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View Diary: Panetta said to be lifting military's ban on women in combat (147 comments)

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  •  Are the standards relevant? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Gordon20024, lcbo, cocinero

    Timed run, clearly, carrying a heavy pack, clearly.

    Though I know little about combat, I don't think it prominently features pushups.

    •  Pushups may be irrelevant (4+ / 0-)

      but the upper body strength to do an extended elbow crawl certainly isn't.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:35:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So test the elbow crawl. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        askew, DSPS owl

        Or at least something biomechanically similar to it.

        Pushups and pull-ups don't measure generic 'upper body strength' for women, if, in fact, there is any such thing. You can't count how many pushups a woman can do and guess how much weight she can carry or how long she can elbow-crawl or whether she can climb a rope or a wall. Nor can you watch her do any of those things and guess how many pushups she can do.

        The vast and overwhelming majority of healthy, fit women, including the ones successfully serving in non-combat-but-really-combat positions, can do 20-40 pushups and zero to maybe one pull-up. In other words, they fail the male PFT standards so badly that they'd never have made it out of boot camp, if they made it in in the first place. But they don't perform anywhere near that badly on realistic physical challenges. Most of them pass, and some men - men who met the PFT standards - fail.

        I know that's terribly inconvenient. But women are built differently, and so they approach real physical challenges differently. The PFT doesn't give you that option; there's one 'right' form for pushups and pull-ups, and it's the form designed to test men.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:11:57 PM PST

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        •  There are quite likely to actually be times (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Stratton

          particularly in urban combat environments, where a soldier will have to pull themselves up and over a wall or pull themselves up using the hand-rail of a damaged stairwell, ect.

          It's relevant.

          If they start raising any of those standards just to exclude women, that's a problem.

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:42:34 PM PST

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          •  Sure, it's relevant (0+ / 0-)

            whether a soldier can pull herself up over an obstacle.

            Watch a woman actually do that, though, and you'll see that her movements bear almost no resemblance to a pull-up or chin-up.

            Pectoral and bicep strength might be good proxies for men's overall upper body capability, but they're all but irrelevant for women. If you want to know if a woman can climb over a wall, you want to know about her leg, core, and hand strength. Flexibility might be a plus too. Really, though, it's easiest just to see if she can climb over a wall. It's not like the military is short on obstacle courses.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:28:55 PM PST

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    •  The biggest factor in combat surviveability (8+ / 0-)

      is physical fitness. I heard the Army was going to revise the APFT because of the issue you raise... relevance. I got out last year so I only ever did it old school.

      The thing is, an imperfect standard is infinitely better than no standard. I think it's a good idea to revise the test, but whatever they have for men, that's what women need to do if they want that gig.

      There are women who can definitely do this, I served with plenty of women who were absolute PT studs. They tended to be among the more competent soldiers we had, and they should have been brought into combat arms. But they have to meet the standards, whatever they are.

      Again, I'm not talking anatomical differences like height and weight standards. I'm talking about getting from point A to B in X amount of time or moving a certain weight a certain distance. That's what counts.

      My final point in this discussion is that it's largely a myth that there's anything magical about combat arms. It actually is a shitty, thankless job. You can get way better pay and promotion opportunities in medical or intelligence related fields. No one is getting shafted by being left out of the infantry. There are those who prefer it, and they're borderline insane. The infantry, for most, is about the worst job in the Army.

      You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

      by Eric Stratton on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:44:03 PM PST

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    •  pushups build UBS -- upper body strength (1+ / 0-)
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      but they're not the only way to do it, or even the best way.

      Back in the '70s the Air Force overhauled its PT routines and included extra upper body strength building routines for females, specifically.

      They went from having nearly a 20% failure rate on the "confidence course" of first-attempts among females to having a <5% failure rate on first attempt.

      In fact they got it down to about a 2% difference, on first attempt, between male and female BMTS students, IIRC.

      Don't know what they're doing now. I hear USAF BMTS is much more "warrior oriented" now and includes a "hell week".

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:31:55 PM PST

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    •  you said it (0+ / 0-)

      "Though I know little about combat, I don't think it prominently features pushups."

      And that should be the alpha and omega of your input.

      Here is the bottom line - NO test will cover all situations that come up in combat.  NONE.  

      What we have with the Army PT test is an imperfect beats but one that has served us well for a long time.  

      Pushups - Upper body
      Situps - Abdominal
      2 Mile Run - Cardiovascular

      I have taken hundreds of PT tests and administered hundreds more.  I have never seen a truly "in shape" person  - male or female - fail a PT test.  Never.  And I can count on one had the number of times I have seen someone who I looked at and said "no way they pass" actually get a passing score.  Its a good test.  Not a perfect one, but a good one.

      But combat is not a PT test.  Passing a PT test is not an entry into combat.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:48:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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