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U.S. Marines study: Women in combat injured more often than men

The nine-month study sought to examine the roles available to women in combat units.

By Ed Adamczyk
U.S. Marines study: Women in combat injured more often than men
A U.S. Marine Corps training experiment compared the capabilities of all-male and mixed-gender units in combat roles. Photo by Cpl. D. Morgan/U.S. Marine Corps

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Research on a test unit of male and female U.S. Marines suggests women in combat get injured more often and shoot less accurately than men, a study released Thursday said.

A summary of the results of a nine-month pilot test involving 400 male and 100 female Marines who volunteered to join the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force unit suggested women in combat conditions get injured twice as often as men, shoot infantry weapons less accurately and have more difficulty removing injured soldiers from the battlefield.

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The research was conducted at the Marines' Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., bases.

All-male squads demonstrated higher performance levels on 69 percent of tasks evaluated, compared to gender-integrated squads. Gender-integrated teams performed better than their all-male counterparts on two of the 134 tasks, the study said. All-male squads also had a "noticeable difference in their performance of the basic combat tasks of negotiating obstacles and evacuating casualties."

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The study was carried out as the service departments prepare to submit recommendations to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on whether any jobs should be kept closed to women. In 2013, the Pentagon overturned a ban on women in combat roles, but gave the services latitude to decide how to better integrate women and decide if any jobs should be kept men-only.

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"This is unprecedented research across the services," said Marine Col. Anne Weinberg of the Marine Corps Force Innovation Office. "What we tried to get to is what is that individual's contribution to the collective unit. We're more interested in how the Marine Corps fights as units and how that combat effectiveness is either advanced or degraded."

The research suggests the Marine Corps may keep certain combat specialties closed to women. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has indicated he has found no reason to discourage women in any infantry combat role.

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