The Transgender Minefield: A Military Commander’s Perspective

By Colonel Mike Angley

I served in the United States Air Force from 1981 to 2007, and in those 26 years I saw many efforts by ‘enlightened’ bureaucrats to imprint upon the troops whatever social justice causes they held dear. The military has always been the Petri dish for liberal politicians to experiment with, grounded in the false belief that a ‘GI’ is government-issued property, chattel to herd, to toy with, to poke and probe and to demand compliance with left-wing social order.

In the mid-1990s I was on the Air Staff at the Pentagon when former, impeached President Bill Clinton implemented his ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ disaster of a policy. It sought some bizarre ‘middle ground’ on gays serving in the ranks. Grossly underreported at the time was that Clinton wanted to completely lift the ban, but when he faced possible resignations of all his military Chiefs of Staff, he struck this ‘no man’s land’ policy.

When Clinton was set to make his announcement, the various Pentagon staffs put out word in the morning that only two persons per major directorate could attend the event at the National Defense University. I guess they expected an adoring, cheering crowd and wanted to limit seating.

About an hour before the event the buses sat nearly empty at the Pentagon. The ‘brass’ had no interest in validating Clinton’s foolish errand. Soon, panicked word came down that each directorate MUST send two officials. I drew the short straw and had to sit through the Philanderer-in-Chief’s drivel.

My point in relating this anecdote is to stress that, by and large, the military rejects social experimentation, and had we had our way Clinton would have addressed an empty auditorium. The fact that it was packed with people under duress does not translate into the kind of wild, enthusiastic support for such policy changes that the media runs with when it sees a room full of people in uniform.

President Barack Obama came into the White House apparently ‘evolving’ on the subject of gays in the military, only to lift the ban completely. In what many in the Armed Forces saw as a ‘scorched earth’ campaign, he ended the ban on transgender troops as a final middle finger to those in uniform on his way out the door. It was literally six months before he left office that he said transgendered troops could openly serve (and with that came free surgeries, medical care, and other benefits).

I have heard some interesting commentary from the left over President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate the ban. Keep in mind that for 240+ years the United States had a transgender ban and managed to fight and win many wars. But to hear the left, the ban weakens the military. How, by restoring it to its war-winning footing?

If it’s true that transgender troops somehow improve our war-fighting acumen, then why did Obama wait so long to allow them to serve? The left cannot explain these obvious disparities.

I have a commander’s perspective on this subject, one forged from five separate command tours I held in my career. Commanders must concern themselves with the quantifiable and metrically-verifiable, things such as combat readiness, operational effectiveness and mission accomplishment.

But they also must consider certain intangibles, concepts that are metrically-elusive. Things like unit cohesion, morale, welfare of the troops, and good order and discipline top this list.

It’s true, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. One guy or gal who doesn’t fit in, one who malingers, stirs trouble, or who is lazy and makes others work twice as hard will derail a mission in a nanosecond. Once a mission is damaged, then all those quantifiable things for which a commander gets a report card will be degraded.

Let’s start with a basic premise. Serving in the military is not a right, nor is it an entitlement, but the left treats it as such when it comes to transgenders (should the draft come back, then that narrative would change immediately). Serving in uniform is a privilege that those who are QUALIFIED may enjoy.

Warfighting is intense, brutal business. It’s the management of violence and it requires people to meet certain mental and physical qualifications. There is serious discussion of mental health issues with respect to transgender people that have merit (more than one psychiatrist has declared it a mental disorder).

Suicide rates are higher than for non-transgendered individuals, yet the left is ‘okay’ with giving them guns (but wants to strip away Second Amendment rights for civilians with similar stress because of the ‘dangers’ they pose). The military can – and does – limit those who serve for a variety of lesser concerns, yet the left demands unconditional acceptance of and service by transgendered people, risks be damned.

Transgendered individuals, depending on where they are in their transition, may be exempt from deployments or other duties. Few things grate upon a unit’s morale more than when one troop is singled out for breaks or lighter duty due to a self-inflicted medical or mental health issue.

It’s one thing to lose a leg in combat and become incapacitated, but it’s entirely different to choose to have your penis surgically removed to suddenly identify as a woman. When that gets you out of work that others must perform, the blood boils.

Then there’s the perception that military service now provides a de facto, perverse version of the GI Bill. For decades, some folks have enlisted for selfish reasons: the GI Bill’s generous education, home loan, and other benefits.

There have been rumblings among the ranks since the June 2016 lifting of the ban that many people are enlisting simply to get the equivalent of $100,000+ in transgender surgery and treatments. When combat-injured veterans die at VA clinics waiting for medical care, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Its impact is not lost on those in uniform who serve with transgendered troops. Morale sucks as a result.

President Trump was right to reinstate the ban on transgendered troops, a ban that served the nation well for nearly two and a half centuries. The mental, medical, and physical issues that come with pandering to the left’s pet rock of transgenderism are too much for the military to bear. Good order and discipline are affected, and with them, mission effectiveness.

It’s time to STOP the constant social experimentation with the military simply because it’s a group upon which the left can count for salutes and ‘yes, sirs’ when a left-wing president orders compliance with the latest policy prescription. Trust me, when the troops snap to attention and comply, they are angry, bitter, and resentful under their breaths.


Colonel Michael (“Mike”) Angley is retired from the United States Air Force, a published thriller author, and a conservative writer who fashions himself as Attila the Hun with a laptop. Mike wrote for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and Big Peace blogs before the Breitbart consolidation, receiving superb feedback and kudos for typically weaving in pop culture references with his far right perspectives. He enjoys writing about military affairs, national security issues, and politics and is an avid Second Amendment advocate. When he’s not writing, he’s busy annoying liberals with FaceBook posts and Twitter tweets that point out the obvious flaws and fallacies of the left.

During his 26-year USAF career, the Colonel was a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The OSI is a sister agency to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and has an identical mission that includes felony-level criminal, fraud, and narcotics investigations as well as counterintelligence and counterterrorism operations. His USAF experiences spanned multiple regions around the globe with five command assignments and duties at foreign, regional, theater and national levels.

He is a seasoned counterintelligence and counterespionage officer from the Cold War era, and if you ask him he’ll tell you the spy-vs-spy days were indeed the heady, glory era of espionage. During the latter half of his career he focused on counterterrorism missions in the Middle East and the Far East and operationalized many of today’s concepts for this unique arena while working the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a few other “choice” locations. When Colonel Angley retired in 2007, he was a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and was in command of all worldwide OSI matters at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO.

Mike Angley is also a published, award-winning author of three thriller novels in the “Child Finder” trilogy. His debut novel, “Child Finder,” received a glowing review from the Library Journal which placed it on its Summer Reading list in 2009. “Child Finder” and its companion sequel novels all won various awards from the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) and the Public Safety Writers Association. In 2012, Mike was named MWSA’s “Author of the Year,” largely for work on his third novel, “Child Finder: Revelation.”

As an avid user of social media, Mike can be found and friended on Facebook (mike.angley) and followed on Twitter (@MikeAngley). His website is www.mikeangley.com. Following his USAF retirement, Mike and his family stayed in Colorado Springs, CO where they enjoy daily, majestic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.

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The Transgender Minefield: A Military Commander’s Perspective — 2 Comments

  1. Mike, as usual, a superbly written analysis of a ridiculous “problem” and how it affects our military. Religion and morals aside, you have presented a realistic compilation of reasons why supporting transgendered individuals and especially those the military pays for, is outrageous. Thanks for a terrific article.

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