A former Marine officer and Iraq War veteran now serving in Congress said the secretary of the Navy insulted the Marine Corps with his comments dismissing its study on women in combat operations.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also labeled Navy Secretary Ray Mabus a "political hack," according to the Marine Corps Times.
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"Secretary Mabus is quickly proving that he’s a political hack who cares more about doing the White House’s bidding than the combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps," Hunter said in a statement Tuesday. "Mabus is not only insulting the Marine Corps as an institution, but he’s essentially telling Marines that their experience and judgment doesn’t matter."
The Marine Corps study concluded that women are more vulnerable to injury, less accurate with weapons, and slower than men when completing tactical movements.
Mabus has received plenty of pushback from military and political leaders since he claimed that the participants and organizers of the study were biased and "started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea, and women will not be able to do this."
On Wednesday, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R., Ariz.) criticized Mabus for deciding regardless of the results of the nine-month study to allow women into all combat roles.
"Why would you have a study if you’re going to disregard the results of it?" McCain told the Washington Examiner.
He also emphasized the need for Congress to probe the results of the gender study.
"I think we need to evaluate it," McCain said. "I think we need to have a congressional hearing at least and the initial evidence of that Marine Corps study is something we have to consider. We don’t want to prevent any woman from any opportunity, but we also want to look at all aspects of it."
Earlier this week, Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, a Marine war hero who helped conduct the study, called Mabus’ comments "way off base."
"Listen up folks," LeHew wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post. "Your senior leadership of this country does not want to see America overwhelmingly succeed on the battlefield, it wants to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to [pursue] whatever they want regardless of the outcome on national security."
Services are required to submit recommendations to Defense Secretary Ash Carter by Oct. 1 as to whether specific positions in the military should stay closed to women.