Study Pits An All-Male Marine Squad Against A Mixed-Gender One. Here’s What Happened

Updated August 11, 2017

During Barack Obama’s presidency in 2013, the United States military lifted the combat ban that previously prevented women from fighting on the front lines. After this decision, the Marine Corps launched an “unprecedented research effort” to determine if mixed-gender combat forces were more or less effective than all-male counterparts. This year-long exploration was called the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force or GCEITF. It employed 400 Marines, 300 males and 100 females. They separated the Marines into an all-male squad and a mixed-gender squad. Then they put them through simulated deployment where they scrutinized everything they did.

On January 1, 2016, every branch of the military was given the order to open combat roles to women. The Marine Corps had launched the GCEITF in order to gain exemptions to that order. And the results they obtained from their year long study indicated that all-male squads were much more effective than mixed-gender alternatives.

All-male teams and crews outperformed the co-ed ones on 69 percent of the tasks that were evaluated. 93 out of 134 tasks were dominated by the all-male teams.

The research discovered that the all-male teams were faster “in each tactical movement.”

But on “lethatlity,” the report dove in depth…

“All-male 0311 (rifleman) infantry squads had better accuracy compared to gender-integrated squads. There was a notable difference between genders for every individual weapons system (i.e. M4, M27, and M203) within the 0311 squads, except for the probability of hit & ear miss with the M4.”

The U.S. Marine Corps reported continued to explain why the government should not force the military to integrate based on gender.

“All-male infantry crew-served weapons teams engaged targets quicker and registered more hits on target as compared to gender-integrated infantry crew-served weapons teams, with the exception of M2 accuracy.

“All-male squads, teams and crews and gender-integrated squads, teams and crews had a noticeable difference in their performance of the basic combat tasks of negotiating obstacles and evacuating casualties. For example, when negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top. During casualty evacuation assessments, there were noticeable differences in execution times between all-male and gender-integrated groups, except in the case where teams conducted a casualty evacuation as a one-Marine fireman’s carry of another (in which case it was most often a male Marine who “evacuated” the casualty).”

The report also indicated the female Marines had a higher risk of injury during the experiment.

The Marine Corps conclusion seems to point to a U.S. Military without women in combat roles. But the results were not accurate. Many of the men tested had previously served in combat units on deployment while the female participants were picked directly from infantry schools or from noncombat jobs.

With more training in combat, women will have an opportunity to be better in the time of need. The Marine study does shed some doubt on the efficacy of providing career opportunities if it risks putting other soldiers in harm’s way.

Do you think combat units should be all-male or gender-integrated?

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