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USMC and women in infantry

Discussion in 'The Stump' started by USMCPrice, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I don't think this one has been posted yet. Some really good points IMO;
    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/09/07/grunt-life-marines-dish-corps-women-combat-experiment/71632666/
    A lot more in the article both pro and con.
     
  2. WW2HistoryGal

    WW2HistoryGal Member

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  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thanks for the link WW@HistoryGal. About what I expected, a decision made by civilian leaders more interested on appearances than on maintaining military capabilities. I do understand the disappointment expressed by the female Marine.

    "To Beck (Sgt. Danielle Beck), a 30 year-old who was one of the strongest women in the company, Mabus’s remarks were insulting.
    “Everyone that was involved did the job and completed the mission to the best of their abilities,” said Beck, adding that Mabus’s remarks about the type of women in the experiment were a “slap in the face.”
    “The caliber of the women in Weapons Company are few and far between in the Marine Corps,” she added. “They are probably some of the most professional women that anybody will ever have chance to work with, and the heart and drive and determination that they had is incomparable to most women in the Marine Corps.”

    And despite Maybus' comments, the women Marines involved were among of the cream of the crop, I have yet to read anyone involved state otherwise.

    Maybus, insinuates there was a predetermined bias to the study, but I have yet to read any Marine or the personnel that implemented the study state that the study was anything but neutral. There were complaints by some male Marines that there was unequal treatment "within" the study, but that was one of the social interaction, unit cohesion questions the study wanted to evaluate. One example:
    "Over time, he said, discipline broke down because some noncommissioned officers were hesitant to hurt the feelings of more junior female Marines with orders or correction. Romantic relationships and friendships between male and female unit members also became a distraction, he said."
    There were also complaints by male Marines during a number of group tasks about having to pull additional load due to weakness on the part of female Marines. This too was a factor that needed to be assessed in a neutral light.

    From a report on Maybus' statements, "another criticism leveled by Mabus was that the women probably should have had a “higher bar to cross” to join the task force." Really? They completed the same infantry school as the males, the only difference being that they were held to female PT standards and not male standards. The Marine Corps did attempt to modify the female PT standard to include pullups vs the current bent armed hang, but the failure rate was so high among females that they had to stop and go back to the old standard. If SOI had held the females to the male PT standard during the Infantry School and no females graduated, then the Marine Corps would not have had any women for the study and would have been criticised for trying to exclude women.

    One valid point not fully addressed in the article, but long a sore spot between male and female Marines is relative scoring on the PT test. Starting with boot camp graduation where a female may be recognized as having the highest PT score, typically a 300, and the runnerup males being in the mid-high 290's. Yet if the raw performance data were looked at, scores of male Marines likely scored faster times or more repititions on the individual events, but when the results were gender normed they scored less. This continues on in the fleet where two Marines one male, one female are competing for promotions or assignments, and they may have identical qualifications, skills, and performance ratings, but the female gets the nod because she has a higher "normed" PT score, but lower actual raw performance..
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The one flaw I've seen in the study was that they stated that many of the male Marines had been in combat units for some time where the women had recenlty completed the school so one would expect that the men would be somewhat more skilled and practiced in many of the functions.

    I haven't seen anything on whether or not the results are statistically significant either. Although it sounds like they likely are if you look across all functions.

    My impression is that the Marine Corp made a good faith effort and a pretty good one at designing and conducting a fair assessment. Furthermore there is a lot that can be learned from the test.

