- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2012

To graduate from boot camp, soldiers must perform 35 pushups and 47 situps and run two miles in at least 16 minutes and 36 seconds — but that’s only for male soldiers.

Female troops are required to do 13 pushups and 43 situps and run two miles in 19 minutes and 42 seconds.

As the Army weighs integrating women into armor and infantry combat positions, the command in charge of soldier training is looking at requiring women to meet the same physical goals as men.

If wartime studies over the past decade are a guide, the Army can expect an increase in injuries and attrition among female soldiers as they seek to match men in strength and endurance.

The Pentagon bans women from direct combat roles, but this year opened 14,000 support jobs that can put female soldiers closer to the front lines on battlefields.

The Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is evaluating whether direct combat units should be open to women, and Army officials have talked of making a decision before the November elections.

The Washington Times asked the training command whether it plans to require women to meet the same physical standards as men if female soldiers begin infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. The command basically said yes.

“In preparation for this potential future decision, TRADOC is starting the long-term process of gathering data to provide the Army decision-makers the information they need to determine the way forward,” the command stated. “That said, an example we currently have would be the Sapper Leader Course, where both female and male soldiers attend. The standards throughout the course are the same for all soldiers who attend.”

The Times earlier this month published a two-part series about two female officers who recently completed the 28-day Sapper combat engineering course.

Since June 2010, women, who make up 2.5 percent of Sapper students, have a graduation rate of 60 percent, compared with 52 percent for men, according to the training command.

The Army’s Ranger School, a 61-day combat leadership course, is still off-limits to female troops. (Ranger School is separate from the 75th Ranger Regiment, the combat special operations unit whose members are classified as Rangers.)

If women were to enter the all-male Ranger School — an option being weighed — they would have to meet physical standards more rigorous than those for men in boot camp.

Would-be Rangers must be able to do at least 49 pushups and 59 situps, run five miles in less than 40 minutes and do six pullups from a dead hang.

Ranger students then face a series of other tests, such as balancing on a beam, crawling across a rope and then dropping 30 feet into water.

The Army’s training command operates Ranger School as a skills-building exercise, and almost all students come from some branch of combat arms. Graduates get to wear a Ranger badge on their uniforms.

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