- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The U.S. Military Academy is entering a new era: All female cadets are required to box.

One of the nation’s most prestigious training grounds for military leaders has opened up the boxing ring to women for the first time. West Point officials say the decision clears one more hurdle to full integration of women into the institution.

“At first I was kind of upset, but now I’m getting into it,” class of 2020 cadet DeAdre Harvey told The Washington Post. “Hitting is not something I want to do necessarily, hand to hand, like, if I don’t have to.”

Brig. Gen. Diana M. Holland, the first female commandant of cadets, told the newspaper that she welcomes the decision, given that it was tough for her to explain why she wasn’t afforded the same training as men in the 1980s.

“The issue is men and women doing the same thing,” Brig. Gen. Holland said. “Now, whether boxing should be a requirement for anybody is a different discussion.”

Training bouts will pit women against women and men against men in two-minute intervals. This year’s class has roughly 1,000 cadets.

The Post asked officers about criticism by The New York Times in September 2015 that nearly one in five trainees suffer concussions while boxing.

“These are men and women who are signing up to get shot at. So, to me, boxing is part of the overall what you’re signing up to do for service, and being able to defend yourself and overcome fear,” Brig. Gen. Holland said.

Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent and top military officer at West Point, concurred.

“Some people would say, ‘Well, can you teach cadets those skills — that tenacity and resilience — through other programs and other mechanisms?’” he said. “Yes, you can. But boxing becomes the … one and only event for all cadets that pits one cadet against another in full-body contact.”

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