Group blasts Marines over study of women in combat
WASHINGTON — Advocates for fully integrating the armed forces on Tuesday accused the Marines of cherry-picking data to bolster the case to keep women from certain combat jobs.
The talk comes ahead of the Thursday deadline for military branches to present evidence for exemptions to a new rule set to go into effect Jan. 1. The rule will open all military jobs to women.
“If I had a daughter, based on all of the comments that are being made … I would question my daughter’s decision to join an organization (the Marine Corps) that was so adamantly opposed to the full equal footing of women,” Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano said during a media roundtable Tuesday.
Germano and several other active-duty and retired military officers called for all military positions to be open to women, facing the same standards as men. The group took exception to the findings of a nine-month Marine Corps study, which included elaborate battlefield simulations, aimed at examining the impacts of integrating women into combat arms units. The conclusions have only been partially released and have raised the specter of unit cohesion problems and increased rates of injuries for women.
A main point of contention is the study looked at the average performance of all the women — as opposed to looking at the possibility that some women could meet standards.
“You cannot compare averages, this has to be an individual evaluation process,” retired Army Col. Ellen Haring said at the roundtable.
Germano, who helped dramatically raise female Marine recruit marksmanship scores at Parris Island before being removed from her position amid complaints about her aggressive style, said there is an understanding in the Marines that women are expected to fail.
“What it essentially came down to was acceptance of lower expectations,” she said. “What I found was that the leadership was not ready to embrace the changes to make females feel more welcome.”
The Marines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thursday is the deadline for all branches of the military to submit proposals for jobs that they believe should remain closed to women. The Marines have been more resistant to such changes than other branches.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, who recently went from commandant of the Marines to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has reportedly recommended some positions remain closed to women.
The Marines released a truncated four-page summary of their study earlier this month that painted a grim picture of women in combat units. But less than two weeks later, a much longer summary came out with more nuanced conclusions of the impacts, though the Marines still have not released the full report.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has oversight over the Marines, has criticized the study. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will make the ultimate decision about what, if any, jobs remain restricted.