Pressure Grows on Marines to Consider Lowering Combat Standards for Women

Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times, April 19, 2015

Two years ago, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the nation’s top military officer, laid down an edict on the Obama administration’s plan to open direct land combat jobs to women: If women cannot meet a standard, senior commanders better have a good reason why it should not be lowered.

Today, the “Dempsey rule” appears to have its first test case.

The Marine Corps just finished research to see if female officers could successfully complete its rigorous Infantry Officer Course.

A IOC diploma is a must to earn the designation of infantry officer. Of 29 women who tried, none graduated; only four made it through the first day’s combat endurance test.

Corps public affairs said it did not have the data on which tasks proved the toughest for women. But one particularly demanding upper-body strength test is climbing a 25-foot rope with a backpack full of gear. A candidate who cannot crawl to the top fails the test.

Traditionalists see the 0-29 performance as a call to arms by those inside the Pentagon who are determined to have significant numbers of women in the infantry. They are on the lookout for standards they believe are no longer relevant in today’s battlefield.

“The pressure is on the services from the White House’s politically correct crowd vis-a-vis Obama’s Pentagon appointees, who will force the services to accept degraded standards,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and author of the book “Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women Into Combat.”


[Joint Chiefs Chairman] Gen. Dempsey laid down the law this way: “If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”

On its face, the Corps might encounter stiff opposition to maintaining its officer standards in light of the fact women have passed enlisted infantry school, albeit a less-demanding course.

Gender neutrality

Dakota Wood, a retired Marine Corps officer and an analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said the Corps has to be prepared for a bureaucratic fight.

“I personally think there will be people in the administration, both in the executive and appointees in DOD, who will pressure the Corps, seeking the opening of all occupational fields to women,” Mr. Wood said. “My hope is that Marine Corps leadership are able to rationally justify current standards and hold to them.

“If the standards are arbitrary, they won’t hold up to scrutiny. But I believe the Corps has decades of experience on which to base requirements.”

He added: “It certainly hasn’t been an issue to have high failure rates for men all these years. Any argument to lower the standards just to accommodate women would have to be justified based on how such a change improves combat effectiveness in the infantry.”

In the last Marine IOC class, nine of 90 male candidates failed to finish.

Elaine Donnelly, who directs the Center for Military Readiness and has issued papers arguing against women in direct land combat, said all standards for special operations, Army infantry and the Marines are “very much in jeopardy.”

“Over time, and it wouldn’t be long, the ‘Dempsey rule’ would apply, meaning, ‘If it’s too hard for women, it’s probably too hard,’” she said.


The Corps is just not looking at officers. It also sent 350 enlisted women, fresh from boot camp, through the Infantry Training Battalion Course at the School of Infantry in North Carolina. Of those, about 120 completed the course, meaning that if the infantry were now open to women, they would be on that career path.

The fact that so many women could pass the enlisted program points out the difficulty of the Infantry Officer Course.

“The main reason enlisted women made it through has to do with the ITB course itself,” Mrs. Donnelly said. “It is not the equal of the IOC. Not even close. There has to be a big difference, because officers have the responsibility to lead others into battle.”

The Marine Corps says the ITB women did the same tasks as the men. But Mrs. Donnelly is skeptical. She points to documents the Corps submitted to Congress in 2013 that said women are allowed to do fewer pullups than men in the basic physical fitness tests. It’s called “gender norming” to account for male-female physiological differences.


CBS News’ “60 Minutes” followed one female Marine on the 14-hour Combat Endurance Test at Quantico, Virginia. On the hottest day of the summer, she struggled through the obstacle course until it was time for the rope climb. She tried three times but never reached the top.

Brig. Gen. George Smith, who is overseeing the Corps’ women-in-combat integration process, told “60 Minutes” that the Corps sees no reason to lower the standards.

“The realities of combat aren’t going to change based on gender,” he said.

Gen. Smith’s candor is striking in an institution that conservatives say is increasingly politically correct under the Obama administration.

Anna Simons, a professor of defense analysis at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, said she recently met with a group of officers reluctant to share their women-in-combat views.

