Mabus noted on Tuesday that officer candidate school and The Basic School are already fully gender integrated and now the Marine Corps is looking at how to move gender integration earlier into the accessions process.
taking those lessons learned
Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, left, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus talk before a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on Feb. 2, 2016, on Capitol Hill. The committee brought in military leaders to discuss the Army and Marine Corps' approach to gender integration.
Photo Credit: Daniel Woolfolk/Staff
"I've been on this committee for a year and I don't think I've seen a more outrageous or ill-advised order from the service secretary to tell the Marines that they're going to take boot camp — which has been honed and put together for the benefit of the American people over decades — and you're going to order them to give a detailed plan in 15 days?" Sullivan said. "Is that even remotely possible? Why did you issue such an order when nobody on this committee thinks that it was remotely possible to integrate boot camp?"
The day after the Marine study was released, Mabus told National Public Radio the gender integration experiment was flawed, in part because the female Marines who took part were not suited to march while carrying heavy loads.
"For the women that volunteered, probably there should have been a higher bar to cross to get into the experiment," Mabus said in the Sept. 11 interview.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, listens to testimony during Tuesday's hearing on women in combat.
Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
"Averages don't tell the abilities and performance of an individual Marine," Mabus said. "There were — and are — capable women who can meet the arduous standards the Marine Corps set for ground combat arms units. We all know the Marines have never been about average."
"So you, with a straight face, make claims that the Marine study was flawed and biased, even if you didn't go see the study being performed," McCain said.
In his NPR interview, Mabus said there was a problem with the mindset of the Marines who took part in the integration study.
"It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking 'this is not a good idea,' and 'women will never be able to do this,'" Mabus told NPR. "When you start out with that mindset, you're almost presupposing the outcome."
Lance Cpls. Christopher Aguello, left, and Brittany Holloway, right, secure a light armored vehicle's spare tire at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Photo Credit: Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Marine Corps
In a tense back-and-forth with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., during the hearing, Mabus said he was referring to some of the conclusions from the study that were presented to him.
"The Marines that were chosen, the Marines who volunteered — and who I brag on for doing that — they did a great job in terms of establishing standards; however, some of the conclusions that were drawn … that the male Marines in that experiment, most of them had no experience working with women in these occupations — they simply didn't know how to do that."
"On the generalized physical fitness test, combat fitness test," Mabus continued. "Nobody had handed me a standard for these ground combat units. Nobody. There were no standards. One of the ways that you ensure that the integration is successful is by training to these very intense physical standards."
"All that we really know from this study is that groups that have the right experience and training — and more training — did better," Gillibrand said. "We don't actually have data that can be used because these women who were asked to participate did not have the same training and experience as males who have been doing it for a long time."
The integrated task force experiment found that as mixed gender teams carried heavier loads, fatigue took a toll on female Marines' accuracy, he said.
"It's going to be height, weight, PFT, CFT, scoring, gender-neutral [standards]; it's everything," he said. "I want to be fair. I don't want people to be disadvantaged. And at the same time, I want them to be fit."