Defense Chief Panetta to Clear Women for Combat Roles


Of course he does.  He is leaving in February, so the damage will be in his wake.  And the Democrats will gain big points from the far-left “DACOWITS uber alles” crowd.

“We are moving in the direction of women as infantry soldiers,” one senior defense official said.

No comment from the hordes of female volunteers who have successfully met the standard at the USMC Infantry Officers’ Course.

A few other things need to happen immediately.  Beginning tomorrow morning.  (Pardon if this is Marine Corps-centric, as the Corps is my service and its standards are the ones I shall address.)

As of 0001 on 24 January 2013:

All Marines must do a minimum of 3 pullups, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, and run 3 miles in under 28 minutes, and score a minimum of 135 on the formerly-male Physical Fitness Test.    That  means that pull-ups are five points apiece for everybody, and the run time score is one point for every ten seconds over 18 minutes.   (Hint, you have to do considerably more than the minimum on at least two areas to pass, with the minimum score for each being listed above.)

Any Marines unable to pass the PFT will be placed on remedial physical fitness IAW MCO 6100.3, regardless of rank or gender.   PFT failures will be annotated in directed comments on those Marines’ fitness reports.   Promotion and assignment eligibility will be contingent on meeting the standard.

On the Combat Fitness Test, all Marines must conform to the formerly male standards, including the Movement to Contact, which will require a time of 4:13 or under for Marines aged 26 and below, the lift of the 30-pound ammo can for a minimum of 33 reps, with 91 being maximum, and Maneuver Under Fire time of 3:58 and under.  All other formerly male age-specific scoring will apply.   CFT failures will be annotated in directed comments on those Marines’ fitness reports.   Promotion and assignment eligibility will be contingent on meeting the standard.

All Marines will adhere to the formerly-male body fat percentage requirements.   Marines ages 18-26 will ALL have a maximum body fat percentage of 18%.   Any Marine, regardless of gender, who exceeds that percentage (and it is graduated to a maximum of 21% for Marines over age 46) will be given the 60 day notification period, and then the 60 day caution period, IAW MCO 6100.3.  Failure to adhere to body fat standards will be annotated in directed comments on those Marines’ fitness reports.  Promotion and assignment eligibility will be contingent on meeting the standard.

All Marines, regardless of assignment, will be required to complete the annual MCCRE 25-mile, 8 hour conditioning march with 55 pounds of required march-order, plus organic Marine-portable unit equipment.

155 projo


I doubt any of that will happen, of course.   Because that kind of equality, rather than the “equality” loaded with special considerations that so many push for, would thin the ranks of female Marines dramatically.   Instead, Panetta’s policy, like so many these days from the People’s Defense Commissariat, is about political grandstanding and not combat effectiveness or warfighting proficiency.    I am sure the glowing appraisals of how all this works out are already being written, talking points for “impromptu” interviews and Commanders’ assessments scripted carefully.

Of course, any problems or failures that may possibly be encountered will be blamestormed in the direction of sexual harassment, hidebound chauvinism,  discrimination, lack of “fairness”, or lack of “vision” on the part of those who might not nod enthusiastically enough.  Certainly the problems won’t be attributed to the notion that mixed-gender combat arms units is as horrendously unwise now as it was fifty years ago, and will be fifty years hence.   Not a chance of that.

“In fact, it’s important to remember that in recent wars that lacked any true front lines, thousands of women already spent their days in combat situations serving side-by-side with their fellow male servicemembers,” said Murray, who heads the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Which is, of course, precisely the same as being in the Infantry or Artillery or Armor, where the MISSION of the unit is to “locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel his (or her, apparently) assault by fire and close combat.”

Whatever, I am sure it will work out fine.  Just like in the movies.  Where chicks kick ass all the time.

The move came at the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the sources said.

Why doesn’t that make me feel better?   “Three bags full”.

Note:  I have been very clear in my opinions that female Marines should be trained for combat.  The Marine Corps has done so for a very long time, and done so successfully.  I have served next to female Marines in combat.  But combat incidental to other missions is NOT the same as that of units in combat arms.   Despite the strident assertions of those whose interests are in furthering a special interest group instead of preparing for war.


34 thoughts on “Defense Chief Panetta to Clear Women for Combat Roles”

  1. URR, the only thing I might take issue with is the body fat % standard. If memory serves, women naturally have a slightly higher average percentage than men, even when physically fit.
    As for the rest, gofer it. I expect we’ll be seeing more “female equivalent” standards this year. :-/

    1. Casey, if they are going to be the same, they are going to be the same. All of it applies. Every last bit of it. No exceptions.

