A senior Defense Department official said the ban on women in combat should be lifted because the military's goal is "to provide a level, gender-neutral playing field." I'd like to think the goal of the military should be to have the toughest, meanest fighting force possible. But let's look at "gender-neutral playing field."
The Army's physical fitness test in basic training is a three-event physical performance test used to assess endurance. The minimum requirement for 17- to 21-year-old males is 35 pushups, 47 situps and a two-mile run in 16 minutes, 36 seconds or less. For females of the same age, the minimum requirement is 13 pushups, 47 situps and a 19:42 two-mile run. Why the difference in fitness requirements? "USMC Women in the Service Restrictions Review" found that women, on average, have 20 percent lower aerobic power, 40 percent lower muscle strength, 47 percent less lifting strength and 26 percent slower marching speed than men.
William Gregor, professor of social sciences at the Army's Command and General Staff College, reports that in tests of aerobic capacity, the records show, only 74 of 8,385 Reserve Officers' Training Corps women attained the level of the lowest 16 percent of men. The "fight load" -- the gear an infantryman carries on patrol -- is 35 percent of the average man's body weight but 50 percent of the average Army woman's weight. In his examination of physical fitness test results from the ROTC, dating back to 1992, and 74,000 records of male and female commissioned officers, only 2.9 percent of women were able to attain the men's average pushup ability and time in the two-mile run.
In a January report titled "Defense Department 'Diversity' Push for Women in Land Combat" Elaine Donnelly, director of the Center for Military Readiness, points to U.S. Army studies showing that women are twice as likely to suffer injuries and are three times more undeployable than men. Women are less likely to be able to march under load -- 12.4 miles in five hours with an 83-pound assault load -- and to be able to crawl, sprint, negotiate obstacles with that load or move a casualty weighing 165 pounds or more while carrying that load. Plus, there are muscle-challenging feats, even for men, such as field repairs on an M1A1 Abrams tank.