Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday that the military services, including the Marine Corps, must open all combat roles to women.
The announcement will shut down arguments from the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who submitted a brief while Marine Commandant arguing that certain jobs in the Marine Corps should remain closed off to women, reported The Associated Press.
“There will be no exceptions,” Carter said at a press conference Thursday.
Carter’s decision is unsurprising. Back in October, Carter told U.S. troops in Italy that excluding half of the population from all combat jobs is “crazy.” (RELATED: Ash Carter Sounds Like He’s Already Come To A Decision On Women In Combat)
All services must now submit plans to prepare for the changes by January 1. An anonymous defense official told The Associated Press that the plans have to be implemented by April 1.
A Marine Corps study, called the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF), found that females in integrated squads performed poorly, relative to all-male units, which won out in firearm accuracy and strength. Overall, men performed better at 69 percent of combat tasks and sustained far fewer injuries. (RELATED: Marine Corps Study Shows That Men Are Better In Ground Combat Than Women)
That study attracted a vitriolic rebuke from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who argued that leaders involved in the study biased the study. In other words, their preconceived notions about female performance essentially caused poor performance. Mabus also added that average performance is irrelevant and when considering integrating women into combat positions, individual performance is the key variable.
With more leadership and training, Mabus believes the gender gap will close. His statements resulted in a significant backlash. (RELATED: Mabus Throws Down: All Combat Positions In Dept Of Navy Will Open To Women)
Sergeant Maj. Justin LeHew, who was involved in conducting the study, said that the leadership was about as progressive as one could hope for, adding: “No one went in to this with the mentality that we did not want this to succeed.”
A female Marine who participated in the study, Sgt. Danielle Beck, said that Mabus’ comments were like a “slap in the face.”
“Our secretary of the Navy completely rolled the Marine Corps and the entire staff that was involved in putting this [experiment] in place under the bus,” Beck said. (RELATED: Top Marine Blasts SecNav On Infantry Women: He Does Not Want To See America Win In Combat)
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