Mattis Defends His Vague Assessment Of Women In Infantry Roles

Bullet Points
U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis speaks during the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2018.
DoD photo/Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Barely a day after declaring during a visit to the Virginia Military Institute that "the jury is out” on the effectiveness of women in infantry roles in the Army and Marine Corps, Defense Secretary James Mattis begrudgingly sought to clarify his statement on the matter and walk back his perceived dismissal of female combat troops.


  • When informed on Wednesday that his statement had indicated a lack of support for women serving in infantry roles, Mattis told reporters that female VMI cadets had interpreted his statement in "just the opposite" manner. "That the door was open," he said. "We don't have enough females in the infantry to make some kind of quantitative assessment."

  • Mattis had previously stated on that the women currently serving in infantry roles across the Army and Marine Corps — 177 in total, according to DoD officials — are "too few .... right now" to convincingly measure of combat effectiveness. “This a policy that I inherited, and so far the cadre is so small we have no data on it,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
  • Indeed, Mattis' comments reflect what he previously told T&P;'s Jeff Schogol during his trip to India earlier in September. “It’s probably too early to talk about progress because the numbers are so small,” he said at the time. “I think you need a larger cohort before you can evaluate something like that. Can’t make broad assessments based on very, very few numbers.”
  • So why the confusion? Blame the Pentagon press corps, Mattis said. After all, the female VMI cadets took his comments "just the opposite from how it was written about by the Pentagon press — by one number of Pentagon press."

WATCH NEXT:

Soldiers deploy concertina wire in a location along the Southwest border of the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. U.S. Army North is deployed to the southwest border under the authority of U.S. Northern Command to support the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection's mission to secure the border. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)

The Defense Department's Inspector General's Office has launched an "evaluation" of the deployment of active-duty and National Guard troops to the southern border, a news release said Tuesday.

"We will examine, among other issues, what they are doing at the border, what training they received, and whether their use complied with applicable law, DoD policy, and operating guidance," said Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general performing the duties of the inspector general, in the release.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

Read More Show Less
Saudi Arabia Defense Attache Major General Fawaz Al Fawaz and his Embassy staff and other officials arrive to meet with the Saudi students who remain restricted to the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola base by their Saudi commanding officer, in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. December 9, 2019.( FBI Jacksonville/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 175 Saudi Arabian military aviation students have been grounded as part of a "safety stand-down" after a Saudi Air Force lieutenant shot and killed three people last week at a U.S. Navy base in Florida, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Valencia McNeal

The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.

The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.

Read More Show Less
A U.S. Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) carries cold weather equipment as he begins to march across the Icelandic terrain October 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Capt. Kylee Ashton)

MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The United States will send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War to underscore Washington's commitment to NATO, a senior allied commander said on Tuesday.

Days after a NATO summit in London at which U.S. President Donald Trump called low-spending European allies "delinquent", U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises, centered on Germany, will be the largest of their kind in 25 years.

"This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO," Seguin, who oversees allied operations from NATO's military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.

Read More Show Less