A new experimental group has been proposed by leaders of the US Marines. Last year, the Pentagon called on opening roles that were presently closed to women, a move other branches have tested. The Marines are taking it to a new level, making a force of at least 25% women that will put them in roles such as infantry, which are more reliant on physical stamina and strength. The intention is to determine if the Marines could make such units a permanent fixture of its forces.
The Marine Corps plans to establish an experimental force consisting of at least 25% women in the most far-reaching effort yet to determine how females will perform in ground combat jobs that remain closed to them.
It is the first effort to place women directly into such jobs, though the unit will not deployed overseas and will be used exclusively to gather data. The unit will, however, undergo extensive training that mirrors what a typical Marine task force would undergo before being deployed overseas.
The Pentagon last year ordered the armed forces to open all combat jobs to women by 2016. Since then, the services have focused most of their efforts on developing the exact physical standards required for combat arms jobs, partly to be used to screen applicants.
The Marine Corps, the most male-oriented of the services, has taken the research a step further in an effort to see how women will perform over sustained periods in jobs, such as the infantry, which require above average physical strength and stamina.
“We really want to get at answering that question and we need to do that by simulating an operational environment,” said Marine Brig. Gen. George Smith, who is leading Marine Corps efforts to study the integration of women into ground combat specialties.
“I don’t know of any other example of what we’re talking about here,” he said in an interview at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico. The Army, which is also studying the physical requirements of the infantry and other ground combat jobs, said it has no current plans to create a similar task force.