- - Monday, January 26, 2015

It caught my eye, near the bottom of the second page of a recent newspaper. A short article under the “In Brief” section of USA Today was tucked away, almost unnoticeable. The headline read: “Marines Delay Fitness Plan for Women, After Half Fail.” It went on to report that due to that fact that only 45 percent of women in basic training for the Marines in 2013-14 could do the minimum requirement of three pull-ups, the Marine training officials have delayed the minimum pull-up requirements for women training for combat roles.

From my perspective as a woman, the action being taken by the Marines and other service branches is shocking. The article states: “More than half of female Marines in boot camp can’t do three pull-ups, the new minimum standard. So the Corps is delaying the requirement. All service branches are working on devising standards, training and other policies needed to open thousands of combat roles to women in 2016.”

Wait a minute. Our armed forces, without question, are the best in the world. They are the best because they have the highest standards, the most intense training and the most advanced weapons arsenal on the planet. When we prepare women for combat roles in the Marines, it is not fair to them or to anyone to lower the standards in order for them to claim the title of Marine.

It is not in their best interest to allow them “pass” basic training that isn’t basic. If they can’t do the basics, what’s the point? Without the proper training and potential to succeed in the field of battle we are doing them a great dis-service. We are actually putting them at risk in combat.

Facts are facts, and combat is brutal.

Frankly, I find it surprising and almost offensive that the armed forces would lower the minimum standards in an effort to allow more women into combat roles. It is dangerous to those women, and for all those who would serve with them. If the pressure to lower standards in order to allow more women into combat is coming from D.C. politicians, that needs to be addressed as well.

There are many women who can handle the basic requirements and pass the standards as they exist today, and those women deserve to be allowed to join and contribute. But mixing political agendas with military preparedness and strategy is dangerous. Being combat-ready should remain a matter of safety and reality; not equality and open-mindedness.

When it comes to war, incorporating political correctness into training for combat is a recipe for unnecessary injuries, possible fatalities and ultimate failure. Women who sign up for the Marines or any other branch of the military should sign up with full knowledge of what will be required of them, because failure in proper training can lead to failure in battle. No amount of bragging rights about diversity in the ranks is worth failure in a mission or injury to our warriors. If the standards are lowered, what makes the institution elite? If the training is diluted, what gives our troops the confidence that they are prepared for combat?

As I did a little more research, I started to see the potential for wasted money as well. Business Insider reported in 2014 that “training officials will continue to gather data on the issue.” The only problem with this seemingly innocuous statement is that someone will have to be paid to continue to “gather data” on the subject until someone makes a decision. So, while the military is dealing with deep cuts from sequestration, are they actually spending time and money paying personnel to study whether they should lower the minimum training requirements for women? Really?

We have more than 200 years of data showing what is required for our service men and women to achieve success. American armed forces have a long and proud heritage of victory in the field of battle, and everyone knows why they have been so successful: effective, thorough, world-class … training!

If women want to be in combat, then they must step up to the challenges that combat brings. According to Business Weekly’s report, three females have already graduated from the “grueling Marine Corps infantry training course” in which no rules were relaxed or lowered for them. Since the report, there may have possibly been more who have graduated.

The stated requirements for men to get a maximum fitness score is 20 pull-ups, and a maximum score for women is now eight. The fitness requirements are there to ensure that each recruit is prepared to handle battlefield conditions of lifting equipment, transporting wounded comrades and all of the other grueling exertions that battle requires.

If I were a female Marine who had passed or exceeded the minimum training requirements and I was assigned to a unit with someone who had come through a program where those minimums had not been required, I would be very leery about going into battle with those who were required to do less.

Lowering physical standards to allow more females into combat roles is nothing short of insulting, not to mention dangerous.

Let’s keep our military strong by allowing women to join in upholding our long tradition of excellence. Perhaps fewer women will make it through training, but isn’t that the point?

By keeping our forces elite and strong we will build on the successes we have achieved. I’m “Just Sayin’,” keeping the standards high for males and females across the board will continue to keep them what they should be, “the few” and “the proud.” May God bless, protect and defend all those who serve in uniform. We are forever in their debt.

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