Over the past nine months, the Marine Corps tested a gender-integrated task force in both Twentynine Palms, Calif. and Camp Lejeune, N.C. in an attempt to gauge what the Corps might look like with women in combat roles.That's the "mixed" part, two women out of two dozen able to tolerate the rigors of marine infantry training. It might have escaped WAPO's attention that each failure cost a lot of money, and resulted in nothing useful for the Marines. Which was kind of the point to begin with.
According to a recent report in the Marine Corps Times, only a small number of women were left by the experiment’s conclusion — two of the roughly two dozen who started — mostly in part because of the physical and mental stress that comes with combat roles. Both the men and women in the task force also reported a breakdown in unit cohesion with some voicing a perceived unequal treatment from their peers.
The experiment comes as all branches of the military face a Jan. 1 deadline to open all combat positions to women — from basic infantry battalions to elite special operations units such as U.S. Navy SEALs. While branches like the Air Force and Navy have relatively small communities where women are currently barred from serving — namely special operations detachments — the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have a host of units and jobs closed to women. These jobs, known as combat arms, include infantry, artillery and armored divisions.So what happened?
The Marine Corps Times report cites a number of instances where women had a difficult time completing physical tasks, like moving 200 pound dummies off the battlefield or from the turret of a “damaged” vehicle. Peer assessments were also mixed.Well, that's any easy fix! Just don't allow any men bigger than 125 lbs in corps! And shrink and lighten those tanks and armor vehicles to more womanly dimensions. Get rid of all the frickin' armor!
Lance Cpl. Chris Augello, a reservist who prior to the experiment was pro-integration, submitted a 13-page essay—which he shared with the Marine Corps Times—on why he had changed his mind. “The female variable in this social experiment has wrought a fundamental change in the way male [non-commissioned officers] think, act and lead,” he wrote, referring to the female presence and its effect on how Marine Corps small-unit leaders do their job.That old sex thing, huh? You wouldn't have expected that to rear it's ugly head with hormonal 20 year olds living in stress and tight quarters, would you?
Augello, according to the report, also noted that relationships between the female and male Marines in his platoon sometimes turned romantic and in turn became a distraction. Integration, Augello wrote, is “a change that is sadly for the worse, not the better.”
But on the bright side, it made two women happy:
. . .the two women who stayed until the experiment’s conclusion told the Marine Corps Time they had found their true calling as infantrywomen.And after all, that's what it's all about, right?
“Every time a female would drop, it motivated the crap out of me to stay there,” Lance Cpl. Callahan Brown, one of the two final women to remain in the task force, told the Marine Corps Times. “Only 7 percent [of Marines are female] and so few even wanted to be in the infantry, and that’s all I want, is to be with grunts.”
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