AP sources: Marines seek to keep combat jobs closed to women

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Marine Corps: 'Women Worse Than Men in Combat'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The commandant of the Marine Corps has recommended that women be excluded from competing for certain front-line combat jobs, U.S. officials said Friday, as the Corps distanced itself from the other military services that are expected to allow women to serve in battlefield posts.

Officials said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford submitted his recommendation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Thursday. Mabus has made it clear he opposes the proposal from and recommended that women be allowed to compete for any Navy or Marine Corps combat jobs.

The developments have raised questions about whether Mabus can veto the Marine Corps proposal to prohibit women from serving in certain infantry and reconnaissance positions. And it puts Dunford, who takes over next week as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the position of defending an exclusion in his own service that the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command have suggested isn't warranted in theirs.

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AP sources: Marines seek to keep combat jobs closed to women
FORT BENNING, GA - AUGUST 21: Capt. Kristen Griest salutes during the graduation ceremony of the United States Army's Ranger School on August 21, 2015 at Fort Benning, Georgia . Capt. Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the first women ever to successfully complete the U.S. Army's Ranger School. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2015, file photo, U.S. Army First Lt. Shaye Haver, center, and Capt. Kristen Griest, right, pose for photos with other female West Point alumni after an Army Ranger school graduation ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga. Haver and Griest became the first female graduates of the Army's rigorous Ranger School. Their history-making is among the state's top stories of 2015. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas chat as they wait to receive their ranger tabs at Ranger school graduation at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia August 21, 2015. The two pioneering women made history on Friday as they became the first females to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Though Haver and Griest are still not eligible to take part in front-line combat, according to reports, a decision on whether to change that policy could come in the fall.. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas wave to family and friends as they wait to receive their ranger tabs at Ranger school graduation at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia August 21, 2015. The two pioneering women made history on Friday as they became the first females to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Though Haver and Griest are still not eligible to take part in front-line combat, according to reports, a decision on whether to change that policy could come in the fall. REUTERS/Tami Chappell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, center, and Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Conn., left rear, stand as they are recognized for being the first female graduates of the Army's Ranger School, during a luncheon for military women â active-duty service members and veterans, spouses and caregivers â at the Vice President's official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest, left, Maj. Lisa Jaster, center, and First Lt. Shaye Haver, right, pose together after an Army Ranger School graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, who is the first Army Reserve female to graduate the Army's Ranger School, joins Griest and Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Maj. Lisa Jaster, center, embraces First Lt. Shaye Haver, left, and U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest, right, after an Army Ranger School graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, who is the first Army Reserve female to graduate the Army's Ranger School, joins Griest and Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest, left, of Orange, Conn., stands in formation during an Army Ranger School graduation ceremony, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, at Fort Benning, Ga. Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver became the first female soldiers to complete the Army's rigorous school, putting a spotlight on the debate over women in combat. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, speaks with reporters Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, at Fort Benning, Ga., where she was scheduled to graduate Friday from the Army’s elite Ranger School. Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the first two women to complete the notoriously grueling Ranger course, which the Army opened to women this spring as it studies whether to open more combat jobs to female soldiers. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)
U.S. Army Army 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, right, speaks with reporters, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, at Fort Benning, Ga., where she was scheduled to graduate Friday from the Army’s elite Ranger School. Haver and Army Capt. Kristen Griest are the first two women to complete the notoriously grueling Ranger course, which the Army opened to women this spring as it studies whether to open more combat jobs to female soldiers. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)
In this April 26, 2015, photo, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, one of the 20 female soldiers, who is among the 400 students who qualified to start Ranger School, tackles the Darby Queen obstacle course, one of the toughest obstacle courses in U.S. Army training, at Fort Benning, in Ga. Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest are the first women to complete the U.S. Army's grueling Ranger School and were scheduled to graduate Friday, Aug. 21, alongside 94 male soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga., families of the soldiers confirmed Wednesday. (Robin Trimarchi/Ledger-Enquirer via AP)
CLEVELAND, GA - JULY 14: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shaye Haver (L) takes part in mountaineering training during the at the U.S. Army Ranger School on Mount Yonah July 14, 2015 in Cleveland, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. (Photo by Ebony Banks/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, GA - JULY 14: U.S. Army U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest (2nd L) takes part in mountaineering training during the at the U.S. Army Ranger School on Mount Yonah July 14, 2015 in Cleveland, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. (Photo by Yvette Zabala-Garriga/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
FORT BENNING, GA - JUNE 23: U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest (R) participates in an obstacle course as part the training at the U.S. Army Ranger School June 23, 2015 at Fort Benning, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. (Photo by Scott Brooks/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
FORT BENNING, GA - JUNE 28: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shaye Haver (R) participates in an obstacle course as part the training at the U.S. Army Ranger School June 28, 2015 at Fort Benning, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. (Photo by Scott Brooks/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, GA - JULY 14: U.S. Army Soldiers 1st Lt. Shaye Haver (R) takes part in mountaineering training during the at the U.S. Army Ranger School on Mount Yonah July 14, 2015 in Cleveland, Georgia. U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first female soldiers to graduate from Ranger School. (Photo by Ebony Banks/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
In this April 25, 2015, photo, Capt. Kristen Griest, right, talks to another soldier as she waits at Lawson Airfield for the Airborne Assault exercise to begin during U.S. Army's Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. Griest and 1st Lt. Shayne Haver are the first women to complete the grueling Ranger School and were scheduled to graduate Friday, Aug. 21, alongside 94 male soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga., families of the soldiers confirmed Wednesday, Aug. 19. (Robin Trimarchi/Ledger-Enquirer via AP)
In this April 25, 2015, photo, Capt. Kristen Griest waits at Lawson Airfield for the Airborne Assault exercise to begin during U.S. Army's Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. Griest and 1st Lt. Shayne Haver are the first women to complete the grueling Ranger School and were scheduled to graduate Friday, Aug. 21, alongside 94 male soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga., families of the soldiers confirmed Wednesday, Aug. 19. (Robin Trimarchi/Ledger-Enquirer via AP)
A female Ranger students holds a position with her team during an exercise on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Two out of 19 females have made it to the final phase ofArmy Ranger training which ends at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base. Pentagon leaders decided in 2013 to investigate the possibility of opening all military jobs to women. (Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
Army Rangers students carry a zodiac boat into the Yellow River on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. A female Ranger student is pictured (middle left). Two out of 19 females have made it to the final phase of Army Ranger training which ends at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base. Pentagon leaders decided in 2013 to investigate the possibility of opening all military jobs to women. (Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

