Should Women be Allowed to be Marines if They Can't Do Pull-ups?
January 04, 20142 min read
In the United States Marine Corps, both men and women (enlisted and officers) are required to perform a PFT (physical fitness test) semi annually in order to maintain the level of physical fitness that is required by the Marines. The test is composed of three parts although the first of which varies for men and women.
Men, in order to get a perfect score of 300, are required to do 20 pullups, 100 crunches, and run 3 miles in 18 minutes. For a perfect score, women are required to do a flexed arm hang on a pullup bar for 70 seconds, perform 100 crunches, and run three miles in 21 minutes. The scores go down in succession for how many of each exercise you complete and whether your run time was slower. The test hasn't changed much and for many of the "normal" jobs in the Marine Corps the test is the same. When my parents passed through the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Sand Diego and Paris Island they were faced with the same test.
The Marine Corps, however, is composed of many other elite units which have different fitness standards because of the demands placed upon them in their jobs. For instance, MARSOC (Marine Special Operations) which is the Marine's Special Forces places much higher demands on its Marines. It's the same with the Marine Corps Infantry Training Battalion. In order to graduate the school there is a final fitness test. The test is composed of a grueling 12.5 mile march carrying 90 lb packs as well as completing 3 pullups (for the women). Of the fifteen women that started the 59 Day course, 3 passed. According to the Marine Corps Times, "...the women who graduate from infantry training on Thursday will not be assigned to infantry units, nor will they earn an infantry occupational specialty. They will report to their originally slated schoolhouses to earn a non-combat MOS.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps issued a directive in 2012 for the 3 pullups for women and quietly backed out of it after only 3 of the women graduated the infantry school. With the US slowly moving towards having women in combat it has sparked a great deal of controversy. After worrying that the new standards would cost them both current Marines and recruits the new standards were dropped. Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, told NPR that 'young women, in spite of all the training and all the best intentions, are not going to be the equal of young men in terms of upper body strength.' Maginnis goes onto state that combat readiness is being sacrificed on the altar of political readiness.
So while female Marines not serving in the infantry are not required to perform pullups, the question still hangs in the air...should female Marines be allowed to serve in combat if they cannot maintain the proper fitness standards demanded of men? Certainly being able to perform pullups isn't strictly necessary for a desk job...but being in peak physical condition for combat is.
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