House lawmakers have requested a briefing by the Marine Corps on its recent study showing that female Marines were less capable than their male counterparts, as the Pentagon is preparing to open all combat jobs to women.
"We're going to be looking into it in the Armed Services Committee," said Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired Air Force colonel and the first female to fly in combat.
“We will be gathering folks together who have been part of that study and having a briefing on it soon,” Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, said Thursday.
The military services have until the end of September to submit any requests to Defense Secretary Ash Carter to keep a combat job closed to women, along with data supporting their requests.
A summary of a Marine Corps study, released last week, said females in an experimental mixed-gender unit were slower, shot less accurately and were injured more frequently than the males in the unit.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who is also the service secretary for the Marine Corps, has blasted the study as biased. Participants of the study, including female Marines, fired back at the secretary, telling the Washington Post the secretary threw them "under the bus."
McSally said lawmakers have not seen the full study, which has not been released yet, but that she has similar concerns to Mabus.
"I echo some concerns by the secretary of the Navy related to, 'Do we take a bunch of combat trained men and a bunch of non-combat trained support women and put them together, and just wonder how they're going to do?’ ” said McSally.
"You can study anything and get the results you might be looking for, or have some flawed assumptions in how you're setting it up. And so we want to make sure we understand where the study was and what the results are from it, and then what to conclude from it," she said.
McSally and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Army National Guard captain, on Thursday introduced a resolution congratulating the first two female graduates of the Army's Ranger School.
The resolution is supported by all female members of the House Armed Services Committee, and a companion resolution has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and supported by every female senator.
- Updated at 3:55 p.m.