    2. Come on, you and I both know there is a difference between “same” and “equal”. If there weren’t the body fat percentages wouldn’t be adjusted for age.

      What needs to happen is the combat arms need to look at which tests measure fitness and which tests measure abilities necessary in combat. The former should be scaled to account for the different physiology of women, the latter should be defended by the specific skill and why the standard is set where it is.

      For example (all numbers are ex recto for sake of discussion), a fit male can run two miles in 18 minutes, a fit woman can run two miles in 22 minutes. That test should be scaled on fitness. If combat experience shows infantry need to be able to cover 100 yards in 15 seconds, that test should be gender neutral. But you need to be able to justify that standard with something more than “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

    3. While I agree on the body fat issue, I don’t agree on scaling for the rest of the standards. It seems like the standards I place ave worked and have a nearing on the individual’s ability to operate as part of a unit. If women are allowed in who can’t keep pace, then the unit has either move slower or lose people in the field who can’t keep up.

  2. M1A1, we, and you, know, quite well in fact, why. They are children in adult bodies who want what they want and will make everyone else pay the price for what they want. They are the people that are really waging war on women.

  3. as a bit of a sideways questions to all this, are there actually that many women who wish to be in the direct combat arms of the military? if so, i don’t see there being an issue with keeping the current standards for fitness etc, and if they are good / fit enough then ok. [one thinks of the scary lady gunner in aliens … !]. i have read, for instance, that when they reduced the physical standards in the uk police to allow more women front-line constables, it resulted in more overall injuries and also more constables (-> resources) having to deal with incidents as the women couldn’t deal on their own.

    1. Elizzar,

      Aliens is a movie. Combat tends to be somewhat different from how Hollywood portrays it.

    2. ultimaratioregis – very aware of that 😉 … i meant it as a bit of a silly example.
      the only female i’ve met who served on the frontlines was a senior medic, and she was all about the healing people, not the killing. i would still be interested in any idea of the actual interest / numbers of women wanting to serve on the frontline, i know it is generalising terribly but women tend (not all, but most) to be less disposed to combat / violence as a primary role (as opposed to secondary defending themselves or others in the course of their duties ).

  4. Jeff,

    This policy change has nothing to do with what you and I both know, nor with any objective common sense. Therefore, if a man must have 18% body fat or below to be a Marine, then a woman must, too. Because if a woman can be a Marine with 26% body fat, so can a man.

    We do have tests that measure fitness and abilities necessary in combat. Those tests are cited in the post. No separate standards for physiology, not any. A pull-up is a pull-up and a mile is a mile. An ALICE pack with two belts of 7.62 and two mortar rounds on top of full march order and spare batteries doesn’t weigh any less because of gender. A howitzer spade is a howitzer spade, and a track pad is a track pad.

    Anything else is selective equality in the finest Patsy Schroeder mode.

    1. You’re confusing test *metrics* with test *results*. Things like pull-ups, pushups, and run time are metrics, which are fed into an algorithm to get a fairly binary result of fit/not fit (I imagine the Marines, like the Navy, further divide the fit category). In order for a woman to meet the metrics for men she would need a much higher level of fitness. You aren’t fostering equality, you’re trying to establish a Jim Crow system to keep women out of combat. Not only is it going to fail, it will backfire. Attempts like your will cause the powers that be to view all testing as a means of excluding women, resulting in a lowering of standards that will put women unable to hack combat on the front lines.

      This is happening, if you had any brains you knew this was inevitable. Our immediate goal should not be to keep women out of combat, but to mitigate any damage they might cause. To that end we need to ensure that women are held to the same standard of fitness (through tests with different sets of metrics for each gender) and the same base abilities (through task-specific tests whose metrics are gender-neutral).

      Unless, that is, you can tell me how the ability to do pull-ups or run in PT gear relates (aside from general fitness) to combat abilities.

    2. I have to back URR, he is correct, the weights and muscular force needed to do certain combat jobs will not change, and to change the requirements expected of the troops will only wind up with people getting killed in the name of a failed experiment. Anyone with experience in the Surface Navy will tell you stories of females not able to handle DC equipment, and even worse, of young sailors of both genders finding new uses for paint lockers and other storage spaces. This is a bad idea from the get-go, and only exists to make the Left feel good about themselves. The erosion of the Fleet, the Corps, the Army and the AF are minor considerations in comparison to the feeling of the Left.

  5. elizzar,

    I knew you were having a little fun! 🙂 Doesn’t seem to be a massive surge of volunteers for Infantry Officers’ Course. The only two so far lasted a single day.

