PC strikes again, weakening the British military

When my mother was liberated from concentation camp in Indonesia at the end of WWII, she found herself facing another threat:  the native Indonesians were rising up against the colonial Dutch.  For them, killing the sick, starved Dutch ex-POWs, all still clustered in the camps pending repatriation, was like shooting fish in a barrel.  Relief came in the form of the Gurkhas.  My mom still remembers these fearless fighters hiding in bug/reptile infested ditches outside the camps, armed (literally) to the teeth with knives and other weapons.  Within days, the Indonesian attacks against those pathetic ex-prisoners stopped.

Don’t expect the Gurkhas to be able to help out much longer, though.  PC has struck the Gurkhas and the British government, as a preemptive strike, has demanded that Gurkha women be allowed to join the regiments, despite the fact that they cannot meet the standards:

Junior defence minister Derek Twigg revealed last year that the Army would recruit female Gurkhas from 2009, but gave no details.


Half the Army’s 3,400 Gurkhas are infantry soldiers in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, and half serve in specialist Gurkha ‘corps’ units providing engineering, logistics, signals and medical support.

Unlike the rest of the Army, every Gurkha undergoes full infantry combat training.

As a result, if infantry are in short supply in the field, a Gurkha engineering or signals unit can pick up their rifles and join in an attack.

The flexibility it offers is hugely prized by the Army, already facing a serious shortage of infantry.


The problem is it is illegal to recruit and train men and women differently to do the same job.


Putting female Gurkhas through gruelling infantry training will leave them more at risk of injury and failure, it is feared, and liable to sue the Army for sex discrimination. [How are they being discriminated against if they’re being trained in the same way as men? Rhetorical question. Don’t bother to answer that in the Bizarro-land of sexual politics the only way to avoid discrimination is to treat women as — and the Victorians would love this — the weaker sex.]

In a trial in Nepal last year no women passed the current tests.

On a slightly related topic, I have a question for you.  As I’ve always understood it, military guys wear buzz cuts because (a) it helps hygiene, especially in combat or near-combat situations and (b) it means that you don’t have a handle that a bad guy can grab.  If short hair serves a practical purpose, why aren’t military women required to shave their heads too?  I think they should be.

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  • David Foster

    Here’s something much worse, also involving Britain and the Gurkhas.

  • Oldflyer

    Shave their heads? Oh Bookworm you are so wicked.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Come on Bookie – don’t you know it is sexist to hold women to the same physical standards as men? Anyway, that is what the Navy has tought me.

    Repeat until you understand: equality is discrimination.

  • Tiresias

    David makes the best point. They won’t let these guys in, but any lousy Muslim mutt who just discovered indoor plumbing last week is welcome! Not only welcome, but free to bring along all his idiot prejudices and biases in the confidant expectation that England will conform to him: he will not have to conform to it.

    I’ve about given up on England. Lived there in the late seventiers: wouldn’t visit nowadays if it was across the street.

  • 11B40


    As to the “buzz cuts” question, my understanding is that the main goal was the uniform-ization of the troops at the start of their training. By taking away the individual creativity of one’s hairdo and dressing everyone the same, supposedly, group similarity, if not cohesion, was improved.

    Your points probably are secondary, but, nonetheless, valid in a couldn’t hurt kind of way.

  • Ymarsakar

    If Bush knew what was good for America, he’d personally go to Britain to meet with the Gurkhas and lobby Congress for a bill to get them here.

    America pulls double duty as protector and nurturer for the rest of the world, why not protect those that actually deserve protection for once?

  • Ymarsakar

    Everybody likes to Blame America for Empire and Colonialism but it is not we who indulge in Empire and Colonialism. It’s all our critics instead.

    Nepal has a rather different culture, like the Kurds, compared to the West. It’s still a culture where men do all of the soldiering because it ain’t prosperous and decadent like Europe.

  • Ymarsakar

    Get this, the British people have a negative birth rate so their solution is to grab as many women from an allied tribe, the Gurkhas, as they can in order to depress the Gurkhas’ birth rates. That’s their solution to the Islamic colonialization of Britain.

    When the going gets tough, find somebody who is allied to your nation and ensure that you can get their women and send them to their deaths or to be captured (i.e. British Navy by Iran in Iraqi waters).

    That’s the ticket right there, Book.

  • rockdalian

    I, too have always thought that sanitation was the main reason behind the haircuts. Being in the field for long periods of time, short hair is easier to maintain.

    The military haircuts are given to keep down conditions such as lice, which can be highly contagious and spread through the barracks. Long hair could hinder training and make some of the rigorous exercises unsafe. Some people mistakenly believe that women too must receive military haircuts but this isn’t the case. Though military haircuts are encouraged for women, they are allowed to keep their hair pulled back and off their necks.


  • 11B40

    Greetings: especially rockadalian at number 9.

    I checked out your link and didn’t find it impressive. Your shortest haircut is usually at the beginning of your military career. You don’t spend much time in the field in basic training and all the barracks have showers and shower you will.

    If it were about the hygiene, why would the females get a pass, because their naturally and always cleaner? Don’t think so. If it were about the tactical advantage (preventing hair-pulling), I think it may be time for a career change if, in this age of automatic weapons, you can’t keep your enemies at bay.

    The depersonalization aspect is the most important. You’re in the military now, not back on the block.

  • suek


    You’re right, of course, when you’re discussing today’s miitary, but the military also follows tradition. Additionally, what began as a practice for one reason may well be found to be good for another reason. I’m inclined to agree with the sanitation cause as being the initial purpose for the buzz cut with the psychological depersonalization for the purpose of rebuilding the troop being a later use. I mean…really….how big a problem is having lice these days? But in WWI and WWII, personal sanitation simply wasn’t the non-issue that it is today.

    When I was in high school, my best friend lived out in the country on a small farm. It was a big deal when they got a _second_ bathroom in the house. One of their neighbors recently died, and she told me that the first thing the wife did after her husband’s death was to get an indoor toilet and running water in the house. They’d had an outhouse and a pump in the house, but not running water. This was in the ’50s in Ohio – about 20 miles outside of Cincinnati.

  • Mike Devx

    11B40 and all,

    When was the mandatory buzz cut instituted for the transferral of a recruit into the military? (It surely didn’t exist in the 18th or early 19th centuries, and I see no signs of its existence during the Civil War either.) I’m assuming it began during either WWI or II. They must have supplied a reasoning at the time.