“Officers who balk at the idea of women serving in ground infantry units or on Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha (ODAs) won’t publicly say so, let alone publicly explain why,” she wrote April 15 at, a forum for national security commentary. “They worry about retaliation that could hurt their careers.”



Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • superlloyd

    Pathetic, when the designated minority (usually blacks) can’t compete lower the bar. The diversity racquet is strangled by its contradictions and the resentment and incompetence that it inevitably entails.

    • minot111

      We all should know by now that minorities(usually blacks) are just as good as everybody else. They just don’t do well on tests. Let’s see if that excuse will fly. Or, maybe this one. They excel in other (unmeasurable) ways that more than compensate

      for their inability to test well.

    • TomIron361

      It’s the “contradictions” that will finally bring these type of people down.

  • Alexandra1973

    Because these feminist nuts won’t admit that we women don’t have the physical strength of men.

    I don’t believe women belong in the military to begin with.

    • TruthBeTold

      The last time this came up I said, ‘Diversity doesn’t take no for an answer’.

      Of course there are now calls to lower the standard. What they don’t understand that by lowering the standards they’re admitting women aren’t equal to men.

      But they know it and don’t care. Equality, even artificially produced equality trumps all.

    • Quido

      Right on Alexandra1973 I think I can give an opinion having served in light infantry, airborne infantry and mechanized infantry they just don’t have the strength and stamina necessary, They would only serve to get good troops killed however well
      their intentions might be.

      • Alexandra1973

        And lots of times a man’s natural instinct is to protect a woman from danger…such a distraction can prove fatal.

        Back in 1991, I was thinking about going into the Army after graduation, but try out for Army band, I played flute in my high school’s marching band. Still…I wonder what I would have gotten into.

        I’m glad I didn’t go.

        • TruthBeTold

          That’s definitely going to be an issue.

          Men will have to pick up the slack in combat and also be driven by their natural instinct to protect women.

          Mistake will be made.

      • TruthBeTold

        And when women are killed in combat, they will receive a heroes’ narrative and be raised to sainthood.

    • rebelcelt

      Obviously youdo not watch the latest T.V. shows. The women regularly beat up men , mostly with high kicks and sometimes finishing them off with a fist to the face.

  • IstvanIN

    This will simply result in the deaths of more male marines trying to do theirs and a woman’s job. You no more wanted unqualified woman in the marines, or any service, than you want men who are unqualified. Even if the US did the sensible thing and created separate military branches for woman I would still say that any woman who is allowed to enlist would have to meet the appropriate standards set for female soldiers and sailors. You have to be able to do the job. Period.

    • TruthBeTold

      I understand there’s a strong honor code among Marines about protecting their own.

      I hope female Marines understand what will be expected of them in combat and I hope male Marines hold them to that standard.

      • Glen

        Been there, done that. Dog n Pony Shows contrived for public consumption will show women “pulling their weight.” Despite what male Marines might say in public, they won’t hold women to the same standard. The de facto outcome? Male Marines will take up the slack. They have no choice in the matter. End of story.

        • TruthBeTold

          I’m sure right now some congresswoman is browbeating the Marines to ‘make this work, or else’.

          My fear is that if it comes to combat and women can’t pull their weight the men will be forced to do their own job, the job of the woman, and be compelled by natural as the male to protect the woman.

          And when ‘mistakes’ happen, we’ll have useless congressional hearing and the women in combat will be glorified for their heroic actions.

          Our society is getting more messed up every day.

  • listenupbub

    Women’s empowerment has always seemed like a silly thing to get your panties in a bunch about.

    Even if/when women prove to the world how “bada**” they are, it still won’t seriously affect the quality of their life, nor their ability to get a desirable man to chase after them.

    • Alexandra1973

      Maybe that’s why a lot of them turn to each other. Remember the fable of the fox and the grapes? The lesson was “it’s easy to despise what you cannot get.”

      • listenupbub

        I agree. They realize that they have no options, their lifestyle has failed. Too much solitary masturbation, desperation, and pornography leads to abnormal sexualities.

