By now you’ve heard that Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has publicly announced that the Navy will not ask for any exemptions for women in any combat job including SEALs or the Marines. You’ve also heard all about the Marine’s study demonstrating that women drag down the performance of their units when compared to all-male units. I’m not even going to bother offering a reference link. The information is all over the Internet. You can find it easily.
What I’d like to address is not the idiocy of women in combat positions – that’s self-evident – but, rather, Mabus’ leadership regarding this issue.
The Marines initiated a pretty large and comprehensive field study to examine the ability of women to perform combat tasks. I have to say, I was fairly impressed with the structure of the study and looked forward to seeing the results even though extensive personal experience assured me that the results were a foregone conclusion. Still, hard data is difficult to argue with (unless you’re the SecNav).
Let’s set aside opinions on the wisdom of women in combat and, instead, ask why, if Mabus already had his mind made up, did he allow a therefore meaningless study to proceed? A lot of time, effort, and money went into the study. During this time of constrained budgets that money could have been well spent on a multitude of other things. Instead, Mabus allowed the study to proceed knowing full well that he intended to ignore the results. That’s a colossal waste of resources and an outstanding example of poor leadership. If his mind was already made up (and he’s made no bones about stating that quite clearly), he should have cancelled the study, redirected the money and effort, and moved on.
This is just another in a seemingly endless series of very poor decisions by the highest levels of Navy leadership.