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Survey of Marines Fails to Show Support for Women in Direct Ground Combat

On Friday, February 1, the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) released a "Quick-Look Analysis of Survey Results Assessing the Implications of Possible Changes to Women in Service Restrictions". The 5-page paper, dated September 2012, summarizes results of a survey of active-duty Marines on the subject of women in combat, which was conducted from May 30 to August 31, 2012. 


Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, obtained a copy of the 16-page CNA survey instrument in June 2012, and prepared an analysis of the 122 questions asked.  Mrs. Donnelly released the following statement on the incomplete survey results:


"The September 2012 CNA 'Quick-Look Analysis of Survey Results,' belatedly released on a Friday, seems intended to manage public perceptions that are not supported by still-undisclosed research data.  If the survey of Marines revealed significant support for the assignment of women in "tip of the spear" direct ground combat units, detailed poll results would have been announced in full and proclaimed a 'success' four months ago. 


"The survey instrument, unfortunately, missed the opportunity to ask the most important questions.  For example, 'How would the assignment of women to Marine infantry and Special Operations Forces improve mission effectiveness?' And, ' Do you favor or oppose the elimination of all direct ground combat exemptions for women?'  Conclusions cannot be drawn from questions not asked.


"The polling instrument also failed to provide an accurate definition of the issue at hand: direct ground combat element units, meaning small fighting battalions that close with and attack the enemy on the ground.  (infantry, artillery, armor, Special Operations Forces and Navy SEALs)  


"Like many civilian polls, this survey often used the undefined word ‘combat,’ which generally means dangerous war zone assignments that are ‘in harm's way.’  The imprecise wording casts doubt on survey results, which could have been more useful if more precise terminology had been used. 


"Conclusions also are skewed by the survey's frequent use of the misleading word 'voluntary' − a word suggesting an option that does not exist.  Research done by the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, which studied this issue in depth in 1992, determined that a 'voluntary' option for women but not for men in close combat simply would not work.  (See Selected Findings, point #7)


"Finally, the survey relies on the mistaken belief that tough training standards preparing men for direct ground combat missions would remain the same as they are now.  This will not be possible due to well-documented differences in male/female physical capabilities, and because of the administration's intent to impose gender-based 'diversity metrics,' meaning 'quotas,' which will have the effect of driving training standards down. 

"According to recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, (MLDC) endorsed by the Defense Department on February 9, 2012, promotions of officers at all levels, especially 3- and 4-star generals and admirals, will be contingent on support for gender-based 'diversity metrics.' (See pp. xvii-xviii)

"The MLDC report admits that this concept is not the same as respect or recognition for individual merit − the key to success for racial integration. The 'new diversity' is about demographic group rights, not individual rights.  (See p. 18)  Tough training standards that men must meet now may end up 'equal,' but they will not remain the same.

"The CNA survey ‘Quick Look’ summary barely mentions major concerns among male and female Marines, including sexual assaults, false accusations of harassment, fraternization and preferential treatment, privacy/billeting, limited duty affecting readiness, and additional risks for women targeted for capture.  These vaguely-described concerns deserve close closer examination by Congress and the American public, not an incomplete summary that omits details or sweeps them under the rug.

"Even though the survey instrument was flawed, members of Congress should request complete top-line data, cross-tabs, and detailed Marine responses broken down by military occupational specialty, combat community, and experience." 

The Center for Military Readiness has prepared a 42-page Special Report analyzing all phases of the Marine Corps "Assignment of Women to Ground Combat" Research Project, including the CNA survey instrument used in 2012: 

Defense Department "Diversity" Push for Women in Land Combat (See pages 8-11)

More information on training standards is provided in this article:

Seven Reasons Why Women-in-Combat Diversity Will Degrade Tough Training Standards




Texas Renegade

The object of the administration is the degrading of the US military to the level of the Swiss guards, and achieving 'equality' that is neither wanted nor necessary. I find it revealing the the administration's lead on these 'talking points' is an Air Force fighter pilot - got news for you there sweet pea, flying a combat mission then returning to your air conditioned barracks does not equate to humping personal war gear/ammo, crew served weapon parts/ammo, radios, etc that our ground troops are burdened with. I carried a hell of a load in 'Nam, and it's not even close to what the Marine Grunt has to carry today.

Maj Pain

Exactly "Texas Ranger" thanks for the comment!


Look this is all about PC, and getting votes. Its about the democratic
party trying to insure they get the female vote in the future. Few females
would sign up for it, and fewer would be able to do the job. We don't need
more dead Marines, male or female.

Texas Renegade

I thought that after the Fort Hood shooting that the promotion dependent on PC correctness was out the window, but wait, to quote the above "will be contingent on support for gender-based 'diversity metrics". To be fair, there are many women serving in the combat theater in necessary support roles and are exposed to their share of danger, and there were also a few Women Marines that could have kicked my a** back when, but they were not the bell curve norm but the exception, just as I imagine they would be today.


I understand the importance of civil rights, equality, and all that political rhetoric. But it seems like it would make more sense to test the waters maybe stateside where the stakes are lower if there happens to be an agenda the polls are disclosing. In other words, test, measure, and fix the equality issues in environments where people aren't getting shot at first, and the rest will take care of itself.

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