  6. I’m all for it!
    Nothing like seeing a bunch of women, girls and feminist humping 85 lb Rucks over broken terrain while being shot at, shelled and wading through mud and blood just like a man has to do.
    Sometimes it’s good when the liberals and feminist get what they wish for women besides themselves.
    I want to see the look on their faces when the women infantry falls flat on their faces and beg to please let them go back to regular non infantry jobs.
    I don’t want to see them show up after a mass casualty attack on a woman infantry unit leads to mass rape and executions by throat cutting all captured by enemy video’s and state, “what difference does it make” As the woman Secretary of State recently said while explaining how she got four American’s killed and blamed a youtube video on the reason when she knew GD well it was a planned attack.
    These folks make up their rules using their ideology then when it goes to shit run away and blame someone or something else for the loss.
    But they don’t lose a thing themselves.

  7. To be indelicate, only the “gender questionable at birth” or “butch’s” will be able to hang. I would love to read up on the IDF template on how they deal with the gender integration issue as they tend to be held up as the perfection of that endeavour. When it comes to pulling triggers, pins, etc. anything will do but how would that apply if one had to carry all that eminates from pulled triggers etc. on an emergency retrograde operation over a distance of miles with bad guys chasing all the way. A simple test, have female mechanics break a track with TM standards and that should be a reasonable “gateway” test. I’m all about females being in uniform, but there has to be reasonableness in that project.

  8. Jeff, I dunno how to explain it to you, but wrong is wrong. Agreeing to it on the grounds that one can mitigate damage from the evil or ignorant put people in the dock at Nuremberg. No, not “test-specific metrics”. The Marine Corps has physical standards, and if women want to be serving every place men do, in the same jobs, then they meet the established standard, and nothing less. How does “general fitness” equate to combat? Endurance? Upper body strength? Scaling a wall. A 20km movement to contact with all your crap on your back. Loading and unloading ammunition. Digging in the spades or trails of a howitzer. Breaking track. They don’t make “female-sized” HE rounds or track pads. And 20km is 20km, and they will need to keep up or die. It ain’t a training ground. No, we should NOT begin to develop endless physical “metrics” on top of what we already have, so we can accommodate weaker and slower people. We have a physical fitness test and a combat fitness test. Pack the gear and get moving or pack your shit and get going. Same standard, which is what has been set already.

    1. The Marines may resist, but they’re going to get caught up in this mess as well. So far all the standards have been loose for women, while the men have been held to them. Not so far in the Marines, but I think their time is coming.

      Frankly, any country that deliberately exposes women to combat is a barbaric country unworthy of defense.

    2. So why are you insisting that women be held to a higher standard of general fitness than men?

      1. A higher standard of fitness depends solely upon how you measure fitness. Two men might achieve identical PFT scores, but due to lifestyles, one may be considerably more fit than another. But by the standards of the service, they’re equally fit.

        If a more realistic measurement of fitness is humping an 85 pound rucksack for 20km, followed by digging in, should we gender norm that?

    3. Xbrad, to answer your question: no. The issue is that things like body fat, run times, and number of situps aren’t actually the standards. The standard is a cerian level of fitness. But since there isn’t a Fit-O-meter we can stand on and get their level of fitness we have to run them through a battery of tests and use those metrics in addition to factors such as age and gender to figure out their fitness.

      The case of real world skills tests is different. There you aren’t measuring a parameter of the individual, you are measuring an individual’s ability to perform specific actions at a certain level of efficiency. That’s different from general fitness, which the USMC recognizes. That’s why there is a general fitness test and a combat fitness test.

  9. If that is the standard of fitness needed to do the job (and I agree with xbrad that there are many ways to measure fitness, but for the sake of this discussion we’ll stick to the USMC ddefinition) then women should be held to it. That means a higher maximum body fat % and longer run times. Nobody seems to have an issue with modifying the standards due to the physiological changes that come with age, so why is there so much opposition to modifying the standards to account for the physiological differences due to gender? Or do you think a 45 year old Marine should have 18% body fat?

  10. Fitness is the “in between war” method of relatively ensuring the Armed Forces that when war comes you can do your actual job. Fitness is relative to military duties, reality is “manning” a position, or moving to contact (man-packing associated gear) to perform military duties.

  11. Sorry, Jeff. A 100-pound pack is 100 pounds. A 95 pound 4sq weight projectile is 95 pounds. A fighting hole is a fighting hole. 20 km is 20 km. And they are especially so after weeks without enough sleep or proper nutrition. And any of that is BEFORE you close with the enemy. Which may occur at any time.

