GOP Sen. John McCain stated Wednesday that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus spoke a little too soon on opening up all combat roles to women, given that Congress hasn’t even had the chance to a hold a hearing on the results of the Marine Corps gender integration study.
Mabus has attracted heat from congressmen and Marines for voicing — even before a partial summary of the study was released — his intent to open to up all combat roles in the Department of the Navy to women, the Washington Examiner reports.
Despite the unfavorable results of the study regarding female performance, compared to all-male combat units, Mabus put his foot down and said that he still did not intend to seek an exemption by Oct. 1 to keep some specialties male-only.
“Why would you have a study if you’re going to disregard the results of it?” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told the Washington Examiner.
“I think we need to evaluate it,” McCain added. “I think we need to have a congressional hearing at least and the initial evidence of that Marine Corps study is something we have to consider. We don’t want to prevent any woman from any opportunity, but we also want to look at all aspects of it.”
According to Mabus, training and leadership can help close the performance gap between the genders exhibited in the study. He also contends that innovation gained through increased diversity is noteworthy enough to remove any barriers to women. As Mabus has claimed, a more diverse force is a stronger force.
But the reasoning hasn’t seemed to persuade many prominent Marines and congressmen, who have shot back barbs in response.
GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter has called Mabus “a political hack who cares more about doing the White House’s bidding than the combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps.”
Sergeant Maj. Justin LeHew, who worked with Marine Corps Training and Education Command to run the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force study, denied the charge that any of the officials involved biased the results of the study against women because of a wrong-headed mindset.
“The Secretary of the Navy is way off base on this and to say the things he is saying is is flat out counter to the interests of national security,” LeHew said in a Facebook post.
Sgt. Danielle Beck, a female Marine and participant in the study, said she felt that Mabus “completely rolled the Marine Corps and the entire staff that was involved in putting this [experiment] in place under the bus.” (RELATED: Top Marine Blasts SecNav On Infantry Women: He Does Not Want To See America Win In Combat)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will also give the Joint Chiefs an opportunity to comment before making his decision on combat roles by Jan. 1.
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