Women have traditionally been able to make careers in the American military–just not on the front lines.
While it certainly isn't the final word on women on the front lines in combat, I do think we have to talk about this: the last two female Marines who hoped to get into and succeed in the Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course have washed out.
The two women were eliminated during the "physically and academically demanding" Combat Endurance Test. They had faced a course that was slightly adjusted for them:
Female Marine officers who sought entry to IOC were not expected to meet the same physical fitness screening standards as male Marines, but they were required to match male performance in the course, Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Maureen Krebs told Military.com in November.
The 13-week school historically averages a 25-percent attrition rate.
During the first day's grueling Combat Endurance Test, Marines wear combat gear, perform various physical tasks and answer tactical questions while negotiating a land-navigation course, Krebs said.
The experiment began more than two years ago as part of a broader look at the possibility of opening ground combat specialties to women. Since then, 29 women volunteered for IOC at Quantico, Krebs said Friday.
Of the first group of 10 to volunteer for the course, nine failed to make it through the first day. The remaining female Marine dropped out a week later after being injured on the course.
Speaking for myself and not for IWF, where there are gradations of opinion on this issue, I oppose putting women on the front lines for two reasons: it is likely that the military would have to lower standards for women, thereby endangering the rest of our soldiers. I also don't think women belong on the front lines, a subject on which I have previously blogged (here and here). Carrie has a somewhat different take from mine.
But can we agree on this: if women are to be on the front lines, they have to be as good as fighters as men. Ironically, the Marine Corps has just ousted a female Marine who was turning female Marines into better shots than men in boot camp.
Military Times reports that Lt. Col. Kate Germano served only a year as the head of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion on Parris Island, S.C., before her dismissal.
She got bounced June 30 after a command investigation accused her of “toxic leadership” by berating and showing contempt for subordinates in public. The 300-page report found her to be “hostile, unprofessional and abusive “ and told recruits that sexual assault was preventable, and that those who drank put themselves in a position to be assaulted.
She also told recruits male Marines would never take orders from them and would see them as inferior if they couldn't meet men's physical standards.
But, according to the Times, her supporters say she was a blunt reformer only trying to make the unit better by holding women to tougher standards.
“What she did when she came is she changed the mentality of the Marines in the battalion and the recruits to not expect a historically lower performance than the male recruits at the battalion,” a female Marine officer stationed at the recruit depot told the paper.
Parris Island officials admitted rifle range qualification scores improved dramatically among female recruits under Germano’s tenure.
So what did this woman do that was so offensive?
She said that, if you get drunk, you increase the possibility of unwanted sexual attention.
She said that, if women want male recruits to take orders from them, they have to have physical standards equal to those of the men.
She tried to make the unit better.
Obviously, she had to go.