Women can be Marine Infantry Officers. All You Have to do is Change the Standards.


Feminist advocate Ellen Haring, a Reserve Army Colonel, wrote a piece over at War on the Rocks about how to fix why females cannot pass the US Marine Corps Infantry Officers’ Course.   Not surprisingly, Haring’s assertions ring hollow and partisan to any Marine ground combat Officer, especially one with the Infantry MOS.

…why are the physical standards different for officers and enlisted infantry Marines?…
Officers and enlisted infantrymen perform the same physical tasks in their units and during combat operations.  The discriminator between officer and enlisted has always been education, not physical differences.

What Haring writes is utter nonsense.  The answer, which should be glaringly evident to someone with the rank of Colonel, is that Marine Officers must not just “perform the same physical tasks”, but to LEAD, and lead by physical example.  A great deal of a young Officer’s credibility with his Marines comes from the display of physical courage and personal fitness, which includes strength, stamina, and endurance.  A Marine Infantry Officer must be prepared to lead despite extreme physical fatigue, and retain the ability to make alert and sound decisions.  The lives of his platoon or company depend upon it.  That Haring ignores such a fundamental of leadership in a combat MOS is not surprising, and I don’t think for a minute it is unintentional.

Haring also cites the op-ed by 2nd Lt Santangelo, in which the Lieutenant asserts that expectations, and not physical limitations, are the reasons for failure among the female Officers.  Nowhere does Haring mention the viewpoint of Captain Kate Petronio, whose extensive experience serving beside Marine Infantry units would seem to have a bit more validity than to be ignored.

Haring’s focus is, of course, the Combat Endurance Test, a grueling physical event that has been a part of the Infantry Officers’ Course for decades.  This is where 13 of the 14 female Officers have failed, and it is administered on the first day of training.  (The 14th female was dropped with a stress fracture in the first few days of training.)  Haring calls the Combat Endurance Test an “initiation”, rather than an occupational qualification, and to an extent that is correct.  In order to lead Infantry Marines, an Officer must successfully complete that test.  So, of course, since it is a stumbling block for 93% (at least) of the female Officers, Haring takes aim at that event.  And here is the crux of her argument:

Do initiation rites have a place in our military?  There will be those who argue that they absolutely have a place in developing the esprit de corps that is vital to the Marine Corps and those arguments have merit.  Certainly the Marines have built their reputation on being tough, trained professionals whose motto Semper Fidelis (always faithful) embodies their total dedication to this country and to the Corps. But does an initiation rite that effectively filters out half the American population (all women) do the Marine Corps justice?

It is that last line which says it all.  Haring apparently has issue with how the Marine Corps trains its Infantry Officers, as such training doesn’t do the Corps “justice”.   Huh.  Here I was thinking the Corps had a rather successful training program for what it rightly considers the backbone of the service, the Marine Infantry Officer.  Haring parenthetically mentions that such training “filters out” women, as if that part of her argument is an afterthought.  In reality, her entire effort centers around that very premise.  While she goes on to say that she is not advocating elimination of the Combat Endurance Test, she does advocate advancing female Officers through IOC without passing the test, as she claims male officers have done, and allow females to repeat the test (one assumes, indefinitely), until they pass.  (I question the accuracy of her assertions that males have been given unlimited chances to pass the Combat Endurance Test, and know of several males who have washed from IOC because they could not do so.)

This will have the effect of making passing of the Combat Endurance Test a graduation requirement rather than an entry requirement.  Of course, once a female Officer has had all that time and money invested in her training, the argument will then be to waive passing of the Combat Endurance Test altogether.  Because it would be foolish and wasteful to put a female Officer through all that training and not have her graduate.  Which will be precisely the goal of feminist activists like Haring.  Female Marine Infantry Officers, no matter how unqualified or ill-equipped to be such.  Because, well, the cause is more important.

So, despite her assertions that she does not advocate changing the standards in order to have female Marine Officers become Infantry Officers, she is advocating just that, and she knows it.  Like so many in the “girl power” feminism ranks, she simply lacks the integrity to say so.

h/t to Info Dissem

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Women can be Marine Infantry Officers. All You Have to do is Change the Standards.

  1. David Navarre

    If men are allowed to re-test once, I would favor allowing women to re-test once. I think I read earlier this year that men have been allowed a second chance, so I think women should be also. I think it may allow some to pass, but it’s not certain that it would make a difference. I would not support changing the standards. When people’s lives are on the line, it’s not how “diverse” you are, it’s whether you’re capable of doing the job.

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  2. Standards are so passé these days. Now it’s all about sensitive self-esteem, not time proven, reality based reasons for having standards in the first place.

    Please let Ellen Haring use a surgeon that did not meet today’s standards. *
    Let her travel on a plane with a pilot who got to retake the test until as passing grade was met.

    * Historical note: The minority individual who took Allan Bakke’s spot in a University of California medical school ( with lower grades and MCAT scores than Bakke) killed two people with blatant medical misconduct before his medical license was revoked. Bakke was later admitted after suing, accused a University of California medical school of twice denying him admission because he was white.

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  3. As a child I lived out in Washington State. Then the Seattle Fire Department Chief was under pressure to admit women. He simply stated that the city fire department had a standard physical fitness test that they gave to all applicants and until a woman passed the test he saw no reason to change anything. End of discussion (as far as I remember as a kid).

    Today all hell would break out with such a situation – then again we might be witnessing such a situation in front of our eyes.

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  4. timactual

    “The discriminator between officer and enlisted has always been education,”

    That, too, is untrue. Especially in her own service, the Army. If she thinks that is the only difference then West Point was wasted on her. Judging from the list of her list of published articles at WIIS she is a professional woman, not a woman professional.

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  5. scottthebadger

    Does Col. Haring have experience as an Army Infantry officer, to base her beliefs, and extrapolate Marine requirements from?

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  6. Colonel Haring,
    No, you CANNOT change the standards. They are there for a REASON. And if you do not and cannot understand that reason, you have no business trying to change those standards in the first place.

    Just because you want to become the JC doesn’t mean you can change the standards willy nilly to suit your own preconceptions.

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  7. Peabody

    She also falsely states that the requirement of the entry test is intended to filter out 50% of the population. The truth is that test is meant to filter out a far larger potion of the population than that. I’d say it is more like 90% of the population which would be filtered out by that test.

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