This past Sunday 60 Minutes aired a piece on the integration of women in U.S. combat units, and specifically into the Marine Corps infantry. They got tremendous access to the Marine Corps’ secretive Infantry Officer Course, or ‘IOC’ (to my knowledge, what can be seen in this segment is the most detail about IOC ever to be revealed to journalists, let alone to a television camera crew), spoke to the course director on the record, profiled a tough young female lieutenant trying to make it through the training, and visited the enlisted infantry course in Camp Lejeune, which has also been opened to women on a trial basis.
It was a thorough and interesting story.
Even among those who disagree about the issue of opening ground combat arms jobs to women in the military, I have found that there is a general consensus on one key point: That physical standards should not be lowered in pursuit of ‘gender’ integration. Weakening standards in the pursuit of social justice would endanger troops and render meaningless the accomplishment of those women who would potentially serve in ground combat units. In a way, this consensus is very American: Equality of opportunity and a fair shot for all. Keep the standards high, as they’ve always been, and let the chips fall where they may.
The Department of Defense disagrees.
This may seem shocking, but consider the following Defense News interview with Juliet Beyler, director of officer and enlisted personnel management for the DOD and a retired Marine officer.