Corporal Remedios Cruz Could Be The Marine Corps' First Infantrywoman

Illustration for article titled Corporal Remedios Cruz Could Be The Marine Corps First Infantrywoman

Corporal Remedios Cruz, a 24-year-old supply clerk and a graduate of Marine Infantry School is one of half a dozen other female Marines who took part in an experimental program that put men and women together executing combat tasks. Now, with all U.S. military jobs opening up to women, she could be the USMC’s first female Rifleman.

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This short video on the Corporal is well worth watching:

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The path to get to the point of becoming one of the first female Marines potentially destined for the front lines was not an easy one. Marine Corps Times reported the following from an interview with the Corporal:

Her experience taking part in the integration study has given her a new appreciation for what it takes to join the infantry, she said.

“You definitely do have to be physically fit — almost like an athlete,” Cruz said. “You do have to have a good amount of lower body strength for the hikes.”

The long hikes were the toughest part of the training for Cruz. She and the other Marines marched up to 20 kilometers while carrying between 80 and 85 pounds of gear. They trudged through soft sand at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in 100-degree weather.

“There were times where I didn’t think that I could make it to the very end, but I just stuck it out,” she said. “There was no questioning that I would not quit. There was no questioning that I would finish it.”

Cruz and her handful of fellow female Marines who took part in the test are not the only women in the Corps who want to take on a direct combat role. But there is controversy, and it has to do with the specter of lower standards for female applicants. This is obviously a huge deal for any combat unit, especially for one as demanding as what Marine Grunts experience in the field.

Another larger-scale combined-gender combat study occurred this summer that supposedly showed somewhat damning evidence that mixed-gender units fared far poorer in intensive drills than all-male ones. You can read all about this study here and come to your own conclusion as to if it was a fair test or not, one thing is certain though, it looked at the group not the individual.

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Regardless of the results of tests and war games, the times they are a chaingin’ in the USMC, there is no doubt about it. But just like every ethnic or gender barrier that was taken down over centuries long existence of the U.S. military, this one will make the services stronger in the long run, not the other way around.

Still, the Pentagon should be extremely careful when it comes to lowering standards for anyone, male or female. This historic move to finally integrate women into combat roles could be ruined by the Defense Department itself if it does not stick as close as possible to one rubric for everyone. Quotas and other artificial structures should be pushed aside, and an applicant’s total package of skills, physical abilities and experience should be evaluated without gender specification.

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Yes, this means that some women may have a physical disadvantage for certain positions. Yet all this means is that the women who pass the same criteria as male applicants will enter their combat roles on a level playing field and it will deflate arguments against women in combat. This topic is becoming especially contentious among America’s elite special forces, who have the most stringent physical demands in the U.S. armed forces.

A while back, I put the question of women in combat to a recently retired special forces veteran. His response was this:

“Do I think it will be easy for a woman to become a SEAL if she is given no special treatment? Absolutely not. Who knows—it may take years to find the right person that can make it happen. But if it does happen, and it isn’t bullshit, I will be the first in line to buy that chick a beer and I would be surprised if any other team member would have a problem going to work with her by their side.”

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In the meantime, the debate on this issue is roaring away within the Pentagon’s five walls. Just yesterday, one of the USMC’s top Generals bemoaned the process and especially the pressure to lower standards. We will have to wait and see exactly how the Marines will deal with this situation.

As for Corporal Cruz, it sounds like she is one focused, capable and vetted individual, and she wants to fight. Give that woman an M-16 and unleash her on the enemy already!

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Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.

Video Credit: MC Times for. That’s Sgt James Marchetti. Music courtesy of Sgt Travis Greshaneck

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Photo Credit: USMC release

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DISCUSSION

wcdiaz
William Diaz

I am probably the wrong person to comment on anything to do with the Marine Corps, as I am one of those people who would like to see the Marines disbanded as needlessly redundant (as well as hopelessly anachronistic and probably detrimental to overall military function). It is no surprise, given the longstanding history of bigotry, racism and sexism in the Marines that there are Marines both in leadership positions and in the ranks that would piss and moan loudly and publicly about including women, but it disturbs me that you (Tyler Rogoway) would give such unquestioning voice to such nonsense.

What I do know about is infantry combat, serving in jump qualified elite units and what it takes to perform such tasks to high standard and there is no doubt in my mind that there are women serving now and who will serve in the future that will easily qualify and serve in the combat arms with distinction.

Every time there is an increase in the groups able to serve, be it elimination of racial restrictions, disqualification because of sexual orientation or the i9nclusion of women in the service, there are always reactionary fossils that whine and complain about how it will affect ‘unit cohesion’, or ‘reduce standards’ or other such bullshit going all the way back to the segregated, white led ‘colored’ units in the Army back before the Civil War, all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

Our coountry goes through this bullshit on a regular basis, with African Americans being allowed to serve in line units and as pilots during WWII, with the integration (by executive order from Truman) in 1948 (at that time blacks were only allowed to serve in limited capacity in the Navy and Marines), to women being allowed entrance in the Service Academies, to women pilots, to the end of ‘Dont Ask, Dont Tell’ not that long ago, to the inclusion of women in the combat arms now. The complaints have always been the same, they have always been bullshit and the military has overcome each and every single ‘disaster’ predicted by the naysayers so well that even a short span of years later no one can remember what the big deal was and so shall it be this time.

I remember the vast number of people who washed out in airborne training, more than 50% and most of them because they couldnt make the 10 mile run on Monday, or more accurately the hill that was the last mile of the 10 mile run. We had women in my class then and much like their male counterparts, a majority of them were recycled and ultimately dropped out of the course. It was the same in infantry school, although we didnt have such a large wipe out or recycle rates, plus the larger emphasis of getting bloated, fishbelly white civilians in good enough shape to wear the blue of infantry. The Maine Corpse test was flawed from top to bottom (something you didnt mention in your article), because there was a great disparity in the physical conditioning of the women compared to the men. While the men participating were already in the infantry, the women were not and were not given the chance to ‘get up to speed’ before they were thrown into the deep end. That is in large part why there was such a huge drop out rate in airborne school, those of us who came directly from infantry training to jump school had no problem keeping up, but anyone who had been in the service for any length of time or not from an infantry unit had a hell of a time keeping up. But the Marines didnt have much interest in running a fair test, so they would have something to point to, supporting their bigoted, sexist bullshit.

Lastly, the military has ALWAYS had variable standards, even for those serving in the toughest job in the military. The standards that I scored 100% on back when I was 18 are not the same standards I would have to meet today as a 50 year old man (if I was still in uniform). The standards change over time due to the physiological changes that occur in everyone as they age. Top sergeants arent able to run 6'20" miles anymore, nor are they expected to and that isnt why we have them there in the first place, as there are plenty of stupid 18-20 year old troops to do that in their stead. That is the biggest crock of shit, the complaints about ‘lowering standards’, when the military does it all the time due to education, weight requirements, criminal records, physical fitness etc each and every time they have quotas to meet that they cant make otherwise, over and above cutting old guys slack.

African Americans now serve in uniform along side everyone else, women fly planes, they are gay people who can openly serve and now women will get to be cold, hungry, tired, wet and sleep in muddy holes in the ground with us boys. That is called ‘progress’ and in a country that prides itself on civic participation and a volunteer military, it is about goddamn time that we let women contribute to the limits of their capabilities and contribution and cut out the ‘He Man Woman Hater’s Club’ bullshit.

2/505 PIR, H-Minus

Have a great day!