The decision to integrate female service members into combat arms units has some worried that it might lead to a spike in incidents of sexual assault. A bunch of men and women cozying up over bowls of chili mac in the woods, drenched in rain and mud and misery, miles from civilization. Something is bound to happen — or so the theory goes.
But now that the integration process has finally begun, concerns over sexual assault and fraternization appear to have been eclipsed by a focus on maintaining the status quo. After much deliberation, the Marine Corps has decided: the first female infantry Marines will share foxholes and tents with male infantry during field exercises.
“We’re not changing any of our tactical posture or breaking unit cohesion or adjusting anything to accommodate mixed genders while we’re operating in a field environment replicating tactical conditions,” Maj. Charles Anklam III, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, told Marine Times.
The first three female infantry Marines — a rifleman, a gunner, and a mortar Marine — joined 1st Battalion in early January. As Marine Times reports, they were assigned their own rooms, showers, and bathrooms in the barracks. In the field, however, it will be business as usual.
When it comes to doing what infantry Marines get paid to do — be in the shit, essentially — males and females will be treated as equals. As in, Marines with ovaries will live, train, and fight with their unit, just as Marines with testicles do. And, at least in 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, they will also be held to the exact same standards — physical, mental, tactical, etc. — that apply to their male counterparts.
“I joined the Marine Corps to lead Marines and sailors,” Lt. Col. Reginald McClam, the battalion commander, told Marine Times. “I didn’t take an oath of office that said I was going to lead male Marines or female Marines or male sailors or female sailors. I said I would lead Marines.”