CAPTAIN LAUREN SERRANO: A study by the Marine Corps revealed that mixed gender combat units performed notably worse and that women suffered staggeringly higher rates of injury. Just one of those statistics showed that mixed gender units took up to 159 percent longer to evacuate a casualty than all-male units. As the wife of a Marine who deploys to combat often, that added time can mean the difference between my husband living or dying. Why were these tangible negative consequences disregarded and how does the integration of women positively enhance the infantry mission and make me and my husband safer?Obama says:
I don't think any of - any studies are going to be disregarded. I think that what we have to do is to take a look at the particular deployments, the particular situations.... [I]f you can't do the job, if there is a problem with performance, then that has to be taken into account. But keep in mind that there are a lot of jobs that are considered combat that don't necessarily involve you being on the front lines going door-to-door in Fallujah.... [T]here may be situations in which [women] could do the best job. It may not involve physical strength or how many pull-ups you can do, it may involve the precision with which you can operate and you being able to keep your cool you being able to carry out a task with a low error rate. And it may be that in those situations, a woman can perform better than a man.Did the Marine Corps study show that there were some things women did better? Or is the idea that individuals who can do these "precision" tasks best will be assigned to them, and some women will fit this group? And then there are physical-strength tasks that just aren't that dangerous, but are technically "combat," and that's also a place where female Marines can be assigned. There really aren't that many female Marines — only 6.8 % of Marines are female — so the point seems to be: Use them properly and the problem is taken care of without the blunt exclusion from combat.
The inclusion is not, Obama says, just "political correctness" or "some symbolic issue." The idea is to use everyone to the extent that they are useful. Except he doesn't say "use." He speaks in terms of giving "opportunities."
I don't want the presumption to be that a woman can't do the job, because I'm looking at you right now and I'm pretty sure that you're in better shape than I am and you can do a lot of stuff I couldn't do. And I don't want you not to have that opportunity.
I agree with you that we can't just out of some ideological notion make it more dangerous for your husband. But I don't want to - I don't want a military, an institution that starts with the premise that women can't do something. If it turns out they can't do something, then we'll deal with that specific situation. But I don't want to start off with that assumption.