WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half of female Marines in boot camp can’t do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.
The delay rekindled sharp debate in the military about 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.
Although no new timetable was set on the delayed physical requirement, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos wants training officials to “continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed,” Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman, said Thursday.
Starting with the new year, all female Marines were supposed to be able to do at least three pullups on their annual physical fitness test and eight for a perfect score. The requirement was tested in 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., but only 45 percent of women met the minimum, Krebs said.
The Marines hoped to institute the pullups on the thought 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.
Because the change is being put off, women will be able to choose which test of upper-body strength they will be graded on in their annual physical fitness test. Their choices:
l Pullups, with three the minimum. Three is also the minimum for male Marines, but they need 20 for a perfect rating.
l A flexed-arm hang. The minimum is for 15 seconds; women get a perfect score if they last for 70 seconds. Men don’t do the hang in their test.