The US Marine Corps has postponed its new physical fitness standard for women because most apparently can’t do three pull-ups.
Male Marines have been required to do at least three pull-ups for many years as part of the Corps’ minimum fitness requirement. As of January 1, females were going to be required to do the same.
Some 55 percent of female boot camp recruits reportedly were unable to do three pull-ups. However, only one percent of the male recruits failed the test.
The now postponed upper-body-strength standard for women is part of the effort to integrate females into front-line ground combat operations as of 2016. The delay was announced on social media in late November but is only now being noticed. Female Marines will be able to continue to do the flexed-armed hang instead of any pull-ups.
According to NPR, Marine officers off-the-record claimed that the Corps “delayed the pull-up requirement to avoid losing not only recruits, but also current female Marines who can’t pass the test.”
The pull-up has traditionally been a demonstration of combat readiness.
“Pull-ups have been used to test Marines’ upper body strength for over 40 years. The ability to pull-up one’s own body weight over a bar shows the upper body strength that, in combat, is needed to lift fallen comrades, pull one’s self over a wall, and carry heavy munitions. Combat Marines also carry a pack that weighs around 90 pounds, with gunners carrying an additional 50 or 60 pounds.”
Responding to the Marine pull-up postponement, military historian and TV analyst Col. Ralph Peters argued, “If you can’t pull yourself up, have the decency to pull yourself out. The military, despite all the post-modern technology, is still essentially physical.”
Perhaps, it can be stipulated that many important jobs in the military don’t require peak conditioning. On the other hand, the military — especially the Marines — should set the example of physical fitness for the rest of us. That being said, is it fair and/or appropriate that there are different fitness requirements for men and women in the military or in the police and fire department?