    The “fitness” argument is specious. You either can or you cannot perform to the same standards. The measures of physical fitness and combat fitness have been established. Why an age differential? Because there are age limits on ranks and on duties assigned. None of it is perfect, but the idea that we can have some sliding set of subjective “fitness” standards as a way to feel better about the weaker and the slower doesn’t cut it.

    1. And if the USMC physical fitness test involves any of those I will eat my Dixie cup. If you want to test the ability to perform a 20km road march with a 100lb pack and dig in, give the candidate a 100lb pack and tell them you will see them a dozen miles down the road. You keep throwing around these absolute measurements, but they appear nowhere in the test. Yes, you can correlate PFT scores to combat abilities, if you assume the subject is male. That assumption is no longer valid. There are no fitness standards for female combat Marines. You can either recalibrate by taking a group of female Marines with varying fitness levels, run them through a battery of combat skills tests and see how fitness scores correlate to combat ability, or you can establish a test battery of actual skills (road marches, digging in, etc.) and apply gender neutral standards.

  12. You say that PFT scores and CFT scores are only valid for males, and I think that is BS. The “fitness standard” is for Marines. Period. They want to be in all MOS, then they conform to the standard. No exceptions. No separate standard. That you want great additional effort to create a combat fitness test above what is already a combat fitness test so that weaker and slower Marines will score better is telling.

    By the way, what is the MCCRE standard for forced marching? Start eating.

    1. No, I’m saying the correlation between PFT scores and combat ability is only valid for males. There isn’t one standard for fitness, there are four. You say that jobs are age limited, but do regulation really forbid 46 year olds from combat? What about 27 year olds? They can be weaker, fatter, and slower than the standards you listed originally. Would you be ok with a woman in combat if she could beat a 33 year old male? Of course not, you are opposed to women in combat. Fine, to tell you the truth I’m not too keen on it myself. But you are attempting to use the mythical idea of a combat standard to keep women out. It’s not going to work. I’m mostly on you side and can see that it is bullshit. The only thing it is going to do is completely discredit the idea of gender neutral testing, meaning women who cannot hack it will end up in combat and get themselves and their teammates killed. Never forget that the enemy gets a vote.

    2. Oh, and are you confused about the difference between PFT and CRE? That might explain this entire argument.

  13. Are there other valid reasons for the restriction than physical? There are indeed. Myriad. But I haven’t raised those here.

    As for your absolutely tortured attempt to justify some sort of additional “fitness” testing by claiming that the standards in MCO P6100 and in the MCCRE are somehow NOT standards, I dunno what to tell you. If there is to be no distinction, there is to be no distinction. That is what the people pushing so hard for this claim. Then let it be, have them meet the standard. It will narrow the pool of eligibility quite dramatically.

    1. The numbers given in the instructions aren’t the standards. The standard is a certain level of physical fitness. That’s why there are multple sets of numbers, because for a given level of fitness things like cardiovascular capacity, muscle strength, and body fat are going to depend on age and gender. And those parameters get even further abstracted into run times, pull-up/push-up/sit-up speed, and height-weight/neck-waist measurements. It’s not terribly accurate or precise, but it seems to be good enough. The CRE is less abstract in that it tests abilities actually used in combat, so I think it should be pass/fail with one set of numbers. But they shouldn’t be the 18-26 male numbers. At the very least they should be the 46+ male numbers. Up to now the USMC has said people with that level of speed and endurance are combat ready and presumably won’t get people killed.

      1. No, the numbers given in the instructions ARE the standards. The goal, the purpose is a certain level of fitness.

        I’m surprised a nuke would use such imprecise terminology.

        1. I am using precise terminology. If you have eight sets of numbers you don’t have standards, you have an algorithm to determine if your metrics meet the standard.

  14. Let’s try an analogy.

    The speedometer on your car doesn’t measure how fast you are going, it measures the time between the sensor on the driveshaft passing the pickup. From that it calculates the rotational speed of the driveshaft and from there the linear speed of the car, that calculation is a function of driveshaft diameter, differential gear ratios, and tire OD. It’s pretty straightforward since those parameters usually don’t change.

    The situation with current PFT scoring is analogous to replacing posted speed limits with a chart of maximum driveshaft RPM’s. URR’s plan would be to hold all cars to the lowest driveshaft RPM standard. After all, they all want to do the same job on the same road. Never mind that a standard that would keep a lifted F-250 safe would make a Smart car undriveable (damn clown shoes are undriveable anyway, but that’s off-topic).

  15. Numbers, tests calculations!
    The question is, Will your women infantry survive a Battle of Pelilui type conditions as well as any man and still win?
    If the answer is no then drop the idea.
    If the answer is yes then please demonstrate.

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