4 women graduate Marine Infantry Training, Army again states will not lower standard
Two semi-related articles in the news today. First, four women graduated Marine Infantry training:
The four were among a group of 15 enlisted women who were the first to participate in a Marine Corps study to determine which ground combat jobs should be open to women.
The Marines' enlisted infantry training includes a grueling 20-kilometer hike wearing more than 80 pounds of gear. Seven women began the Oct. 28 hike. Three women and 26 of 246 men did not finish it, the Marines said.
Throughout the infantry training, the women were held to the same standards as men, including performing full pull-ups instead of a flexed-arm hang during the physical fitness test, the Marine Corps Times said.
I did the math on the drop-out rate for "the hike", and for what it is worth, 40% of women dropped out to just over 10% of men. I think that is about what people expected. No one I know ever stated that ALL men are more physically capable that ALL women. The last line is of course good to read, and matches what the Army is saying as well:
The Army’s top officer pledged Monday that the service will not lower physical standards as it works to comply with a Pentagon order to open all military jobs to women, including the infantry and other physically demanding “ground combat” fields.
“Whatever we do, we are not going to lower the standards,” Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told USA Today in an interview Monday. “The standards will be the same.”
Critics have raised concerns that the pressure to open military jobs that are currently closed to women, such as tanks, infantry and special operations, would lead to pressure to change those standards.
This is a good thing, because in a statement earlier in the year, Joint Chief's Chairman Dempsey seemed to be flipping the standard issue somewhat:
“If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”
Again, it's somewhat scary when you use as the basis the fact that less women are passing, and then start changing the standard from that standpoint. Either the standard is important for the MOS, or it isn't. Here's another article that seems like they are waffling on the point, despite the statements above:
The service conducted “proxy tests” this summer, involving 400 females and 400 males at Quantico Marine Base, Va., and at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The tests looked at tasks such as “lifting a tank round and loading it,” Krebs said.
“The data from the performance on those proxy tests will be correlated against the performance of the Marines doing physical fitness and combat fitness test events,” Krebs said.
“And we will kind of see … if a Marine gets a 300 on the PFT and CFT; how well they do on the MOS tasks. So we are looking at that to see … whether or not these physical standards are applicable to these MOSs.
“Depending on what the data says, and what it shows, it will decide whether or not any of the standards for the MOSs need to change.”
As my friend Jonn quipped, "Maybe they can develop a tank round that will meet the weight standards instead of exploring the possibility that females can be trained to the standard."
The American Legion position on the issue is the same one articulated by both the Marines and the Army, and is found in Resolution 139:
RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 28, 29, 30, 2012, That The American Legion strongly believes that the Department of Defense and all branches of the military services must maintain the current physical and mental requirements and qualifications for acceptance into military service that have created the best and most respected military in the world; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the mental and physical qualifications of all military personnel, regardless of gender or age, should be held to a single duty position specific standard depending on Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and not be amended without Congressional authority; and, be it further...
RESOLVED, That The American Legion believes that without such Congressional hearings and oversight there exists the distinct possibility that changes will be made to lessen the current standards or set a double standard, one for men and one for women, for the sake of accommodating personnel for "social experiments," therefore, reducing our nation’s military effectiveness.