Army and Marine Corps generals told senators that women should register for the draft just as men do. Generals claim that getting a start on registering women now will take a full three years for them to fully integrate with the military. In doing so, women will also be expected to participate in all combat jobs.
The Associated Press writes that military service leaders vehemently reiterated that they will not lower standards to accommodate women to the rigorous jobs usually performed by men.
Army General Mark Milley and Marine General Robert Neller are the main proponents of this argument, stating that women should be required to register for the selective service at age 18 — thus making them eligible for the draft.
Some military officials, however, warned that letting women register for the draft, and having them join in combat, will have a detrimental impact on the proficiency of the male-dominated combat units. This is because of the inherent physical differences and injury rates between men and women, the generals claim.
The Marine Corp as a whole was especially reluctant to include women in the military, deeming all tasks too physically taxing for them.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has already made all combat jobs available to women in December. However he vowed that no standards will be lowered for them.
The Marines and Carter justify their reluctance with studies which find that mixed-gender units are not as effective as male-only units. NPR reports on the significant differences of man-woman units as opposed to all-male ones.
Tests show that the mixed-gender units did not perform as well,
“The Marines created a battalion of 100 female and 300 male volunteers. During the past year, they trained in North Carolina and California, taking part in realistic combat exercises. All-male squads, the study found, performed better than mixed gender units across the board. The males were more accurate hitting targets, faster at climbing over obstacles, better at avoiding injuries. The Marine study says its main focus is maximum combat effectiveness, because it means fewer casualties. The Marines have not said whether the study’s results will lead them to ask for a waiver that bars women from ground combat jobs. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he hopes to open all combat jobs to women.”
In fact, Secretary Carter’s order specifically allowed women to compete for combat posts for the final 10 percent of military positions. This totals out to about 220,000 military jobs for women. And as long as they can pass standards, they can have their pick of any job they wish.
Neller, however, still laid out his integration plan for registering women onto the battlefield faster — plans which apparently are already in action.
“We have a decision and we’re in the process of moving out,” Neller told senators regarding women on the battlefield. “We will see where the chips fall. And, again, our hope is that everyone will be successful. But hope is not a course of action on the battlefield.”
Neller already mentioned his plans before politicians last year.
Neller continued to fight for his claim with counter-arguments supporting women joining men in the combat. He acknowledged the inherent physical differences between the two genders, like his counterparts did, but he also highlighted the strengths, weaknesses, and the opportunities in which men and women can become a truly cohesive force on the battlefield.
For instance, the general claims that all-male units can march longer distances, carry heavier loads, and were able to fire their weapons more accurately than women. “Having a certain body mass gives you an advantage,” he added.
But with women, he found that they do more conditioning and weight training to meet combat standards on average. This statistic will allow women to keep up with standards, even being outside of the required weight and size requirements.
General Milley would like to see more women in combat roles as well; however, he wishes to do so meticulously at a more cautious rate. “We must not rush to failure,” he said on the issue.
Courageous women have always served the military, including the Marines. But is it time for them to be on the lines?
[Photo via Getty Images/Scott Olsen]