Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Some USMC combat jobs may stay closed to women

Jan. 29, 2013 - 07:42PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 29, 2013 - 07:42PM  |  
  • Filed Under

WASHINGTON — In his first interview since the Pentagon opened ground combat jobs to women, the commandant of the Marine Corps said some occupations may ultimately remain closed if only a small number qualify.

The Marines will not lower physical standards for certain specialties, Gen. James Amos told USA Today. "We can't afford to lower standards," he said. "We can't make adjustments on what's required on the battlefield.

"That's not why America has a Marine Corps," he said.

The Marine Corps, like the Army, is reviewing the physical and other standards required for direct combat fields that had previously been closed to female servicemembers.

The Pentagon last week ordered that the services provide the opportunity for women to enter all fields, including infantry, tanks, artillery and other combat arms.

The entire process could take years as the services develop and validate "gender neutral" standards. The secretary of Defense would have to approve any fields that remain closed to women.

"If the numbers are so small with regards to qualification, then there very may well be (job fields) that remain closed," Amos said. "Those will be few and far between."

Deploying only one or two female servicemembers in a unit, for example, would make it difficult for the women to succeed. "You want to have assimilation … so our females can mentor one another," Amos said.

Each of the previously closed fields will likely have its own set of requirements.

Some are easily quantifiable. For example, men and women wanting to serve on a tank crew would need to be able to lift a tank round, which weighs more than 40 pounds, and load it into the main gun. Other standards may be more difficult to quantify.

Amos said he is confident that the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course (IOC), a mentally and physically grueling 13-week course, is an accurate measure of what it takes to successfully lead a rifle platoon in combat.

"There's no intention on my part of changing anything within the IOC curriculum," Amos said. The course has drawn attention because last year the Marine Corps began admitting women on an experimental basis.

The first two women admitted did not complete the course. Two more volunteers are expected to begin the course next month.

The infantry school for enlisted Marines, however, is being looked at closely to determine whether the standards are a good measurement of the physical and mental requirements of a Marine infantryman.

Once the standards and requirements among all specialties are codified they could then be incorporated into screening tests and specialty schools. The Marine Corps has more than 30 fields that are currently closed to women.

"This is not writing standards now in an effort to exclude females," Amos said. "This is writing and developing standards that quite frankly should have been developed years ago and have not been."

Amos said the Marine Corps will ensure that the opportunities are opened up without adjusting requirements.

"We've got too much combat experience for me to even suggest lowering the standards," Amos said. "So I'm not going to do it."

The Pentagon order will mark a change for all the services, but particularly for the Marine Corps, a lean expeditionary force that is organized and built around the infantry. The Marine Corps has the smallest percentage of women in its ranks.

Amos said the elite service is serious about opening opportunities for women.

"This isn't a subtle way of saying, ‘OK, we're going to have standards and so we're going to exclude our women.' It's actually just the opposite."

There is broad public support for allowing women into combat arms jobs, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. Of those surveyed, 66 percent supported allowing women into ground combat roles.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Marine Corps Times

This Week's Marine Corps Times

'To buy, or not to buy'
Barrett: Fiscal discipline good for both Corps and Marines

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
   Last Post: garhkal
        Apr 15, 2014 4:55 PM
   Last Post: Shaken1976
        Apr 15, 2014 5:13 PM
   Last Post: MACHINE666
        Apr 6, 2014 4:23 PM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook