Shortly after the US military lifted its ban on women serving in combat in 2013, the Marine Corps took the initiative to embark on a year-long research effort known as the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task force in order to better understand the impact of gender integration within its combat forces.
As part of the research experiment, 400 Marines — 300 male, 100 female — trained for combat together and then went through a simulated deployment, with every aspect of their training measured for in-depth analysis.
When the January 1, 2016 deadline approached for all military branches to open all combat roles to women, the Marine Corps used data from the analysis to compile a report and to aid in the decision whether to adhere or request exception to the mandate.
The results of Corps’ report illustrate that combat teams were less effective when they included women.
“All-male 0311 (rifleman) infantry squads had better accuracy compared to gender-integrated squads. There was a notable difference between genders for every individual weapons system (i.e. M4, M27, and M203) within the 0311 squads, except for the probability of hit & near miss with the M4.
All-male infantry crew-served weapons teams engaged targets quicker and registered more hits on target as compared to gender-integrated infantry crew-served weapons teams, with the exception of M2 accuracy.
All-male squads, teams and crews and gender-integrated squads, teams, and crews had a noticeable difference in their performance of the basic combat tasks of negotiating obstacles and evacuating casualties. For example, when negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top. During casualty evacuation assessments, there were notable differences in execution times between all-male and gender-integrated groups, except in the case where teams conducted a casualty evacuation as a one-Marine fireman’s carry of another (in which case it was most often a male Marine who “evacuated” the casualty)”
The report also suggests that female Marines were more prone to injury throughout the experiment.
However, at this point, it’s certainly worth noting that the male participants involved in the experiment had previously served in combat units, while the female participants came directly from noncombat jobs.