Army chief signals lowering of standards for women in combat

Army chief signals lowering of standards for women in combat


“Does it really have to be that high?”

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, admitted that if women cannot pass the stringent requirements of serving in Combat Arms MOSs (Military Occupational Specialties), then the Armed Forces will have to ask itself if the standards “really have to be that high,” reports

In a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Dempsey was asked this question by NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski:

You indicated that — well, at least it sounds like that there may be certain combat operational forays that women might be excluded from still. I mean, what would be the reasons for that? What sorts of operations?

Dempsey responded:

No, I wouldn’t put it in terms of operations, Jim. What I would say is that, as we look at the requirements for a spectrum of conflict, not just COIN, counterinsurgency, we really need to have standards that apply across all of those.


Importantly, though, 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? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.

Institutional Favoritism Already In Place…

The Marine Corps recently instituted a change to its physical fitness test, the upshot of which is that female Marines will no longer be exempt from performing pull-ups as part. However, in order to receive a perfect score of 100, women are required to only 8 repetitions. Men, in contrast, need to do 20 reps for the same score.

Male and female Marines are both required to perform 100 abdominal “crunches” within 2 minutes to receive a perfect 100 point score. But men must complete the three-mile run 3 minutes faster than women (18 minutes vice 21 minutes) in order to receive a perfect score.

According to Marine Corps Order 6100.13 W/CH 1:

Marines who are not physically fit are a detriment and detract from the combat readiness of their unit.

In a report from the Government Accounting Office, the Army’s physical fitness test also has a gender disparity in favor of women over men:

Because of physiological differences, both the Army’s and the Academy’s physical fitness test standards are different for men and women. For example, to receive ascore of 90 on the push-up event, men must perform 72 push-ups in 2 minutes; women must do 48. To receive a score of 90 in the sit-up event, men must do 82 and women must do 84 in a 2-minute period. To receive a score of 90 on the 2-mile run, men must achieve a time of 12 minutes and 57 seconds; women must achieve the same distance in 15 minutes and 54 seconds.

The Navy also has a marked difference in passing scores for their male vs. female fitness scorings, but what could be described as disturbing, is the amount of body fat allowable within the U.S. Navy:

Male Body Fat Standards:

Age 17 – 39: Max of 22% body fat Age 40 and over: Max of 23% body fat

Female Body Fat Standards:

Age 17 – 39: Max of 33% body fat Age 40 and over: Max of 34% body fat

It’s commonplace in all branches of the Armed Forces for women to outscore men in physical fitness examinations, yet in reality remain physically weaker and thus be promoted ahead of them.

T. Kevin Whiteman

T. Kevin Whiteman

T. Kevin Whiteman is a retired Master Sergeant of Marines. He has written for Examiner, Conservative Firing Line, and other blogs.


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