Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry

Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry

Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry

Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry


This study for the U.S. Marine Corps presents a historical overview of the integration of women into the U.S. military and explores the importance of cohesion and what influences it. The gender integration experiences of foreign militaries, as well as the gender integration efforts of domestic police and fire departments, are analyzed for insights into effective policies. The potential costs of integration are analyzed as well.


On January 24, 2013, the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule (DGCDAR). The 1994 DGCDAR restricted assignments of women to occupational specialties or positions in or collocated with direct ground combat units below the brigade level, in long-range reconnaissance and special operations forces, and in positions involving physically demanding tasks. The effect of this rescission will be to open previously closed occupations—including the United States Marine Corps (USMC) infantry—to women who can meet occupation-specific, gender-neutral standards of performance. This decision to rescind the DGCDAR could open more than 230,000 positions in the U.S. armed forces to women. The services were required to report their implementation plans to the Department of Defense (DoD) by May 2013, and they have until January 2016 to seek exemptions if they want any positions to remain closed to women.

In response to this change in policy, the Marine Corps Combat Development Command asked RAND’s National Defense Research Institute to assist in identifying the issues that may arise if women are integrated into the Marine Corps infantry, describe efforts that have been successful in addressing these issues in the past, and estimate the potential costs associated with integration. This research should be of interest to USMC and other DoD policymakers, as well as others interested in the potential implications of integrating women into the USMC infantry.

This research was sponsored by the United States Marine Corps and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND’s National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community. For more information on the RAND Forces and Resources Policy Center, see or contact the director (contact information is provided on the web page).

Questions and comments regarding this research are welcome and should be directed to the leaders of the research team: Agnes Gereben Schaefer (Agnes_ or Jennie Wenger (

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