The United States Marine Corps is world-famous for their brutally-tough infantry units. And those units are led by people who have gone through tough training to prove that they’re worthy of leading such hardened enlisted Marines.
The USMC Infantry Officer Course includes a test that, if failed, used to result in the dropping of the officer from the Infantry Officer Course in its entirety. That test, the Combat Endurance Test, has recently been removed as a stumbling block and is now part of an overall ‘grade’ to ensure more of a certain ‘desirable’ group pass through the Infantry Officer Course.
The USMC has decided that it is no longer required that candidates for Infantry Officer positions must pass the Combat Endurance Test (CET).
In 2012, the CET became a simple pass or fail course. A failure meant that the candidate was dropped from the Infantry Officer Course, a pass allowed them to continue.
Between 2012 and 2017, an average of less than three percent of Marine Infantry Officer Candidates was dropped after failing the Combat Endurance Test.
Last year, the last year for which statistics are available, less than one percent of Marine candidates washed out of the CET. That means about four Marines were dropped by the test.
However, at least three women who passed the course are alleged to have been removed from the course later, for failing to keep pace during long marches with an ‘approach-march’ load.
In the USMC, an ‘approach-march’ load is the load they’d need to operate for extended periods with access to daily resupply.
According to the Marine Corps, the change has nothing to do with women being mostly incapable of completing the Infantry Officer Course.
They also said it has nothing to do with low attrition rates.
If that is the case, what is the impetus behind the change? At this point, it seems like they would only be ensuring that an additional FOUR Marine Infantry Officers MIGHT pass the course each year. More likely than not, those officers are officers the Marine Corps does not need.
If this is being done to ensure that a major stumbling block for women becoming Marine Infantry Officers is removed, then it is appalling, but not unexpected.
During the Obama presidency, a political push began to put women into combat roles – whether they belonged there or not.
As a result, elite schools were made simpler, or otherwise modified to give opportunities for women to pass courses they otherwise would have flunked.
It is rumored that the U.S. Army Rangers allowed a handful of women to pass through, and even invalidated certain portions of the course to allow them to pass.
The same has been said of the Marine Corps and its various combat units.
However, bending standards further than they are already bent could have dire consequences.
In the military, there currently exists two standards; one for men, and one for women.
Men are expected to be stronger, faster, and more capable of physical labor. Women aren’t expected to meet the same physical specifications.
The result is that many women in the United States military are weaker than their male counterparts.
In jobs that don’t require being able to operate in combat conditions, that doesn’t mean much. However, in combat positions, a woman who isn’t capable of picking up or dragging a male with a full combat load could be a burden.
Likewise, a woman who isn’t capable of carrying a full load could be an issue for her unit.
This isn’t to say that there is NO room for women in infantry or other front-line combat positions. There are women out there, in the military, who can meet the same standard as men. There are women out there who can lift an injured comrade and carry them if needed.
But the idea that the military is making it easier for people who cannot meet these standards to get into the positions where these standards are MOST important is not a good one.
The military is not supposed to be a social engineering experience for people who never served in it.
The military (especially the Marines) is supposed to be interested in lethality, not in meeting politically-correct objectives. Commandant Neller is likely aware of this.