Marines Focus on Strength in Separating Recruits by Sex: Three Studies Link High Male Standards to Segregation

Article excerpt

The Marine Corps has produced three internal position papers since 1992 justifying its unique practice of segregating male and female recruits, with each analysis saying that mixing the sexes would reduce the training proficiency of men.

Implicit in each study, which goes against the grain of Pentagon policies to meld the sexes whenever possible, is the assertion that women are not as strong as men.

"To integrate this physical training would lower the standards and performance sought from male recruits," said a 1994 study recommending the Corps hold its ground and continue a policy abandoned by the Army, Air Force and Navy.

"Additionally, if female recruits were required to meet male standards, only a few would meet the physical requirements to graduate from boot camp," it said. "Many otherwise motivated women would forfeit the opportunity to serve their country. Women are fully challenged and, in fact, the physical demands placed on women Marine recruits exceed those placed on both U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force male recruits."

An updated analysis done in November tempers that assessment but still raises the strength issue.

"Fully integrated recruit training with a common standard would result in either lowering the male standards or increasing the female failure/attrition rates - neither of which is acceptable," the paper said.

The latest position paper came in response to the ongoing Army sex scandal and the ensuing public debate over the roles of military women. The scandal involves male boot camp personnel sexually assaulting female recruits.

Some members of Congress, notably Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Robert L. Livingston, Louisiana Republican, want the services to return to segregating male and female recruits, putting them under the control of same-sex drill instructors.

But some military women believe only full integration and opening all combat jobs to women will produce equality and reduce sexual harassment.

The 1996 Marine analysis also justifies the policy of placing female drill instructors in charge of women, and male DIs over men. The Army is under some criticism for placing male drill sergeants in control of young female trainees, increasing the chances for sexual misconduct.

Said the 1996 Marine analysis: "They see strong female role models not only in control of them and their group, but also positively interacting with other male drill instructors. As a result women recruits very early in their training cycle come to realize that they can be strong, assertive leaders and that they do play an integral part in the success of the Corps. …