Marine Corps Study: Male Combat Units Safer, More Efficient and Lethal Than Mixed-Gender Units

By Mark Judge | September 11, 2015 | 2:45 PM EDT

A combat Marine in Afghanistan (AP)

According to a study produced by a special task force of the United States Marine Corps, a combat unit comprised of both males and females is a much less effective fighting force than a unit comprised entirely of men.

The study, “The Marine Corps Force Integration Plan,” found that the mixed-gender unit was injured twice as often as an all-male unit, was less accurate with infantry weapons, and was less efficient at removing wounded troops from the battlefield. A summary of the study was released September 10.

The research for the study was conducted over nine months at both Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Twentynine Palms, Calif. 400 Marines, including 100 women, volunteered to join a special unit, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, which was created to evaluate how men and women compare in a combat environment.

All-male ground combat units clearly outperformed mixed-gender units. The study reported the following findings in its summary (bold in the original):

Overall: All-male squads, teams and crews demonstrated higher performance levels on 69% of tasks evaluated (93 of 134) as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews. Gender-integrated teams performed better than their all-male counterparts on (2) events.

Speed All-male squads, regardless of infantry MOS [Military Occupational Specialty], were faster than the gender-integrated squads in each tactical movement. The differences were more pronounced in infantry crew-served weapons specialties that carried the assault load plus the additional weight of crew-served weapons and ammunition.

Lethality: 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. 

Male provisional infantry (those with no formal 03xx school training) had higher hit percentages than the 0311 (school trained) females: M4: 44% vs 28%, M27: 38% vs 25%, M16A4w/M203: 26% vs 15%.

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. 

The military has a January 2016 deadline to open all combat jobs to women, but the services can ask for exceptions to the order.