Small Wars Journal

The USMC IOC Challenge

Women (and Men) Face Big Hurdles in Training for Marine Infantry Units by James Dao, New York Times.

... The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, has said he is confident that women can begin joining some combat jobs, including in tank and artillery units, by early next year. But with infantry — the foot warriors who since ancient times have been called upon to march across hills and deserts, carry heavy weight and bear the brunt of fighting and death — the corps is proceeding with much caution...

Read On.



Mon, 04/01/2013 - 8:23pm

Results of the USMC’s second attempt to measure women’s performance in their Infantry Officer Course have been reported. The second experiment again consisted of two female volunteers attempting the Marine Corps Infantry Officer’s Course . Both women failed the course the first day when unable to complete an obstacle in the time allotted.

In the first test last year, one of the two female candidates failed the PT test the first day and the second failed a week later based on her inability to maintain the pace physically.

No doubt the heart was willing but there are physical requirements also and unlike in the artillery. Infantry & SOF officers have to be able to do what their troops are expected to do in order to get to where the fight is happening.

I approve of the way the USMC is conducting the experiments. It appears standards aren’t gender normed and requirements aren’t eliminated. The results are proving what many have said, physical performance counts. There’s a lesson there…

I can only hope the Army follows the Marines course in this regard. While many believe if the standards are the same women should be allowed to fill any position the truth is the Army had NEVER had the same standards and shown a pattern of behavior of lowering standards or eliminating requirements to integrate the sexes and passing it off as “the same standard”...

As the Army evaluates Ranger School, the Infantry courses and Ranger BN and SF selection I can only hope the Army follows the Marine approach. The record is not good. Changing or eliminating standards is something the Army has consistently done and portrayed as something else when integrating the sexes. This can only be avoided if requirements and standard changes are made public requiring those outside the service to be involved because only the public is immune to the retaliation service members will suffer if they go public with any misgivings.