Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Marine Corps’ Study Doesn't Change Facts About Women in Combat
Last week, the U.S. Marine Corps released its Force Integration Plan Summary, a four-page document that is a skewed attempt to set the stage for the Corps to request exceptions to the Department of Defense's mandate for full combat integration.
The report provides information that starkly portrays women as being, on average, inferior to men in combat training situations, based on the comparisons and tests that the Corps arranged. This numerical snapshot is contrary to the very public examples we have seen this year of female Army soldiers achieving success as in the Army's elite Ranger School, and of the many examples of women serving with honor and courage when thrust into combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
The Marine Corps study, which will reportedly be released in full later this month as part of the ongoing trickle of negative news prior to the October 1 deadline for services to request exceptions from DoD, appears to have been developed and assessed based on a mindset that predetermined the outcomes. According to SWAN board member Ellen Haring, a Reserve Army colonel, the Marines were told to assess how individual women would do in combat situations, but instead chose to assess groups with average female Marines — rather than high-performing volunteers — in them. Other combat veterans who have read the report have shared similar criticisms of the process, and how it doesn't accurately capture the realities of contemporary combat.
In a September 1 interview, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made it 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. "I do not see a reason for an exemption." Since he will decide whether to pass on any requests for exceptions from the Corps, he should take the time to examine and judge the fairness of the findings in light of any exceptions requested by the Marine Corps prior to the deadline.
Comprehensive studies of gender-integrated military combat units in multiple countries have found that the participation of women does not measurably affect task cohesion — the ability of the unit to achieve its goals. The studies have also found that any initial impact women have on combat unit cohesion — the social bonds between its members — can be overcome through the influence of strong leadership within and above the unit. MacKenzie found that "the presence of strong leadership within a unit has the ability to create acceptance for and cohesion with new female unit members rapidly."
If any service has the ability and training to provide the strong leadership necessary to ensure that gender-integrated units are prepared to succeed in combat situations, it surely is the Marine Corps. At the same time, it is understandable why the Marines are resistant to this change. It is a dramatic turn in their 240-year history that will require changes within their operations and their culture. But that doesn't mean that full integration, with no exceptions, isn't the appropriate decision for the Corps and the entire U.S. military.
While the fight for full combat integration has often been out of the public spotlight for months at a time since the 2013 rule change, this fight has been going on for decades. Women are now serving in many military roles where they were once excluded due to both sexism and doubts about their physical and mental abilities. They have always, always, proven their doubters to be wrong. Not every woman in the military wants a combat job. Nor does every man. But they should have equal opportunities to compete for every job in fair circumstances.
At this point, the opening of all combat positions to service women seems to be inevitable. Mabus and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, as the final authorities in the process, can ensure that inevitability by deciding to allow no exceptions for the Marine Corps or any branch of the military. With their strong leadership on this issue, they can usher in a new era for American women to serve the nation with valor and courage on the battlefield.
A group of vets are raising money for pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.