Men and Women and “Real Combat Arms”

 

In 2017, the United States Army rolled out a new objective physical standard test to determine eligibility for different job classifications, what the Army calls “military occupational specialties (MOS).” The four-event Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) applies to recruits and to soldiers seeking to change MOS. The test standards are not scaled for age or sex—the raw performance metric determines your physical suitability for groups of specialties. Another six-event test is being rolled out as a periodic test of physical readiness for deployment, also neutral on scoring and possibly with minimum scores per specialty. All of this intersects with the policy disputes over male-only specialties and men and women working together.

This is in compliance with the 1994 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). No, that is not a typo. Back in the early 1990s, there was great contention over the presence of women in traditionally male military specialties. Young officers, commissioned into Air Defense Artillery (ADA) in 1986, and trained as Patriot officers, had fired some of the first shots in anger in the first Gulf War, answering Saddam’s Scud missiles with Patriot missiles, cued by software hastily modified to detect and respond to this threat inside a limited engagement envelope.

It should not have been news that women could operate missile firing controls as well as men. Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men. Yet, it was disconcerting to many for various reasons.

Now, there was talk of opening further assignments to women. Could this be done without placing our national security at risk? Unfortunately, we had a history of bad faith claims by exclusively white senior military officers, who had lied through their teeth about the performance of African-American combat veterans and their suitability for high status, heroic, military specialties like the infantry and armor. These white men had been especially vehement about excluding black men from the officer corps. So in the 1990s any male senior officers who might testify with chests full of medals, in support of claims that women were unsuited to join their club, would face legitimate skepticism.

Congress responded by putting language into the 1994 NDAA that covered both sides’ bases. The services were invited to establish objective physical standards for various jobs, provided that the standards were gender-neutral, not differential.

SEC. 543. GENDER-NEUTRAL OCCUPATIONAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS.

(a) GENDER NEUTRALITY REQUIREMENT.—In the case of any military occupational career field that is open to both male and female members of the Armed Forces, the Secretary of Defense—

(1) shall ensure that qualification of members of the Armed Forces for, and continuance of members of the Armed Forces in, that occupational career field is evaluated on the basis of common, relevant performance standards, without differential standards or evaluation on the basis of gender;

(2) may not use any gender quota, goal, or ceiling except as specifically authorized by law; and

(3) may not change an occupational performance standard for the purpose of increasing or decreasing the number of women in that occupational career field.

(b) REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO USE OF SPECIFIC PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS.—(1) For any military occupational specialty for which the Secretary of Defense determines that specific physical requirements for muscular strength and endurance and cardiovascular capacity are essential to the performance of duties, the Secretary shall prescribe specific physical requirements for members in that specialty and shall ensure (in the case of an occupational specialty that is open to both male and female members of the Armed Forces) that those requirements are applied on a gender-neutral basis.

(2) Whenever the Secretary establishes or revises a physical requirement for an occupational specialty, a member serving in that occupational specialty when the new requirement becomes effective, who is otherwise considered to be a satisfactory performer, shall be provided a reasonable period, as determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, to meet the standard established by the new requirement. During that period, the new physical requirement may not be used to disqualify the member from continued service in that specialty.

(c) NOTICE TO CONGRESS OF CHANGES.—Whenever the Secretary of Defense proposes to implement changes to the occupational standards for a military occupational field that are expected to result in an increase, or in a decrease, of at least 10 percent in the number of female members of the Armed Forces who enter, or are assigned to, that occupational field, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report providing notice of the change and the justification and rationale for the change. Such changes may then be implemented only after the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date on which such report is submitted.

[emphasis added]

The Army did not take Congress up on the offer, made in 1994, until 2017. That is, they did not get past concept testing to actual testing of new entrants until that year. Here is how the Army explained the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT):

Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.

Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.

The events are standing broad jump, seated power throw, strength deadlift, and interval aerobic run. You can read further on each OPAT event in an Army Times article. This test is not the same as a physical fitness test given to all soldiers in their units annually or semiannually.