    If as some suggest that bars are actually raised a bit then the fact that they are allowed to enter may well mean that even so few or none actually get in. The question is what will the standards be and will they be "one size fits all"?
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    That's not my understanding. All the test units were based upon actual unit TOE's so the majority were non-rates (Pvt/Pfc/LCpl) just like their fleet counterparts. Most of the male non-rates and virtually all the female non-rates in the infantry units came directly from SOI. It is relatively rare for a male Marine other than a non-rate to go through SOI, during the early part of the experiment female Marine NCO's did attend the course. The other type units tested were armored crewmen and artillery personnel. Marine tankers and artillerists go through the Army's formal schools and I have not read that female Marines went through those schools, so I'm assuming they were OJT'd in those MOS's. instead of having formal schooling. Again the male non-rates in those units were probably fresh from those schools, but had not attended the infantry course, just MCT. It's also my understanding that all the women that went through SOI went to the test unit, so their numbers were in excess of what was required to fill their percentage of the infantry unit, so passing the Infantry course was probably the pre-requisite for OJT'ing for the Artillery or Armored jobs. All non-infantry Marines go through MCT at School of Infantry, before going to their MOS schools, so in that respect the females were probably better prepared because they did the full infantry course. It's also my understanding that the female NCO's went through the SOI, but when reporting to the test unit did not fill NCO billets due to their lack of MOS experience. NCO's are more mature and disciplined in general than non-rates, so that would be another advantage for the females when filling that billet.
    As I said, a TOE requires a certain number of all ranks, so you also needed x number of corporals, x number of sgt's, x number of staff sgt's, etc. Since, it is imperative for safety and other reasons for an NCO to be fully trained, certified and proficient in his job skills in order for the unit to perform it's functions, males had to fill those leadership billets. You don't want a gun crew chief that's not proficient in all aspects of a 777 running a firing gun, nor one that is not safety certified. So you had male NCO's filling the leadership billets and due to operational tempo in the Marine Corps most probably had one or more deployments. That being said, I'm sure many of the female Marine NCO's had a deployment under their belts in their primary occupational specialty. They were, once again, in non-rate billets where most of the male Marines were inexperienced boots and where lack of a deployment would not negatively effect female performance in comparison.
    They also ran the test like a MEU working up for a deployment. The Camp Lejuene portion of the test was a simulated workup. When working up for a deployment, the unit is brought up to strength with new personnel and trains up to the required proficiency, deficiencies in training are rectified, skills are retrained and reinforced, etc. so they should all have gone to 29 Palms with an even level of competancy.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A number of the reviews I've read and I think linked above have stated that and ones that were in general quite favoreable but I'm far from an expert on it. Even if it is a flaw it hardly means that the results don't have considerable merit. I'll also note that by the end most of the male Marines seam to have been impressed with their female counter parts and my impression is there was considerable team spirit. If this was accurate then the under performance is of even more signifigance and SecNav seams to have ignored this and other parts of considerable import. The other thing I saw in his critique was he seams to equate injuries in the field to those when off the clock. That's a very questionable comparison to make IMO.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Looks like in some ways the Army has a similar idea but just approaching it in a different way. From:
    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/09/21/army-generals-discuss-their-views-on-whether-allow-women-combat.html
    Looks like their approach is to develop defenceable standards and allow anyone in that can pass them. For infantry I suspect you won't see a whole lot of women passing them.

    Some of the comments in that report at the end rather missed the point of the Marine effort though. The Marine study was looking at team performance as opposed to individual performance. I would think both are important. The Marine bashing at the end seamed out of place to me.
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    They came from Sue Fulton, she was appointed by the Obama Administration to the West Point board of visitors. She does have a military background, but her main qualification was that she is a vocal advocate for women's and LBGT rights groups. Her animosity comes from being a strong advocate for her causes, regardless of the cost to the capabilities of the military. However, her comments disrespected the efforts and capabilities of all those female Marines that participated in the study. She doesn't know first hand the unique demands of being in an infantry unit, the women that participated in the test do.
    It's also interesting that going into the study all the advocates were lauding the Marine Corps approach, opening the infantry school to women, forming gender integrated test units that mimicked operational units, developing and fielding a technologically advanced, science based evaluation process to study the units. Now that the results don't meet their preconceptions it's "obviously flawed and biased".
    The only thing the Marine Corps did that I can see as possibly a mistake, was to allow women to go through the infantry course using gender integrated PT standards, but if they hadn't they would not have had sufficient female Marines for the study, so it's a double edged sword.