        Women just need to take a rational look at the way human mating works, and realize what they do have power over, an what they don’t. And then, women have to accept it, and work within the confines of the laws of attraction; because, Lord knows, you can’t get around them.

  • stedman holder

    Putin is laughing his ass off, so are the boys at ISIS.

    • Canadian Friend

      Yes a weaker military is exactly what those who hate the USA and Western civilization in general are wishing for, and the left is handing it to them…

      feminism and leftism will cause the downfall of Western Civilization…unless white males find their b*lls again and stop this non-sense!

  • MekongDelta69

    Dempsey is just another traitor in this black Muslim marxist dictator’s regime.

    It’s not MY Military and hasn’t been for a long, long time.

    • John Smith

      The guy is an English professor and ass-kisser first, soldier somewhere further down the line. I understand he has no real combat experience on the front line, just an HQ officer.

      • Tim

        I never served. Too young for Vietnam and too old for Grenada. The last twinge of remorse was shortly after 9/11. Then I saw them include a Muslim cleric in the prayers for the troops…And that was that.

        • Tim

          Whoops That comment was for Mekong and “it`s not MY military”. Sorry!

        • John Smith

          Not serving isn’t the issue. The issue is serving less-than-honorably. I don’t consider him to have done so. He’s the kind who hides in the rear and sends men to their deaths based on his faulty assumptions.

          • Tim

            My Old Man used to call them “Garri-troopers”….

          • John Smith


  • TomIron361

    A few things here. I’m an old Marine grunt and I know no woman could have endured some of those operations I was on in Vietnam. We’re talking here 125 degrees with 60lbs on our backs and go all day. Plus loss of a good amount of body weight, dirty all the time and near exhaustion daily for many days/weeks at a time. Having said that, times have indeed changed. I don’t think our Corps operates like that anymore. The personal gear and weaponry is so much superior than 67-68. Plus lighter. Also, I don’t think Marines don’t walk like that anymore. I think they’re very much more mobile, riding on trucks and being helicoptered around now (wouldn’t have been feasible in Vietnam). As far as standards go, they did get rid of the combat swim (jump in the deep end of a pool with clothes, boots, magazine belt, rifle, and helmet and swim to the ropes – that’ll take it out of most people) to make it seem blacks could be officers. So if they did that, they’ll do it for women and say there’s no difference in the training and look you square in the eye as they lie to you.

    • connorhus

      That’s very interesting about the combat swim. I know during my basic course in the 80’s one of the drill sergeants mentioned that they had been required to find a shallow stream for the barrel bridge that couldn’t be crossed on foot. I wonder if it wasn’t for the same reason.

    • How do they expect marines to make it to the beach when their landing craft hits an obstacle and sinks? We have fast LCAC hovercraft now, but the operative question is “Do those things float when disabled?”

      The use of plastics and smaller-caliber ammunition ought to have improved things a little; the load for a British infantryman in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme was 66 pounds. That battle was fought in a part of Belgium where the water table is near the surface, which the artillery predictably chewed into a muddy morass. Since Germans are reasonably bright about these things, they had dug into the opposite heights, so the British advance was across a swamp and then uphill, with the avenues of attack funneled into ravines.

      • evilsandmich

        Many of these tests are made for worst case scenarios, which judging from even recent combat operations, occurs somewhere just short of “all the time”.

      • Tim

        My Old Man used to joke that when he reversed engines on his Landing Craft so fast and hard at Salerno, the Navy wanted to try him for desertion….

    • John Smith

      Trucks get shot up or the terrain too steep, and then you have to walk.

  • Standards will be lowered. Libtards demand it.

    Since women in the military are primarily dykes and feminists, let them die in combat. Hopefully, no white knight manginas will get themselves trying to save these high testosterone so-called women.

    • dukem1

      The standards were lowered when the first affiirmative action regulation was enforced…We’re just playing catch-up now.

