Army Introduces Gender-Neutral Fitness Standards

The United States Army has announced new gender-neutral physical fitness standards for its Combat Readiness Test. The new assessment will have six components:

  1. Deadlift: soldiers lift their maximum weight three times
  2. Standing power throw: soldiers throw a ten-pound medicine ball as far as possible behind them
  3. T push-ups: soldiers lower themselves to the ground, extend their arms out to their sides at ninety-degree angles, then push themselves back up
  4. Sprint/drag/carry: soldiers sprint fifty meters, drag a ninety-pound sled for fifty meters, sprint another fifty meters, carry two forty-pound kettlebells for fifty meters, then sprint another fifty meters
  5. Leg tuck: soldiers hang from a pull-up bar and lift their knees to their elbows
  6. Two-mile run: soldiers run two miles as fast as they can

The Army plans to put the new test through a trial period with select units before establishing standard scores.

The updated assessment represents a shift from male and female capabilities to requirements for soldiers in combat. “Whether you’re male or female has no real bearing on [the demands of combat],” said Michael McGurk, director of research and analysis at the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training. “If I need you to lift a fifty-pound box up onto the back of a truck, I need you to lift a fifty-pound box up onto the back of a truck. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re tall or short or young or old or male or female.”

These gender-neutral standards mirror the minimum standards for human movement I established in previous KineSophy articles. If you have to move an unconscious person away from fatal danger, you must move the weight of his body. If you urgently need to get to the hospital on foot, you must cover the distance in the necessary time. The requirements of life do not discriminate between gender, race or age.

In contrast, our biases stem from preconceived and misguided notions of what different people are suited to do. Not too long ago, Americans believed women belonged in the kitchen. They believed blacks were not smart enough to vote for or hold political office. But the natural world deals in facts and requirements, not beliefs and biases. If you can lift a box, fight a war, calculate space shuttle launch trajectories, inspire change, discover a new chemical element, run a corporate boardroom or lead a country, it does not matter if you are black, white, brown, blue or what you have between your legs. And if we really want to make the most of the world around us, these incidental factors should not matter to us either.