    It's hard for most people to visualize how seperate, gender based PT standards effect individual members going through the same course and being required to complete the same tasks to graduate. Hey, they went through the same course so they must have done the same thing. Not true.
    The easiest way I can explain it is to use my personal experience at jump school, a gender integrated course. The first couple of days there were mainly trying to get people to DOR (drop on request), and to see who really wanted to be there. The main tool they used was the push-up, they were dropping the class or individuals all the time, the SEALS in the class were just out of BUDS and all studded out. Whenever, any SEAL was dropped for individual incentive training, they all dropped. Male students when they couldn't do any more pushups were allowed to assume the front leaning rest position, but put your knees on the deck and you were either marked for more one on one punishment, sorry I meant incentive training, or dropped from the course. Females had the option of doing the standard male pushup, pushups on their knees, they could use the modified front leaning rest position (knees on the ground) or after doing a certain number of pushups/modified pushups, stand to the side during the rest of incentive PT session.
    Formation runs were done in male and female groups, the male group was at a significantly faster pace. Males finishing behind the male formation, or dropping out of a run, on two occasions were automatically dropped from the course. This applied even if you were just a few paces behind the formation, despite the fact that you were still a half to 3/4's of a lap ahead of the female formation (both groups started at the same time, just different paces and the distance between them was determined by the length of the run, the greater the distance of the run the greater the distance between the two formations at the end). Females also didn't have to do pullups, the failure to complete the requisite number resulting in a course drop for males, no minimum for females. This I thought was the most illogical of the modified standards because, if you were jumping a T-10 canopy and couldn't pull up your body weight, plus equipment, you couldn't steer your canopy and we were taught that mid-air collisions or entanglements were the number one cause of accidents while jumping. They did have to complete all the same graded events as the males, PLF's, mock door exit, swing landing trainer, 34 and 250 foot towers, etc. what isn't understood is that many times a male was expected to complete a task after just having been smoked for 15 minutes or so, while the female almost always approached the task relatively fresh.
    All this being said, I didn't find the course overly demanding from a physical aspect and most of the males dropped for not meeting standard probably deserved it. I just found it hypocritical that one soldier would be held to a higher standard based upon their gender.

    Then General Brown's uses a poor example:

    "Brown, who has experience executing delicate decisions, points to the merging of armor and infantry at the Maneuver Center of Excellence as a template.
    He was the general charged with pulling the two cultures together.
    "When Armor came down here, there was a very good plan in place," Brown said. "When I got here with this complex plan, folks said, 'It's not a big deal, armor is coming.' I said, 'How about if infantry was moving to Fort Knox?' 'Whoa, that would be tough.' 'They are feeling the same way. You've got to welcome them.'"

    That's one of the things the Army generally acceeds to, that the Marine Corps doesn't have the cultural/branch rifts that plague the Army and somehow maintain a common culture that makes everyone first and foremost a Marine, all other considerations being secondary. It's not a hard thing to do, despite General Brown's assertion that merging cultures is a formidable task.

    Heres an outsiders view, by an Army Colonel:

    http://www.usmc81.com/an-army-officer-sums-up-what-makes-marines-different/

    It should also be noted that the post WWII racial integration, now used to advocate for gender integration, was carried out differently by the Marine Corps and the US Army. The Marine Corps fully integrated it's units down to the fire team level, the US Army created seperate all-black units. In Korea the Marines performed extremely well, the Army during the first year struggled and heaped a lot of undeserved blame upon black units, eventually even dissolving some of them. Generally, the Marine Corps studies changes and implements them with an emphasis on maintaining or improving combat efficiency, the US Army tends to react more to public opinion without considering all the long term consequences. Also, for those that cite the racial integration success, always fail to mention the "other" cultural experiment, the project 100,00 project that took place during the Vietnam era and virtually wrecked the military and took at least a decade to recover from.
     
