Trump is president, but the “Dempsey Rule” is still in full effect for today’s American military. The rule is named for a statement by Obama’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, during the 2013 announcement that all combat jobs would be opened to women. It states that standards so high that women can’t make them will go the way of the dodo bird. “Do they really have to be that high?” he asked. They do if you want to defeat your enemies with as few casualties as possible. The Marine Corps is now answering “no” to this question by removing the Combat Endurance Test (CET) as a requirement to pass the Infantry Officer’s Course (IOC).
The CET has been under fire and scrutiny from the Left because almost no women have been able to pass it, crushing the myth that women can do anything military men can do if only given the chance. If that were so, there would be no need to remove the CET or “re-evaluate,” as Dempsey put it, any current operational standards. Challenging tests and standards are useful for training because they are as close as the military can come to replicating the stresses and rigors of real combat. Men have always been able to pass these tests and meet these standards. Women? Not so much. Without the CET, more women can take places leading infantry platoons in direct ground combat, whether they’re capable of doing so or not. The CET was an obstacle to the arch-feminist goal of equal numbers, no matter the consequences. Those consequences will be the needless loss of the lives and limbs of America’s sons and daughters now to be led by less competent and physically less capable officers.
Activists for putting women in combat units swore up and down that performance standards wouldn’t be lowered, that all they wanted was a “level playing field” and “a chance to try.” That these were empty platitudes was as easy to predict as the rising of the sun. Feminists have issued them every time they’ve pushed for more military jobs to be opened to women. They gave us double standards and lowered standards and have redefined combat to conflate “being in harm’s way” with hunting the enemy. They don’t care so much about our ability to effectively fight our enemies as they do about getting a chairwoman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, period. It is surprising and disappointing that this should occur when Trump promised during his campaign to “make our military great again.” It’s happening with nary a peep from the Republican Congress and on the watch of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, formerly a general in the Corps himself.
The Marine Corps Times downplays this huge lowering of standards, laughably calling it a “slight change.” When failing one of the hardest tests in the military no longer matters, something big has changed, and not for the better. “The Corps also says the changes were not a result of high attrition rates,” the Times reports, reporting that Training Command said, “The average attrition rate for the CET between 2012 and 2017 was less than three percent” and down to one percent in 2017.
The armed services constantly complain about the decline in quality recruits and use it as justification for pulling from broader pools, including, as reported by USA Today, those with mental illness. In this climate, lower rates of test failure and attrition are a good indicator that standards are being lowered and then lowered some more.
The Senate’s latest deal to increase military spending may be more like funding the Titanic. What good are more dollars when they’re being used for less demanding training and militarily irrelevant programs like sex-change surgery? If our military won’t “weed out” the less capable during formative training, our enemies surely will.
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to note that the CET is still included in the Infantry Officer’s Course, but that trainees are not required to pass it in order to pass the course. It has also been updated to include James Mattis’ former rank in the U.S. Marine Corps.
An outspoken advocate of women’s combat exemption, Jude Eden is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and worked entry checkpoints, frisking women for explosives, on Fallujah’s outskirts. She writes at Political Animal Blog and has appeared on TV and radio shows across the nation. Follow her on Twitter @Jude_Eden.