Marines Delay Female Fitness Requirement After Half Fail to Meet Minimum Standard

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 2 2014 9:16 PM

Marines Delay Female Fitness Requirement After Half Fail to Meet Minimum Standard

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U.S. Marine Corps reservists in a live training drill at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

The Marines decided to postpone a minimum physical fitness test for female Marines after more than half of the female recruits in boot camp failed to meet the standard. Starting on Jan. 1 female Marines were supposed to be able to complete at least three pullups on their annual fitness test, which, according to the Associated Press, was “part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.” The pullup test was tried on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina, but only 45 percent of the recruits were able to meet the minimum standard. Instead, female recruits will be able to opt to complete a “flexed-arm hang” for a minimum of 15 seconds.

The Marines had planned on using the pullup requirement, the AP reports, based on the belief “that pullups require the muscular strength necessary to perform common military tasks such as scaling a wall, climbing up a rope or lifting and carrying heavy munitions.” Officials said that the Marine Corps decided to delay the requirement because “the risk of losing recruits and hurting retention of women already in the service was unacceptably high,” according to the AP.  “The delay rekindled sharp debate in the military on the question of whether women have the physical strength for some military jobs, as service branches move toward opening thousands of combat roles to them in 2016,” the AP reports.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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