WASHINGTON — How many pull-ups does it take to make a female Marine?Only three pull-ups? For a man!!! Gawd, we've got a bunch of weenies signing up. It should be ten pull-ups required. If it takes some training to get to the level of fitness, so be it.
The answer, starting next January: a minimum of three, the same number required of male Marines.
If anyone thought the military’s decision to allow women into combat units would lead to exceptions for women when it came to fitness and physical strength, this is one service’s “gender neutral” answer — or at least part of the answer.
Like the men, women will have to perform the exercises on the Marine Corps’s annual physical fitness test as “dead hang” pull-ups, without the benefit of the momentum from a lower-body swing. Like the men, women can do the pull-ups underhanded or overhanded, as long as their chins break the plane of the bar.
The new requirement replaces the old “flexed arm hang” for women, in place since 1975, which had to be held for a minimum of 15 seconds.
“The physical requirements of female Marines, commensurate with their roles, have increased greatly since 1975,” said Col. Sean D. Gibson, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va. “The pull-up is a better test of muscular strength.”
But the new Marine Corps regulations are just part of a sweeping re-examination of fitness standards in the military that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s announcement last week ending the ban on women in combat only accelerated.
As it stands now, service members face a gantlet of overlapping fitness tests throughout the vast sprawl of the American military, from initial ones that recruits have to pass to annual fitness (and weight) tests to specific physical requirements that must be met for combat jobs.
The Pentagon says it will not lower standards for women, but is nonetheless reviewing the requirements for hundreds of what are called military occupational specialties to see if they actually match up with the demands of each job.
Some combat jobs that might open to women may require them to meet only specific requirements rather than a wide range of fitness standards.
“We’re going to ensure that our tank crewmen are fully capable of removing 50-pound projectiles from the ammunition rack and loading them into the main gun in a sustained manner in a combat situation,” said George Wright, an Army spokesman.
More at that top link. The Army's not changing its "sex-adjusted" standards, so we'll see how this all works out.
RELATED: ICYMI, Phyllis Schlafly, at Human Events, "Panetta's Cowardly Decision."
Plus, from the letters to the editor at the Wall Street Journal, "Battle Over Women in Combat Has Been Won, or Lost."