The wheels are also in motion to replace the venerable three-event Army Physical Fitness Test (push-ups, sit-ups, two-mile run) with a much more equipment-dependent test. The new six-event Army Combat Fitness Test will be gender- and age- neutral, unlike the APFT which grades by different scales for age groups in all events, and scores men and women differently on push-ups and the two-mile run. Naturally, the Army has a cool ACFT homepage with illustrations, videos, and apps. A test phase manual suggests that, like the entry qualification test, the ACFT will set minimum scores based on MOS, depending on the level of physical demand of the specialty.

So, for the “heavy” physical demand category, the draft standard is a minimum of: three reps 180-pound deadlift, 8.5-meter power throw, 30 release technique push-ups, two-minute, nine-second sprint-drag-carry, five leg tucks, then run two miles in 18:00. These push-ups require you to dip all the way down, then lift your hands and reset before pushing up again, harder than the current continuous effort form.

Mens’ Work? A View to the Politics of Position

Going back to the mid-1980s, with President Ronald Reagan’s military rebuilding program near completion, the All-Volunteer Force made tentative moves to open more specialties to women. The sticking point was “combat,” more specifically “direct combat.”

This poorly conceptualized term assumed a linear battlefield, with a “front line” facing most of the risk, and risk diminishing with distance from this line. Never mind that everyones’ doctrine and weaponry had evolved to rain precision or lethal chemical fires first onto certain high-value targets in the “rear” areas.

Indeed, it was a recognition of such a risk that sparked the first software refinement of the Patriot Air Defense Artillery (ADA) system to recognize and fire in self-defense against certain Soviet missiles. These missiles were expected to carry chemical warheads to neutralize this new advanced killer of high-performance jet aircraft. This was a real three-dimensional chess match, with air and ground-based pieces.

My female Officer Basic Course classmates went to those units, while I rattled around in a Vietnam-era M113, leading short range, line of sight, ADA soldiers, all of us male. Not that I minded, indeed it was a much healthier organizational and political culture, because we were not operating at the NATO strategic (so political) level. If we had a rough training exercise, we just had to regroup and show improvement in the next iteration.

The big missile set was reputed to be led, to use a term loosely, by a general who flew around with a spare captain and lieutenant. It was said he would swoop down on a hilltop, get out, relieve the captain and senior lieutenant on the Patriot site, then kick the spares out of the helicopter, telling them he’d be back in a week and they had better be passing every drill. On the other hand, in the event of World War III, the lieutenants in the “front line” were alleged to have an estimated 24-hour life-expectancy. Thankfully the powers-that-be never decided to do it live.

Instead, Saddam Hussein started something he wasn’t prepared to finish. In the first Gulf War, the rough and tough all-male short-range ADA units never got to shoot at enemy helicopters or jets. It was an all-Patriot battalion show for ADA.

This only foreshadowed the larger change in the threat environment, with enemy aircraft becoming the prey of Air Force pilots, and ADA withering in much of its capacity, while rapidly growing its missile defense muscles. It was in that context that I watched the following vignette play out one Friday in the very early 1990s.

I had come back stateside, from commanding another all-male battery (think company) in Korea. The 2nd Infantry Division was our nation’s trip-wire but determined not to be just a speed bump if the Original Kim decided to go out with one last grab for glory. It was tough but satisfying duty, generally, training with a clearly focussed purpose. That duty in Korea coincided with Desert Storm.

After back-to-back overseas assignments, I was ready for a nice stateside post. It was also time for this young captain to pay his dues on a staff. I was blessed to be assigned to an operations section with a near military genius leading us. This made for great learning, satisfying duty, and less stress, usually.

On Friday afternoons, at least once a month, it was customary for the brigade’s officers to all go to the bar at the Officers’ Club at the end of the duty day. This venerable tradition was “Officers’ Call.” You were expected to show up, even if you just had a soda and paid your respects around.

As a brigade staff officer, I was not part of the battalions’ clusters. And clusters they were, junior officers of each gathered around their majors. Everyone wore the same Battle Dress Uniform, the old BDU woodland camouflage. One of the battalions had the big missiles, so was gender-integrated. Another battalion was of the towed, short range, smaller missile sort, and so was still all-male.

In the early 1990s, officers were very worried that if they had not gotten a combat patch, the visible token that they had been to the big show, they were doomed to fall short of their patched peers. This is long before 2001, and people largely believed we would not have another significantly sized combat deployment in many years.

Now the smaller missile unit male major had no patch, and the bigger missile unit female major did. The male major had entered the military with no female peers in his branch. The female major would have had to transfer over when the branch opened. The male major, a good-looking fellow, was also fond of referring to his own wife as “the pick of the litter.”

One Friday afternoon, I found myself positioned between the two battalion clusters. Naturally, as a good staff officer, I observed our units. The combat-patched female major, was having a good time with her officers and a cold beer by the dart board. The male major with no patch had his foot up on the bar rail, drink in hand, when he loudly proclaimed to the young men around him:

Of course, we know who the real combat arms unit is!

Yup. Major “Married to the Pick of the Litter” Little Missile was setting his young officers up for not so subtle resentment and career failure. At best it was a weak organizational-rivalry jibe, weakened by the universally understood subtext of cold mid-career fear. The man was hooked, well past the halfway mark to retirement eligibility. He would have to sweat making lieutenant colonel, and then fear he just wouldn’t get a good command, prerequisite to a bid for colonel’s eagles.

Jumbled up in that career anxiety was his sense of self, his concept of manhood, challenged by the presence of a peer who was female—with a coveted combat patch, and a Harley, if I recall.

Over the decades since then, I’ve seen my share of interpersonal dramas in units large and small. I’ve relied upon some amazing, competent, professional women of every rank. I’ve also seen some seriously messed up situations involving men and women in the military workplace, with fault variously attributable. I dealt with bad behavior inside units I commanded and was called more than once to investigate allegations in other units involving a senior person and subordinates.

I also have the academic and hands-on background to look warily at claims that every position and every unit should be open to both men and women. We have all seen news or opinion pieces making claims about women entering infantry units, as infantry soldiers. You can see the establishment of gender-neutral physical fitness metrics interacting with the political and social battle over “women in combat,” “gender integration,” and “military readiness.” I understand that it may be simultaneously true that:

  • leftists wish to hijack the institution to further their identity politics goals and their long desire to make the military less militarily effective…and
  • some conservative culture warriors, including a small professional crew focused on this issue, view almost any opportunity for women in the military to be an assault on womanhood…and
  • there are many people, including some great soldiers I have known, muddling through the mess of life as it is.

And? Feel free to add your own branch or sequel. As you do so, I hope the facts, my memories, and my musings, help you frame your own thoughts on the subject of men and women in the military.

There are 59 comments.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    A bit of controversy instead of a prank for April Fool’s Day.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the April 2019 Group Writing Theme: Men and Women. There are plenty of dates still available. Tell us about your favorite couple, witty or tragic observations between the sexes, or perhaps the battles and truces. Or do something entirely different. Maybe a musical or dance post! Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    May’s theme will be blossom midway through April’s showers.

    • #1
    • April 1, 2019, at 3:49 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. danok1 Member

    @cliffordbrown Glad to see that there might now be gender-neutral physical tests for particular jobs in the Army (and I assume the other services). It was not like that when I was in the USAF in the early-mid 1980s.

    I was going through the Security Police academy, training as a Law Enforcement specialist. The training classes comprised both sexes; the AF was committed to putting women in certain job fields. About halfway through the course, we attended a short presentation by some Military Working Dog trainers, and they asked for volunteers for the sub-specialty of Military Working Dog handler.

    I like dogs, but I saw this as an opportunity to get around two years of gate guard duty. Those of us who volunteered were first interviewed for our attitude towards dogs and any experiences we had with dogs. (This was to screen out troops who were too affectionate towards dogs, as well as those who were frightened of dogs and thought the training would help them overcome such fears.)

    The next screen was physical. We were taken outside where there were a row of cement-filled buckets with a Y-shaped rebar “handle” planted in the cement. We had to take hold of the “branches” of the Y (palms down, Airman!) and lift the bucket so our arms were parallel with the ground; we had to hold that position for one minute. If you couldn’t do it, you did not go to MWD school.

