A year ago, Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, a lean, leathery, intense woman who’d had one key assignment after the next, took charge of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, the Marines’ East Coast female-recruit training battalion. This unit had, for decades, accepted the idea that women needn’t achieve to men’s standards. She didn’t have any illusions about what women could and couldn’t do, but she also knew that “the soft bigotry of low expectations” was not the way to make Marines out of her young women.
And so she changed things. Boy howdy, did she change things. Things that had been accepted for decades in the unit — like female Marine recruits far underperforming males in rifle qualification. Germano was on solid ground here. Any experienced trainer can tell you women can compete shot-for-shot with their male counterparts on any flat range, and the Marines have made the flat, known-distance range the foundation stone of their world-renowned reputation for riflery.
She didn’t cut failing recruits slack. She didn’t cut her officers any slack. And she didn’t cut herself any slack, either. She treated everyone the same — like adults. Professionals. Marines.
As you might expect, some recruits and Marines thrived under Germano’s set-the-standard-and-meet-the-standard leadership. And some didn’t.
And the women that didn’t were resentful.
And the resentful women, unable to face Germano and perform at Marine levels, took a passive-aggressive approach. Whispering. Conniving. And ultimately, back-stabbing.
To the delight of the women who want being a woman in the Marines to be a free ride of lower standards, Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, the CG of Parris Island, relieved Germano for cause on 30 Jun 2015. Williams cited a “hostile, unprofessional and abusive” command climate, by which he meant, Germano’s insistence on high standards and the uncomfortable spotlight she shone on those Marines who fell short of her standards — or didn’t try.
“What she did when she came is she changed the mentality of the Marines in the battalion and the recruits to not expect a historically lower performance than the male recruits at the battalion,” said a female Marine officer stationed at the depot, one of three who spoke with Marine Corps Times on condition of anonymity, for fear of professional retribution. “Almost all the categories performed better during her tenure, just by challenging the training protocol of performing separately.”
Many of the Marines in the training battalion were happy with the old, lower standards and with the old command that accepted underperforming recruits as “good enough” for women.
“I thought she proposed some good initiatives such as transparency in billet selections and improving rifle range scores,” the Marine [one of the subordinates selected for a survey meant to “get” Germano] wrote. “However, as the summer wore in, it became apparent that [Germano] thought she was fixing a broken battalion with a poor command climate.”
Germano’s reputation suffered due to a lack of buy-in to her reform efforts from other officers in the unit, said another officer who spoke with the paper.
“Lt. Col. Germano is direct, and people have a tendency to take it personally,” she said. “If it had come from a male officer, there would have been no objection.”
Gee, that’s almost a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that there are sex-linked cognitive and behavioral differences that need to be taken into account when leading Marines, or anybody else, for that matter. Can’t have that!
Another Parris Island officer who supported Germano’s fight to address unit personnel shortfalls said the unit was better for having her as a commanding officer.
“The battalion was headed in the right direction under Lt. Col. Germano,” the officer said. “She meant well. She was very passionate for what she did and believed in.”
There is more information, although it’s rather haphazardly organized, in the story at the Marine Corps Times. The particular thing that seemed to have been used by Germano’s subordinate officers to bring her down was her straying from the current politically dictated Party Line on sexual assault in the services.
On one occasion, the investigation found, she made comments during a sexual assault prevention brief that female Marines interpreted as victim-blaming, leading some to testify that it would make them feel less comfortable reporting a sexual assault within the command.
Blaming victims? Quel horreur! What did this horrible woman actually say — if our sensitive ears can hear the words?
Allegations that Germano took a “victim-blaming” approach to sexual assault prevention stem from a January brief to officers. Witnesses said she implied that sexual assault is “100 percent preventable” and that “by drinking, you are putting yourself in a position to be sexually assaulted.” One attendee said she would not feel comfortable reporting an assault following the brief because she felt it would not be taken seriously.
Got that? Tell the young women you’re supposed to be mentoring that they make it easy for the approximately 100% of men that are horny dogs by getting drunk and sloppy, and you’re “victim-blaming.” Hey, today’s young women Marine officers are the product of today’s university hook-up culture, where when you discover the morning after that you settled for a guy a few rungs further down the appeal market than you would have gone sober, so you call rape on him. (Unless any of them are from Columbia, where you call rape on the guy who wouldn’t sleep with you, and then make a production out of carrying a mattress around to get your 15 minutes of tramp fame).
“Stay sober, keep your wits about you” = “victim-blaming.” Lord love a duck.
In addition to crucifying her for that common-sense advice, something we would hope every father and mother tells their daughters (and sons!), Germano, we are not making this up, “reinforced gender bias and stereotypes” by telling her Marines that they needed to compete on a level playing field with the men, not set themselves a comfortable, easy, lower standard. Thus, her relief is a big win for double standards in the USMC. (One of Germano’s “unreasonable” standards was for her Marines to break an 8-minute mile in the 3-mile run, not exactly Olympian performance. And to do more than the previous commander’s pull-up standard: zero).
The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, a cabal of professional DOD race-and-sex-quota grievance-mongers, were called in by the dissidents’ sponsors in the command to carry out a survey of the battalion — a survey taken by only 64 Marines, who self-selected for the opportunity to “get” Germano.
The new commander is already returning the unit to comfortable lower standards on runs and ruck-marches, and the new boss brings in the new pull-up minimum, same as the old minimum: zero. With Germano gone, the women that thrived under her leadership are the next round of targets for career assassination. But one legacy may survive: the recruits of the 4th may still be expected to shoot as well as, well, Marines.
The great irony here is that Germano is hardly some old-style, anti-feminist, warrior for the cismale gendernormative patriarchy (that would be us). She’s a fully PC post-sex “gender”-wise social justice warrior, a former officer aid to Secretary (“Let’s have fewer ships and name them for more inconsequential people!”) Ray Mabus. She was one of them, for crying out loud.
As she sits trying to figure out what life after the Marine Corps is going to look like, muttering, “They turned on me! I was one of them!” let her consider the fate of “one of them.”
What did become of Trotsky? Of Robespierre? The Revolution never loses its interest in you.
On looking back at this story, we see that we quoted Hope Hodge Seck’s article in the Marine Corps Times extensively in this piece, without linking it. Her article is the source of the block-quotes inline above. We regret the oversight; it’s our policy always to link the sources we quote from inasmuch as possible.