      • Quido

        The Romans lowered their training and physical requirements and look what
        it got them. We are headed down the same path

  • Canadian Friend

    Well well… the only demographic group for whom we never need to lower the bar is white males… Isn’t that the same as saying we white males are superior to women and non-whites? ( I know superior sounds ” bad” but what other word can I use? )…the more the left denies white males are the best at almost everything, the more it becomes obvious all other groups can not compete with us…

    when the h*ll will white males put on a pair and take back control of Western civilization???

    I do not understand what is happening, are there too many female hormones in the water and this is making white males wimps who are letting everyone bully them and take over the greatest civlization in the history of the planet?

    It is infuriating to see all the irrational illogical cr*p the left and their accomplices ( feminists, gays, minorities ) are imposing on us!!

    • Peters

      “when will white males .. take back control..?”

      Could you tell me how exactly do you envision this to happen? What would you like us to do? Vote better – but who is there to vote for? March on Washington?

      I am all ears if you have any ideas. If not, then you’d better shut up and stop shaming us, white males.

      • Canadian Friend

        Shaming white males? nope. that is not what I am doing at all.

        and I’m certainly not – as white male – going to shut up.

        • Peters

          Could you answer my question?

    • George Moriarty

      The propaganda starts from the day our kids start infant’s school. It is drummed into them that we are all equal, boys girls, blacks, Asians, homosexuals and feminists. The feminist teacher would like to see boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trucks. It also seems to be more of a city thing where boys and girls mainly have gender identity problems as they get older. Also team sports like proper football here tends to sort our the men from the wimps. Most Australian women appreciate men who are real men and the macho culture is still very much alive in this country, apart from the inner city. (Where males wear pink shirts)
      As for the main story it should be interpreted as this; Send the women off to war and let 3rd world imports have the babies. very soon you will no longer have a nation for the marines to defend.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    We’re watering (dumbing) down everything else, college exams, drivers license testing, high school graduation requirements, and so on. Why not the military?

    • Peters

      As a thought – may be it is not such a great idea for society to have tests that only a small minority can pass? When the country is 90% white, as in 1960s, you have standards that apply to whites. Makes sense. But when the country is half Latino and half black, you have college exams, graduation requirements etc etc that are applicable to Latinos and blacks. It is only logical that as the US turns brown, so do the standards and requirements.

      • LeonNJ

        If it’s brown let it drown.

        • Ron Cheaters

          If its yellow, let it mellow.
          If its white its alright.

  • Jason Lewis

    The military has always been a giant social experiment.

  • RacialRay

    I guess they are looking for a few good men…and a whole lot of social justice.

    • Reynardine

      Looking for a few good “men” is descriminatory. They’re also looking for a few good transmen, transwomen, homosexuals, demisexuals, bisexuals, women, blacks, hispanics, middle easterners, otherkin, questioning, asexuals…

    • libertarian1234

      Yes, and with the same kind of brainless schemes they plan everything else with.

      Their new slogan could be, “STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN SO THEY CAN GO TO COMBAT!”

      And, believe me, it would make perfect sense to them.

  • Dave West

    Libs are complete hypocrites.

    Over that last dozen years they’ve written article after article denouncing, sometimes rightly so; the deaths of troops on the front lines, troops unjustly killing Afghan villagers, a miscalculation that leads to the bobbing of innocent civilians. And now they want to LOWER STANDARDS??

    While at the same time demonize Chris Kyle, the best sniper in American history.

  • dukem1

    This whole thing may be the most idiotic debate ever proposed.
    We are so doomed.
    What nation could ever even consider sending its women off to do its fighting for it?,,,and expect success?
    I’m no genius, but has the US become so sissy-fied that this is our plan?
    How could any man sit at home, with his kids, while his wife was in combat thousands of miles away?
    The lunatics have surely taken over the asylum.

    • evilsandmich

      Well you pretty much nailed it. Missed in this is I’ve never heard a good reason for why the U.S. needs to send their women to war (are they going to have to register for selective service now?). Never mind the fact that rare is the case when its worthwhile to send our men to war.

  • What about the disabled? I think quadriplegics should be allowed to join the military too. Haven’t they heard of the ADA?

    • how about this

      I think dead people should be allowed to join. If you disagree you’re a necrophobe.

