In upcoming training events, Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, Colo., is set to study the question of whether women are capable of meeting the physical requirements necessary for integration into all combat occupations, Military.com reports.
Since 2013, around 1,000 troops have already been tested at eight different locations. This latest study, termed the “Soldier 2020 Physical Demands Study,” will take approximately two weeks and includes a sample of 100 subjects returning from Afghanistan.
Maj. Rich Jones for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command is responsible for the study, and the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine is chipping in resources to help. As far as Jones is concerned, if women are capable of meeting the required physical standards, then they’re welcome into male-only occupations in the military.
“It’s interesting to perform and see whether I’m able to do what the males do,” Spc. Angelica Pena said, when asked about the difficult nature of the tests.
Researchers will record detailed information about strength, dexterity, participants’ heart rates, and other metrics pointing to exertion levels, in order to make the study as rigorous as possible, which for now is examining occupations in artillery, army, cavalry, and infantry. Some of the tasks include long marches while saddled with additional weight and loading weapons under time.
“Really it comes down to a person’s physical characteristic,” research physiologist Jan Redmond told Fox 21 News. “I am reluctant to say it is a gender thing but it’s more a person’s physical characteristics.”
In other parts of the military, much stronger steps have been taken to integrate women. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in November announced a deadline of about a year and a half for allowing women into the seven male-only roles left in the Air Force. So far, 99% of positions in the Air Force are open to the 59,100 women in the service, but James argues that anyone capable of achieving the standards should have the chance to choose any available role.
According to outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, opening up these positions is “the right thing to do,” though he reaffirmed that standards will remain the same. Earlier this month, the Army announced that it was opening up the two-month Ranger School at Fort Benning to women, which is part of the overall effort to see if combat arms occupations should be available to women.
Results from the study at Fort Carson will decide the standard for future physical tests. One of the side-benefits from further study will be the development of tests which predict physical aptitude in the Army.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.