Semper Female? The Commandant on Women in Combat

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General James Amos, the Marine commandant, has issued an ALMAR – an “all Marine message” – telling his forces that he is exploring ways to get female Marines into combat units:

The corps will begin “begin assigning active duty, unrestricted, female company grade officers, gunnery sergeants, and staff sergeants…to artillery, tank, assault amphibian, combat engineer, combat assault, and low altitude air defense battalion staffs in order to facilitate our research effort,” he writes. They will be in support roles like communications and logistics.

Women will be permitted in these slots at the battalion level – one step closer to the front lines – but will not be assigned to front-line or infantry units.

The Marines also are expanding physical testing of men and women to see how they compare in three areas: “heavy machine gun lift, casualty evacuation, and march under load,” Amos says.

The experiences of these women, and the opinions of their male comrades, could lead to expanding roles for women:

I will consider the results and impact of the exception to the ground assignment policy, the quantitative research, and the total force survey as we make future recommendations regarding the potential assignment of women to ground combat element units.

…Amos writes.

“I expect all leaders to be fully committed to providing every Marine the opportunity to compete and excel, while sustaining unit effectiveness, readiness and cohesion, and maintaining good order and discipline,” he concludes.