“Clearly, the jury is out” on whether having women serve in Marine Corps and Army infantry units makes the U.S. military more combat effective, Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday.
Mattis sounded decidedly unenthusiastic during a visit to the Virginia Military Institute when a cadet asked him about integrating women into combat arms jobs. He said the services are looking into whether it is “a strength or a weakness” to have women serving in units that engage in close combat.
“The military has got to have officers who look at this with a great deal of objectivity and at the same time remember our natural inclination to have this open to all,” Mattis said. “But we cannot do something that militarily doesn’t make sense.”
“I can’t give you a good answer right now,” he added. “I’m open to it. I’ll be working with the chief of staff of the Army and the others to sort it out.”
“This a policy that I inherited, and so far the cadre is so small we have no data on it,” Mattis said. “We’re hoping to get data soon. There are a few stalwart young ladies that are charging into this, but they are too few – right now, it’s not even dozens. It’s that few.”
About 150 female soldiers and 27 female Marines are currently serving in infantry military occupational specialties, officials told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.
Mattis also stressed that infantry units are “the most primitive, I would say evil environment” in the military because they consist of young Marines and soldiers who are cocky, rambunctious, and “necessarily macho.”
“I was never under any illusions about what level of respect my Marines would have for me if I couldn’t run with the fastest of them and look like it didn’t bother me; if I couldn’t do as many pull-ups as the strongest of them,” Mattis said. “It was the unfairness of the infantry.”
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."