A female Army Ranger student lifts a rucksack onto her back on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Two out of 19 females have made it to the final phase of Army Ranger training which ends at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base. (Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

Captain Kristen Griest (R) participates in the Darby Queen obstacle course as part of the training at the Ranger Course on Ft. Benning Georgia, June 28, 2015. When two women completed the daunting U.S. Army Ranger school this week they helped end questions about whether women can serve as combat leaders, as the Pentagon is poised to open new roles, including elite Navy SEALs, to women in coming months. Army Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver on Tuesday completed a 62-day course including parachute jumps, helicopter assaults, swamp survival and small unit leadership that earned them a Ranger badge. Picture taken June 28, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Pfc. Ebony Banks/Handout THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

A female Army Ranger student crosses the Yellow River on a rope bridge on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Two out of 19 females have made it to the final phase of Army Ranger training which ends at Camp James E. Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base. Pentagon leaders decided in 2013 to investigate the possibility of opening all military jobs to women. (Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

In this In this Aug. 13, 2013 file photo, U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms Third Class Danielle Hinchliff, left, and Master-at-Arms Third Class Anna Schnatzmeyer, both of Coastal Riverine Squadron 2, train under the watchful eye of instructor Boatswain's Mate Second Class Christopher Johnson, right, while training on a Riverine Assault Boat as they participate in a U.S. Navy Riverine Crewman Course at the Center for Security Forces Learning Site at Camp Lejeune, N.C. As the first two women pass the grueling course to become Army Rangers, the U.S. military services appear poised to allow women to serve in most, if not all, front-line jobs, including as special operations forces, according to several senior officials familiar with the discussions. The decision comes four years after an independent commission recommended opening all combat jobs to women. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
Soldier climbs the Prusik Tower during the 2004 Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Ga., April 24, 2004 (Photo by Russ Bryant/WireImage)
FORT BENNING, UNITED STATES: US Army Rangers demonstrate their patroling at the Ranger Training Bridgade at the US Army Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia 20 December 2002. The Ranger's primary mission is to engage in the close combat direct fire battle. AFP PHOTO/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
397109 16: A U.S. Army Ranger climbs a rope during a demonstration of the elite force November 9, 2001 before a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Rangers have been used in the military actions in Afghanistan. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
397109 14: A U.S. Army Ranger unit goes through its paces during a demonstration of the elite force November 9, 2001 before a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Rangers have been used in the military actions in Afghanistan. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
397109 13: A U.S. Army Ranger unit goes through its paces during a demonstration of the elite force November 9, 2001 before a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Rangers have been used in the military actions in Afghanistan. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
397109 04: A U.S. Army Ranger rappels down a tower during a demonstration of the elite force November 9, 2001 before a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
The winners after the last event, Staff Sergeant Adam Nash and Staff Sergeant Colin Boley from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., April 24, 2004. (Photo by Russ Bryant/WireImage)
Staff Sergeant Adam Nash of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and Team 15, takes a moment to watch his team mate finish the slide for life at Victory Pond During the Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Ga., April 24, 2004. (Photo by Russ Bryant/WireImage)
397109 01: A U.S. Army Ranger slides down a cable as an explosion goes off in the backround during a demonstration of the elite force November 9, 2001 before a graduation ceremony at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
A U.S. Army ranger holds up two Ak-47s that were captured in an assault on a Panamanian Defense Force installation at Rio Hato, north of Panama City, Dec. 21. The boxes contain the weapons. (AP Photo)
U.S. Army rangers take a break on a rooftop during patrols in West Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, April 2, 2005.A car bomb exploded Saturday in central Iraq, killing five people, including four police officers on patrol, while gunmen killed an education official in Baghdad. A U.S. Marine was killed in Ramadi, the military said (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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Officials said Defense Secretary Ash Carter is aware of the dispute and intends to review the Marine plan. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy, so Mabus is secretary of both services.

