President Obama is already weakening our military by shedding troops, weapons and ships. But even these cuts aren’t as dangerous as his misguided crusade for a gender-blind military.
“Valor has no gender,” Obama naively announced. True, but strength, speed and sharpshooting accuracy are gender-specific. A new 9-month, $36 million study conducted by the Marine Corps shows that the overwhelming majority of women Marines underperform on tasks such as running while wearing 100 pounds of gear, or carrying a wounded buddy to safety, or firing an M4 rifle to stop the enemy’s grenade.
These politically incorrect facts should make the Obama administration reconsider zealously opening all combat jobs to women.
Don’t get me wrong. Women already are making valuable contributions, and rising through the ranks. More than 90 percent of military roles are open to them. But Obama’s order would require elite combat units to include women, even though it means lowering standards.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus brushes off the new research and insists all combat units should be co-ed. He claims “a more diverse force is a stronger force.”
In general, that’s true. Adding women to the mix enhances strategic thinking, whether it’s in business or in the military. But the Obama administration’s extreme application of gender diversity will cost soldiers their lives.
The research shows that co-ed combat units move slower, suffer more injuries and fire weapons less accurately than all-male units. Women shooting M4 rifles hit the target 28 percent of the time, compared with 44 percent for men. “When negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top.” OK in training, but not in war.
The report concluded that the “disadvantage in upper- and lower-body strength resulted in higher fatigue levels” among women and “stress fractures.”
Mabus says averages shouldn’t count, and the very small number of women who think they can make the grade should be given the chance. Similarly, the National Women’s Law Center insists each woman Marine should be judged individually.
That might be fair in the NBA or the NFL. If a brawny woman makes the grade, fine. If she flops, it won’t cost her teammates their lives. But in battle, a woman soldier who fails puts the lives of other soldiers at risk.
The evidence already shows that adding women to elite combat units won’t be about giving exceptional women a chance. It will be about lowering standards.
The Marine Corps opened its demanding Infantry Officer Course to women in 2012. The results? Of the 29 women who attempted it, none passed.
Remember the two women who gained acclaim for graduating from the US Army Ranger School in August? Strip away the sugar-coating, and the record isn’t a triumph. In April, 19 women started the program. Eleven were cut the first week, the remaining eight flunked the next phase twice, five of them dropped out and two finally graduated after an extra two months of repeat testing. Congratulations to them, but you can’t run a military-training program with a 90 percent failure rate.
If women have to struggle and still mostly fail, standards will be lowered. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the nation’s top military officer, admits it. If women aren’t meeting a standard, “the burden is now on the service to come back and explain . . . why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”
In short, women won’t have to run as fast or hit targets as accurately as men to be in combat.
Standards have already been lowered to enable enough women to enlist. Men have to do pull-ups to join the Marines. Women don’t.
That’s fine for most military jobs, but not for combat, where dozens of lives could be lost if one soldier can’t pull herself over the wall.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.