This summer, for the first time in the Marine Corps’ 237-year history, women will be enrolled in the Officer Infantry Course, one of the most demanding training evolutions in the entire military. Women Marines now serve in a variety of combat support and combat service support roles splendidly, as they do in the Army, Navy and Air Force.
It should stay that way.
Not because men are superior to women, or because male Marines want to discriminate against female Marines. Marines are Marines. But men are different from women. And that difference, when exposed in combat will be deadly, not only for the fighting female Marine, but for her male and female counterparts.
The Infantry Officer Course (IOC) teaches Marine Officers to be better leaders and killers than their enemies. It’s where we build Marine Infantry skills to win our wars and lead our Marines. War is killing. Let that sink in. It is legal murder, encouraged, ordered and demanded. In order to be effective at it, proficiency must not only be gained, but practiced and perfected.
The Basic School is where all Marine Second Lieutenants go to become basically trained officers prior to their military occupational assignment. During one of their training exercises years ago, the evaluators “killed” a 6’1”, 195 lb. male Marine Officer. He was within prescribed height and weight standards, and in an excellent state of fitness. He was also 30 years old. The evaluator then assigned the only available Marine, a female officer to carry the “dead” officer from the training battle field. The female officer was within the “normal” or “average” range for size; she was 5’4” and 125-130 lb. She was in superior physical condition, was 23 years old, and had a perfect physical fitness score on her most recent test. Both were wearing typical combat loads of 65-80 lb. of gear.
What happened? The female could not lift the male Marine. She could barely move him. She removed her gear to improve her strength-to- weight ratio. She still was unable to manage the weight.
Then what happened?
In order to move the problem along, the evaluator “unkilled” the male and “killed” the female and reversed their roles. The male put back on all his combat gear. So did the female officer, both adding the additional weight. Even though the male was not in the same physical condition as his female peer, he bent over and scooped her up, gear and all, and carried her several hundred yards.
Years before the phrase entered the language, the evaluator engaged in what today is called “gender norming.”
Military gender norming is the practice of judging female military service members, applicants or recruits by less stringent standards than their male counterparts. Physical standards are lowered, modified, or just plain overlooked. Norming is all about fairness and equity. Norming metrics allow for “equal competition”.
But there’s nothing equal, normal or fair about war. Anyone who’s ever fought in one can tell you that.
Women Marines have every bit of integrity and are every bit as good and possibly better than their male counterparts in marksmanship, intellect, problem solving, managing stress, and leadership. But it’s for the same reason women don’t play in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or run marathons as fast as men, or bench-press 1,000+ pounds, nor will they ever be truly equal in combat.
The march of women’s rights simply cannot overpower the Laws of Physics. The average man is 5” taller and 50 lb. heavier than the average woman. Men have a lower body fat percentage than women, more lean body mass, and are anatomically different in terms of physical make up, angles of leverage, and skeletally. The physics favor the male species, not the female. Men create more force.
This is Newton’s second law of motion. Force is equal to mass times acceleration. Bigger things that go faster create more force. They always have and always will. There is no engineering feat or physics norming phenomena that can mitigate the capability of a male to lift more, jump higher, run faster, hit harder, and execute violence better than a woman. There is no formula to replicate the combination of force and aggression.
Combat is the most physically demanding, most mentally fatiguing, and most forceful violent interaction humans can perpetuate against one another. It is highly kinetic in nature; blunt force trauma if you will. And it’s final.
It follows, then, as sure as the laws of physics, that if women are introduced to Marine Combat Infantry Units the readiness and capability of those units will be denigrated. If women are not successful in completing the training, the uproar against the “sexist men’s club” and purposeful exclusion will rain down from the sky. In either case trust will be compromised, and trust is a vital element in successful combat.
Those who advocate that women and men are the same and can perpetuate physical brutality equally are far more abusive and anti-women than any group who advocates against putting females into this “opportunity”. There is nothing “Pro Woman” about making women second-class killers.
From a national security perspective, this latest experiment by the Marine Corps, conducted largely because of politics, will only damage and weaken our nation and our ‘Corps.
We have met the enemy, and it is us.
Dan O’Connor is a retired Marine officer with 22 years service. These are his opinions.