Two More Women Drop Out of USMC Infantry Officer Course

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

women at Marine Infantry Officer SchoolTwo more women marines dropped out of the USMC Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Virginia today. They were, fortunately, not injured. They were simply unable to complete the challenging obstacle course.

Two other women who enrolled in the course last year didn’t make it very long. One didn’t pass the endurance test at the beginning of the course, and the other dropped out in the second week due to a medical issue.

According to NBC News, the there were also twelve men who were unable to complete the obstacle course. No women passed the obstacle course. However, 96 men out of an original 112 students are still enrolled after the obstacle course hurdle.

The normal historical attrition rate for the entire 10-week course is about 25 percent. 

We first looked at this issue in this article, where we noted:

  • Women have only a fraction of the upper body strength that men do.
  • Women can only fireman–carry a fraction of the weight that a man can be expected to.
  • Women have a smaller heart and lung capacity than men.
  • Women therefore have a much lower VO^2 max than men.

Some of these differences become small or vanish when you adjust for size. But you cannot adjust for size.

Now, you can select your way around the differences above, to an extent, perhaps, by screening for athletic performance. If a woman can demonstrate she can fireman-carry the average Marine infantryman across 100m in the required time (no adjusting for her size, because Lord knows combat won’t), and she can demonstrate she can hump a rucksack with the boys, and she’s in the top 1 percent for physical fitness and achievement for women, rather than the top 30 percent for men, then fine. More power to her.

But there are other factors as well, that are even more important:

You cannot identify in advance which women will succumb to stress fractures.

This is no joke: In an era in which the military is trying to cut costs, stress fractures cost the military up to $100 million per year in medical costs and lost duty time, according to reporting by the American Forces Press Service.


It is clear that women are at a significantly elevated risk not only of course failure – which is expensive to the taxpayer – but also of long-term debilitating injuries that could even preclude them from serving in other specialities and drive them out of service. This is expensive, too – and doubly so when you add in the cost of long-term chronic knee, pelvis, hip and back injuries that will require ongoing care from the military and VA health care systems. As noted above, the cost of stress fractures alone in the military runs about $100 million per year, or a billion dollars every ten years.

Those mustering arguments in favor of including women in the military have never addressed the very real physiological and cost-effectiveness arguments above. Even if a woman completes the course, she will still have years of hard, grueling training and possibly combat in front of her when she joins her unit – and as a marine infantry platoon leader, she must lead from the front – not limp along behind. Or she is not doing her job.

We will cause many women to fail a course, and permanently injure many others, before we find one who can last eight years on the job as an infantry officer.

Nevertheless, the grand experiment to include women in the infantry continues apace, in a monument to the stupidity of PC wishful thinking over the hard reality of gender differences.

It is our very best women who will be volunteering for this course – out of youthful enthusiasm and a desire for challenge. They are fantastic young women and will make excellent officers. Let’s make sure we can keep them so they can serve long, productive careers – in other vital specialties. 


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5 responses to “Two More Women Drop Out of USMC Infantry Officer Course”

  1. Valerie DeMumbrum says:

    I believe in hard vigorous training but I don’t understand how the Military intend to continue putting the woman in danger to prove a point. Since the Marine Corp is aware of the physical differences between men and woman there should be a separate set of challenges for the woman to perform. Do they not realize that those woman are far stronger than men when it comes to balance and lower body strength? Why not explore the differences in a way that can be a benefit to both genders? There could be some extremes that only woman can perform such as getting in and out of tight spaces because they are smaller or being able to hide is a smaller cover spot in order to close the gap on the enemy? Why do they persist that there is only one way to test these young people? Find the extremes on both sides and exploit them, you may be pleasantly surprised. 
    -by Valerie DeMumbrum 
    DOD Security Specialist 

  2. Hello, Valerie, and thanks for writing!  
    A couple of points: If women need a separate set of challenges in order to pass muster, then the integration is a failure. Two: Please cite your sources for women being “far superior” to men when it comes to “lower body strength.” This should be good. I look forward to seeing your data.  

  3. Secutor says:

    Jason you ask excellent questions in regards to Valerie’s poorly conceived and researched statement. Men hold all the records for upper and lower body strength assessments. This is indisputable all one has to do is look it up. Men hold all the Olympic records for short sprint distance running and long distance endurance running. This can be seen at the college and high schools levels not just at the elite levels. In fact 14 and 15 year old boys routinely perform as well or better than Olympic level women see link below. 
    So Valerie to sum it up…to get to the fight you have to move fast, over rough terrain that you may have to scale over (upper body strength is needed here) with alot of weight on your back. This is not only done for 15 or 20 minutes but for hours per day…day after day in a 12 month deployment. Once you get to the assault point you have to move with bursts of extreme speed and violence under fire to come to close grips with other grown men who are trying to kill you. Then you may engage in close quarters combat where you have to choke or stab another grown man to death… funny thing is Valerie that the Marines have a test called the Combat Fitness Test (CFT) that looks at certain common offensive combat tasks needed to survive and succeed in offensive combat. They are much lower for women… even the ammo lifting event is much lower … how will this help in offensive combat?

  4. Secutor says:

    Link to Combat fitness test… Valerie please see for yourself the huge double standard in combat testing. 
    Link showing women have less upper AND lower body strength 
    Valerie you cannot get rid of the tasks women have to perform in the Marine officer course or any other course… at best you are ignoring biology and setting an unfair double standard (after all how is it equal if one group qualifies by meeting an easier standard?) but at WORST you increase the risk that someone’s brother, father, or husband will die or be severely injured(as well as the female soldiers involved) when you find that this double standard does not work in the real world of offensive ground combat. Keep the physical training standards high..  
    no accommodations or you risk American lives.  

  5. Secutor says:

    Hey got ahead of myself and did not post a link… here it is. Link showing women have less upper AND lower body strength.  

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