August 6, 2021

USMC Lowers Standards for Race and Gender ‘Equity’

Reducing training requirements for Marines is an egregious and dangerous error.

The Department of Defense (DOD) leadership is dutifully endorsing the administration’s woke culture’s drive for race and gender-based “equity.” The United States Marine Corps’ senior leaders have proven themselves no less inclined to pile on.

Driven by a self-mandated “Diversity Accession” mission to contract a specific quantity of black, Hispanic, and “Other” officers per annum, the Marine Corps generated 231%, 213%, and 205% increases in the rate of new ethnically diverse second lieutenants (2ndLts) in 2020 than it did 10 years prior for those three ethnic subsets, respectively. Driven by a late Obama-era push for an increase in female officers in combat arms, the Marine Corps has also generated a 161% increase in the annual rate of new female 2ndLts since the Obama administration issued that mandate in 2015.

As one might expect, the rate of white male new 2ndLts has dropped from approximately 60.5% of all new 2ndLts in 2016 to approximately 55.8% in 2021. If one assumes no change in the relative total quality of each new 2ndLt from 2016 to 2021, then that assumes 4.7% of the new 2ndLts in 2016 would not have had a chance to become 2ndLts in 2021 in the name of “diversity.”

Clearly, the Marine Corps’ “Diversity Accession” mission comes at the expense of and discrimination against qualified white males seeking an opportunity to lead Marines and serve their country.

There are obviously outlying factors that contribute to these figures, such as propensity to join among each “diverse” community, selection rates on the Corps’ officer selection boards, and attrition rates at entry-level training. But if standards remain the same at entry-level training, then one would assume the Marine Corps’ newest leaders are still of the same high caliber as they have been in years past, regardless of race or gender.

Shockingly, however, leaders at the Marine Corps’ entry-level officer training institutions want even more diversity, and they are lowering training standards across the board in order to achieve it.

Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS), the first point at which the Corps can weed out the bad apples from among its officer candidates, has dramatically reduced physical fitness standards for graduation. The course used to include three mandatory forced marches under load, and any candidate who failed to complete those hikes would not be permitted to graduate. The commanding officer recently eliminated the longest hike from the course and removed hike completion from the list of graduation requirements. The Obstacle Course, a hallmark of every Marine Officer’s training and once a right of passage for all Marine officers, is no longer a graduation requirement. Neither is the grueling Endurance Course, which begins with the Obstacle Course followed by a three-mile run. OCS leaders indicated that they made the change in 2020 in order to cater to shorter candidates (i.e., female candidates) who may have a harder time getting over tall obstacles. (Ask any female Marine Officer, who undoubtedly beat the Obstacle Course just like any other Marine Officer, what she thinks about the Marine Corps telling her she needs extra help. I doubt she’ll be grateful.)

That means an officer candidate could fail both hikes, fail the Obstacle Course, fail the Endurance Course, and still become a Marine Officer.

New 2ndLts then attend the Basic Officer Course (BOC) at The Basic School (TBS), whose mission is to “Train and educate newly commissioned officers in the high standards of professional knowledge, espirit-de-corps, and leadership to prepare them for duty … with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities, and warfighting skills required of a rifle platoon commander.” The school is unique among the other branches of service in that it is a requirement for all officers, regardless of their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Evidently, however, the “high standards” spoken of in the school’s mission are too high for some. TBS removed the requirement for students to complete the Obstacle Course (the same one that OCS no longer requires to graduate) unassisted in order to graduate, as students under 5'6" (read: females) can now receive assistance to complete the course.

Apparently, having the will to get over a wall, fence, or obstacle in combat without allowing your height to limit you from succeeding is no longer a skill required of a rifle platoon commander. Ask any rifle platoon commander what he or she thinks of that — don’t be surprised when you get hit in the face.

Army Major General John Evans recently said, “We’re trying to encourage our female officers and our officers that are ethnically diverse to choose combat arms branches to provide greater opportunities for them in the long term.” His words, no doubt, demonstrate the Army’s attempt to create more female and ethnically diverse general officers later on down the line. The Marine Corps evidently intends to accomplish the same, only not by “encouraging” its females and ethnically diverse officers to join combat arms, but instead by forcing them to do so. The commanding officer of TBS was recently proscribed diversity quotas for combat arms when assigning an MOS to graduates of the BOC. In other words, females or ethnically diverse officers who have zero desire to become a Combat Arms Officer can now be forced into those career fields based solely upon their gender or the color of their skin.

Pause for effect.

Depressing and utterly unacceptable as these changes are, they pale in comparison to the coup de gras of the Marine Corps’ mediocrity: In an effort to achieve more diversity in the Infantry Officer MOS, which eventually yields more generals in the Corps than any other MOS, TBS has dramatically relaxed graduation standards for the Corps’ infamous Infantry Officer Course (IOC). IOC is designed to forge stoic, hardened, tactically proficient infantry officers with an indomitable will through the rigors of some of the most mentally and physically demanding training in the DOD. That training includes numerous timed hikes under upwards of 150+ pounds of load over distances up to 10 miles in order to emulate the environment in which an Infantry Unit must operate in combat.

Apparently, that training is too hard for the DOD to achieve its diversity quota.

The commanding officer has removed the requirement for students at IOC to pass all of the hikes in order to graduate. Additionally, whereas the course director (a Marine Corps major) used to retain the right to dismiss a student from training for failure, the commanding officer of TBS (a Marine Corps colonel in line for promotion to brigadier general) now retains that right solely. That means a student could fail every single hike at IOC, receive a recommendation to be dismissed from the course by every instructor at the course, and still be forced to graduate by the TBS CO (who you’ll recall has been instructed to reach female and diversity quotas in Combat Arms MOS).

Though none of these figures or information are classified, the Marine Corps is not promoting them publicly. Many Marine officers who are reading this are likely hearing it for the first time, and any enlisted Marines reading it should wonder why the Corps is deliberately lowering the standards of physical and mental toughness (once the Marine Corps’ hallmarks) for its leaders. They made the cut.

As for the “demographic” argument for lowering standards, if the objective is to ensure the military mix looks more like out culture, former Naval intelligence officer Harry Jackson notes: “According to the Rand Corp., Blacks and Hispanics make up roughly 20% of the U.S. population that is eligible to enlist. Yet more than 30% of those enlisted on active duty are black or Hispanic.” Apparently our military should do a better job of recruiting white enlistees. Further, Jackson notes: “There are reasonable standards for joining the military as an officer, which includes a requirement for a four-year degree. Blacks and Hispanics make up roughly 15% of the American population eligible to commission, and about 15% of active-duty officers are black or Hispanic.” He concludes: Under orders from Joe Biden: “[Military leaders] are promoting racial quotas that would upend decades of progress and weaken the force. This divisiveness distracts from the mission, hurts recruiting and sows bitterness. If a war comes, it may be your son or daughter who pays the price.”

As taxpayers, all Americans should ask these questions: Are these decisions making the Marine Corps better? Is the Corps more lethal now? Are its junior officers in its most critical occupational specialties better leaders because of these lower standards? And can we trust the commanding officers of these schools, who deliberately lowered standards for the sake of race and gender, to make ethical, righteous, hard decisions in the future?

Those answers are all clearly “no.” Reducing training requirements for Marines is an egregious and dangerous error.


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