Marine Corps Commandant Irate at Order to Integrate Women into Boot Camp

By Jonah Bennett Published on January 18, 2016

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus reportedly infuriated Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller when he ordered him to integrate women into the all-male boot camp.

Neller apparently immediately requested a personal meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter when the order came through, Marine Corps Times reports.

The reason for the meeting was because Mabus sent a surprise memo to Neller Jan. 1, which is the exact day when Neller had to submit a plan to Carter showing how the Marine Corps would open all job titles to women.

Mabus’ memo gave Neller until Jan. 15 to produce an additional plan on how the service intended to integrate women into the previously all-male boot camp, as well as Officer Candidates School. Segregation by sex is no longer allowed. Marine Corps leadership is widely disillusioned by the switch, and according to Marine Corps Times, some insiders don’t believe that the service will fully cooperate and make the boot camp completely coed.

The idea of women in combat has functioned as a tremendous source of friction between the Marine Corps and the Navy, as well as the Pentagon. Every step of the way Mabus has reiterated that nothing will stop him from reshaping the Marine Corps to line up with gender-neutral norms. Certainly, the pioneering Marine Corps study looking at the differences between men and women in combat did not at all paint a favorable picture of female performance, but Mabus infamously trashed the study, much to the disappointment of Sergeant Maj. Justin LeHew, who was involved in running study.

LeHew insisted that the men who ran the study were “the most progressive and open minded you could get.”

This effort has included a proposal to restructure job titles in the Marine Corps, in order to remove the word “man.”

Some job titles may remain exempt if they are compound words, like “infantryman” or “rifleman,” but others will have to be changed to reflect Mabus’ priorities. During his time as Secretary of the Navy, Mabus has also pioneered policy shifts to encourage more women to join. Back in May 2015, Mabus gave a speech at the Naval Academy discussing expansions to maternity leave and career intermissions. He increased the amount of maternity leave by three times and also included more child care hours, in an effort to boost female retention.

Despite the changes, women still don’t seem satisfied.

“The younger generation [of women] are like, it’s just not worth it for me to stay in,” an anonymous O-5 helicopter pilot said, according to Marine Corps Times. “If I want to start a family, I’m never going to make rank, I’m never going to be treated the same.”


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