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Marine Corps Study: Few Nations Open Combat Roles to Women

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By    |   Thursday, 24 Dec 2015 10:02 PM

A two-year Marine Corps study completed amid the push by the Obama administration to move women into military combat roles found that few nations around the world allowed for such duties for women in their defense operations.

The study was among 21 reports by the Marines that the Pentagon released after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Dec. 3 that all U.S. combat positions would be open to men, The Washington Times reports.

Carter, who succeeded Chuck Hagel in February, overruled the Marines. That branch wanted an exemption for its infantry and commando units.

"There must be no quotas or perception thereof," Carter said in his announcement, acknowledging the physical differences between men and women. "Thus far, we've only seen small numbers of women qualified to meet our high physical standards in some of our most physically demanding combat occupational specialties.

"Going forward, we shouldn't be surprised if these small numbers are also reflected in areas like recruitment, voluntary assignment, retention and advancement in some of these specific specialties," Carter said.

In 2013, the White House asked for all combat positions to be open to women by 2016, including the infantry, artillery, armor and Special Forces.

British Prime Minister David Cameron this week ordered the army and the Royal Marines to open all land-combat jobs to women next year.

The Marine Corps study examined military roles for women in Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom, the Times reports.

Here are some of the findings:
  • Despite lifting a ban in 1989, the number of women in combat arms in Canada remains low despite there being no specific physical requirements for jobs within the Canadian land forces.
  • Israel requires military service of all citizens — and women in the Israel Defense Forces may only serve in two light-infantry border units when it comes to combat on direct land.
  • Australia is still experiencing fallout from recently permitting women to join the combat ranks of the Australian Defense Force. Civilian leaders, who actually do the recruiting, continue to resist the tough physical and mental standards for women.
  • British and European labor laws bar governments from assigning women to jobs that they know will cause injuries.
"Evidence that female soldiers in the combat arms incurred a disproportionately high instance of serious injuries could invoke this provision, based on differences in the likelihood and severity of injuries," the Marines' study concluded. "In such a case, allowing women to participate in ground close combat would be an act of negligence.

"Such a finding would force the British Government to exclude female soldiers from the combat arms," the Times reports.

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A two-year Marine Corps study completed amid the push by the Obama administration to move women into military combat roles found that few nations around the world allowed for such duties for women in their defense operations.
Marine Corp, women, combat, military
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2015-02-24
Thursday, 24 Dec 2015 10:02 PM
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