It’s late. I should be asleep — but I was reading the Stars and Stripes tonight online and ran across a couple of letters to the editor by Spc. Khai Krumbhaar.
I don’t know this soldier — but see that he has folks praying for him in St. Andrew’s Parish in Western Mexico.
He is a very thoughtful guy given the tenor of two fascinating letters that he published in the military newspaper — one on gender issues in the military and the other on attitudes towards homosexuality. This individual is a high quality thinker who really deserves a position counseling the military on how to instruct soldiers on 21st century norms.
Here are the two letters. The first a response to an anti-gay letter by a soldier stationed in Baghdad:
15 November 2006 — Stars and Stripes Letter to the Editor
A reason for EO training
After I read “Why run article on gays?” (letter, Nov. 1), I realized why we endure long hours of Equal Opportunity training every quarter: Some people still don’t get it.
The letter writer was so offended by the mere mention of homosexuality that he took time out of wartime duties to write. He offered two weak excuses: that it has no military relevance and that he resented the “attempt to push the homosexual agenda on the military population.” Neither holds any water.
If the author reads Stars and Stripes, he’s noticed the many articles that have nothing to do with the military. I’ve seen pieces on Britney Spears, celebrity divorces and self-aware elephants. As for the assertion that homosexuality is inconsistent with the military lifestyle, the same could be argued for articles on competitive eating or increasing beer sales. At least being gay won’t make you die of a heart attack at 30, like downing 97 Krystal burgers in one sitting.
The “pushing agendas” comment made even less sense. What about the blatantly biased political cartoons? Only a couple of them are entertaining; some are anti-military. Where’s the captain’s outrage over Stripes pushing the baby boomer agenda with stories or financial problems among the elderly? Where’s his outcry against cartoons mocking the government? Where is his concern for review of racist, violent music?
You know where mine is? Nowhere. I understand that free speech and the right to pursue happiness mean I won’t always like what is said or done by others within the bounds of law. The article was tastefully and compassionately written. If he was so offended by it, he could have turned the page. Free speech also means he doesn’t have to listen to or read opinions he doesn’t agree with.
Spc. Khai Krumbhaar
Camp Buehring, Kuwait
The other responds to an article suggesting that women don’t belong in the infantry:
25 January 2005 — Stars and Stripes Letter to the Editor
Women wouldn’t slack off
I wish I was surprised by “Women don’t belong in infantry” (Dec. 15), but frankly I’m not.
The writer said he would leave his personal opinions aside, then expressed them in a very narrow-minded manner. I agree that women who want to join the infantry should meet the same physical training requirements. However, the reason weight and body fat regulations are different is because women are naturally supposed to carry more body fat than males. Feel free to ask your medic if you’re skeptical.
As for the claims that women would slack off, any woman tough enough to pass the male PT standards and infantry training is probably at least as motivated as the males. While in Iraq I have seen women carry heavier loads to prove themselves more than I’ve seen them loafing, and several of the females in my unit carry the heavier M249 light machine gun while the only M4 assault rifle is carried by the tallest man in our unit.
Decency requires that opposite genders have separate places to dress and shower when available. This is not preferential treatment but common sense. Remember in Kuwait where the whole unit shared one tent? The men kept to one side, the women to the other, and people changed their underclothes in the showers.
To prevent accidental pregnancies, infantry females could be required to be on birth control in the field. At other times, do remember that men can have children while in the military and women should be able to, as well.
The bottom line is, soldiers who can pass the same training should have the same opportunities, regardless of gender. Period.
Spc. Khai Krumbhaar
The incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ought to arrange a meeting with Spc. Khai Krumbhaar and figure out how this person’s sensibilities might be spread throughout the military network.
— Steve Clemons