US military: A place for social experimentation, since 1775

In The Hill article on Dec. 6, “Carson: No need for transgender troops,” Ben Carson again demonstrates his ignorance, providing fresh evidence that he is unfit to serve as president. Carson is quoted as saying that allowing transgender troops would be like “using our military as a laboratory for social experimentation.” However, the U.S. military has been a place of social experimentation since 1775. 

Upon assuming command of the Continental Army, George Washington removed elected officers, replacing them with leaders capable of maintaining discipline and command. Though considered undemocratic by some, this action helped set a standard for military leadership that remains today. Further, the Continental Army was an integrated force. At various points during the war, it was composed of between 6 percent and 12 percent black troops. Though done largely out of desperation, the New England states showed great enthusiasm for enlisting African-Americans. According to a French officer, blacks comprised three-quarters of one Rhode Island regiment.


By the 1790s, African-Americans were barred from enlisting in the Army or Marines. No such restrictions existed in the Navy, where blacks served in integrated crews throughout the 19th century. By the Civil War’s second year, manpower needs and pressure from abolitionists caused Congress to authorize the enlistment of black soldiers. Over 186,000 African-Americans served in uniform, comprising 10 percent of the Union Army and 16 percent of the Navy. After the war, four regiments of “Buffalo Soldiers” were maintained, gaining fame in the American-Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War.

During the World Wars, African-Americans served mainly as laborers because they were believed by most whites to be too cowardly and simple-minded for modern warfare. Nonetheless, two all-black infantry divisions fought bravely in France during World War I. In World War II, African-Americans were afforded even more opportunities. Social experimentation included the introduction of black fighter pilots and tankers. The performance of these troops helped lead to the end of segregation in the U.S. military in 1948.

LGBT rights are the civil rights cause of our time. These Americans simply want the same opportunities as everyone else, including to serve our country. This is not “social experimentation,” this is the American Way. You’d think that an African-American man who overcame childhood poverty to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon would understand this. Once Republicans learn that opportunity, not hate, is what Americans want, they might actually win another presidential election.

From Thomas Bonner, College Park, Md.

Government-mandated cyber warriors should be new rule of war

It is high time to bring back the use of letters of marque and reprisal for use against radical Islam. These instruments can be used to deliver debilitating strikes against terror organizations, especially in cyberspace. 

Congress can issue letters of marque to deprive these murderers of cash to operate. Monetary incentives could fuel an army of cyber patriots to relieve these monsters of financial assets that can be accessed electronically.

Congress could also issue letters of reprisal to take out a terrorists’ presence in cyberspace and deny him or her the ability to recruit or spread propaganda online. Hactivists, including Anonymous, could be commissioned to conduct specific operations against designated terror groups, under well-defined rules of engagement, to limit the online and telecommunications capabilities of such groups.

From Serafin Quintanar, founder, Reagan League, Clovis, Calif.