    I forgot to note: the men had 5-gallon buckets, the women had 2-gallon buckets. This was at least a 40-pound difference. That difference had real consequences, about which I may post later.

    • #2
    • April 1, 2019, at 5:53 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Stad Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    • #3
    • April 1, 2019, at 5:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    • #4
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:21 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Quietpi Member

    A year or so ago I was visiting with a group of fellow retired reservists. I learned that several of them were assigned to a co-ed BCT (Basic Training) unit during a year – long deployment of their infantry battalion. Their uniform impression from the experience was … disgusted, to maintain CoC. They were informed periodically during the assignment, by “higher,” that there were to be NO washouts. Got that? NO washouts.

    Re-reading this, I realize that some might think that this was some sort of separate, reserve element class. Nope. AD, USAR, NG – there is no differentiation in BCT.

    • #5
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Judge Mental Member

    danok1 (View Comment):

    I forgot to note: the men had 5-gallon buckets, the women had 2-gallon buckets. This was at least a 40-pound difference. That difference had real consequences, about which I may post later.

    This is the problem with any sort of affirmative action differences in standards. Any one who is eligible for the easier standard is legitimately suspect from that point forward.

    • #6
    • April 1, 2019, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. EHerring Coolidge

    AF 78-99. Got to open doors for women in my career field. I was comfortable doing that because I felt the military wouldn’t put me where I didn’t belong. Once Pat Schroeder started pushing women in combat, I opposed it. I didn’t want politicians who had never served making that decision. I enjoyed opening doors but never pushed the issue, just proved my worth then earned my spot.

    While I have no problem with separate male and female fitness standards for the annual fitness test, which is primarily a health test, I strongly support standardized fitness requirements for career fields. There is no entitlement to military service or to certain careers. I might be old fashion, but I disagree with front line combat, where privacy is limited and manpower (strength) is at a premium. 

    I found being a woman had some advantages in a growing PC force. Once I had to take a small package of heavy equipment to a remote site. I checked the roster and announced that there were too many women, and to swap a few out for guys. They looked shocked and said I couldn’t say that. I corrected them, telling them that I was a woman so I could say it. Made sense to them and I got my wish.

    One day I am going to write down my memories. A lot happened in 20+ years. 

     

    • #7
    • April 1, 2019, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Joe Boyle Member

    I was a Military Police Sgt during something called MaxWACS. There had been a height requirement and the job was limited to men. The big brains decided, correctly I think, that the job should be opened to women. So, in the Army way, it was full speed ahead. So, I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the first phase of the end of the “boys will be boys” Army. I must note that women MP’s were helpful in the talking parts of MP work. In the physical phase, sometimes want to and try hard, weren’t enough.

    • #8
    • April 1, 2019, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Clifford, thanks for the post and information.

    Let me get this straight. Since 1994, the federal law that you quoted has prohibited the use of differential standards of evaluation for men and women. This law has been ignored by the Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama administrations, which have maintained different physical standards for male and female military personnel. The Trump administration is finally taking steps to follow the law, after almost 25 years.

    I do understand that the Trump administration got to work on this promptly, as compliance required development and evaluation of the new standards. I do not criticize the current administration for any delay.

    Is it a fair criticism to say that the prior 3 administrations were utterly lawless on this issue?

    • #9
    • April 1, 2019, at 12:01 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Skyler Coolidge

    The post-modern Klinger doesn’t have to go in drag now. All he has to do is be a slacker on the fitness test.

    Women in combat is monumentally stupid, and it’s reflection of our societal madness that we even pretend otherwise.

    • #10
    • April 1, 2019, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Skyler Coolidge

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    I’m not saying women are incompetent, nor that there are not exceptional women who can do very well compared to men, but they are rare in every instance.

    Danica Patrick never won in racing, even though she was one of the best women to try it. She also had a reputation (despite being very sexy) of being dangerous and spiteful.

    So, no. Women do not have an advantage of any kind in flying fighter aircraft, something which is much more difficult than car racing, because there are people who will kill you if you are second best in a fight.

