Exclusive: Marines found benefits to women in combat as well as risks

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Army Generals Passive Aggressively Knock Marine Brass Over Women In Combat.

The Marine Corps general in charge of implementing a Pentagon plan to integrate women into all ground combat jobs concluded there are benefits as well as significant risks to the proposal, and he outlined ways to eliminate most of an anticipated weakening in combat effectiveness during the transition, according to a document leaked Wednesday to The San Diego Union-Tribune. In contrast to Marine brass who want to keep women out of some combat roles, Army generals last week were quick in expressing just how eager they are to open absolutely all roles to women. According to the four-page summary made public on Sept. 10, the study found that women were worse shooters than men, got injured more often, and would be a detriment to unit cohesiveness. Robert Barrow gave a fiery speech before the Senate in which he said that allowing women in combat has a lot to do with hardline feminists advancing an agenda and little to do with national security. This misuse of your money was part of a nine-month experiment by the Marines to argue against allowing female Marines to serve in the combat infantry.

Following a landmark January 2013 decision, all jobs will be opened to women unless the services seek and effectively convince Carter to keep some closed, citing research they completed. Mabus is right to emphasize standards that ensure excellence in the military and whether individuals — no matter their gender — can meet those standards.

But by cavalierly dismissing, even impugning, the concerns of Marine officials, he inadvertently helps those who say political correctness is driving the push for full integration of the armed forces. The Marines could have saved $36 million (enough to buy six Black Hawk helicopters) by looking at the experiences of male and female soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, where camo is the new black. The study has been panned by critics, including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, for focusing on what an “average” female Marine can do, rather than examining whether high-performing women can meet physical standards set for the job.

Anyone who has read “Ashley’s War” or who remembers what happened to Private First Class Jessica Lynch knows that American women have served in combat for years now, albeit unofficially. It also points out the potential benefits of integrating women into the combat ranks, warning of the danger of “marginalizing female Marines due to gender bias and misconceptions about female performance.” The memo, signed by Brig. With the deadline for those requests approaching at the end of the month, it appears likely the Army, Navy and Air Force will not seek exceptions that close off jobs, including those in demanding commando units.

According to Barrow, combat is more than just exposure to danger, despite the fact that some have cited proximity to the fight as a reason for including women. “Combat is a lot more than that,” Barrow told the Senate Armed Services Committee at the time. “It’s a lot more than being shot at. Mabus and other critics say it was not designed or executed in a way that would predict the effect on unit performance if women are allowed to compete against men for combat jobs. A summary of the report showed that male-only infantry units shot more accurately and could carry more weight, and that women had higher injury rates than men. Robert Brown, commanding general of the United States Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, said, “I go back a long time on the gender integration … I have three daughters. Unlike the selection process for the task force experiment, high-performing women would replace the lowest performing men, potentially increasing combat effectiveness of the unit.

It’s uncivilized, and women can’t do it.” “The requirements for strength and endurance render them unable to do it,” Barrow added. “And I may be old-fashioned, but I think the very nature of women disqualifies them from doing it. Noting the “timeless, brutal, physical and absolutely unforgiving nature of close combat,” the memo argues that those facts could adversely affect women in the force. Mabus took issue with the study, saying the fact it “started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea, and [that] women will not be able to do this” could have affected the results.

Women shooting M4 rifles hit the target 28 percent of the time, compared with 44 percent for men. “When negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top.” OK in training, but not in war. The service “risks losing a number of highly talented female Marines prematurely due largely to the often extreme physical demands” of the infantry, Brigadier General Smith writes. The report concluded that the “disadvantage in upper- and lower-body strength resulted in higher fatigue levels” among women and “stress fractures.” Mabus says averages shouldn’t count, and the very small number of women who think they can make the grade should be given the chance. Officials have argued that adding women to male-only units would serve to completely erode male bonding, which even in 1991, Barrow too felt necessary to defend. “I know in some circles, it’s very popular to ridicule something called male bonding.

I would think the younger generation will almost laugh at the older folks: ‘What don’t you get about it?’” Since the Army brass appears free of open dissenters, Secretary John McHugh is set to deliver his recommendations to Defense Secretary Ash Carter next week, which is ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline. Furthermore, the commandant “provided his recommendation to the Secretary of the Navy in private and believes that his best military advice should remain private during the deliberation process until the Secretary of Defense has reviewed all inputs and made a decision,” Kulczewski said. These standards will also “be the primary driver in overcoming gender bias through clearly demonstrated performance standards, which is fundamental to a cohesive unit with high morale,” he adds. The Army is generally seen as less resistant to opening the infantry to women following the graduation of two women from the service’s grueling Ranger School last month, but the service also could draw a distinction between the two, keeping the school open to women while requesting that Carter keep some combat jobs closed to women. In admirable understatement, the Associated Press noted, “Researchers did not know why gender-mixed teams did better on these skills.” You don’t need $36 million to learn why: When given tasks that minimized the arbitrary variables of training and strength that were baked into the study, Marines were able to draw on the talents of dedicated women and improved.

-Okla.), a Ranger School graduate and Army combat veteran, has asked for proof, saying the women did not have to carry as much weight and were given opportunities to keep trying that male colleagues were not. Eleven were cut the first week, the remaining eight flunked the next phase twice, five of them dropped out and two finally graduated after an extra two months of repeat testing.

True, the stuff about women was only a tiny piece of an important study to make our Marines safer and more effective, but you wouldn’t know that from the way the Marines leaked the results about mixed-gender units. A shortcoming cited by outside observers that is noted in the Marine report is the bias in height and weight standards for female troops that would exclude larger women who are more likely to succeed in the infantry.

The body mass index standard for women is 25, stricter than the male standard of 27.5, “which appears to be counterproductive,” the report states. However, both Marine and Army infantry include riflemen mounted on light armored vehicles, Army soldiers also march long distances under load like Marines, and both services spent more than a decade fighting largely from fixed patrol bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Female Marines demonstrated that they were capable of performing the physically demanding tasks, but not necessarily at the same level as their male counterparts,” the report says, citing results of the experimental task force. With your help, we will provide a friendly, safe, easy to use place on the Web for everyone in the area to share not only opinions but also information of community interest.

Other benefits cited include the likelihood of lower disciplinary problems after women join the unit, as seen previously in aviation and logistics fields.

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