Army Fitness Test Results Appear to Show Massive Gender Gap — Few Women Ready for Combat

Army Fitness Test Results Appear to Show Massive Gender Gap — Few Women Ready for Combat

A large majority of female soldiers from 11 battalions failed the U.S. Army’s new mandatory fitness test, according to documents recently posted online. 

The Facebook page U.S Army W.T.F! Moments shared the presentation slides on Sept. 21. Managers of the page anonymously told Army Times they were leaked from a briefing given to the secretary and chief of staff of the Army.

The slides appear to show the results of the Army Combat Fitness Test for 3,206 soldiers, including 357 women. Whereas the men passed the test at a rate of about 70 percent, fully 84 percent of women failed — bringing the overall pass rate down to 64 percent.

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Many of the women failed due to poor performance in the leg tuck, which demands core and upper body strength. A caption accompanying the Facebook post said the results were “consistent with the observations and statistics of the other 19” battalions from across the Army that have taken the test.

“What does this mean for the future of the event and implementation?” the caption asked.

Why female soldiers fail the Army fitness test

The U.S, military opened up all occupational specialties, including ground combat units, to women in 2016. As in Israel, where a similar process has been underway, the change was driven by changing operational needs and social norms. But critics have argued that women in combat weaken fitness standards and military preparedness.

Army Times reported last month that 63 battalions will eventually be required to take the fitness test, which is designed to better prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat.

The Center for Initial Military Training, which oversees entry testing for the Army, told Army Times the slides did not come from them. However, the center did not dispute their authenticity.

“It is premature to discuss pass/fail rates as troops are not familiar with or trained for the ACFT,” said public affairs director Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry. “For many Soldiers, their initial ‘test’ was the first time they had ever executed a fitness test with strength, power or anaerobic exercises pegged against high demand Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.”

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In a statement, Kageleiry said the center has been collecting performance data on the fitness test since it was officially introduced this fall. But she said soldiers would only start being required to pass the test next winter.

She added: “Regardless of gender or military occupational specialty, all Soldiers must be capable to deploy and fight based on the Army researched requirements of high physical demand tasks Soldiers perform in combat.”

Cover image: An illustrative image of a female Marine attempting a pull-up. (Wikimedia Commons)