Summary: The USMC has lowered the requirements in its 13-week Infantry Officer Course, following more drastic measures in the other services. More women to pass, but at what cost? This shows the powerful forces at work reshaping both the US military and US society. Here is the story plus speculation about the future.
Softening the Marines: “Passing Combat Endurance Test is no longer required for infantry officers“
By Shawn Snow in the Marine Corps Times.
The Marine Corps added the Combat Endurance Test to officer training in the 1990s, with passing it a requirement for infantry officers. This article about a change to this policy is a triumph of modern propaganda.
“In a slight change to the grueling initial stage of the 13-week Infantry Officer Course, Marines will no longer be required to pass the Combat Endurance Test to move on. The Corps has come under criticism for what some have claimed to be unnecessarily high standards to graduate from the course. …Training Command said in a statement to Marine Corps Times …’The quality of the course remains the same.’
“The Combat Endurance Test is an intense physical test that assesses a Marine’s endurance and knowledge gained from The Basic School, and is used as a tool to evaluate a Marine’s potential success in the infantry course. Previously it was scored as a simple pass or fail, but now the test will no longer be used to weed Marines out. The officers will continue to take a Combat Evaluation Test, but their score will be just one of many components of the course considered for a student’s overall evaluation.
It is not a slight change in one of the most grueling gateways to leadership of US Marines.
“To date, only one unnamed female Marine has successfully completed the entire course. But Marine officials at Training Command contend the changes are not an effort to water down standards. …In 2014, three female Marines passed the CET, only to be dropped two weeks later in the infantry course …after failing to keep up on long marches with what the Marines call an approach-march load, which the Corps defines as “the load necessary for the prosecution of combat operations for extended periods with access to daily resupply. …
“The Corps also says the changes were not a result of high attrition rates. ‘The average attrition rate for the CET between 2012 and 2017 was less than 3%,’ Training Command said.
The changes were not a result of high attrition rate among men. A skeptic might wonder if they resulted from the high attrition rate among women. Here Dalrock looks back at the small steps that brought the Marines to this point (posted with permission)…
“On September 21, 2017 the Washington Post triumphantly announced that the first woman had completed the Marine Infantry Officer Course:
‘In a historic first, the Marine Corps plans to assign a female officer to the infantry following her anticipated graduation from its grueling training program, service officials said Thursday.’
“Four days later came the NY Times Op Ed explaining that women Marines would be accepted as combat officers because their peers would know they are the real deal:
‘By integrating only women who have already met the infantry’s difficult training standards, the corps acknowledges that military readiness is paramount. At the end of the day, this newly minted infantry officer will prove herself by the way she carries herself around her fellow Marines. Peer leadership, too, will be important. Her classmates have seen her perform and can be powerful allies as she integrates into the operating forces.’
“Indeed, as the Op Ed concluded, this was the beginning of a brave new world:
‘I anticipate there will be little fanfare from the Marine Corps regarding the graduation. As The Times has noted, the Army’s graduation ceremony for its first female infantry soldiers made no mention that some of them were women — and that is as it should be. Monday’s graduation is important because it paves the way for women in combat arms not to be a big deal in the future. Like her male classmates, this officer has met an exceptionally high standard. Soon, she will be just one more Marine infantry lieutenant, picking up her first platoon.’
“But this brave new world where women were just as tough as the men and had to meet historic standards was not only short lived, it was a universe of one. Having proved that they could (by hook or crook) graduate one woman through the Infantry Officer Program without officially making the course much easier, the Marine Corps waited just over four months to stop pretending women could qualify without changing the rules. …”
The effect of these changes is corrosive on morale. The party line is that everybody is treated equally. That’s mocked when the standards are lowered with denials about the motive for doing so. Also, modern armies (like ours) have an almost unbroken record of failure since WWII against insurgents. With one or two exceptions, these have been all male fighters. Perhaps we should consult them — the winners in modern wars — about the utility of women as fighters.
Looking to the future
Stating what should be obvious: “Army General: ‘future leader of Army will be an infantry woman’“, a press release by DoD Public Affairs.
“I just know that the future leader of the Army is going to be a woman because that person is going to be infantry and come up through the ranks and do it. I know they can,” said Maj. Gen. Marion Garcia during the discussion. Garcia is the commanding general, 200th Military Police Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Also obvious but oddly unremarked: women are advancing faster than men in America. Their graduation rates are higher (the gap is growing). They have a disproportionate fraction of leadership roles in youth and school groups. Young women have caught up to men in corporate America. I have heard anecdotal reports that they are advancing faster than men in the military. For good reason. Women have a substantial advantage in bureaucracies that govern America. They color inside the lines — obeying the rules and following instructions.
I have seen another dimension of their advantage in Boy Scout’s Venture program. Middle aged male leaders prefer respectful girls over young bucks who challenge them. People in other kinds of organizations report seeing the same phenomenon.
Of course, women’s growing political power accelerates these trends. See the five women Defense Ministers of NATO (L-R): Albania, Holland, Germany, Norway, and Italy.
Looking to the end of these trends
It is typical of the news media that they go hysterical over trends as they are not just ending, but reversing. Oppression of women is a daily feature of front page news. Meanwhile organizations are restructured to meet their needs, to the disadvantage of men. Schools were just the first to be so “reformed.” Now it is the military’s turn. None can predict where this will end. My bet is on these changes continuing to a degree we cannot now imagine (just as we 50 years ago we could not imagine today’s situation).
With great confidence I will predict the result of these changes: massive unanticipated consequences. We are like monkeys in the control room of a nuclear power plant, throwing switches and spinning dials. We have ideology but little knowledge, arrogantly making profound changes with experimentation and testing.
For More Information
Other useful articles about this.
The Marine Corps continues to lower standards while denying that they are doing so. See Dalrock give a brief debunking to their announcement using only the article’s own words.
- Dalrock’s tales from women “just as tough” in the military: “Dying to be treated like one of the guys.”
- “Affirmative Action and Cops” by John Lott and John R. Lott, Jr. — More women police mean more attacks on police and more shootings by police (2005). H/t Dalrock.
- “Women Firefighters: The Gender Boondoggle” by Christine Pelisek at LA Weekly (2008) — Millions spent to recruit a few women. H/t Dalrock.
Ideas! For Holiday shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Putting women in combat: a quick look at the other side of the debate.
- About the future of an American army with women as combat soldiers.
- Women in combat are the real Revolution in Military Affairs.
- News about the battle for women’s equality in our armed forces.
- Martin van Creveld looks at Amazons: women warriors in the real world.
- Martin van Creveld looks at the experience of women in the Israel Defense Forces.
- Martin van Creveld: women are a problem in the military, not the cure.
Two books to help us understand the new military being built for America.
The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can America’s Gender-Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars by Stephanie Gutmann (2000).
Men, Women & War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line? by Martin van Creveld (2002).