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By Jim Michaels
Copyright USA Today
QUANTICO, Va – . – The Marine Corps plans to establish an experimental force consisting of at least 25 percent women in the most far-reaching effort yet to determine how females will perform in ground combat jobs that remain closed to them.
It is the first effort to place women directly into such jobs, though the unit will not be deployed overseas and will be used exclusively to gather data. The unit will, however, undergo extensive training that mirrors what a typical Marine task force would undergo before being deployed overseas.
The Pentagon last year ordered the armed forces to open all combat jobs to women by 2016. Since then, the services have focused most of their efforts on developing the exact physical standards required for combat arms jobs, partly to be used to screen applicants.
The Marine Corps, the most male-oriented of the services, has taken the research a step further in an effort to see how women will perform over sustained periods in jobs such as the infantry, which require above average physical strength and stamina.
“We really want to get at answering that question and we need to do that by simulating an operational environment,” said Marine Brig. Gen. George Smith, who is leading Marine Corps efforts to study the integration of women into ground combat specialties.