Pentagon could reverse gender-neutral bodily health check for US military troopers

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The U.S. Army is considering reversing its new gender-neutral physical test to include different assessment categories for men and women instead.

Research showed that the Army Combat Fitness Test [ACFT]which is the same for male and female soldiers resulted in lower scores for women with a nudge for promotions.

An early Pentagon study showed that women failed ACFT at a rate of 65 percent, while only 10 percent of men did.

Congress has stopped implementing the new test and the Army has launched an independent review to determine whether it is fair.

There are six events in ACFT – the maximum deadlift, a standing power throw, hand release pushups, a sprint, drag and carry, hamstrings, and a two mile run.

To pass the test, those who take it must score at least 360 out of a possible 600, and those who get higher scores are more likely to be promoted.

However, the average wounds in women are said to have been 100 points lower so far.

Congress has now declared that the test as it stands should not be a factor in determining whether someone is promoted.

Changes that are expected to be introduced include how core body strength is tested in the leg flexion event.

Instead of hanging from a pole and tucking their legs to their chests, soldiers are given the opportunity to do a two-minute plank exercise.

Early research showed that female soldiers’ scores improved with the plank option.

Last month, an Army official said one possible solution to the test scores gap is to use “gender” percentile groupings when considering promotions.

Instead of using their raw scores, men and women would be categorized separately into the top 1 percent, top 10 percent, and so on.

An army officer told Military.com: “We need to find a way to make it fair to both sexes. We need a fair way that takes physiological differences into account.

“If anything, it is a gender-neutral assessment process because the raw scores are not displayed.”

All U.S. soldiers have been able to take the new test since October, but it won’t count towards promotions until March 2022.

Last month, Captain Kristen Griest, the U.S. Army’s first female infantry officer, welcomed the ACFT, arguing that it should be rated equally for men and women.

Otherwise, it would have “insidious effects on combat effectiveness,” she said.

She said critics could call her “loveless” but “nothing could be further from the truth”.

She said: “Failure to oblige women to equal standards of combat weapons will not only undermine their credibility, but will also put these women, their teammates and the mission at risk.

“The army cannot artificially relieve women of this responsibility. It can still exist on the battlefield.”