WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps Force Integration Office released the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force research results Sept. 10, 2015.
The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force was created as part of the Marine Corps’ Force Integration Plan to conduct integrated, gender-neutral training in the execution of both individual and collective training tasks within designated ground combat arms occupational specialties.
“The Marine Corps conducted an unprecedented research and assessment plan to fully understand the unique physical requirements and associated performance standards to serve in ground combat arms occupations and units,” said Col. Anne Weinberg, the deputy director of the Marine Corps Force Integration Office.
The GCEITF activated in July 2014 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was comprised of roughly 100 female Marine volunteers, 300 male Marine volunteers and 200 direct assigned Marines, from both active and reserve units throughout the Marine Corps.
The GCEITF command structure was modeled after a Battalion Landing Team, meaning it consisted mostly of infantry Marines, reinforced with combat engineers, artillery, tanks, amphibious assault vehicles and light armored vehicles. A BLT is assigned as the ground combat element for a Marine Expeditionary Unit.
All Marine volunteers, both male and female, were first sent through military occupational specialty schools. Upon completion, the Marines joined the Task Force. For the next four months, the Task Force trained and prepared to perform the tasks required in the research.
“We decided to focus on tasks that are fundamental to all of the combat arms units such as movement under load, accuracy in a live-fire attack, combat vehicle maintenance, and employment of weapon systems and combat vehicles,” said Paul Johnson, the principal investigator of the Marine Corps Force Integration Office.
After those four months, they deployed to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California to perform a three-month assessment in a simulated field environment. From there, all infantry and engineer volunteers went to the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California to perform further assessments in different austere conditions. Meanwhile, the AAV platoon moved to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California for an amphibious operations assessment.
“We took objective measurements, measurements that aren’t subject to human biases, of these Marines’ performance in these tasks to appropriately inform decision makers based on facts,” said Johnson.
The data was gathered using equipment such as the weapons-player pack, which records and attributes shots to shooters in a more realistic environment. It also indicates hits and when a target was missed, where and how close to the target the round impacted.
“The overwhelming result was that all-male units outperformed the integrated units,” said Johnson. “That’s not to say that there weren’t some examples where integrated units outperformed male units.”
The Marine Corps is the first armed service of any nation’s military to conduct a research effort such as this. After spending approximately $36 million on this study, the Force Integration Office will utilize this information to inform the commandant of the Marine Corps on the topic of gender integration. The research results have also helped improve the service standards for how the Marine Corps trains and prepares for combat.
“The standards that we reviewed and validated are all operationally relevant, occupation specific and gender neutral. They will be applied against every male and female Marine serving in all MOSs throughout our Corps,” said Weinberg. “We are extremely grateful and proud of [the Marines’] service and definitely thankful to their contribution to this historic event.”
The Task Force deactivated in July 2015 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The full results of the research is scheduled to be published later this month.