One of the first ten women to graduate from Ranger School has criticized the U.S. Army for dropping physical standards in order to increase gender inclusiveness, claiming that such accommodations will be detrimental to military women’s credibility.
“True equality comes from real achievement, not from the Army adjusting numbers to generate more favorable scores,” wrote Capt. Shaina N. Coss, in a Monday opinion piece for Military.com. “Anyone desiring to serve this country needs to meet the standard, rather than lobbying for exceptions based on gender.”
The Army announced Mar. 22 that it had revised its Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) with gender-specific grading for men and women in order to be more inclusive.
“As the first and only female infantry officer to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment to date, I know that equality will be achieved only when women are held to the same job-related standards,” Coss continued in her op-ed. “A meaningful way to do this is to immediately reinstate the black and gray tiered fitness standards.”
#ACFT 3.0 is the next adaptation of the #ArmyCombatFitnessTest and incorporates lessons from ACFT 2.0, including adding a scoring range for the #Plank as a core-strength assessment event.— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 24, 2021
Learn more about these changes in this edition of STAND-To! ➡️ https://t.co/jCr8XGV7Af pic.twitter.com/3we7SgKEPw
Before the Army announced the updates, lawmakers had expressed concerns that the earlier version of the test’s gender-neutral nature would be a barrier to women seeking career advancement if unadjusted for biological differences between men and women, United Press International (UPI) reported. (RELATED: Overwhelming Failure Rate Among Women Causes Army To Halt’ Gender Neutral’ Fitness Standards)
The new version of the test will be rolled out on Apr. 2021 with scores being counted starting after Apr. 2022, according to the outlet.
“Removing high standards and offering substitutions like the plank pose will increase pass rates among women, leading the Army to falsely conclude that it has achieved gender equality,” Coss wrote, adding that it will “not lead to the true advancement of women.”
Moving forward, the test will have gender-specific performance grading tiers, UPI reported. It will also include planks as an alternative to the “leg-tuck,” an exercise most challenging to female soldiers in which a person tucks their knees up to their chin while dangling from a pull-up bar.
“Rather than lowering the bar to accommodate the inability of a few, raise the bar and inspire leaders to achieve more,” Coss concluded in her Military.com piece. “We, the women of the infantry, want more qualified women to join our ranks. We do not simply want more women.”