Challenge for Female Marines

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Interesting OpEd piece written by Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute that talks about the Marines experiment to have Women go thru the Infantry Officer course. (The article originally appearedon page 21 of the 11/13/12 Wall Street Journal )
    http://www.cmrlink.org/content/issues
     
  2. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Read it again closely AF6872- the 15% is the % of the DOD total force- if you read down in the NYT article you reference- it also cites 7% for the USMC
     
  4. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    What I found interesting is that they could only find 2 volunteers for the first class.

    They are going to have a hard time getting any meaningful statistics in a reasonable amount of time with that level of participation.

    Not sure as to why the small numbers. Any thoughts?
     
  5. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Personal choice

    Difference between doing it yourself vs. some else doing it.
     
  6. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    MemberLG gave the short answer, so I'll give the long one. I can think of a few reasons.

    1: TBS is not IOC. TBS is no joke, but the hardest TBS gets is far from the stresses of IOC. I'll add the caveat that anyone who hasn't gone to IOC (including myself) can't really speak intelligently about the course considering how secretive it is, but the bottom line is that IOC sucks a lot more.

    2: The TBS classes that have allowed females the option to go to IOC so far have had very few females in them. For a number of reasons that I figured out with my totally legit history major math, the late fall/winter TBS classes have significantly fewer women than the classes starting in the mid/late summer (Echo, Fox, etc.) For example, my class (starting in September) has 40+ females compared to Delta Co. (starting early June), which only has ~15.

    3: The level of fitness required for IOC is beyond the majority of females, and many males. As it is, many females struggle at TBS with the physical demands. I'm not even going to touch upper body strength, but this is particularly true with humps. I hear all the time "But women have to carry the same load as men at TBS, so they could do IOC!" and it kind of drives me crazy. The loads at TBS are not nearly as heavy as those encountered in follow-on training or (potentially) in the fleet, and females still fall out.
    Part of this is biology: TBS is the first time in my life where I feel fortunate for having a relatively sturdy, stocky build. For me, carrying the pack load we've had for our humps so far is at most half to 2/3 of my body weight (i.e., pretty manageable) and I'm on the big end of females in my company. For many of the other females, it's 75% or more. I know some girls who are basically carrying their own body weight. It doesn't matter how tough you are, that will wear you down differently than if you're my size or larger, male or female. Maybe there's tons of tiny infantrymen out there doing great things, I honestly don't know, but it's something to think about.

    4: This is a generation where going to IOC hasn't been available to females. This point will probably sound confusing, but here goes. To women like me, going to IOC was never a possibility so I never trained for it or set it as a goal. My goal on showing up to TBS was "be in shape to kick *** at TBS," not "be in shape for follow-on orders to IOC." Maybe in the next couple years there will be women who will have IOC as a set goal before choosing to go Marine Corps or coming to TBS, but as it is most females currently at TBS are having the option for IOC offered to them after they've already sort of taken the plunge to be Marine Officers without that as an option. That probably effects their motivation and preparation.

    5: There are very few tangible benefits in going to IOC. Of course there's the intangible benefit of being the "first generation" to complete IOC and opening doors for women to follow, but there's very little to gain from going that actually matters. Women who hypothetically complete IOC will not be awarded the 0302 MOS, assigned to command infantry platoons, or get anything aside from a couple month hiatus continuing to embrace the suck in Quantico before heading to their predetermined MOS school and a certificate. There's also the added risk of a potentially career-ending or delaying injury happening at IOC to make it just that much less appealing.

    I want to put across here that attending IOC as a female is in no way being dissuaded or "put down" here at TBS. If anything, taking the option to go to IOC is being encouraged.
    The majority opinion I hear from the prior infantrymen or guys who served in combat arms MOSs is that they wouldn't care about having a female in their occupational field provided they could do the job, for what it's worth. The Lieutenant rumor mill has it that the female Lieutenant who completed the CET and started IOC probably could have graduated if she hadn't been injured, and there's no ill will here that I've heard towards her for trying, but this is of course all speculation.
    The bottom line is that infantry is something that's beyond of a lot of Lieutenants, both male and female, both physically/tactically/mentally and by choice. There's a running joke here that the number of Lieutenants who want infantry starts out high then gradually fades away with each FEX as guys realize that no, they actually don't like being outside in the cold or extreme heat for days at a time sleep deprived and exhausted running around with tons of gear. A lot of Marines also feel they aren't really the best fit for infantry based on their personality/leadership style or other intangibles. This doesn't make them bad Marines. It just means that both they will be happier and the Marine Corps will be better served with them in other positions. Again, this applies to both males and females, so it should really come as no surprise that so few females have chosen to attend IOC.
     
  7. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Thanks for the very well written answer. I found the original story lacking in this kind of insight into what goes into the decision to attend.

    Hopefully, they will keep this experiment going until someone who has had the time to prepare both physically and mentally for the challenge takes it on.

    Even if they are few and far between, having female Marines in all MOS makes all Marines regardless of gender or any other difference. That is what makes one team.
     
  8. Cindy15905

    Cindy15905 Member

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    In Total Agreement with Hurricane12

    I read the article in the WSJ the day it came out and was very interested as my DD is on the NROTC-MO scholarship currently. I spoke to her about the points made in the article and her thoughts were in almost exact alignment with Hurricane12. In particular:

    Point #3- There are times when she is carrying considerably more weight percentage wise than the males in her squad. And as Hurricane12 states, it is a physics issue that becomes evident as the distance my DD has to cover increases. It is not an issue of fair or unfair, it just is what it is.

    Point #5- This was what my DD considered the most important consideration. The cost/benefit ratio of IOC for a female Marine is just is not there. Until the rewards are in line with the real (and necessary) risks, it is not something she can justify trying to complete.
     
  9. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    ...And, of course, those benefits won't be there until enough females pass the course to make it worth the Marine Corps' time to figure out what they should be.

    I have a lot of respect for the females out there who have the guts to try IOC, but it's not for me.
     
  10. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    I concur with TPG and a great post from someone who knows.
     

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