U.S. officials said they didn't know the details of Dunford's report, but suggested that the Marine Corps believes that mixed-gender units are not as capable as all-male units. So they concluded that allowing women to compete would make the Marine Corps a less efficient fighting machine.

The Marines in the past week have been publicly and privately laying the groundwork for the Corps to maintain the current rule that excludes women from infantry and some ground combat jobs.

The debate has triggered a call for Mabus' resignation from a member of Congress who served in the Marines.

Officials say the Army, Navy and Air Force are expected to allow women to serve in all combat jobs and will not ask Carter for any exceptions. They say that Special Operations Command is also likely to allow women to compete for the most demanding military commando jobs - including the Navy SEALs - though with the knowledge that it may be years before women even try to enter those fields.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mabus on Monday made his position clear.

"I'm not going to ask for an exemption for the Marines, and it's not going to make them any less fighting-effective," he said, adding that the Navy SEALs also will not seek any waivers. "I think they will be a stronger force because a more diverse force is a stronger force. And it will not make them any less lethal."

Mabus' comments angered Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has asked Carter in a letter to demand Mabus' resignation because he "openly disrespected the Marine Corps as an institution, and he insulted the competency of Marines by disregarding their professional judgment, their combat experience and their quality of leadership."

Hunter, who served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Mabus' comments raise questions about whether he can be objective and continue to lead the Marine Corps. He said Mabus should have no role in decisions about women in the Marine Corps.

Under the current process, the service chiefs present their plans to the service secretaries, who will then forward recommendations to Carter. He will make the final decisions by the end of the year.

If Dunford does seek the exception, it puts the new Joint Chiefs chairman at odds with public statements by Carter asserting that anyone, regardless of gender, who meets the standards and requirements for a job should be allowed to do it.

Informing Dunford's decision is the Marine Corps' yearlong study on gender integration. It concluded that, overall, male-only units performed better than gender-integrated units. It found that the male-only infantry units shot more accurately, could carry more weight and move more quickly through specific tactical movements. It also concluded that women had higher injury rates than men, including stress fractures that likely resulted from carrying heavy loads.

The report acknowledged that "female Marines have performed superbly in the combat environments of Iraq and Afghanistan and are fully part of the fabric of a combat-hardened Marine Corps after the longest period of continuous combat operations in the Corps' history."

Mabus, however, told the City Club of Cleveland that while the Marines did a long study of the matter, it relied on averages - such as the average woman can't carry as much or perform as quickly as a man.

"The other way to look at it is we're not looking for average," said Mabus. "There were women that met this standard, and a lot of the things there that women fell a little short in can be remedied by two things: training and leadership."

Women make up less than 8 percent of the Marine Corps, the smallest percentage across the four active-duty services.

The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles, including as Army artillery officers and sailors on Navy submarines. Adding to the debate was the groundbreaking graduation last month of two women in the Army's grueling Ranger course.

In January 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey signed an order wiping away generations of limits on women fighting for their country, ordering a quarter-million positions open regardless of gender. They called for sweeping reviews of the physical requirements for combat jobs and gave the military services until January 2016 to argue if any positions should remain closed to women.

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