Two More Women Drop Out of USMC Infantry Officer Course
Two 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:
- Women have a lower bone density than men.
- Women have a different hip and pelvic structure than men.
- Women are more prone to stress fractures than men. Much more.
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.