      • Alexandra1973

        Why not, they vote too!

  • Luca

    Battlefield reality 101, question #1. Your squad leader weighs 225 lbs and is down in the open with a serious leg wound and bleeding profusely while under heavy enemy fire, who is going to pick him up or drag him to safety?

    Third platoon is covering your left flank and is short on machine gun ammo, you ar ein first platoon and you have plenty of ammo. Who is going to run that 100lbs of ammo across 50 yards to help defend your entire company’s position?

    Well, what’s more important here, saving lives or lowering standards so we can be politically correct? This should be a no-brainer.

    Perhaps if more liberals went to war they would understand the significance of these fundamental priorities.

    • Deacon Blue

      You nailed it. 100% dead on.

    • John Smith

      Why women shouldn’t be firefighters either.

  • LHathaway

    There’s a simple solution to this, to all of it, everything they ever mention. Require all soldiers to be female. The same with these cops that ‘rape’ and do improper searches, require all cops to be female.

  • Paleoconn

    Diversity = decline of military. But given what this military gets involved in of late, I celebrate its demise.

    • Rob

      They just fight wars for or friends in the middle east.

      • AmericanRemnant


        • Like our good “friends” the Saudis, who provided almost all of the 9/11 hijackers, or in Pakistan, a monumentally corrupt technology siphon that benefits China. Then there’s the notorious military and industrial spy nation, Israel. Egypt received 1.4 billion dollars in US taxpayer-funded aid in 2012, and they still hate us. The Palestinian (Terrorist) Authority received over $450 million robbed from Americans the same year.

          Cut off all the money.

  • libertarian1234

    Is it any wonder reports from many different sources are telling us mass exits from the military by Christians mostly, are due to a loss in faith of the integrity of the brass who they feel can’t be trusted and that the US military is weaker now…..overall….. than it has ever been?
    It has morphed into one gigantic social engineering extravaganza that is more occupied with including society’s dregs and incompetents into vital positions than promoting military readiness.
    They now have a lesser military than before, and, to make matters worse, they’re provoking war in many areas of the world, most especially in Eastern Europe and Russia.
    I hate to be the one to break the news to the clowns in the Obama administration, so can somebody please tell them that China, Iran, North Korea and Russia now have standing armies four times larger than the US and NATO, and Russia is more advanced in much of its military technology than the US, with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the West about five times over?

  • RedOnTheHead

    The tricky part is going to be convincing our enemies to lower their standards.

  • The Worlds Scapegoat

    “But one particularly demanding upper-body strength test is climbing a 25-foot rope with a backpack full of gear.”

    I doubt they only have to use their hands which would require a lot of upper body strength. I bet they walk up holding a rope.

    In the Army, our infantry packs weighed around 100 pounds. Very few people would have been able to pull themselves up a rope with 100# strapped to their back, That goes for Ranger and Special Forces as well.


    • AmericanRemnant

      For now, until idiocracy takes over, they are still taught to think, like climb up then haul up your gear.

  • authorizedversion .

    Men will always be better at killing than women.

  • AmericanRemnant

    The lowering of standards, physical, intellectual, social, moral, living, etc, etc, seems to be the mantra of the new culturally enriched America. From Norman Rockwall to Mad Max meets the Planet of the Apes in two generations.

  • dondavy

    After 25 yrs in the Marines, I can tell you from personal experience that combat is NOT “gender neutral”. It is brutal and leaves scars you carry for the rest of your life, some on the inside,some on the outside. It’s not like playing “Call of Duty”, you don’t get a redo.

  • Deacon Blue

    So I will tell you how they will get there first “woman” IOC graduate in the corps.
    Genetically, this “woman” will be a man – one of those “she/he, shim” things but pre-op.
    So this 6’2″, 190lbs., shim who decides to “identify” as female will take the IOC test and
    pass while being genetically and “testicularly” male but will demand to be identified as
    female. Voila! Your first “lady lieutenant infantry officer” for the Marines.

