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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Navy Secretary touts women in combat

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FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2016 file photo, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Jr. gestures while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington,  before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to examine the implementation of the decision to open all ground combat units to women. Mabus has squared off against Marine Corps leaders who resisted recruiting women for all combat jobs. On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, he takes his case to a broader audience at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Jr. gestures while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has squared off against Marine Corps leaders who resisted recruiting women for all combat jobs. On Tuesday, he takes his case to a broader audience at Camp Pendleton, California.

Marine Corps leaders had sought to keep certain infantry and combat jobs closed to women, citing studies showing combined-gender units are not as effective as male-only units. Defense Secretary Ash Carter overruled them in December, ordering all positions open to women.

Since then, the military services have put together plans outlining how they will integrate women into male-only units

Mabus, who sided with the defense secretary against Marine Corps brass, will address about 300 leaders from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to “discuss his intent and expectations for gender integration,” according to a Marines press release that describes the forum as a town hall setting. He has already visited Marines bases at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Quantico, Virginia, to tackle the topic.

Mabus, a former Democratic governor of Mississippi, faces a potentially skeptical audience. Marine Gen. Robert Neller made clear his reservations in February even as the Marine Corps began to lay out recruitment plans.

“We have a decision and we’re in the process of moving out,” Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told senators. “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 told senators that that Marine Corps testing revealed two significant differences between all-male units and those with men and women. He said all-male units were able to better march long distances carrying heavy loads and also were able to fire their weapons more accurately after marching over distance.

Being big and strong and having a “certain body mass give you an advantage,” said Neller.

Asked to list his concerns, Neller said he worried about retention, injury rates and unit effectiveness.

The defense sectary has said moving women into combat jobs will present challenges but that the armed forces can no longer afford to exclude half of the population from grueling jobs. He said that any man or woman who meets the standards should be able to serve.

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Copyright © 2016 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

3 thoughts on “Navy Secretary touts women in combat”

  1. Good grief-the military is bending over backwards for gay and transgender people, but there are still those who don’t think women should have the right to fight for their country? Every time I start to think we are no longer in the Dark Ages, some man says something to disabuse me of that notion, before I get comfortable with it….

  2. Most males cannot meet the standards for Grunt Marines. Those standards are not arbitrarily set to disqualify anyone; rather, they are set to determine whether an individual can function effectively in a battlefield environment that typically involves sleep deprivation, climatic extremes, humping 100 pounds of gear and ordnance several clicks over irregular terrain, and engaging the enemy in close combat. This Mustang Grunt has little doubt that most female UFC fighters can toe that mark; but they are literally one in a million of the femme populace. Those who have not served in combat as Grunts have no notion what daily life in The Arena involves. Let them come find out. Semper Fi.

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