Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Marine women weigh in on combat limits

SUMMARY: Gretel Kovach speaks to six women in ground combat units within the Marine Corps about their experiences with mixed-gender integration. First Lieutenant Alice Klarkowski was ordered to join the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), a close air support unit where she was the first and only woman for a significant period of time. Klarkowski recounts her challenges with breast-feeding, feminine hygiene and the ‘disruption’ of maternity leave on the unit. She is also seemingly opposed to opening up combat positions to women, as her time in a Liones team in Iraq was disrupted when another female Marine became pregnant, and Klarkowski had to “pick up the slack at work.” Lieutenant Colonel Lee Rush commands the 1st Tank Battalion, and only worked with women for the first time in 2014 after 23 years of service saying, “I do my best to never speak of my Marines as male or female.” Many female Marines seem to also prefer ignoring gender, for example, First Lieutenant Isis Culver claims, “if you don’t come in with a chip on your shoulder and you don’t make a big deal of being a female in a male unit, you will be just fine.” The cohesion of Marine units is considered to be built and formed during the “grueling conditions and long hours in the field” together, regardless of gender.

SOURCE: Gretel Kovach, July 25 2015, ‘Marine Women Challenge Combat Limits Ahead of Pentagon Decision,’ Sandiego Union Tribune,

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