What It Takes To Be A Marine – WASHINGTON – New physical standards established to allow women to compete for combat positions in the Marine Corps have drawn out many female hopefuls. But they are also disqualifying some men, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.
Over the past five months, 6 out of 7 female recruits — and 40 out of about 1,500 male recruits — failed the new routine of pull-ups, ammunition-can lifts, 3-mile runs and combat maneuvers. According to the data, proceed with training for combat jobs.
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The tests, which take about 45 days for basic training, are forced upon recruits who fail other, less physically demanding sea jobs. And that, the Marine commandant says, is strengthening the corps.
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The high failure rate for women, however, raises questions about how well integration might work with Marine infantry units where troops routinely slog for miles carrying packs containing artillery and ammunition and must be able to scale walls at any moment, dig in and fight in close quarters.
The new standards are a product of the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to compete for front-line jobs, including infantry, artillery and other combat positions. But Marine leaders say the screening of less physically strong Marines — both men and women — is having a wider impact.
“I think it makes everybody better,” Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Naylor told the AP in his first in-depth interview on the subject. “We’re trying to raise everybody’s bar a little bit and we’re trying to figure out how to get closer to each other, because at the end of the day we’re all going to be on the battlefield and we all need to be able to. To do our job.”
Marine Corps leaders initially balked at allowing women into certain infantry, reconnaissance and combat engineer jobs, with studies showing that mixed-gender units did not perform as well as male-only units. But Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered that all combat jobs be open to women.
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The Marines have developed a detailed progression of physical standards that must be met by recruits to move into combat jobs. And officials insisted standards would not be lowered to allow more women to pass.
The results highlight the difficulties faced by women. Almost 86 percent of women failed these tests, compared to less than 3 percent of men.
Before the standardized test existed, 40 men would have gone to combat jobs, where they would have been unproductive members of their units, a Marine Corps analysis said. Naylor said the overall quality of the force will improve as time goes on.
The small success rate for women presents additional challenges if only one or two qualify for combat jobs in previously male-only units.
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If two women qualify, they will be placed in a combat unit together. But, if only one qualifies, she will be placed in a unit with men trained at the school. The Marine Corps said the men must have seen her go through training and knew she did as well or better than them.
The Marines will also place one female officer and one female senior designated leader in combat units. In the early days, they were often women who held non-combat jobs — such as intelligence or logistics officers. And they will be required to pass a physical fitness test to be eligible to serve in that combat unit.
Naylor said this will be an adjustment for Marines with women in previously all-male units. “I think a lot of the talk is more maybe they’re nervous about the unknown,” he said. “But there are things we have to get through.”
Naylor, a career infantryman, didn’t see many female Marines in his unit as he rose through the ranks. He had seen women in administrative or supply jobs in his early assignments as military police and female marines in Panama. But it was while in Iraq that she saw female Marines on the battlefield for the first time.
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While it may be difficult for some, “If you can lift weights and you can work, and you’re smart and you’re a good leader and you’re a person of character and quality and set a good example. , people will follow you,” he said during an interview in his Pentagon office. “I don’t care who you are.”
Marine fitness tests become progressively more difficult. Recruits interested in combat arms jobs are required to pass a more rigorous physical fitness test that includes pull-ups, crunches, a 1.5-mile run and an ammunition-can lift than those seeking other Marine positions. And as they progress through training, the tests become more difficult and complex, requiring them to qualify for specific infantry, artillery, and other jobs.
“I have a lot of respect for him as a pioneer in this field.” Naylor said. “If they can compete with everyone else and hang in there, I think it will all go away.”
Recruits must pass a set of new physical standards to enter combat jobs that were put in place as part of a move to allow women to compete for front-line posts.
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Classification Standard Test for Combat Jobs. Recruits must pass this test between 55-60 days of basic training to go into combat duty:
Maneuver under fire test in 3:12 minutes including belly crawl, carrying ammunition, casualty evacuation, grenade throwing
Combat Job Specific Testing: To obtain a specific infantry, armor, reconnaissance, combat engineer, or other combat job, recruits must also complete tests unique to each post. Some examples include:
Run 200 meters through an agility course in 1:45 minutes, while wearing a fighting load and carrying a rifle and 60 mm mortar. At home last summer, Landon VanHoos already knows.
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Vanhoose, a senior at Unioto High School who attends the Pickaway-Ross Career Tech Center for Criminal Justice is a future Marine. He will be shipped out in June where he will endure 13 weeks of boot camp before heading out for more training to become a Marine Corps Security Forces guard.
But until then, he’s a pooly—a guy who signed up to be a Marine but hasn’t been to basic training.
PFC Adena High School graduate Jacob McCown just returned from boot camp on Friday. So Cpl. Cameron Davis, of Jackson, graduated in 2015 and has been stationed in Hawaii ever since.
Discipline, motivation, purpose, and brotherhood are all Marine Corps values, but they are also four elements to changing the lives of these young men.
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Before the Marines, Davis said he had no direction in life. He was not a good student, not reliable and could not see the present. After speaking with recruiters from each branch of the military, Davis found that Marine recruiters seemed to genuinely care about him and his goals.
“It [the Marines] was just a better fit, it was more hands-on,” he said. “They followed more than I did.”
McCown’s Marine experience is similar. After spending a year and a half at Northwestern Ohio University studying dieselmechanics, McCown realized college wasn’t for him. He worked for a year but not much was going on. He sat with Staff Sgt. Robert Ferguson, a recruiter, and discussed his options and found that it would be a good fit.
Although VanHoos isn’t a Marine yet, the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) he’s in has helped him focus on school and other important things.
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When Ferguson talks to new recruits, the first focus is on their goals, aspirations and where they want to see themselves. It is not unusual for him to interact with people looking for a way to pay for their education or earn a salary. But deep down, according to Ferguson, everyone has a real reason for what they’re doing.
According to Ferguson, the overall process is a misconception. Talking to recruiters can take anywhere from two weeks to two months. But he believes that army is a viable option for anyone.
For the men, the role the recruiter played in their journey was essential. In their experience, recruiters like Ferguson didn’t treat them as another number or body enlisted. He checked in, made sure they lived and were in school, and offered ways to raise their grades. They are guided through workouts and training that will prepare them for boot camp and teach them the value of being a Marine.
For Ferguson, new recruits become members of the family when they join the Pooley function. Be it a friend, uncle, brother or father figure, he is ready to play any role a person needs.
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“For me, it’s not just about the job,” he said. “My ultimate goal in everything I do is to help people succeed and, essentially, make their lives better.”
After the pools complete the DEP, they leave
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