U.S. Marine Corps: Take the best, leave the rest

The safety and efficacy of our soldiers are being trumped by a desire to look appealing to hyper-progressives.

The Marine Corps is considering lowering their combat standards for women in response to research that came out of the U.S. Marines Corps earlier this week. The study found that none of the 29 women who attempted the Infantry Officer Course offered by the Marines graduated the course while just four passed the first day’s combat endurance test. Among the course's more challenging physical tasks was climbing a 25-foot rope while carrying a backpack full of gear.

The point of these tests — both the physical and psychological — is to demonstrate proficiency and readiness for war. The realities of war, as Brigadier General George Smith puts it, “aren’t going to change based on gender.”

The above rope-climbing test, for instance, is meant to replicate helicopter extraction from a combat zone. If a soldier was not in adequate physical condition to accomplish this or any other similar, integral task, there is no way an officer would send that soldier into the field; the inability to perform his job would risk the lives of himself and his fellow soldiers.

So, then, how does this issue even come up? How are the safety and efficacy of our soldiers being trumped by a desire to look appealing to hyper-progressives in today’s overly politically correct social climate? Simply ask current chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Martin Dempsey, whose edict, the now so-called “Dempsey rule,” asserts that if a standard is too high for women, senior commanders need to have a good defense in opposition of making “equal but lower” standards.

Dempsey’s overt doublethink is on-par with other top-tier politicians. His soft, feel-good rhetoric, however, is sheltering an argument that is anything but bulletproof. We don’t take new Marine recruits who are older than 29. We don’t let people who have had LASIK fly in the Air Force. We don’t make officers out of those who score a 40 on the ASVAB, all because they don’t meet the well-established criteria required for those particular forms of service.

This issue with sex obfuscates the only real issue here — physical capability. There are hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the military to take, all of which provide needed service to our country. Most of them require less physical exertion than a Marine infantry officer, a rank that most who beget it will not achieve, regardless of sex.

The fact that the Infantry Officer Course is among the more strenuous courses is reflective of how intense that duty is on an operational basis. On top of that, research and experts suggest that including women as part of live combat teams will make them more vulnerable to sexual assault and that they will suffer “disproportionate physical and psychological harm” from the experience of war.

The welfare of our warfare is in considerable danger from elements at home. No matter what, our military’s goals must first and foremost be efficiency, effectiveness and the security of our personnel. Rocking the boat in this way over gender disparity in the military has the potential to backfire disastrously. It will take more that snazzy headlines and good PR to convince people that unqualified soldiers of any sort in any way should be fighting on the front lines.

Reach the columnist at hfinzel@asu.edu or follow @OnlyH_Man on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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