A US marine corps study examining how women would perform in ground combat roles showed all-male units broadly outperformed mixed-gender units on everything from reaching targets quickly to firing accurately with heavier weapons.

The results of the study, a summary of which was released by the marine corps this week, could factor into Pentagon deliberations about which roles, if any, should remain off-limits to women. The US military services will soon submit their recommendations to Defense Secretary Ash Carter on the matter.

But navy secretary Ray Mabus has already publicly criticized the study. Mabus told National Public Radio he thought it was flawed, in part because of the mindset of the volunteers who participated.

“It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea and women will never be able to do this. When you start out with that mindset you’re almost presupposing the outcome,” Mabus said in the NPR interview that aired on Friday.

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