Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a gathering of 1,500 Marines and sailors Tuesday the integration of women into all combat roles is as irreversible as was the integration of blacks into the military.
“Marines, we’re past the decision now,” Mabus said at Camp Pendleton. “The secretary of defense has made the decision. Now we’re into implementing.”
That implementation also entails changing job titles to make sure women don’t feel excluded. Yet, Mabus assured Marines standards would not change, and if they did change, it would be for everyone, not just for women, The Associated Press reports.
“I will never lower standards,” Mabus said. “Let me repeat that: Standards will not be lowered for any group! Standards may be changed as circumstances in the world change, but they’ll be changed for everybody.”
Mabus also said he supports implementing the draft for women, but added the decision to change Selective Service is up to Congress.
Boot camp is another area that will be turned upside down. Women are currently trained separately at Parris Island, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina. Mabus took Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller’s advice that full boot camp integration needs to occur gradually, so as not to disrupt training.
“We’re going to figure out how to better integrate, and do it over time, in a way that doesn’t disrupt training and doesn’t disrupt the way you become Marines,” Mabus said.
Out of all the services, the Marine Corps has been by far the most reluctant to accept Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s decision to integrate all women into combat roles. Marine Corps leadership requested an exemption to keep some roles male-only, but Mabus slammed the request and Carter ultimately denied it.
Neller told Congress back in February he will begin implementation and although he hopes for it to be successful, “hope is not a course of action on the battlefield.”
During the same hearing, Neller reviewed the results of an exhaustive Marine Corps study on women in combat and said men were simply more physiologically able to carry huge packs for long, brutal marches.
Clearly, the Marine Corps is still quite upset at attempt to push women into combat roles.
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