The Marine Corps is pushing back against a mandate from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to open all combat roles to women by increasing standards, resulting in a female failure rate of 85 percent.
In the last five months, six out of the seven women flunked combat tests, which include pullups, a three-mile run and other difficult tasks, The Associated Press reports.
This failure rate of 85.7 percent is astronomically higher than the failure rate among men, which stands at about 2.7 percent.
These new physical standards came after Carter opened all combat roles to women back in December, refusing to grant an exemption requested by the Marine Corps to keep some roles male-only.
Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said the new standards are raising the bar for quality in the service.
“I think that’s made everybody better,” Neller told The Associated Press. “We’re trying to raise everybody’s bar a little bit and we’re trying to figure out how to get closer together, because at the end of the day we’re all going to be on the battlefield and we all have to be able to do our job.”
Before the new tests came into effect, those 40 men who failed would have passed under the old standards. That’s precisely why the new tests are an improvement, according to Neller.
Perhaps inevitably, at least some women will pass the tests, although in the long-term, they’re certain to suffer debilitating injuries at a rate far higher than men. For Neller, men in combat units are going to adjust to having women around.
“I think a lot of the talk is more just maybe they’re nervous about the unknown,” he said. “But there are some things we’re going to have to work through.”
To help facilitate this switch, all Marines will participate in “unconscious bias” training, in order to eliminate prejudice against women.
While Marine Corps leaders are determined not to lower standards, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly said in January that eventually the services will give way to the demands of “agenda-driven” bureaucrats to lower standards, as soon as it becomes apparent that not enough women are entering combat roles to their liking.
“There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles; why aren’t they staying in those other roles; why aren’t they advancing as infantry people?” Kelly said.
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