As you undoubtedly knew would happened when you read this post yesterday, SECNAV Mabus has begun sweeping the results of the Marine Corps integrated combined arms test under the rug, with the added bonus of accusing the reports authors of bad faith.
“They started out with a fairly largely component of the men thinking this is not a good idea, and women will not be able to do this,” he said in an interview with NPR.
“When you start out with that mindset, you’re almost presupposing the outcome,” he said.
Just down from there we find this:
Mabus argued that other studies, including one by the Center for Naval Analysis, say there are ways to mitigate gaps in performance “so you have the same combat effectiveness, the same lethality, which is crucial.”
You probably can mitigate the gap in performance. What you cannot do is eliminate it. So you do, in actuality, have a gap. That means you don’t have the same combat effectiveness. You don’t have the same lethality.
“Part of the study said women tend not to be able to carry as heavy a load for as long, but there were women who went through the study who could,” he said.
“And part of the study said we’re afraid because women get injured more frequently that over time, women will break down more, that you’ll begin to lose your combat effectiveness over time.
“That was not shown in the study, that was an extrapolation based on injury rates,” he said.
No kidding. Here’s something you may not realize. Sports type injuries are incredibly common in the combat arms. Torn ACL, rotator cuff injuries, sprains, strains, torn muscles. And the longer a unit is deployed, the more common these injuries become, as the physical conditioning of troops is effected by poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of regular physical fitness training, and simply the accumulation of wear and tear by operating at an incredibly punishing level of physicality.
Now, even outside the strains of combat, just in training, even in non-combat units, women have a much greater rate of sports type injuries than men. It is entirely reasonable to extrapolate that experience already acknowledged across the force, if not much talked about, and compare that with the increased injury rate seen in the integrated test force, and reach the conclusion that injury rates will be worse.
And here’s the thing about these injuries. They take a troop out of the fight just as surely as if they were wounded. They have to be evacuated. They have to be treated. They have to be given physical therapy and convalescence. And that means the unit, always short on manpower, is down further, for the length of that convalescence, if indeed the injured troop will ever be fit for duty again. Very quickly, a unit might find itself with so many injured that it simply cannot accomplish its missions.
And let us not overlook the fact that many of these injuries will form the basis of claims for service connected disability from the Veterans Administration after the troop has left the service. Knowing that women will suffer higher rates of injury, it stands to reason that it will also impose a higher cost in disability for the entire life of the injured. Why, when the VA is already struggling, would we knowingly increase the burden on the already shaky foundations of veterans healthcare?
I’ve seen countless blatherings about how adding women to combat arms is the only fair thing to do. What I’ve never seen once yet is an explanation showing that integrating the combat arms will increase their performance.