By Jesse Carr
On November 21st, 2013 three female Marines made history becoming the first women to graduate from the Marine Corps School of Infantry, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB). Known for its physically demanding and exhausting 59 day training course ITB remains the training ground for a male only MOS, the only one remaining in the Marine Corps. With these three Marines graduating from Delta Company ITB it raises the increasingly popular question, do women belong in combat? Some would say that the simple fact the three women were able to graduate one of the most rigorous infantry training schools in the world should be an automatic answer to that question. However, there are many other things that need to be considered before this question can be answered.
On September 24th, 2013 15 female Marines reported for duty to Delta Co ITB with the sole purpose of seeing if females could withstand the grueling requirements of infantry training. On November 21st 3 graduated, marking only a 20 percent passing rate. However, on December 19th ten more women graduated ITB out of 13, posting a 77 percent passing rate. When I did the math for these numbers both classes combined hailed a 52 percent passing rate. Is that enough? Does this prove that women can withstand the mental and physical demands of combat? Let’s look even further at the Marine Corps physical fitness standards. As of 2014 all-female Marines were expected to be able to do at least 3 pull-ups, but Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos was forced to delay the requirement. Fox news reports that the requirement was tested during 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island, and that only 45 percent were able to complete the minimum passing 3 pull-ups. According to Elaine Donelly, the president of the conservative Center for Military Readiness, the suspension of the PFT requirement “is a clear indication” that moving women into combat fighting MOS’s will not work. So which Statistic do we look at? Do we consider a 52 percent passing rate at infantry school? And if so, is that considered good? Or do we look at the inability of female Marines to perform at the same physical level of male Marines? And therefore make the judgment that women could not survive combat?
Everyone has heard the statement, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The Marine Corps is a brotherhood, from the moment that we receive our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor until the Marine Corps ceases to exist, we will always be a part of that brotherhood. There is no discrimination between male and female, active and reserve, or veteran and retiree. As there continues to be more research done on whether or not women in combat is a viable option, men and women of the Marine Corps continue to be seen on the same level. Personally, I don’t believe that women’s bodies were made to endure the unpredictability of combat, just as men’s bodies were not made to endure the pain of childbirth. However, this is a topic that will continue to be debated, argued, and experimented with for many years to come.