  9. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Everyone seams to be giving at least lip service to "hold everyone to the same standard". Wonder what will happen when the effects of that become clear.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I've seen these rumors too, and heard them from friends of mine that were Rangers and still have links to, and friends still serving in that community. That being said, I will not question or denigrate what they've apparently achieved until such time as evidence more substantial than rumors attributed to un-named Rangers, is presented.

    Here's what I consider a good well reasoned article on the subject.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3331276/posts
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I would be surprised if there was any clear evidence of cheating. Everyone knew this was going to be gone over with the proverbial fine tooth comb. However indeed in part because of that every one was probably being very careful in a number of ways. Note that the male failure rate in at least parts of the course was higher than usual as well. That's pretty consistent with the instructors playing closer attention and trying not to be biased. Of course once that starts happening and the instructors/evaluators become aware of it the question is do they ignore something that would have gotten by in a previous course but didn't this time because everyone is hyper aware? I haven't read much by the participants in this yet but I was struck by the info from the Marine experiment. Many of those who either participated or supervised the course had their impressions changed (in both directions). There also seamed to be a true team spirit in many of the units although that does seam to have broken down in some cases (how much of this is leadership vs how much due to gender or attitude?).

    It would seam to me that the logical way to proceed is:
    1) Determine what the critical and important skills are.
    2) Figure out how to get a decent measure of them. One that can be rated on say a numerical scale.
    3) Figure out what is the miinimal acceptable score. Set that to say 70 on a 100 pont scale.
    4) Come up with a weighted composit score (critical skills are weighted more than important skills)
    5) You need a 70 in all skills to pass. You need a composit score of say 80 (could be 90 or whatever) to pass.
    6) If you are looking for X number of people passing the first X if they all pass are considered Class A for that MOS. The nex say .5 X are considered class B, etc

    Sex should only be important if it in some way relates to a skill. The greater tendency of women to get stress fractures become a problem here not sure how to treat that. Certain mental skills also appear to be sex linked, for instance men are generally better at navigating than women, on the other hand women have more sensative noses and palletes. Sent can be a clue in detecting your opponets so it's not completely irrelevant although I'm not sure how important it would be. There are others that I can't think of off the top of my head.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A couple more related articles:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2015/0923/Exclusive-US-Marine-memo-hints-at-shift-on-women-in-combat
    One of the early comments suggest that this is a bit more "nuanced" approach by the Marines. It doesn't seam all that different from what I thought their approach was from the beginning though.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/23/as-marines-take-heat-for-handling-of-gender-integration-army-stays-quiet-on-plan/
    Not much new in this one.
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Good article, I obviously don't have access to the "leaked" memo, but it does raise a number of questions.

    For instance: "If the Marines had used a “stricter physical screening tool” for the women in the gender integration study, “all the female Marines who sustained injury and were dropped” from the infantry training battalion would have been eliminated, notes an addendum to the memo."

    The way it works for is that you enlist, pass a physical at MEPS. Then if you have physical deficiencies the recruiters work with you as a poolee to insure you met the minimum standards to start recruit training. They might run you a lot, have you work on pull-ups, lose weight, etc. Then you report to the recruit depot. You take an entry PFT and if you meet the minimum standards you start training. At any point in recruit training that you fail to meet the increasing physical standards, you are dropped. You may recycle, go to PCP (Physical Conditioning Platoon), or be discharged. If you meet the standards at all levels and graduate, you are assumed to have the physical condition to serve as a basic Marine. (You are in pretty darned good shape) You then go on ten days recruit leave, at the end of which you report to SOI (School of Infantry). All non-infantry Marines then go through MCT (Marine Combat Training) for 30 days, those Marines with an infantry contract go to the Infantry Training Battalion. Upon arriving, these fresh out of boot camp Marines (currently all male), are assumed to be in sufficient physical condition to complete the course. There is no "screening program" other than an initial PT test before starting training at ITB. They did require the females that attended the Infantry School to pass the same entry PT test as the males, and all exceeded the minimum score to start training, do they require additional screening? If the male Marine doesn't meet the standards douring infantry training, they are recycled (for instance if they fail land nav) or dropped from the course and reassigned another MOS. Males and females go through the same boot camp, same training schedule, same training events, the only difference is the gender normed PT standards and the female platoons are allowed more time for the road marches. So are they now expected to institute a special pre-school for females? Will that be fair if males are still expected to complete the course without the additional training?

