You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Servicewomen don't want standards changed

Feb. 11, 2013 - 08:04AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 - 08:04AM  |  
  • Filed Under

WASHINGTON Women in the military do not want standards to be lowered to help them get into ground combat jobs, advocacy groups and servicewomen say.

"We don't want unqualified women in these positions," said Maj. Mary Hegar, a decorated helicopter pilot who was part of a lawsuit demanding the Pentagon open ground combat fields to women.

Advocacy groups say they want to avoid quotas or even placing pressure on commanders so that no one questions the qualifications of women who enter fields that had previously been closed to females.

"We're not saying there needs to be a woman in every job," said Greg Jacob, the policy director at Service Women's Action Network, which has pushed for allowing women to enter the infantry and other ground combat jobs. "What we're saying is if there's a woman qualified, there is no reason a woman shouldn't be serving."

The Pentagon last month repealed the ban on allowing women into ground combat fields, such as infantry, tanks and artillery. The services have several years to complete the integration.

In response, the services said they were developing gender-neutral strength and fitness tests based on the requirements for those jobs, which include infantry, artillery and tanks. The tests may be administered to men and women as a way of screening men and women who want to enter ground combat fields.

The average Marine infantrymen, for example, carry about 100 pounds of equipment on their backs. They are expected to walk over long distances.

A member of a tank crew needs to be able to lift a 40-pound shell off a rack and place it in the breech of the main gun.

Female officers say it is important that those standards be met by women if they are to enter those fields.

"I don't want to see the standards of military effectiveness be lowered," said Hegar, who was injured when her medical evacuation helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2009.

She exchanged fire with insurgents on the ground before she was evacuated by standing on the skids of a small helicopter that picked up her crew. "There are people who do well in combat, and there are people who don't," Hegar said. "It's not a gender question."

Still, some advocates have said the standards and tests being developed by the military may not accurately reflect what is required for the job.

"Why do we need standards other than what already exists?" said Lory Manning, a retired Navy captain and director of the Women in the Military Project.

"The question is whether those standards are rooted in requirements in the job," Jacob said.

Manning said the only tests should be whether men and women can complete the occupational school.

The services say they will be able to link the physical strength tests to specific job requirements.

"There will be people who question: Why do you have that standard?" said Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead, the deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs.

But he said the Marines will take a careful and responsible approach to assessing the physical standards for the more than 30 career fields that have been closed to women.

"You're going to get one chance to do it right," Milstead said.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Marine Corps Times

This Week's Marine Corps Times

First sergeant vs. master sergeant
Choose the rank that's best for your career

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook