A retired U.S. general says Dutch troops failed to defend against the 1995 genocide in the Bosnian war because the army was weakened, partly because it included openly gay soldiers.The last three paragraphs are exactly true .... but what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?
Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and other nations believed there was no longer a need for an active combat capability in the militaries, he said. "They declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialize their military -- that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality."
Dutch troops serving as U.N. peacekeepers and tasked with defending the town of Srebrenica in 1995 were an example of a force that became ill-equipped for war.
"The battalion was understrength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them," Sheehan said.
"That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II," he said of the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men after Serbian forces captured the town.
Levin, D-Mich., appeared incredulous. "Did the Dutch leaders tell you it (the fall of Srebrenica) was because there were gay soldiers there?" he asked.I am in, gulp, full alignment with Sen. Levin (D-MI)? Pun intended, but DADT makes for strange bedfellows. It is one thing to have an opinion and a principled stand on an issue - good people can disagree on DADT. But there is no excuse to take the easy low road of smearing good friends.
"Yes," Sheehan said. "They included that as part of the problem." He said the former chief of staff of the Dutch army had told him.
Levin said it may be the case that some militaries have focused on peacekeeping to the detriment of their war-fighting skills.
"But I think that any effort to connect that failure on the part of the Dutch to the fact that they have homosexuals, or did allow homosexuals, I think is totally off-target," said Levin, a proponent of ending restrictions on gays serving in the U.S. armed forces.
"The Dutch military, as you point out, were peacekeepers and not peace-enforcers. I agree with that," said Levin. "But what the heck that has to do with the issue before us is what mystifies me."
Enough of the funny stuff - let's establish some ground truth. First of all - without showing too much leg - let me just say that I know a h3ll of a lot more about the Dutch military than either Gen. Sheehan or Sen. Levin on the personal level - the one where DADT really matters. Gen. Sheehan is on a different planet.
1. Homosexuality had about as much to do with the lack of proper ROE, Commander's Guidance, and Tactical presence of the Dutch in Bosnia as the lack of Stroopwafels, Oliebollen, Pannenkoeken, and Stampot.
2. Walk onboard and then operate with any Dutch warship. Then walk onboard and operate on any comprable US warship. Listen to them on the radio. Watch them do an English Channel transit. Watch them go through the STOG (monkey watch or no monkey watch).
3. Look at their record in Uruzgan in Afghanistan. Outside of the British, and Canadians - we have no better warfighting ally. When it comes to Continental NATO, the Dutch were there early and almost caveat free. Except for the tiny Baltic Republics, no one on the Continent has a better record.
4. The Turks beat, jail, and Lord knows what else with homosexuals - and what use are they on the battlefield? What is their record? Who would you want providing close-air-support, a Dutch or Turkish Air Force aircraft? Hey - how about a Greek, they don't like queers either?
Talk to Gen Peter van Uhm and Captain Marco Kroon of the Royal Netherlands Army what you think of the Dutch military record. A little warning though, you may see a rare departure from Dutch manners and tolerance - and you will deserve it.
Shame on Gen. Sheehan. Shame.
Enough of me - let the Dutch take care of this mess.
Dutch defense ministry spokesman Roger Van de Wetering said in a telephone interview that he finds it "unbelievable that a man of this rank is stating this nonsense."
"The whole operation in Srebrenica and the drama that took place over there was thoroughly investigated by Dutch and international authorities and none of these investigations has ever concluded or suggested a link between homosexual military personnel and the things that happened over there. I do not know on what facts this is based, but for us it is total nonsense," Van de Wetering said.
On the Dutch attitude to gays in the military, he said: "For us it is very simple. Every man or woman that meets the criteria physically and mentally is welcome to serve in our armed forces regardless of (religious) belief, sexual preference or whatever."
UPDATE: Friends, commenters, countrymen. Remember, "Creative Friction Without Conflict?" Well, let's work through this ... and yes, I went to 11 with my Turkish and Greek friends by dragg'n them in to this that way ... but we need to go back to the substance of the argument. As per some of the push-back in comments - here is an update. Listen and read - let's not emote, and "let's" includes me.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende called Sheehan's comments irresponsible and said at his weekly news conference that "these remarks should never have been made."
"Toward Dutch troops - homosexual or heterosexual - it is way off the mark to talk like that about people and the work they do under very difficult circumstances," he said.
Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop called Sheehan's claim "damaging" and not worthy of a soldier. "I don't want to waste any more words on it," he said.
Gen. Henk van den Breemen, Dutch chief of staff at the time of the Srebrenica genocide, called Sheehan's comments "total nonsense" and denied ever having suggested gays in the army might have played a role in the Srebrenica massacre.
The Netherlands has a long history of accepting homosexuality, and gays have long been welcome in the country's armed forces - which also allow labor unions.
The leader of one such union, Jan Kleian, was incensed by Sheehan's comments.
"The man is crazy," he told Dutch radio. "It sounds hard, but I can't put it any other way."
UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: Two more reports, here and here.
Here is the sad part about this. The comments Gen. Sheehan makes about the condition and mindset of the post-Cold War European military are correct, and are 95% in alignment with what you have read here over the last few years. That is why his old Command in Norfolk, VA (Bosnia was not in his AOR BTW), Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) became Allied Command Transformation (ACT).
It was acknowledged that the garrison armies of Continental Europe designed to stay put and maybe do soft power and peace keeping in a permissive environment were not what was needed. But, that is not what this hearing was about.
For some reason - Sheehan tries to bring in a non-factor, homosexuality. That is like blaming liberty incidents with male American forces personnel on the fact that there is a high rate of STDs among female soldiers. It is simply madness. As for the 4-star he-said-he-said, I'll let them deal with it, re-read the above if you need a review.
Let us deal with the facts. In AFG the USA has lost as of last count 1,024 soldiers. No one that knows what they are talking about in AFG will have anything to say about the quality and combat abilities of our allies GBR, CAN, and NLD. All allow homosexuals to serve. Population adjusted numbers are followed by actual.
- Great Britain: 1,384 (275)
- Canada: 1,302 (140)
- The Netherlands 388 (21)
All are fighting in the South with caveats not a significant factor. Oh, while I was there the only incident involving homosexuality involved 3 Italians and a Greek in a bunker. All were sent home on the next C-160. Not for manlove - but for bump'n uglies in a public space. Enough of that though.
See the testimony yourself.