    Currently, the Marine Corps is 7% female, Secretary Maybus wants them to increase female personnel to 25% of the force. How are they to achieve this if these two statements are true: "The service “risks losing a number of highly talented female Marines prematurely due largely to the often extreme physical demands” of the infantry, Brigadier General Smith writes." and “The likelihood of a female Marine being less competitive in these significantly more physically demanding occupations may adversely impact the Marine Corps’ ability to retain top female talent and enable their progression into more senior ranks.” So they see additional attrition of female Marines from injury, their bodies breaking down, or because they are competing at a disadvantage in an area that demands high levels of physical capability, so they aren't getting promoted or give leadership positions because they are not the best all around Marine competing for the slot, in a gender neutral environment.
    Then you have the announcement in 2012 that starting in 2013, women would start having to do pullups instead of the current bent arm hang. The Marine Corps was going to use 2013 to bring women up to speed with additional training for currently serving women and changed physical training in boot camp. Both males and females would be required to do a minimum of three, with eight getting females a perfect score and the male max remained at 20. During the transition period females had the option of pull up or bent armed hang. By mid 2014 they had to roll back the plan because they couldn't get over half of female recruits up to the minimum of three by graduation. (55% couldn't meet the standard). Their scoring was still gender normed but they were trying to bring them slowly up to male standards. But how do you do that when you;ll be losing over half your female candidates.
    Now, IOC was a different ball of wax. They do have pre-screening and all candidates had to compete on male standards. So how much more could they have screened in order to get a woman who could make it more than a few days in the course? (Almost all were dropped first day)
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The way I read that is they were suggesting looking not so much at the condition but things like how big and how dense their bones were. Of course that brings up some other questions such as:
    1) How good and how expensive are such test?
    2) Are people gonig to complain about them?
    3) If they had done said screening would they have had enough women in the unit to conduct any statistically significant tests?
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Found a couple of more related articles:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/25/marine-general-marine-infantry-standards-need-to-change/
    Note the headline mentions "raising the bar". It goes on to say:
    And the other one:
    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/sep/27/navy-seal-women-standards/
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    First the Navy doesn't have many direct combat jobs, except for SEALs and sailors assigned to the FMF. If the Marines exclude females from direct combat jobs that takes care of those slots. The Navy also isn't worried about females and SEALs, if I were the man in charge I'd take the same tack and avoid the attacks by the femi-nazi's. The way the SEALs select candidates to get one of the few slots to attend BUDs will virtually assure there won't be a female for years. They take the top 10% of applicants and then they grade the remaining candidates on a bell curve allowing only the top 10% of that select group to enter SEAL training (in other words there's no set in stone standard, they take only the very best of the best). What it would take is an applicant pool with a large number of exceptionally strong females, and a group of decidedly below average males in order for them to have enough women pass selection to enter BUDS in enough quantity to actually graduate one.

    As for the Marine Corps I like the new Commandant Robert Neller's comment, he's insulted by the advocates wording of the women in combat debate, women have been in combat, the debate's over women being assigned to direct combat units such as infantry.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/10/02/new-marine-commandant-personally-insulting-to-talk-about-women-in-combat/

    His opinion and that of General Dunford should count for much more than those of political pundits, special interest advocates, (non-vet) politicians and former military personnel who never served in those type billets. It's like asking a submarine driver to decide the requirements for a fighter pilot or fighter aircraft, they may understand the requirements in theory, but the man or woman that has done the job understands the full requirements of the job and equipment.

