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Our military can defeat the enemy, but can it survive the 'pinup police'?

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The Fort Report

This week's show will feature State Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, who will discuss the Supreme Court's gay-marriage rulings, the 2013 session of the General Assembly and future legislative issues. The episode will appear Sunday on www.news-sentinel.com and at 5:30 p.m. July 6 on Comcast Channel 57 and FiOS Channel 27.

Who will inspire the troops, now that they can't ogle Betty Grable?

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 12:01 am

First it was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Then, when that was no longer trendy enough, it was “You don’t have to ask. We’ll tell.”

Then, just this month, the Pentagon announced it would officially clear the way for women in combat by adopting new gender-neutral physical standards that would never, ever compromise national security.

But now the emasculation of America’s military has finally gone too far: Under orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, ships, aircraft, office buildings, bathrooms and almost anything other than barracks, lockers or cars were to have been searched by Friday for materials that could create a “degrading, hostile or offensive work environment.” Results are to be reported by July 12.

Computers and cell phones remain off-limits to the pinup police, presumably because they are already being monitored by the National Security Agency.

Hagel ordered the scrutiny after a Pentagon survey found that 26,000 service members experienced “some form” of sexual assault last year. That lack of specificity carries over into the definition of what constitutes “degrading” or “offensive,” which is why inspectors have been told to resolve any doubt by confiscating the item in question.

So, thanks to the tyranny of the lowest common denominator, there can be only one outcome:

Goodbye, Betty Grable. Hello, Justin Bieber.

As any student of history knows, posters of Grable’s backside and fellow actress Rita Hayworth’s front side helped smash Hitler and save mankind by reminding America’s servicemen exactly what they were fighting for. Grable’s iconic over-the-shoulder pose, in fact, became the most famous pinup of World War II, and no doubt made some horrific places and experiences just a bit more bearable.

Similar inspirational images were employed on tanks, ships, and other equipment, including aircraft such as the “Memphis Belle,” one of the first B-17 bombers to complete the 25 missions needed to return stateside. The “Flying Fortress” was named for pilot Robert K. Morgan’s girlfriend, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, with the scantily clad belle on the nose based on a drawing in Esquire magazine.

In a special dispensation, however, the Air Force has decreed that some World War II pinup art will be exempt from the Pentagon’s search-and-destroy mission. Vintage aircraft at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, for example – home of the Memphis Belle since 2005 – will be spared the kind of paint-over once reserved for Vatican or Victorian nudes.

“That’s our history,” Col. Cassie Varlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, explained in a story by CNSNews.com.

Yes, but it’s not the future, where only the most androgynous pinups are likely to pass muster under leaders who seem to believe that sexual expression or desire is unmilitary – unless, presumably, you were participating in this month’s second annual Defense Department “gay pride” celebration, where White House adviser Valerie Jarrett assured the nation it is safer because of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

As columnist Thomas Sowell recently reminded us, “For thousands of years people around the world had the common sense to realize that putting young men and women together in military operations was asking for trouble . . . if sexual assaults in the military are taking place in our own country, far from the scene of battle, what do you suppose will happen when men and women are in the same tents or trenches at night on battlefield thousands of miles away?

“We don’t have to ask what will happen on warships at sea. The number of Navy women who already get pregnant in such places tells us more plainly than words.”

The expansion of roles for military women does not excuse sexual assault, of course, which is a serious issue demanding a serious response no matter what the real numbers are. But it would be nice if today’s politicians would at least acknowledge that turning the military into a civilian-style work place, where every hurt feeling must be investigated, accommodated, punished or avoided, only undermines those who insist that the new, more-inclusive armed forces are just as combat-ready as ever.

If you’re tough enough to kill, shouldn’t you be tough enough to tolerate Betty Grable – or even Justin Bieber?

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com, or call him at 461-8355.