PT Standards May Lower for Women in Combat

After the mandate in January from the Defense Secretary that both the Army and Marines open many combat jobs to women, the Marines opened up some combat training courses to women and the results have been interesting.

Even though this test phase is scheduled to run until the fall of 2014, there have been some telling statistics. 39 women have volunteered to train with Delta Company at the Infantry Training Battalion with 23 still in the course. The first group, which consists of four women, are expected to graduate on Nov. 21. Women must pass the same physical screening to enter this course as men: 3 pull-ups, 50 crunches in less than 2 minutes, and 3 miles in 28 minutes.

Results of women in the Infantry Officer Course have been much more dramatic. Of the 10 women that volunteered for the course, 9 dropped out during the first day (which consists of the grueling Combat Endurance Test), and the final woman had to drop the course a week in due to an injury. To enter the IOC, women are not required to meet the same physical standards as men but the do have to perform to the same level during the course. The most obvious example of this is pull-ups: to achieve a max score, men must perform 20 while women are not required to perform pull-ups (but if they do, 8 qualify for a max score).

In addition to not equally screening women for success in the IOC (which naturally has a 25% failure rate), many Marine officials are worried that this disparity leads to a much greater chance of injury during the course.

The research phase for women training in the ITB and IOC will remain open until the fall, and the data will then be compiled into recommendations for how the Marines will open up combat jobs in 2016.

It is still unclear whether the PT standards for Marines will change, but currently the Marine Corps says it has no plans to lower the physical requirements for any of the 335 combat-related jobs.

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