Monday, September 28, 2015

MILITARY - Women in Combat

"Navy Secretary:  Gender should not bar women from Marine combat roles" PBS NewsHour 9/22/2015


SUMMARY:  The U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy are expected to allow women to serve in all combat roles starting next year.  But the Marine Corps commandant has asked that Marines be excluded from the new rule.  Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus joins Gwen Ifill to explain why he feels that gender should not bar servicewomen from Marine combat roles.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  But, first, the battle brewing at the Pentagon over the future of women in America’s armed forces.

Early next year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is expected to announce whether previously closed positions to women in the military will open.  The Army, Air Force and Navy are expected to allow women to serve in all combat roles.

But Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford, soon to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has asked that the Marines be excluded from the new rule.

Joining me now to explain why he disagrees with that assessment is Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who is also the civilian head of the Marine Corps.

Welcome.  And thank you for joining us, Secretary Mabus.

RAY MABUS, U.S. Secretary of the Navy:  Gwen, thank you.

GWEN IFILL:  There is a report that has come out that shows that women in integrated combat units were slower, there were more injuries, they were less accurate at firing weapons.  What is your take on that report?

RAY MABUS:  Well, first, the Commandant and I share the overall goal of making sure we maximize the combat effectiveness of the United States Marines.  That’s the first principle.

Second, this study, that Marine study, and had Marines doing very valuable work, and it came out with some great findings, the main one of which was that, before then, there had been no standards set for being in the infantry.

So, this study set those high standards.  Before then, it was assumed that if men went through boot camp, they could become Marine infantry.  Turned out that the specific jobs in the infantry, which the study went through, deconstructed all the jobs [and] here’s what you need to do to be a success in this, to do the job.

But then the Marines took averages from the study.  It wasn’t the individuals.  They set the high standards.  But then they looked across averages.  And the Marines have never been about average.  The Marines are about exceptionalism.

And what my view is, set high standards.  Make sure those standards have something to do with the job.  And then whoever meets those standards, gender is not crucial.  If you can meet the standards, you should be able to serve.

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