Marine Corps Essay

Although it is interesting that all-male teams – on average- performed better than integrated ones, the results do not tell us whether the integrated teams performed adequately.

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After gaining unprecedented access to over 380 pages of this research, we found that the primary study was inherently flawed and that the limited information the Marines released hid a myriad of problems and weaknesses associated with the design, small volunteer pool, and lack of generalizability of the findings.

Significantly, the unclassified yet previously unreleased research documents indicate that women do not negatively impact unit cohesion, that the study sought to measure the impacts of integration in the absence of established combat standards, that female volunteers in the study had no operating force experience in ground combat units, and that better physical screening would have all but eliminated the rates of injury for women.

We have released these documents to the Washington Post and San Diego Union-Tribune.

Evidence in the longer versions of the study also contradicts the general conclusion that all-male infantry teams performed better than other teams.

They also concluded “perhaps the single-most important result of this almost three year process” has been “to essentially deconstruct many collective ground combat arms tasks to identify what individual tasks and standards an individual Marine must achieve …to be a fully contributing member of that unit.” Although the Marines had clear directives from DOD and acknowledged the limitations of their current standards for infantry, their studies did not focus on establishing quantifiable job-specific performance standards.

Instead, their main research effort, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF) had as its objective “to evaluate the physical performance of individual Marine volunteers in the execution of individual and collective tasks in an operational environment” and to “estimate the effect of gender integration.” The problem with this objective was that the Marines were seeking to evaluate the physical performance of Marines in the absence of quantifiable job-specific standards.

Since the study does not establish minimum operational standards associated with combat tasks and duties, and it fails to measure study participants against job-specific standards, this research does little to further the discussion on gender integration.

The conclusion that all-male groups, on average, performed faster than integrated groups has been taken as proof that there are risks to gender integration and that the inclusion of female Marines would therefore render the Marines less combat effective, regardless of any individual Marines’ qualifications, male or female.

There has been significant attention given to the relatively high rates of injury for women in the Marine study.

However, the longer reports show that “when fitness is considered, female injury rates are similar/the same as male injury rates” and that “a stricter physical screening tool would have eliminated all the female Marines who sustained injury and were dropped during ITB” (infantry initial entry training).


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