View Full Version : The SECNAV criticizes Marines' infantry study on women

09-11-2015, 05:04 PM
It seems that Mabus wants the USMC to have women in the infantry, at all costs. From what I have heard, the Marines did some testing, and the women tested were not up to par, as a whole.

The following is excerpted from the Navy Times:

'Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has doubled down on his assertion that all combat jobs should be opened to women in the wake of a new study showing that all-male Marine control groups outperformed those with women in nearly every infantry task.

Mabus spoke to David Green at NPR a day after Marine officials revealed findings from a nine-month infantry experiment that assessed the performance of male and female Marine volunteers during physically demanding ground combat tasks. A summary of data showed that mixed-gender teams completed tasks more slowly and shot with less accuracy, and that women sustained injuries at more than twice the rate of their male counterparts.

Mixed-gender teams come up short in Marines' infantry experiment

In his radio interview, Mabus suggested the Marines' study was flawed due to the caliber and mindset of the volunteer participants.

"It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking 'this is not a good idea,' and 'women will never be able to do this,' " Mabus said. "When you start out with that mindset, you're almost presupposing the outcome."

Mabus also said the Marines could have selected female volunteers who were better suited to the task of marching under heavy loads, which accounted for many of the injuries that were observed.

"For the women that volunteered, probably there should have been a higher bar to cross to get into the experiment," he said.

Female volunteers, except for a small "provisional infantry" group, were required to graduate from the Marines' entry-level enlisted infantry training course and specific combat job schools, if applicable. They also had to get at least a third-class score on the male version of the Marine Corps' Physical Fitness Test, requiring three pullups, 50 crunches in one minute, and a 3-mile run in 28 minutes.

In a Pentagon briefing Thursday, however, officials said the female Marines who volunteered tended to be athletic, with high scores on the PFT and combat fitness tests.

"These were good Marines," said Paul Johnson, the principal investigator for the integrated task force experiment.

Despite the disappointment he expressed with the study, Mabus said it did reveal ways to set entry-level performance standards for each infantry job in order to mitigate injury risks and control for male and female Marines who are likely to execute physical tasks successfully.

"When you look at some of the outside analysis of this from the Center for Naval Analyses, they've looked at these and they've said there are ways to mitigate this so you can have the same combat effectiveness, the same lethality. Which is crucial," Mabus said.

That CNA study has yet to be released publicly.

Mabus' remarks come on the verge of a crucial decision for the Marine Corps: whether to ask to keep certain ground combat jobs closed to women to preserve combat effectiveness, or to move forward with integrating female Marines into every infantry specialty. Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford has not revealed his thinking on the matter ahead of a final decision. Mabus, however, has been vocal about his plans to work toward full gender integration.

"That's ... my call," he told Military Times this month about the upcoming decision.'

09-11-2015, 05:20 PM
From the Marine Corps Times:

'All-male ground combat teams outperformed their mixed-gender counterparts in nearly every capacity during a recent infantry integration test, Marine Corps officials revealed Thursday.

Data collected during a monthslong experiment showed Marine teams with female members performed at lower overall levels, completed tasks more slowly and fired weapons with less accuracy than their all-male counterparts. In addition, female Marines sustained significantly higher injury rates and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall, officials said.

The troubling findings come as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford prepares to make a crucial decision regarding the integration of female troops into closed combat roles. Faced with a Defense Department-wide mandate that will open all jobs to women by Jan. 1, he must decide whether to ask for specific exceptions to the mandate in order to preserve combat readiness. Officials said Dunford had met with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus about the decision but had yet to issue his recommendations.

In a briefing at the Pentagon, officials did not reveal how Dunford plans to act on the task force findings. But they made clear that the Marine Corps was focused on how gender integration would affect overall combat effectiveness, as well as the likely impacts to the health and welfare of individual Marines.

"The true basis of this was to gather some hard qualitative metrics on what we would expect to see in combat effectiveness," said Paul Johnson, the principal investigator for the integration experiment. "Is every member of the group contributing equally to the outcome? That's important to know."

The Marines' Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force involved about 400 Marine volunteers, roughly 25 percent of whom were women. Over the course of nine months, teams that simulated integrated rifle, weapons, mechanized and artillery units trained to infantry standards and then executed a repetitive series of skills assessments under human testing conditions.

No other military service conducted a similar research experiment. A source with knowledge of Marine Corps planning said the Corps spent about $36 million researching the impacts of combat integration.

While the experiment was closely controlled, there was a key experience gap: Many male task force volunteers came from combat units where they had previously served, while female volunteers came directly from infantry schools or from noncombat jobs. One task force unit, a provisional rifle platoon, attempted to mitigate this problem by comparing the performance of male and female troops who received no formal infantry training.

