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Nearly half of female soldiers still failing fitness test

(Robin Trimarchi/Ledger-Enquirer via AP)

Some of the training numbers coming out of the United States Army this year aren’t looking as good as we might like and that’s particularly true of our female soldiers. All of the troops are required to pass the Army Combat Fitness Test, requiring the completion of six challenging athletic events. For the past decade or so, the test has been applied equally to both male and female troops. But while all but a small fraction (seven percent) of the males are making the grade, almost half (44%) of the women are failing. This is once again raising questions about whether or not this test is truly suitable for female soldiers and potentially eliminating some otherwise highly qualified candidates. And any honest assessment of this situation should also have us asking why we continue to insist that men and women meet the same physical standards when there are obvious differences between them. (Daily Caller)

Nearly half of female soldiers have failed the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), while only a tiny fraction of their male counterparts fell short of the military standards, a Monday report shows.

The Internal Army figures from April indicate that 44% of women failed the ACFT since its introduction in October 2020, Military.com reported. Conversely, only 7% of male soldiers have not passed the test.

The reported United States Army Forces Command’s (FORSCOM) data also includes 106,000 ACFT results taken since the start of 2021.

You can review all of the details of what the ACFT requires the troops to do at the Army’s website. The test comes in six parts. First, there is a three-repetition deadlift of either 140 pounds for the minimum score or 340 pounds for the highest score. Next comes the “power throw” of a ten-pound medicine ball backward over your head. The minimum distance required to pass is 4.5 meters or roughly fourteen feet. Then there are some pushups, dragging a 140-pound sled, hanging leg tucks, and a timed two-mile run. The only concession made to the women is that they can opt to do a “planking” exercise instead of the leg tucks.

The largest number of women (22%) fail at the run, which is done in full gear and must be completed in 21 minutes to achieve the minimum passing score. Five percent of the men fail that part of the test.

These are simply unacceptable failure rates, but the fault doesn’t lie with the female troops for being out of shape. This is just a really grueling test that was originally designed for young men who are probably among the most fit in the country by the time they finish basic training. The women, while generally in terrific, athletic shape, simply have, on average, significantly less body mass, muscle mass and shorter limbs (which impacts leverage). Expecting them to rise to the same bar seems implicitly wrong, and that’s not some sort of slam against women. It’s just biological science.

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I oppose sending women into combat (because I’m apparently a social dinosaur who is trapped in the past), but there are definitely many valuable roles for women to play in the military. Aside from the ones who sign up for combat roles, is it really necessary to make the rest of them complete this test at the same levels? It just seems as if the bar could be lowered to the point where larger numbers of otherwise completely qualified female troops could pass it.

This entire argument runs parallel to the discussions we’ve had about transgender females competing in women’s sports. There are simply fundamental differences between the two genders in terms of physical abilities and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how we evolved. (Yes, go ahead and throw rotten fruit at me for saying there are two genders. I no longer care.) Our military should be able to recognize this and not make the same sort of mistake. We could be missing out on the service of many qualified, patriotic women who want to volunteer and put on their country’s uniform by demanding that the meet ludicrous standards.

In closing, here’s a video of one of our female troops discussing how to prepare for the ACFT.