The military is gearing up to meet the 2012 directive of then-Defense Secretary Panetta that women be integrated into infantry forces by January, 2016 unless exemptions are obtained by the end of this month.

Women, however, are not doing particularly well in the training programs: of the 29 who attempted the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course, none were successful; only 34% of women who signed up for infantry training in the Marine Corp finished successfully; and only 12 women have passed the Army’s prerequisite Ranger Training and Assessment Course, two of whom went on to become Army Rangers in August of this year.

The Navy SEALS announced that it, too, will be open to women, though none so far are reported to have applied.  Watch:


With the January deadline looming, the Marines issued a study that found all-male Marine units outperform those that contain women.  The Hill reports:

All-male ground combat units in the Marines were faster, more lethal and less injured than units with mixed genders, according to a Marine Corps study that looked at integrating women into all service jobs.

“All male squads, teams and crews demonstrated higher performance levels on 69 percent of tasks evaluated (93 of 134) as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews,” according a summary of the report released Thursday.

. . . .  The study found all-male squads were faster in each tactical movement than those with both genders, according to the summary. The differences were greater when they were carrying heavy weapons and ammunition.

Also, all-male rifle groups had better accuracy than integrated squads, according to the summary. And women had more injuries such as stress fractures.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, however, has taken issue with the report and has essentially rejected the findings.

In an interview with NPR, Mabus states that the report is, if not flawed, then not in keeping with his broader view that a “more diverse force is a stronger force. A more diverse mindset makes you a stronger force. If you have the same outlook, if you have the same mindset, you don’t get much innovation.”

MABUS: It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea and women will never be able to do this. When you start out with that mindset you’re almost presupposing the outcome.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:  Are you saying this was a flawed study?

MABUS: I’m saying that I think that when you call it empirical standards, that it depends on what you put in. And if you look at some of the analysis – some of the outside analysis of this – from Center for Naval Analyses, they’ve looked at these and they said there are ways to mitigate this so you can have the same combat effectiveness, the same lethality, which is crucial.

GREENE: Well, what’s a specific? I mean, what is a specific idea you might have that would ensure that a mixed-gender unit would have the same level of combat effectiveness?

MABUS: Well, for example, part of the study said women tend to not be able to carry as heavy a load for as long. But there were women that went through the study that could. And part of the study said we’re afraid because women get injured more frequently, that over time, women will break down more, that you’ll begin to lose your combat effectiveness over time. That was not shown in this study. That was an extrapolation based on injury rates. I’m not sure that’s right. But it is something that you can set a standard for. But to make that sort of generalization – there were individual women who could meet this standard.

Mabus had earlier stated that he’s the one who would have to sign off on exemptions from the 2012 Panetta directive and that this report gives him no reason to do so (note that he stated this before the report was issued).  The Navy Times reports:

Marine officials will soon offer their recommendations, but Mabus, the civilian secretary who leads the Navy Department — including the Marine Corps — made clear that he must sign off on the decision to seek any exemptions to opening all jobs to women, and he hasn’t had a change of heart.

“That’s still my call, and I’ve been very public,” Mabus said in an exclusive Sept. 1 interview. “I do not see a reason for an exemption.”

Mabus said both sea services should keep physical standards unchanged.

His call for opening all military occupational specialties to women follows Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert’s assertion in late August that the Navy would not seek an exemption for its legendary SEAL teams.

In a 2013 speech, Mabus lays out the four priorities he deems most important to the future of the Navy and Marine Corps: people, platforms, power (he means energy), and partnerships.  Watch: