An enormous survey of almost 54,000 Marines found that two-thirds of male Marines opposed the idea of opening up all combat roles to women, but the DOD buried the study and refused to release it along with other documents.
A third of female Marines also opposed the idea.
The Department of Defense held onto tight to the study, which was originally conducted in 2012 by the Center for Naval Analyses. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in 2013 plans to open all combat roles to women after a couple years of internal study, though for whatever reason, the DOD decided to hide the study from view, Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post reports.
After Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced December that all ground combat roles would open up to women without exception, the Pentagon released a trove of studies the department relied on in coming to its final decision. But the CNA survey was not among them. Instead, The Washington Post obtained the results by Freedom of Information Act Request.
Male officers in the Marine Corps were the most likely to state preferences against including women in combat roles. The ranks of second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain registered 72.6 percent opposition and only 16 percent support for opening up combat roles.
In contrast, a majority of female Marines in nearly all ranks supported removing the barrier to combat. Female majors were most likely to support the idea, registering in at 52.8 percent and only 29.8 percent opposition. The survey found only 41 percent support among female corporals and sergeants. That number dropped to 37.5 percent for noncommissioned officers.
Unsurprisingly, the most stringent disagreement with the Pentagon’s proposal came from Marines part of the infantry. A total of 76.5 percent of these Marines, who often have to trudge for miles carrying up to 100 pounds of gear, disagreed with the Obama administration’s push to place women in combat roles.
These Marines cited several reasons for excluding women, with 90 percent saying that they were concerned about the development of romantic relationships, which would damage unit cohesion. An incredible 80 percent said they feared fake sexual harassment allegations, as well as the possibility of women cozying up to senior leadership and receiving special favors.
Female Marines cited slightly different reasons, namely that enemy forces would shift to specifically target them as prisoners of war. They were also afraid of sexual harassment.
It’s unlikely that the release of the study and subsequent public pressure even in advance of Carter’s final decision would have prompted the Pentagon to reconsider. The Marines Corps was the only service to request an exemption to keep some roles male-only, but Carter ultimately denied the request, saying he wanted to keep standards across all services consistent. Throughout the entire dispute between the Navy and Marine Corps leadership, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus bashed the service repeatedly and accused officials of biasing studies which showed poor performance among mixed-gender units as compared to male-only units.
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