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The Few. The Proud. That includes strong women

January 14, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Every physically fit woman in America should be deluging the U.S. Marine Corps with angry mail.

That’s because the Marines are delaying new minimum physical fitness requirements for ladies in the Corps.

More than half the female Marines in boot camp were found to be unable to do three pull-ups. The requirements are important as the armed services move toward giving women combat roles beginning in 2016.

Seems only 45 percent of the women at Parris Island met the minimum.

To me, that means only 45 percent of the women deserve combat roles. The rest need to work out, get greater fitness and try again.

But it turns out that the kinder, gentler Marine Corps, which isn’t allowed to berate recruits, also doesn’t want to lose women already in the service and deter more recruits.

The physical fitness requirements are:

A minimum of three pull-ups, the same as the male minimum, but men need to do 20 in a specific period for a perfect rating.

A minimum 15-second flexed-arm hang. Men don’t do the hang in their test and women who can do the hang for 70 seconds get a perfect score.

See, here’s the thing to me: Do we want Marines, men or women, who can’t do the bare minimum physical fitness test?

Seems these are The Few. The Proud. And every Marine I’ve ever known truly is that. Doesn’t matter if they’re fresh recruits or men who’ve been retired for 50 years, there is something about a U.S. Marine that says, “I’m always capable of kicking your behind” and “I won’t do that unless provoked, but I’ll protect you if anyone else tries to kick your behind.”

And that’s a quality that serves us well in our Marines..

I’ve went through an afternoon a few years back with local recruits on the delayed entry program who were working out under the tutelage of a sergeant. These kids were working hard, getting into shape before shipping out. There were many kids in my gym who signed up, trying to meet the standards before shipping out, for any branch of the service.

And, to say women deserve special breaks because they’re not as fit is not right. Again, using my gym as the example, as well as a few servicewomen I’ve known, it’s not a gender thing. It’s an attitude thing. It’s a choice to, as the Army used to say, Be All That You Can Be, if I may mix my service slogans a bit. There are a lot of women who can do the pull-ups and more, just like a man can.

It doesn’t shock me that the nation would eventually think of having to lower standards to fit the lazy society.

Fitness and nutrition are uncomfortable to talk about, and many people toss insults back toward those who made the choices to be fit and watch what they’re eating. And, lest you think I rant without knowledge, I was 90 pounds heavier a few years back. And I heard every excuse in the world while trying to tell people they had a contract for gym membership and couldn't walk away just because the moment of desire to lose weight passed.

American obesity rates skyrocket. As do the rates of illness resulting from obesity.

But the solution is to lower military standards, not to get recruits who get off the couch and really, really want to be part of the defense forces of the nation, like those local kids I met working hard through a bit of military training under a sergeant.

There are women of all ages in the local gyms who can meet the standards.

Hiding the lazy American behind a veil of sexism will not produce a fit fighting force.

The Marines I know deserve a better legacy.


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