    Our technology can mask the lower skills of women because our technology tends to have been better than others. However, that will not always be the case. When our military has to go man to man against a well equipped enemy, our dabbling in social justice might be our end.

    • #11
    • April 1, 2019, at 1:48 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    I’m not saying women are incompetent, nor that there are not exceptional women who can do very well compared to men, but they are rare in every instance.

    Danica Patrick never won in racing, even though she was one of the best women to try it. She also had a reputation (despite being very sexy) of being dangerous and spiteful.

    So, no. Women do not have an advantage of any kind in flying fighter aircraft, something which is much more difficult than car racing, because there are people who will kill you if you are second best in a fight.

    Our technology can mask the lower skills of women because our technology tends to have been better than others. However, that will not always be the case. When our military has to go man to man against a well equipped enemy, our dabbling in social justice might be our end.

    The post was specifically about the physiological ability to resist g forces – nothing else. You can try to turn it into something else, but that’s a straw man.

    • #12
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Vance Richards Member

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    And now, men are even better at being women than women are . . .

    • #13
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:09 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Skyler Coolidge

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    And now, men are even better at being women than women are . . .

    Yes, the rule applies even to things that they shouldn’t be doing, especially if you consider biological men with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) who are XY chromosome men that are born with inability to use testosterone. They are born without external male genitalia and appear in every way to be women, with the exception of not having a uterus. They are essentially women who never have periods or PMS.

    • #14
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. EHerring Coolidge

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):

    I was a Military Police Sgt during something called MaxWACS. There had been a height requirement and the job was limited to men. The big brains decided, correctly I think, that the job should be opened to women. So, in the Army way, it was full speed ahead. So, I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the first phase of the end of the “boys will be boys” Army. I must note that women MP’s were helpful in the talking parts of MP work. In the physical phase, sometimes want to and try hard, weren’t enough.

    Re boys will be boys. This was another area where being a woman helped me when I became a commander. They were always polite in front of me. If they slipped up, they apologized and I accepted it graciously. However, when women enter the workshops, especially in my maintenance shops, they tried to be one of the guys. That worked great until one of the guys cracked a joke that crossed each woman’s invisible red line and they were offended. As a woman, I didn’t have to overreact under fear of being accused of being insensitive. I could talk to both the men and the women and straighten things out in a way that was fair to the men.

    • #15
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. EHerring Coolidge

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    And now, men are even better at being women than women are . . .

    Yes, the rule applies even to things that they shouldn’t be doing, especially if you consider biological men with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) who are XY chromosome men that are born with inability to use testosterone. They are born without external male genitalia and appear in every way to be women, with the exception of not having a uterus. They are essentially women who never have periods or PMS.

    I wonder when women realize this PC agenda they support has reduced women to nothing special since anyone can be one, and has reduced them to whining weaklings too easily offended.

    • #16
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    Was this study done by the University of Winston-Salem?

    • #17
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Stad Thatcher

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Danica Patrick never won in racing, even though she was one of the best women to try it. She also had a reputation (despite being very sexy) of being dangerous and spiteful.

    She wasn’t a winner, but her career was average, finishing in the middle of the pack when she didn’t wreck. As for dangerous and spiteful, that seems to be the behavior of most male drivers, so it might be a survival strategy . . .

    • #18
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    Was this study done by the University of Winston-Salem?

    A friend at Brooks who was a pilot and physiology lab worked on it, so I don’t think so.

    • #19
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Joe Boyle Member

    The best company commander I had in 24yrs was a woman. We all, behind her back, called her mom. CPT Gruenbaum was not a “mom” one wanted to disobey. Tough, fair, inspirational, no one messed with her people but her. She got me, a platoon sergeant then, back on track when I very badly need some tough discipline.

    • #20
    • April 1, 2019, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Percival Thatcher

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):

    I was a Military Police Sgt during something called MaxWACS. There had been a height requirement and the job was limited to men. The big brains decided, correctly I think, that the job should be opened to women. So, in the Army way, it was full speed ahead. So, I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the first phase of the end of the “boys will be boys” Army. I must note that women MP’s were helpful in the talking parts of MP work. In the physical phase, sometimes want to and try hard, weren’t enough.

