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This year __ women are graduating from our NROTC unit.

The Navy has the highest


percentage of women out of any service branch at 21% and the Marine Corps has the lowest at
11%. These __ individuals will be joining the other approximately ninety thousand other women
serving active duty in the United States Department of the Navy today. This years graduates,
both male and female, will be entering an exceedingly diverse and inclusive Navy. Our unit has
prepared them to be valuable leaders as our Navy maintains its position as the most powerful in
the world. But, the roles women will play as the Navy and Marine Corps advance remains to be
discerned.
Beginning in the 18th century some women dressed as men to secretly serve the United
States militarily. Women werent officially allowed in the Navy until 1908, and even then only as
nurses. The birthdate of the Navy is October 13th, 1775. Yet until 1908 women had only been
able to celebrate this great occasion as wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters. The progress that
has been made is obvious, one available position in 1908 to almost 80% of positions open to
women in 2015 is an amazing accomplishment. Yet, women in the armed forces will
undoubtedly chip away at that inaccessible 20% until all that remains is overt success. A group of
female marines currently training in the Mojve Desert are doing just that.
A months-long training experiment has been incorporating women into Marine infantry
teams to measure their success. The results wont be released until the summer, and then only to
Marine leadership. These results will guide their recommendations to congress about opening
off-limits roles to women. Attrition rates have been higher among women in the program than
among men; but leadership of the program has clarified that the majority of the one third of
females who are no longer participating have been forced to do so because of injuries. Sergeant
Brown, one of the female participants, cited the hips as a point of contention due to the heavy
packs Marines carry. To combat this she explained that women need to learn how to carry more
weight on their shoulders to avoid injury. Through this observation she raises an important point.
Negative expectations surround the physical capabilities of women in the military. It should be
noted that women have the same upper body strength as men. Still, women may be able to
accomplish the same physical tasks in a different way. A pentagon correspondent reaffirmed this
with a scene he observed at the training experiment, she had to change a 170-pound tire. Now,
rather than use her arms like the guys would, she flopped on her back and used her legs to
actually push this tire into place. The more opportunities women are given to complete the same
physical tasks as men, the more innovative techniques will be developed to increase the
efficiency with which they use their bodies.
The most valuable resource of the United States Department of the Navy is its people.
Each individual has a special skillset which aids our missions and helps us achieve our goals.
However, a portion of our personnel are being underutilized as their talents pertain to positions
off limits to them. No one is asking for an exception. Women across military branches are asking
to be given the opportunity to push their bodies to the limit to better serve their country. Its time
to rebel against the idea that a certain demographic of our personnel is incapable of something.
The word cant isnt anywhere in Honor, Courage, Commitment.