In 2013, the US military lifted its ban on women serving in combat. Shortly after, the Marine Corps began what it calls an “unprecedented research effort” to understand the impact of gender integration on its combat forces. That took the form of a year-long experiment called the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, in which 400 Marines—100 of them female—trained for combat together and then undertook a simulated deployment, with every facet of their experience measured and scrutinized.
All branches of the military are facing a January 1, 2016, deadline to open all combat roles to women. The Marine Corps is using this experiment to decide whether to request exceptions to that mandate.The Corps’ summary of the experiment, posted online today by NPR, concludes that combat teams were less effective when they included women.
Overall, the report says, all-male teams and crews outperformed mixed-gender ones on 93 out of 134 tasks evaluated. All-male teams were universally faster “in each tactical movement.” On “lethality,” the report says:
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.
Read more: qz.com