A new study conducted by the Marine Corps has caused quite a stir in Washington, D.C. and around the country. Known as the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF), the study found that units, which included both men and women, were less effective than units that were all male. Critics of the study fear that it could be used to continue to keep women from taking part in combat.
The GCEITF included roughly 200 male and 75 female volunteers, who were evaluated on how they performed a series of physical combat tasks between March and May…
In introducing its conclusions, the Marine Corps cites the “the brutal and extremely physical nature of direct ground combat, often marked by close, interpersonal violence.”
It further argues that the nature of battle “remains largely unchanged throughout centuries of warfare, despite technological advancements”…
The study also found that, “All-male squads, teams and crews demonstrated higher performance levels on 69 percent of tasks evaluated … as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews.”
The GCEITF continued by laying out the physical differences found in their research. All male squads were faster, had greater accuracy firing their weapons, were less likely to be injured during their activities, and on average the males possessed 15% more power than the females. In fact the study found that ““the female top 25th percentile overlaps with the bottom 25th percentile for males.”
Finally, it concludes that all-male crews “had a noticeable difference in their performance of the basic combat tasks of negotiating obstacles and evacuating casualties.”
The study cites a wall obstacle specifically. “Male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top.”
Retired Lt. General Gregory Newbold published an Op-Ed this week that gives greater weight to the study by adding the personal experiences of a decorated military leader. Much of what Newbold writes echoes or gives more depth to what the Marine Corps study found.
The current debate about women in the infantry takes place in an artificial context, because it nearly always self-limits the discussion to physical capabilities. Within these incomplete parameters, the argument is then set, and the preamble is that physical standards and performance are measurable and what is not measurable is subjective and probably unfair.
Once physical quantifications are set as the only requirement that matters, it then stands to reason that if you can define infantry requirements in terms of, for example, a number of pull-ups, a hike with 60 to 80 pounds of extra weight, or carrying a 180-pound simulated casualty to safety, then you can assess whether females are suited to infantry units.
Honest and informed observers will acknowledge that medical science indicates that, in the physical domain, the two genders are an unequal match. Even a very fit woman is not generally the equal of a fit man…
The public understands that individuals who have engaged in brutal combat seldom want to talk about their experiences, and it is broadly thought that this is because of the horrors evoked by these memories. More generally, though, this reticence is due to an inability for one side to convey, and the other to understand, not only horrors, but the context of the fight. Saying that “It was hot” is a futile way to describe the 23rd consecutive day of temperatures over 100 degrees and flesh-soaking humidity, but the description does an even poorer job of conveying the exacerbating details — the burden of 30 to 80 pounds of personal equipment, mind-bending physical exertion, energy-sapping adrenaline highs, or the fact that the threadbare clothes you wore were unchanged for over three weeks and may have been “scented” by everything from food, to blood, dysentery, and whatever was in the dirt that constituted your bed. And don’t forget insects of legendary proportion and number. More importantly, a story thus told cannot explain that the fellow soldier or Marine who you tried desperately to put back together was the same one who shared the duties of clearing the urinals, the pleasures of a several nights of hilarious debauchery, and multiple near-death experiences — a comrade in arms who has heard more about your personal thoughts than your most intimate friends or family. So veterans of the true horrors of combat don’t talk about it. Please understand, then, that it is equally difficult to describe the ingredients of an efficient ground fighting machine, because the ingredients are intangible, decidedly not quantitative, and proudly subjective…
Two women just graduated from the Army’s very, very difficult Ranger School. The surprise of that is that it surprised anyone. There unquestionably are women who can pass any physical challenge the military may require. We should celebrate those who succeed and encourage others. They are worthy role models, and certainly not just to women. But the issue we’re now debating has to include a recognition of cohesion and the cost of sexual dynamics in a bare-knuckled brawl, amidst primeival mayhem, in which we expect the collective entity to persevere because it has a greater will and fighting spirit, and not because it is bigger, faster, or more agile. The championship team in virtually any professional sport may only coincidentally be the most physically talented, but it most assuredly will be the most cohesive. Why not appreciate the same ingredients in infantry units?
It seems ridiculous that we have to keep on saying this to feminist leftists. Men and women should be (and ARE) equals, but that doesn’t mean that we are or can be equally qualified for various tasks. Saying that women shouldn’t be in combat isn’t insinuating that women are somehow of “less value” than their male counterparts. If all-male units increase the likelihood that these soldiers will come home from their operations, then we shouldn’t care about being politically correct or hurting the feelings of women everywhere. A soldier’s life is of more value than the feelings of a liberal feminist who wants to see women in combat.
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