Marine study finds all-male infantry units outperformed teams with women

U.S. Marines PFC. Cristina Fuentes Montenegro (Center Left) and PFC. Julia R. Carroll (Center Right) of Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry - East (SOI-E), stand at parade rest during their graduation ceremony from SOI-E aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., Nov. 21, 2013.

A recent Marine Corps study showed that all-male ground combat units were more effective than teams that included women. The results raised new concerns about the Pentagon’s push to open all jobs to women next year.

The Marine Corps relapsed their report titled, “Marine Corps Force Integration Plan” on Thursday. The study showed that all-male ground combat squads were faster, stronger, and more lethal in most cases than units that included women.

According to the report, the women also suffered higher injury rates during physically demanding training and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall.

“All-male squads, teams and crews demonstrated higher performance levels on 69%of tasks evaluated (93 of 134) as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews.”

The gender integrated squads only performed better than their all-male counterparts during two events.  The all males squads also out performed the gender integrated squads with every weapon system except for the probability of hit & near miss with the M4.  Even the non-infantry all male squads had higher scores with all the weapon systems than the infantry trained females.

The study’s results may play a major role in Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford’s decision regarding the integration of female troops into closed combat roles.

The Marine Corps, as well as other military services, has until the end of the month to decide if it will open all specialties to women, or if it will request an exemption to the order.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the Armed Services Committee who served in the Marine Corps has expressed concerns about opening up all positions to women.

In a recent interview, Hunter said, “If you were to turn down a request for a waiver like that I guess the political machine in the White House would be saying we don’t care about the effectiveness of the ground combat units.”

According to administration officials, their intent is to open all jobs to women and they have set the bar high for waivers.

Last month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “The department’s policy is that all ground combat positions will be open to women unless rigorous analysis of factual data shows that the positions must remain closed.”

General Dunford has not revealed how he intends to act on the task force findings. But, Pentagon officials made it clear that the Marine Corps is focused on how gender integration would affect overall combat effectiveness.

Last month, the Army graduated the first two female officers from its elite Ranger school. Although Ranger units are still closed to women, Army Secretary John McHugh announced that the school will open to all qualified women.

Officials cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the study.

Sherry de Vries, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, said that once women have had more experience in the infantry, their performance will improve. “The women don’t have the training that men had to begin with,” she said.


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