    Re boys will be boys. This was another area where being a woman helped me when I became a commander. They were always polite in front of me. If they slipped up, they apologized and I accepted it graciously. However, when women enter the workshops, especially in my maintenance shops, they tried to be one of the guys. That worked great until one of the guys cracked a joke that crossed each woman’s invisible red line and they were offended. As a woman, I didn’t have to overreact under fear of being accused of being insensitive. I could talk to both the men and the women and straighten things out in a way that was fair to the men.

    There was a case of “sexual harassment” at one of my employers. It would take too long to explain, but it was clear to those of us in the know that it was a strategic move on the part of a young woman who had essentially launched a preemptive strike to deflect what would have been a poor performance appraisal.

    Careers were damaged. At least one marriage nose-dived. Everyone was on edge.

    We had one female engineer that had been working with us on the flight line lab for a few years. Nobody had been watching their language around her prior to the incident, but afterwards there was a tendency for everyone to clam up when she came into the lab. She noticed, and it finally got to her.

    I’m not her. I’m not like her. Could you guys just go back to treating me the way you used to? Please?” She was really upset — on the verge of tears.

    To which one insolent wag responded “Quick! Somebody tell a fart joke!”

    And just like that, the lab was back to normal.

    Biggest laugh I got all day, too.

    • #21
    • April 1, 2019, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  22. Steve C. Member

    I do remember at one point the Army invested a lot of resources in establishing physical fitness standards for each MOS. I think this was in the 80s or perhaps early 90s. Regardless, it was a long time ago. After all the effort, the entire program wound up in file 13.* My impression is the results were not politically acceptable, though I could be wrong.

    * I originally used earthy soldier slang that involved human waste and a can but opted for discretion over valor.

    • #22
    • April 1, 2019, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Nor should there have been any great shock that women can fly aircraft as well as men.

    An exception being their ability to withstand high gees. There are women who can tolerate them, but I’m talking bell curve here . . .

    Huh? A big USAF physiology study in the 80’s or 90’s concluded that a short, overweight, woman smoker would have the highest g tolerance. It was the source of many a joke at the time.

    The open and obvious truth is that in EVERY field of endeavor, excepting the actual giving of birth and lactating, it has been men who are better at it in every way. Men are better dancers. Men are better cooks. Men are better writers. Men are better doctors and even nurses.

    I’m not saying women are incompetent, nor that there are not exceptional women who can do very well compared to men, but they are rare in every instance.

    Danica Patrick never won in racing, even though she was one of the best women to try it. She also had a reputation (despite being very sexy) of being dangerous and spiteful.

    So, no. Women do not have an advantage of any kind in flying fighter aircraft, something which is much more difficult than car racing, because there are people who will kill you if you are second best in a fight.

    Our technology can mask the lower skills of women because our technology tends to have been better than others. However, that will not always be the case. When our military has to go man to man against a well equipped enemy, our dabbling in social justice might be our end.

    We heard the exact same thing about black men, for decades, from senior white military officers for almost a century. Sorry for your bitterness.

    • #23
    • April 1, 2019, at 6:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):

    The best company commander I had in 24yrs was a woman. We all, behind her back, called her mom. CPT Gruenbaum was not a “mom” one wanted to disobey. Tough, fair, inspirational, no one messed with her people but her. She got me, a platoon sergeant then, back on track when I very badly need some tough discipline.

    I had a senior commander, late in my career, who never raised her voice and never once uttered a profanity. She did not need to.

    • #24
    • April 1, 2019, at 6:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Joe Boyle Member

    Speaking of swooping, I knew a 2LT who got to meet the ADC for Maneuver that way. He was flying by and saw a platoon doing nothing at a pistol range. He landed and asked general type questions. Who’s in charge? What are you doing? Where’s your lesson plans and status report? ,How many soldiers are on the range? Why are they grab assing? That was the start of a tough day for her, her platoon sergeant, the XO, CO, and BN CO. General Serio, he was tough act.

