Survey: Male Marines wary of women in combat positions
SAN DIEGO — A Marine Corps survey found about 17 percent of male Marine respondents said they would likely leave the Corps if women move into combat positions.
That number jumped to 22 percent if women are assigned involuntarily to those jobs, according to the survey.
Male Marines also listed among their top concerns fears about being falsely accused of sexual harassment or assault, fraternization or some Marines getting preferential treatment. They also worried women would be limited because of pregnancy or personal issues that could affect the unit before they are sent to the battlefield.
Results of the survey of 53,000 Marines were released to The Associated Press on Friday.
The survey was conducted last summer and the results were given to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before he opened thousands of combat jobs to female service members last week.
Both sexes surveyed mentioned intimate relationships between Marines and feeling obligated to protect female Marines among their top five concerns about allowing women into ground combat jobs.
Women Marines listed among their top three concerns enemies targeting women as POWs, the risk of sexual harassment or assault and hygiene requirements, according to the results which did not given specifics.
The survey asked female Marines if they would feel pressured to suppress their femininity, something equal rights activists found offensive.
About 4 percent of female Marines surveyed said they would consider leaving if the ban was lifted. Even more would drop out if women were put into those positions involuntarily with about 17 percent of female respondents expressing they would cut their careers short under those circumstances.
About 31 percent of female respondents say they would be interested in moving into a combat position.
The commandant of the Marine Corps said the infantry side of the most male of all military branches is skeptical about how women will perform in their units, and some positions may end up closed again if too few females meet the physically demanding standards of combat.
Gen. James Amos made the remarks to reporters Thursday at a defense conference in San Diego hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the defense trade group AFCEA.
Amos says most Marines support the policy change. He pointed out that over the past decade, many male service members already have been fighting alongside women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women who serve in supply troops, as clerks and with military police have ended up on the unmarked front lines of modern warfare, blurring the distinction between combat and noncombat jobs. More than 150 women have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in support roles.
Many of the newly opened positions are in Army and Marine infantry units and in potentially elite commando jobs. It will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend and defend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy commandos or the Army's Delta Force.
The infantry units are smaller and spend more grueling time in battle.
“I think from the infantry side of the house, you know they're more skeptical,” Amos said. “It's been an all-male organization throughout the history of the U.S. Marine Corps so I don't think that should be any surprise.”
The Marine Corps is the most male of all the military branches. About 7 percent of Marines are female compared to about 14 percent overall for the armed forces.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Workforce to shrink as baby boomers retire, birth rates fall
- ‘Brothers’ share fathers’ legacies
- Fun-seekers won’t let a Pittsburgh regatta without races get them down
- Man with Donora roots promoted to Air Force colonel
- Youngwood man’s crash knocks out power in Monessen
- Trial to begin Monday in Rostraver home invasion
- Aaron’s building review planned
- Hempfield woman donates music inspired by WWI ‘doughnut girls’
- Public will get glimpse of building
- Facelift approved for historic La Rose building in Greensburg
- Post-war welcome still stings