The U.S. Army’s first female infantry officer is getting a lot of attention from stating the obvious in an essay published by West Point’s Modern War Institute: lowering physical fitness standards for female combat soldiers will cost lives.
Capt. Kristen Griest couches her essay partly in terms of how unfair lowering fitness standards would be to women, who would then have to fight harder to overcome prejudice, but she makes it clear that real casualties will be solders left to die on the battlefield because of lowered fitness standards.
Because 54 percent of women fail the provisional Army Combat Fitness Test, there is pressure to alter standards for female soldiers. Indeed, a Washington Post story’s focus last year was that the ACFT might “hold back” female soldiers.
American Military News summed up Griest’s essay this way:
Referring to a proposed standard for women to run a two-mile test in under 21 minutes, Griest said “the presence of just a handful of individuals who cannot run two miles faster than twenty-one minutes has the potential to derail a training exercise, not to mention an actual combat patrol. Entire companies of 130 soldiers will be forced to frequently halt operations in order to medically evacuate the ill-prepared as they succumb to fatigue and injury.”
But the point is not that reduced fitness standards make training more difficult but rather that is can result in more losses in combat (“not to mention actual combat patrol!”). Griest warns that resorting to gender-based combat standards will affect soldiers in the field:
Proponents of [a gender based] ACFT standard will undoubtedly claim that it is an appropriate predictor of success for combat arms soldiers; as a recent infantry company commander, I can promise you it is not. While these low standards may have seemed adequate in a controlled study, I know from experience that they will not suffice in reality.
Indeed, the presence of just a handful of individuals who cannot run two miles faster than twenty-one minutes has the potential to derail a training exercise, not to mention an actual combat patrol. Entire companies of 130 soldiers will be forced to frequently halt operations in order to medically evacuate the ill-prepared as they succumb to fatigue and injury.
Missions will be delayed and other soldiers will be overburdened with the weight of their unfit teammates’ equipment. This scenario is inconvenient and bad for morale during a training exercise; in combat it could be deadly. Instead of addressing the issue of having some soldiers insufficiently prepared for the physical rigors of combat, which sparked the APFT’s revision in the first place, a gender-based ACFT in combat arms will normalize it and make it unmanageable. It is wholly unethical to allow the standards of the nation’s premiere fighting units to degrade so badly, just to accommodate the lowest-performing soldiers.
Griest is at pains to explain that this wholly rational position does not make her “uncaring”—as if it is somehow more “caring” to send ill-prepared soldiers into combat to suit gender activists. Still, Griest deserves credit for bravery in publishing this essay. It could save lives.
Women have traditionally made great careers in the U.S. military, and that is to be applauded—as long as combat standards remain geared to survival and victory rather than appeasing gender warriors. I have strong reservations (to put it mildly) about women in combat, but I know that conservatives differ on this matter.
What I think we can all agree upon is that the military exists to protect the nation, not to provide socially-engineered outcomes that reduce competitiveness in the field of battle. With this in mind, President Joe Biden’s remarks last week at a commemoration of International Women’s Day were especially troubling.
In introducing two women who were nominated to become generals, the President bragged that the military is now “designing body armor that fits women properly; tailoring combat uniforms for women; creating maternity flight suits; updating—updating requirements for their hairstyles….And that they can completely, fairly engage in promotion and compete all across the board, including on the—on age and gender neutrality and the physical fitness test.”
When Tucker Carlson questioned the wisdom of feminizing military combat standards and even made a joke about how “pregnant women are now going to fight our wars,” the guys at the Pentagon engaged in verbal hand-to-hand combat against the Fox host.
You don’t even have to be able to do the required number of combat-ready push-ups to launch an all-out attack on a Fox host! Powerline amusingly chronicles the Pentagon’s war on Carlson. Senator Ted Cruz rightly observed that this is the politicization of the American military:
“Under Biden, the military is launching political attacks to intimidate Tucker Carlson & other civilians who criticize their policy decisions,” Cruz tweeted along with a copy of the letter he sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “Officials in uniform are being used for the campaign. I’ve demanded a meeting with the Commandant of the USMC to put a stop to it.”
If the United States is to have a military capable of defending us from our enemies, two trends must stop: the feminization of fitness standards and the politicization of the armed forces.
Am I radical not to want pregnant women flying combat missions?