    Then there are the pure BS articles like this on, however one of the statements contained therein speaks loads to the authors agenda:

    "So far only the Marines have taken a hardline against integration and appear to be fighting losing battle. This is, at least in part, because it is framing the problem as a “battle of the sexes,” dominated by claims about male vs. female physical capability and how that impacts mission effectiveness. This is a narrow framing of the issue. Today we talk about “gender integration” as if it were only about differences between men and women, but gender integration in the U.S. military is about much more than the status of women. It is a question of how the military approaches the expression of sex and gender in all its variations. Is the U.S. military only interested in stereotypical men and women? Or will it also integrate people who, in one way or another, do not conform?"

    Well the military is not about your expression of sex or gender variation, it is about how best to close with and destroy our nations enemies, do it efficiently with the least amount of losses to ones own forces. That's it. All other factors need to be secondary because the cost of getting it wrong is peoples sons, daughters, husbands, wives, or parents die. Screw fairness, give me capability and effectiveness, you slack, you don't pull your weight, you screw up someone dies, that's the cold hard facts. What's more important, your feelings or someone's life?
     
    McCabe likes this.
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well the Marine Corps just let the other shoe drop. The people in charge must have big balls because as much grief as they took over requesting the women in combat arms exclusion, these new standards will make the advocates howl. The good thing is that it will also make it harder for some males to slip through the cracks. It's also placed SecNav Maybus in a corner, he either has to allow them to stand or admit standards don't matter and whatever PC demands is where the bar will be set. Additional information and comments by those involved in the study also make the "flawed" study, and pre-determined outcome, comments look inaccurate.

    "The Marines' study has led to controversy, however. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called the experiment flawed, and alleged that some male Marines went into it not wanting to see the women succeed. He also criticized the Corps for measuring average performance instead of looking at individual capabilities.
    But the Marine involved with the study fired back at Mabus' remarks. When the study began, researchers went into it with the expectation that they would see no differences between the all-male teams and those that included women, he said.
    "The use of averages is merely a way to categorize overall performance of the different groups," the Marine said. "If the study had seen no difference in the 'averages' it would conclude that the introduction of women has no effect — be it positive or negative. However, given that differences existed, the GCEITF study conducted further analysis at the individual level."
    It was then that researchers began looking at the traits of each Marine in a crew, squad or team to see whether individual physical characteristics proved essential for all members to be able to carry out a specific mission. That, the Marine said, would help determine what all Marines in that job should be able to prove they can do."

    Another interesting tidbit:
    "The Marine Corps was the only military service to launch a physical requirements study on the scale of its Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, ahead of the Defense Department-wide mandate to open all jobs to women."

    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/10/02/marines-unveil-new-gender-neutral-standards-29-jobs/73173524/

    I haven't posted this yet but People Magazine published an article that raises serious, and lends support to the rumors I mentioned in an earlier post, questions about what went on with the females and the Ranger Course. The article seems to support Congressman Steve Russell's contention that he's heard that the test wasn't as "unbiased" as the Army has been trying to portray. (Russel was a Ranger and served 21 years in the Army, including leading an nfantry battalion in Iraq). He's requested copies of their training records, and has become a target for the advocates.
    http://www.people.com/article/female-ranger-school-graduation-planned-advance
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    People magazine isn't one of my favorite sources but it would be hard for some bias not to creep in. The question is how much and in what direction(s). One of the things that struck me pretty early in the discussion although I'm not sure I commented on it at the time was the conclusion based on the Marine study that the current standards weren't high enough (my impression is that was a majority opinion both among the participants and the researchers but I don't have anything specific to back that up).
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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