The Marine Corps' data findings included the following:

All-male squads and teams outperformed those that included women on 69 percent of the 134 ground combat tasks evaluated.

All-male teams were outperformed by mixed-gender teams on two tasks: accuracy in firing the 50-caliber machine gun in traditional rifleman units and the same skill in provisional units. Researchers did not know why gender-mixed teams did better on these skills, but said the advantage did not persist when the teams continued on to movement-under-load exercises.

All-male squads in every infantry job were faster than mixed-gender squads in each tactical movement evaluated. The differences between the teams were most pronounced in crew-served weapons teams. Those teams had to carry weapons and ammunition in addition to their individual combat loads.

Male-only rifleman squads were more accurate than gender-integrated counterparts on each individual weapons system, including the M4 carbine, the M27 infantry automatic rifle and the M203 grenade launcher.

Male Marines with no formal infantry training outperformed infantry-trained women on each weapons system, at levels ranging from 11 to 16 percentage points.

In a findings briefing sheet, officials also noted that there were tasks female Marines routinely struggled with that posed no similar challenge to their male counterparts.

In scaling an 8-foot wall obstacle, researchers wrote, male Marines would throw their packs to the top of the wall, while female Marines "required regular assistance" to do the same. During simulated casualty evacuations involving a 200-pound dummy, mixed-gender groups were notably slower at the task, except in cases when a single Marine would move the dummy using a fireman's carry. And in those cases, "it was most often a male Marine who 'evacuated' the casualty," according to the findings analysis.

A team from the University of Pittsburgh recorded athletic and biological data from each Marine volunteer before, during and after the assessment. The average differences between male and female participants may explain, in large part, the disparity in overall performance. Among their findings:

The average male Marine volunteer was 178 pounds with 20 percent body fat; the average female volunteer weighed 142 pounds with 24 percent body fat.
In anaerobic power and capacity, female Marines averaged 15 percent lower levels than their male counterparts. In anaerobic power performance, the top 25 percent of female performers and the bottom 25 percent of male performers overlapped.
In aerobic capacity, female Marines demonstrated levels 10 percent lower on average than male Marines.
Over the course of the assessment, musculoskeletal injury rates totaled 40.5 percent for women, more than double the 18.8 percent rate for men.
In all, female Marines sustained 21 "time-loss" injuries which took them away from task force duties for a day or more. Nineteen of the women's injuries were lower extremity injuries and 16 percent took place during a task that required movement while carrying a load. Officials said they could not immediately provide the comparable injury rates for men but said lower extremity injuries were the most common among male Marines as well.
Col. Anne Weinberg, deputy director of the Marines' Force Innovation Office, said it was important to note that the experiment only evaluated the performance of mixed-gender teams under current conditions. It was a measurement, she said, of how well average female Marines were doing today, not how well they could perform under ideal circumstances and with better training.

"I would characterize this as: There's more to be learned," Weinberg said. "There's an opportunity to train and become stronger and to execute these tasks in a more lethal manner."

High injury rates among women were also a problem at the Infantry Training Battalion, the Marines' basic infantry training school for enlisted troops that temporarily opened to women between 2013 and 2015. Researchers found that female ITB participants were injured at more than six times the rate of male participants, and nearly one-third of their injuries occurred during movement-under-load tasks, while just 13 percent of male injuries did.

Female Marines fared much better in ground combat schools for other occupational specialties, indicating that jobs placing less emphasis on marching with heavy packs than rifleman and weapons specialties do may be more conducive to gender integration. The artillery cannon crewman course had the same graduation rate — 86 percent — for men and women during the evaluation period. In the tanks and amphibious assault vehicle crewman courses, women had a 71 percent graduation rate, compared to 99 and 94 percent for men, respectively.

While Johnson did not reveal overall attrition rates for the integrated task force ahead of a full release of data expected to take place later this month, task force volunteers told Marine Corps Times that artillery and mechanized vehicle units had low injury rates, and physical tasks for these jobs presented less of a challenge than marching with a rifleman's assault pack did.'

USN - Retired
09-11-2015, 07:27 PM
If we're not going to allow gender discrimination, then we also should not allow age discrimination. I am a 52 year old man, and I want to join the Marine infantry!

09-11-2015, 07:57 PM
Just write to your congressperson,USN - Retired. Add in a heartfelt plea to Mr. Mabus. That should get you in.

Me, being disabled? I am about to do the same thing. What does a really messed up hand, my brain being surgerized by Navy doctors, or my age, have to do with me getting back in?

They are being totally discriminatory! I shall call on my AARP representative and my Brain and Hand Disability Association to redress these issues!

As a matter of fact, I want to fly them there F35s!

I'll be seeing you in the fleet!

Semper Fudge!

Oops! I meant, Semper Fi!