Well, the results are in from a recent study, and its doesn’t look promising for combat effectiveness if women are integrated into Marine Corps infantry. However, it appears these inconvenient results are going to be ignored by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who seems ready to sacrifice lives and military readiness on the altar of political correctness.
What a surprise.
After the services were ordered to prepare the way for women to join all combat arms, they were also told to study how this might be done and whether any jobs should remain closed to them. Of all the services, the Marines did the most thorough study, which involved over 400 Marines over many months at a cost of $36 million. All male teams and integrated teams were studied performing numerous tasks similar to those they would carry out in combat. In infantry testing, in nearly every category, mixed teams came up short compared to the all-male teams.
The Marine testing was concerned only with combat effectiveness and the health of the Marines, not politics. Neither of those are a concern to Mabus.
A senior staff noncommissioned officer noted that the top five percent of women involved in the test performed “at or below the levels of the lowest 5 percent of male volunteers in the experiment.”
The data shows, according to a summary of the report, that all-male teams outperformed teams with female members 69 percent of the time, in 94 out of 134 tasks. All-male teams were faster than integrated teams in every tactical movement, and this was especially noticeable when heavy crew-served weapons were being moved.
The all-male teams were more accurate shots than the integrated teams. This included male Marines trained as infantrymen and those in a different MOS who were part of the testing. The female Marines were all drawn from those who had graduated from Infantry Training Battalion and thus were infantry qualified.
The all-male teams performed much better on other routine combat tasks. When climbing an eight-foot wall, male Marines would toss their packs to the top, whereas female Marines “required regular assistance getting their packs to the top.”
When carrying out mock evacuations of casualties, all-male teams were much faster except in cases where the evacuee was carried in a fireman’s carry, and then it was usually a male Marine doing the carrying.
Female Marines sustained significantly higher injury rates and levels of fatigue than their male counterparts. In the Infantry Training Battalion, females were injured at six times the rate of male Marines.
Perhaps most telling is the differences found in anaerobic and aerobic power between the Marines in the study. The top 25 percent of females overlapped with the bottom 25 percent of male Marines in the study for anaerobic power, and the top 10 percent of females corresponded with the bottom 50 percent of males for anaerobic capacity.
For aerobic capacity, the top 10 percent of females overlapped with the bottom 50 percent of males.
Overall the results showed that while some women might be capable of serving in the infantry, they would lag far behind their male counterparts and end up slowing any unit they might be with and thus reduce combat effectiveness. In the end, combat effectiveness should be the only concern.
The findings came as no surprise to observers after only two women graduated from the recent Ranger School experiment, none from the Marines Infantry Officers Course, and only 36 percent from the Marines enlisted infantry course, which graduates well over 90 percent of the men who go through it.
While the results from the infantry experiment were particularly damning, the women fared better in artillery and armor experiments. Men and women graduated at the same rate from the artillery crewman course, 86 percent. In tanks and amtracs, women graduated at a rate of 71 percent compared to the male rate of 99 and 94 percent respectively.
Alas, the Marines could have saved the taxpayers $36 million and the 400 Marines who participated three months of their lives. Facts don’t matter to officials in the Obama administration, as Mabus made clear in an interview on NPR and in a speech in Cleveland Monday. Mabus ignored reality and facts and claimed the Marine Corps study was flawed and insulted the Marines who participated it, implying they did not give it their all or that they were subpar Marines or that they didn’t give it their all because of preconceived notions.
“For the women that volunteered, probably there should have been a higher bar to cross to get into the experiment,” Mabus said.
The gall of this insult was made clear by officials connected to the experiment pointing out that the females all had to get at least a third-class male PFT score to join the experiment. As officials noted in a briefing Thursday, the female Marines who participated were athletic, with high scores on their PFT and combat fitness tests. In other words, they were above-average Marines and undeserving of the insult levied on them by Mabus. If he thinks the Marines who were part of this would not have given it their all, then he does not understand the men and women wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor under his command.
I am not hopeful Mabus will do the right thing for the Marine Corps or the country but expect him to slavishly follow his master’s agenda to the letter.
Art McGrath is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and a journalist and author based in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. He is a Conservative Review contributor.