Marine Corps Desperately Wants 10 Percent Of Force To Be Women

REUTERS/Monty Burton/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Marine Corps is launching a major recruiting drive with the goal of making women 10 percent of the force and showing the service is no longer a “good ol’ boys club anymore.”

Why there’s a goal at all is unclear, as it seems close to a quota, given how much money the service is throwing at the effort, but Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller nevertheless affirmed to The Associated Press the importance of bringing in more women.

“I’ve told them that 10 percent is where we want to go and they’re working on it,” Neller said. “Go recruit more women. Find them. They’re out there.”

To find these women, the service is starting to recruit girls from female high school sports teams, as currently only 7-8 percent of the Marine Corps is comprised of women. Other services have much higher numbers, such as the Air Force with 19 percent and the Navy with 18.6 percent.

The impetus now for bringing in more women is that Neller wants greater female representation in combat roles, now that they are open to women. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all combat roles to women last December and denied a request for exemption from the Marine Corps to keep some jobs male-only.

Maj. Gen. Paul Kennedy, who runs Marine Corps recruiting command, is doing his best to carry out Neller’s order, namely by switching up advertising efforts and tailoring them to women, as well as meeting with coaches of female sports teams across the U.S.

He thinks he can far surpass the goal of 10 percent.

Female wrestlers, in particular, have captured the attention of the service as being great potential candidates.

“They’re disciplined, they’re fit, they’re focused on their mission,” Neller said.

“We got to talk to them, got to show them there are plenty of female married officers and enlisted, that it’s not a good ol’ boys club anymore when you talk about the career issues,” Kennedy said.

Neller’s interview with The Associated Press follows on the heels of an announcement that the only female officer in the Infantry Officer Course for the Marine Corps flunked out because she couldn’t complete the hike requirements.

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