by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Current and future U.S. military leaders will face immense pressure to lower standards in the services in order to allow more women to serve in combat roles, a top general recently warned.
Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command and a Marine for 45 years, told reporters on Friday that his “greatest fear” is the easing of the military’s stringent training standards as a result of the new policy of integrating women into combat and infantry posts.
When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the policy change last month, he said standards would not be altered to accommodate more female soldiers in combat positions. “Equal opportunity likely will not mean equal participation by men and women in all specialties,” he said, indicating that smaller numbers of women would likely migrate into combat.
However, Kelly said the disparity between men and women in combat roles would likely not satisfy outside pressure groups, which will continue to press the military to achieve more equality of the sexes by diminishing standards.
“There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles, why aren’t they staying in those other roles?” said Kelly, who is retiring at the end of this month and has also served in Iraq.
“If we don’t change standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any numbers—any real numbers come into the infantry, or the Rangers or the Seals, but that’s their business,” he added.
Whether it’s purchasing equipment or recruiting personnel, Kelly said military leaders should ask: “Does it make us more lethal?”