    • #25
    • April 1, 2019, at 6:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Clifford, thanks for the post and information.

    Let me get this straight. Since 1994, the federal law that you quoted has prohibited the use of differential standards of evaluation for men and women. This law has been ignored by the Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama administrations, which have maintained different physical standards for male and female military personnel. The Trump administration is finally taking steps to follow the law, after almost 25 years.

    I do understand that the Trump administration got to work on this promptly, as compliance required development and evaluation of the new standards. I do not criticize the current administration for any delay.

    Is it a fair criticism to say that the prior 3 administrations were utterly lawless on this issue?

    Not quite. The differential assessment of general fitness reflected in age and gender scaled tests is not the object of the legislation. Note that there is not deadline imposed, so effectively no requirement that the military services actually create job qualifying physical fitness standards. As I tried to express, this was an invitation by Congress, with a set of guide rails. Hence:

    For any military occupational specialty for which the Secretary of Defense determines that specific physical requirements for muscular strength and endurance and cardiovascular capacity are essential to the performance of duties, the Secretary shall prescribe specific physical requirements for members in that specialty and shall ensure (in the case of an occupational specialty that is open to both male and female members of the Armed Forces) that those requirements are applied on a gender-neutral basis.

    So long as Secretaries of Defense did not determine that certain physical requirements for muscular strength and endurance are essential, no one had to do the hard work of quantifying this essential capacity. What changed, in part, was the massive stressing of the All Volunteer Force over the past 17+ years. The American youth apparently got much softer at the same time, making fewer eligible for enlistment and causing an increase in entry training injuries. At the same time, fitness was being tied to resilience and recovery from combat injury. Now that we have a national breather from very high deployment spin rates, it might be a good time to update fitness standards and training to match the state of modern sport fitness science.

    • #26
    • April 1, 2019, at 7:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Joe Boyle Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    We heard the exact same thing about black men, for decades, from senior white military officers for almost a century.

    Early on in my career the Army had a huge race problem. As an MP, it was not unusual to be called to a Rec Ctr. There we would find a few white guys locked in a bathroom and about 100 pissed off black guys. A barking dog would usually calm the troubled waters and everyone could go home. I soon found myself in Race Relations School learning how to be a company Race Relations SGT. There we learned stereotypes. Blacks, we were told were louder, enjoyed types of food, and were not as attentive to schedules. Then we were told it was wrong to assume stereotypes but we should make allowances. Then were told that as whites we benefited from racism thus affirmative action was just and necessary. There was no such thing as reverse racism. Then we were instructed that this was policy and we were to learn it, embrace it, love it, or we had no place in the Army. Now, I’ve been out a long time. Everything I know of the Army, I read in the paper. But, I think the same sort of thing is going on with women in combat. I don’t think one becomes a combat arms general without a resume as a warrior but once big Army decides on a course even warriors get with the program. Edit I take back warrior resume part. I forgot about General Patreus,

    • #27
    • April 1, 2019, at 7:37 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  28. Mister Dog Coolidge

    I was on seven ships during my Navy career. Only the last had women crew members. From an esprit de corps viewpoint, the last was by far the poorest. Was it the women? It’s hard to say with only one command to compare, but it’s what I saw. Your mileage may vary.

    • #28
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:22 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Skyler Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    We heard the exact same thing about black men, for decades, from senior white military officers for almost a century. Sorry for your bitterness.

    Ridiculous. I have no bitterness, but I am not blind.

    To compare the biological differences between men and women to the differences between blacks and whites is racist and insulting. You should apologize for your own comments, not mine.

    • #29
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Richard Finlay Member

    I can remember when the AA effect took hold, at least in my first civilian field. In 1977-78 (ish), whenever a female programmer was available, I wanted her on the team, as the only way a woman would be in that position was to be better than the average man.

    In 1980-81, junior women were suspect, as they were not allowed to fail out of training. I remember one woman who could describe the purpose and steps required of a program (in English paragraph form), but could not translate that into code. (Assembler language at that time — a non-intuitive language, to be sure.)

    • #30
    • April 1, 2019, at 8:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
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