By Debbie Gregory.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Marine Corps veteran, is demanding the resignation of the Navy’s secretary for his plans to open Marine Corps infantry positions to women.
A lengthy Marine Corps experiment involving about 300 men and 100 women who volunteered as research subjects found that all-male units performed significantly better than mixed-gender ones on 69 percent of tactical tests. The task force on gender integration also found that women were injured more than twice as often as men, according to a brief summary of results released by the Corps.
Regardless, Secretary Ray Mabus announced he intends to open Marine infantry, Navy SEALs, and all other combat jobs in the Navy to the new gender-neutral employment policy in the Defense Department.
The Marine Corps is expected to ask that women not be allowed to compete for several front-line combat jobs, military officials said.
The report acknowledged that “female Marines have performed superbly in the combat environments of Iraq and Afghanistan and are fully part of the fabric of a combat-hardened Marine Corps after the longest period of continuous combat operations in the Corps’ history.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marine commandant, is weighing the task-force findings as well as related research on entry-level training courses, the opening of 12 occupations to women and the addition of female support staff to some ground-combat units.
Military women who support the end of all gender restrictions for employment praised Mabus for what they described as his leadership and acumen at gauging weaknesses in the Marine Corps research.
The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles, including as Army artillery officers and sailors on Navy submarines. Adding to the debate was the groundbreaking graduation last month of Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the first two women to female soldiers to complete their courses at the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.