Results of the USMC’s second attempt to measure women’s performance in their Infantry Officer Course have been reported. The second experiment again consisted of two female volunteers attempting the Marine Corps Infantry Officer’s Course. Both women failed the course the first day when unable to complete an obstacle in the time allotted.

In the first test last year, one of the two female candidates failed the PT test the first day, and the second failed a week later based on her inability to maintain the pace physically.

No doubt the heart was willing, but there are physical requirements. Also, and unlike in the Artillery, Infantry and SOF officers have to be able to do what their troops are expected to do in order to get to where the fight is happening.

I approve of the way the USMC is conducting the experiments. It appears standards aren’t gender-normed and requirements aren’t eliminated. The results are proving what many have said: physical performance counts. There’s a lesson there.

I can only hope the Army follows the Marines’ course in this regard. While many believe “if the standards are the same, then women should be allowed to fill any position,” the truth is the Army has NEVER had the same standards. Further, the Army has shown a pattern of behavior of lowering standards or eliminating requirements to integrate the sexes and passing it off as “the same standard.”

PT tests have always had vastly different standards. Why? If they are a measure of combat performance, a combat environment is the same for both genders when the bullets start flying. The truth is the PT test is a general measure of physical fitness and has no correlation to combat. Combat units and certain training routinely raise those requirements for the males only, since they are the only ones in the combat arms (Armor, Arty, Infantry and SF).

Besides the gender-normed general PT test standards, I’ve personally seen two classic examples of lowered or eliminated standards to facilitate integration. At West Point, for instance, there is an indoor obstacle course test (IOCT) that is not exceptionally grueling except for one of its obstacles, and the time standard: men must complete in 3:30 to get a “D”, women in 5:29.