Congressman Accuses Ash Carter of ‘Withholding Information’ on Women in Combat

Marine veteran demands full release of gender study

Defense Secretary Ash Carter
Defense Secretary Ash Carter / AP
September 21, 2015

A Republican congressman and Marine veteran is demanding the Department of Defense release the entire Marine Corps study on women in combat that has provoked criticism from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

According to The HillRep. John Kline (R., Minn.) penned a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter Friday citing concern that the government is "withholding information" about the study’s conclusions. Reports have emerged suggesting the Marine Corps has been instructed not to release the complete study.

The executive summary of the report released earlier in September indicated that women are more vulnerable to injury, less accurate with weapons, and slower than men when completing tactical movements.

"I am concerned the Department of the Defense is withholding information regarding the findings of this report," Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote. "Therefore, the Department of Defense should immediately release the full [Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force] report for review by members of Congress and the American people."

Kline joins fellow House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) in writing to Carter on the topic of the study. Last week, Hunter penned a letter demanding Navy Secretary Mabus resign for "openly disrespect[ing]" the Marine Corps by dismissing the study.

Mabus has endured criticism from political and military leaders for claiming that the study’s participants and organizers were biased and questioning its findings.

Kline likewise knocked Mabus in his letter to the Defense secretary.

"I ask you to review the recent public comments made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus questioning the honor, courage, and commitment of the men and women that were part of the force integration study," Kline wrote to Carter. "As a 25-year Marine Corps Veteran, I am offended by these comments made by a senior leader in the Department of Defense."

The services are required to submit recommendations to Carter by Oct. 1 as to whether certain roles should remain closed to female service members.

While Mabus has said that he will not ask for specific combat roles to be shuttered to women, U.S. officials said last week that the Marine Corps is planning to recommend that several front-line combat jobs remain closed to women.