Surprise Surprise

Women in Combat: Standards Meet Equality

Not so fast on women in combat, says the commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos. The DoD order requires services to develop "gender-neutral" standards for each speciality. What if those standards effectively exclude women from certain roles?

"If the numbers are so small with regards to qualification, then there very may well be (job fields) that remain closed," Amos said. "Those will be few and far between."

Deploying only one or two female servicemembers in a unit, for example, would make it difficult for the women to succeed. "You want to have assimilation … so our females can mentor one another," Amos said.

Each of the previously closed fields will likely have its own set of requirements.

Some are easily quantifiable. For example, men and women wanting to serve on a tank crew would need to be able to lift a tank round, which weighs more than 40 pounds, and load it into the main gun. Other standards may be more difficult to quantify.

Amos said he is confident that the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course (IOC), a mentally and physically grueling 13-week course, is an accurate measure of what it takes to successfully lead a rifle platoon in combat.

"There's no intention on my part of changing anything within the IOC curriculum," Amos said. The course has drawn attention because last year the Marine Corps began admitting women on an experimental basis.

The first two women admitted did not complete the course. Two more volunteers are expected to begin the course next month.