has been able to do in over 200 years. So, my recommendation is to make the law clear and unambiguous…

General Barrow’s words that day reveal his passion about the issue being debated. These were the words of a national hero who had seen death and dying for then 41 years. He was pleading with his colleagues and the nation not to make a tragic mistake. But the campaign for political correctness went on unabated. Two years later, President Bill Clinton sought to open all combat assignments to women and to authorize participation by gays…

Since that time, political correctness has run amok in the Pentagon and elsewhere in government. I’m going to write now without reservation, expressing my Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech.

Senator Barack Obama then came on the scene and began advocating a full repeal of laws barring gays and lesbians from serving in the military. Once he was elected president, he wasted no time asking Congress to take action, following a review by the Department of Defense…

How about it, Mothers and Fathers? Do you want your daughters engaged in combat situations during national emergencies? The Pentagon has already decided that women will help fight our wars. Speaking personally, I resent McCain, Hunter and other members of Congress trying to ram this policy down the throats of American families…

Read the conclusion of Dr. Dobson’s letter.



  • My wife would put you in a headlock and give you noogies until you cried “Uncle,” if she saw you after reading this drivel!

  • Sunny Roberts

    I was a woman, in the military, and I believe, man or woman, if you sign on the dotted line, you should do anything a man does, including go to the front lines to fight. Women want women’s liberation, but don’t want the bad with the good. If you sign up for the military you should do whatever your country says to do, even to die. Is a man’s life less important than a woman’s? We can’t pick and choose what we want all the time if we want to do a man’s job.

    • @Sunny Roberts
      Many men might indeed say their lives are “less important” than women’s lives, which is why they would volunteer to sacrifice for them.

      But the truth is probably often lost in the rhetoric: The lives of men and women can be different without being of any less value than the other. Men and women do not have to do the same things, or be the same, to “prove” their “equal” worth.