WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The majority of women fail the U.S. Marines physical test for combat roles.
In December the Pentagon opened all male-only combat roles to women. But after five months of testing it's shown that six out of seven women can't pass the physical fitness test required for combat jobs. The test includes ammunition can lifts, pull-ups, crunches and a three-mile run. The average failure rate for men is about 2.7 percent.
Combat roles include infantry, artillery, mechanized infantry and ground intelligence. Marines in combat roles are also expected to be able to move many miles on foot with a rucksack weighing over 70 pounds, scale objects like walls, and fight in close combat situations.
Women were banned from combat jobs in 1994, but in 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave the various military branches a timeline by which they would have to begin implementing a new policy.
In December Defense Secretary Ash Carter asserted,
[A]s long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They'll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat. They'll be able to serve as Army rangers and green berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.
But Carter's mandate goes against previous reports indicating that mixed-gender Marine units don't perform as well as all-male units. Last year the Marine Corps spent $36 million researching the feasability of incorporating women into combat roles, comparing how mixed-gender units performed versus all-male units.
The numbers showed great disparity between the physical performance of men and women. Although many of the men had previous experience in combat units and the women had none, men who had no combat unit experience still outperformed their female counterparts.
All-male teams outperformed mixed-gender units by almost 70 percent. The majority of tasks required being able to maneuver, work, and effectively fire a weapon while weighed down with ammunition and supplies were more effectively accomplished by all-male teams.
Female Marines actually needed help from their male counterparts to scale walls, needing "regular assistance." Mixed-gender units were also slower to evacuate casualties.
In activities requiring short bursts of high intensity the top 25 percent of females were on par with the bottom 25 percent of male Marines. Females also suffered more injuries, with 40.5 percent experiencing musculoskeletal injuries related to activity under heavy load.
Women have served in the Marines since 1918, with the first serving in a combat zone in 1967 in Vietnam. Approximately 2,700 women served during the Vietnam War, but those jobs consisted of support roles in administrative and supply work.