Women Marines in combat

by H. Thomas Hayden on April 30, 2012

It has been reported that nearly 300,000 women have served in combat zones since 2001 and there were 12,000 women serving in Iraq at one time, and there are even more in Afghanistan right now. While females are technically in support roles those jobs include flying aircraft, military police units and vehicle drivers.

It is a fact that many have come under fire with unfriendly forces.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps in a msg called ALMAR 012/12, “Assignment of Women to Ground Combat Units” wrote:

“I HAVE DIRECTED THAT MEASURED AND RESPONSIBLE RESEARCH BE CONDUCTED TO PROVIDE ME WITH THE INFORMATION AND DATA NECESSARY TO MAKE AN INFORMED AND EDUCATED RECOMMENDATION ON POTENTIAL POLICY CHANGES.  THE CUMULATIVE RESEARCH EFFORT WILL INCLUDE AN EXCEPTION TO THE GROUND ASSIGNMENT POLICY, QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH, AND A TOTAL FORCE SURVEY.”

Contrary to many news media reports the Commandant has not assigned Women Marines to ground combat. Please note that he has asked for research on the subject.

I asked a senior Woman Marine office (retired), whom I hold in high regard and could serve in combat with me any time, what she thought of the research.

“I actually think it’s a good move to see how many women actually volunteer for the training/research and then make it through. It may be a very small number and mostly put an end to the controversy, at least for the Marine Corps — that is, as long as the women actually have to keep pace with their male counterparts throughout the training. If the Infantry Officer’s Course (IOC) remains unchanged, I suspect a similar thing will happen as happened in the 70′s when Gen Wilson integrated OCS and TBS — female Marines were initially injured in such large numbers (breaking ankles and legs) that the Corps had to scale down the obstacle course and eventually develop a completely different “agility” course for the female candidates. If IOC stays exactly as is, most of the female volunteers will likely drop out or be dropped. The Corps will have to decide beforehand how they will assign the Women Marines who complete the training and also make it clear to the volunteers beforehand that they are not going to be assigned to infantry units directly. I imagine the volunteers will have to sign a letter of understanding so the Press and/or the ACLU won’t be able to claim discrimination.

“It would be a travesty if the Corps were forced by DoD to make the IOC training ‘gender neutral’ and, thereby, lower the standards to accommodate women. I pray that never happens.”

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