This chica doesn’t care about the woke politics. She cares about NOT bringing soldiers home in a box. And she’s not afraid to roast some sacred cows in the process.
When the Army replaced traditional fitness requirement testing with a ‘gender neutral’ fitness test last year, there was a massive gender-specific split between the success rate of men and women. Seven percent of men could not meet the Army standards, compared to 54 percent of women.
There are two ways someone could react to this disparity. They could look for ways to lift women to a higher degree of success in that completion, or they can move the goalposts. Guess what the Army under Joe Biden has decided to do?
They dropped the difficulty for women so that women would be better able to complete requirements and advance in rank. For example, women can elect to do a plank instead of a leg tuck for testing core strength, even though a plank tests somewhat different things than the tuck does.
(Whether women who identify as men still get to apply the female requirements was not made clear.)
How important that change is would depend mostly on what real-world situations those requirements are designed to test for… which is where the Infantry officer enters the picture.
Capt. Kristen Griest, 32 wrote an in-depth piece for Modern War describing her concerns about real-world consequences of adopting these concessions.
If you click through, you will see her make the case that reducing the requirements to accommodate lower physical performance will cause more harm than good. In fact, the title includes the phrase ‘LOWERING FITNESS STANDARDS TO ACCOMMODATE WOMEN WILL HURT THE ARMY—AND WOMEN’.
She begins with a description of just how much the requirements might be degraded without a meaningful minimum standard. Ten pushups in 2 minutes, or two miles in 21 minutes, or deadlifting 140 pounds 3 times were not written as parody. This is exactly how the race to the bottom and devaluation of standards so that we don’t offend anyone always works.
But we’re not talking about the work requirements for yoga instructors. These are soldiers who will (presumably) face hostile forces who wish to do them harm.
She outlines some real-world consequences. Derailed training, lower moral, potentially catastrophic consequences in combat.
Indeed, the presence of just a handful of individuals who cannot run two miles faster than twenty-one minutes has the potential to derail a training exercise, not to mention an actual combat patrol. Entire companies of 130 soldiers will be forced to frequently halt operations in order to medically evacuate the ill-prepared as they succumb to fatigue and injury. Missions will be delayed and other soldiers will be overburdened with the weight of their unfit teammates’ equipment. This scenario is inconvenient and bad for morale during a training exercise; in combat it could be deadly. Instead of addressing the issue of having some soldiers insufficiently prepared for the physical rigors of combat, which sparked the APFT’s revision in the first place, a gender-based ACFT in combat arms will normalize it and make it unmanageable. It is wholly unethical to allow the standards of the nation’s premiere fighting units to degrade so badly, just to accommodate the lowest-performing soldiers.
Instead, Captain Griest took a different angle, setting female soldiers up for successful completion. After all, the barrier to completion is often a single exercise often one with which the soldier is unfamiliar.
Challenging women to improve their performance so that they can rise to reasonable standards is far better for both the individual and the unit — and carries the positive benefits that any other kind of self-mastery and achievement bring with it.
Captain Griest has the can-do attitude that made America great in the first place.
Let’s hope our military holds tight to that attitude and passes it along to future generations.
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