A recent study found that integrating women into Marine Corps combat units had a negative effect on unit cohesion and performance. President Obama's secretary of the Navy quickly dismissed the study by attacking the integrity of the Marines who participated in it, but the full study was never even released to the public.
Now, the Marine Corps Times reports that Congressman Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is calling for the Department of Defense to release the full study:
“This is an incredibly important issue that involves the lives of young Americans on our front lines,” [Moulton] said. “I want to see us make a serious, thoughtful decision based on the available data about combat effectiveness.” …
Data collected during the study compared integrated teams with all-male teams as they performed a series of combat-related tasks. Researchers found that the mixed-gender teams sustained higher injuries, were slower and less lethal.
The study has drawn criticism by some over its methodology, most notably by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in a Sept. 25 opinion piece in the Washington Post.
Moulton said releasing the full study would help to dispel these arguments about the research.
He also said the Defense Department needs to be as transparent as possible throughout this process. Any lack of transparency prevents the American public and Congress from weighing in on its Marine Corps’ decision on whether to open combat arms careers to women, Moulton said.
“We already know that women can serve in combat, and they’ve done so admirably, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “But when it comes to putting women into units like the infantry, we should be making a decision on what is most combat effective for those units.”
Moulton’s experience over four deployments to Iraq as an infantry officer has taught him that integration can be a force multiplier. During two of his deployments, he led gender-integrated teams. Those teams increased his tactical and situational awareness by allowing access to the fifty percent of the local Iraqi population that his men could not reach.
“That is a clear example of where having women in my unit increased our combat effectiveness, but the study is looking at whether women in [military occupational specialties] like the infantry will increase those units’ effectiveness without unnecessarily putting lives at risk,” Moulton said. “We need to see the study.”
Aaron MacLean points out that "Moulton is a Marine veteran of Iraq and a liberal member of the House, not to say an outspoken supporter of the Iran deal. Considering his politics and constituency, his request for the public release of the study and willingness to imply some skepticism over the wisdom of opening Marine infantry jobs to women is remarkable."