Ordering Women into the Combat Grinder; 'Gender-Normed' Fitness Standards Would Put Women on the Front Lines

Article excerpt


In a recent editorial cartoon, President Obama is portrayed as a football coach telling a suited-up female player, Good news! We want you on the front lines. Don't laugh. Coach Obama really does intend to send unwilling women into ground combat infantry teams, which face far more violence than pro football.

Under Defense Department mandates, the armed forces are implementing incremental plans to order (not allow ) women into Army and Marine infantry and special operations forces that attack the enemy. Acquiescent generals insist that training standards will be the same for men and women, but the fine-print catch is hidden in plain sight.

Footnotes in a June Marine Corps report to Congress stated that physical fitness and combat fitness Test standards would be gender-neutral with gender-normed scores that account for physiological differences between the genders. In the Marines' new physical fitness test - recently postponed owing to potential risks - women will have to complete three pull-ups. Five more will earn 100 points, but men will have to do 20 to get the same score.

An NFL team could achieve gender diversity in the same way - training energetic, football-savvy female cheerleaders on linebackers' training-facility machines that are adjusted for physiological differences between genders. Cheerleaders would succeed in the gender-normed gym, but on the gridiron battlefield, none would last beyond the referee's first whistle.

Ten spirited female volunteers have attempted the grueling Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va., since 2012. Nine women (and some men) washed out on the first day. A few women reportedly will succeed in a similar experiment at the less-demanding enlisted Marine Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Geiger, N.C., but an information brief stated that gender-normed physical fitness and combat fitness tests would be part of the baseline research.

In January, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey admitted that high standards beyond the abilities of women will be questioned and modified to achieve a critical mass of women in the combat arms. Servicewomen historically have been promoted at rates equal to or faster than men, but this hasn't dissuaded feminists from attacking high, male-oriented standards as barriers to women's careers.

The military can justify gender-specific allowances to improve fitness in basic and entry-level exercises, but not in training for infantry combat, where lives and missions depend on individual strength, endurance, team cohesion and trust for survival. The same elements are needed in Navy riverine units, which engage in land combat from small boats. …