    Wars?!? Combat?!? Oh is that was the service is about? I thought it was about
    diversity, career advancement and “gibs me dats” now? The idea that its referred to
    as “service” because that is what you do for your country is a rare character trait
    these days I am afraid…

    • BlueSonicStreak

      Anyone with a diagnosed gender disorder is actually still banned from the military, but there is heavy pressure to lift the ban.

  • Atheist Realist

    interesting how this was never an issue during WWII. I tend to agree with John Derbyshire that we can’t seem to do anything as a country anymore, much less win a war.

  • Hammerheart

    When delusion meets reality we’re going to have quite a few KIA and WIA Marines on our hands.

  • James Hamilton

    No wonder the Muslims think we are there for the taking.

  • John Smith

    Chicks and twinkies can join the Air Farce or Army – leave the Marines alone. Upper body strength is needed for soldiers to climb over obstacles with a full load of equipment. Women might do it with a rifle and canteen, but never with a load that weighs almost as much as they do.

  • Light from the East

    Gender neutrality means that someone with the same ability regardless of gender is qualified to enter but that does not mean to lower the standard to meet the average performance of a certain group of people. In terms of this case, when you only have few women in the military, that’s normal. But when you have equal number of males and females, that’s a sign of unnatural distorted man-made policy.

  • Danimalius

    Not our military.

  • Raymond Kidwell

    Lowest common denominator. It’s why all my classes in high school were so dumbed down. If the dumbest person couldn’t pass the standards were probably too high. We need mental tests that retards can pass and physical tests that paraplegics can pass. Only then will our standards be up to par in this new enlightened age.

    This is the biggest issue that I have. Rather than race, I think the ever lowering standards across the board threatens our national survival and probably will lead to economic collapse or even military defeat. It’s something that worries me quite a bit. I wonder what kind of genius leaders we have when they fail so epically.

  • Hilis Hatki

    Sounds great! Since the Pentagon is now our local police this should go right along with America’s war on terror.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    This is insane.

    I admit, when I was much younger, I was very pro-women-in-the-military. I did not see a good reason to keep women from serving their country if they so desired. Childishly, I thought that was unfair.

    As I got older, it became clear to me that I was naive about the how much the physiological differences between men and women mattered in terms of meeting the physical standard for combat. It was a painful bullet for me to bite personally, but I think combat readiness and the safety of soldiers is far more important than “equality” in the military. If women cannot physically do the job, the job must be done by men. Lowered standards undermines the effectiveness of the military, and that should not be a controversial position whatsoever.

    Any woman who is truly invested in what is best for the military should have the honesty to agree with this.

    • There’s also a serious psychological aspect.

      • Guest

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Transgenderism is essentially a neurological intersex condition. Its only manifestation IS psychological.

      • BlueSonicStreak

        Wow, ignore that last comment completely. I’m on mobile, and clicked on this thinking it was a reply to something else. Sorry.

  • TheMaskedUnit

    If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God we are doomed. There is no sane reason for this lunacy yet the Bible has no role for the world’s lone superpower.

  • Rossbach

    Equality of opportunity is something that a democratic government may legitimately protect. Equality of outcome cannot be guaranteed except by a totalitarian system of governance. It is quite clear our government’s obsession with advancing the interests of “oppressed” groups at the public expense is driving us in this direction.

  • listenupbub

    I don’t know about your idea that Nordic women are warriors, man…
    You might have been brainwashed by one too many feminist-inspired Disney movies.

  • Jack Frost

    Everyone knows today’s female leaders would be right at home in the midst of yesteryear’s battles for Inchon and Guadalcanal! Hand to hand fighting with trenching tools and facing a Japanese bayonet charge is nothing compared to surviving monthly cramps. Hell yeah I would want to serve my leader by not only shinnying up a mountainside, but hauling her ass up by a rope as well. Now THAT builds morale and unit cohesiveness like nothing else.

  • Louise

    Women need to become warriors against the Military Industrial Complex’s destructive forces against the environment and it’s continuing wasteful oil consumption, instead of yielding to corporate propaganda that combat roles = equality. Since when has war become a progressive issue? Does anyone else smell a corporate rat?