One of the clearest signs of how ideological American society has become is the push to put women in combat. No one argues that our armed forces will fight better if women are put in combat roles. The argument, instead, is that we should put women in combat roles because we believe in “equality,” that it is an affront to equality if any job, anywhere is not open to women, and that we can put women in combat because they will be “good enough.”
Last week, the Marines released a study showing what “good enough” actually means. For nine months, the Marines studied 400 service members, male and female, as they performed a variety of military tasks. According to The Washington Post, the study showed that women were “injured twice as often as men, less accurate with infantry weapons and not as good at removing wounded troops from the battlefield.” In fact, “male Marines who have not received infantry training were still more accurate using firearms than women who have.” All-male units performed better than units with women on 93 of the 134 tasks evaluated, and “the top 25th percentile of women overlapped with the bottom 25th percentile of men when it came to anaerobic power.” The study reached these damning conclusions without taking into account several of the considerations that have historically kept women out of combat, such as the laudable desire to spare women the horror of combat and the deleterious effect women have on unit morale and cohesion. Nor is it the first time the Marines have found that women cannot meet the standards they have set for combat. As the Post reported back in April, all 29 of the female Marines who have attempted the demanding Infantry Officer Course have failed.
Not that any of this makes any difference to the bureaucrats who will decide if the Marines can continue to reserve some combat roles to men. Before the study came out, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said, “I do not see a reason for an exemption.” Afterward, Mabus criticized the study since “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. When you start out with that mindset, you almost presupposed the outcome.” No doubt a story that recently appeared in USA Today would be more to Mabus’ liking. It concerned a photo of female service members at Ft. Bliss that has been shared 8000 times on Facebook. Said the photographer: “Breastfeeding their babies doesn’t make them any less of a soldier, I believe it makes them a better one. Juggling the tasks and expectations of a soldier, plus providing for their own the best way they possibly can, make these ladies even stronger for it.” Maybe the Marines would have obtained different results if their study had provided for changing tables and the like.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.