Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
The military is lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles, which includes infantry, armory and artillery.
The lift “reflects the reality of 21st century military operations,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a Jan. 23 Associated Press story.
One of the realities Levin is talking about, I assume, is equality for men and women in the workforce. Women should have the same chances of progressing through the military as men, and simply looking at the sergeant major of the army, one can tell of its inequality.
To hold the highest enlisted spot for the army, one must be in a combat role occupation. It’s not a written rule, but they will not consider anyone who is not.
There have been 14 sergeant majors of the Army, and dating back to 1966 every single one has been in a combat role. This basically says you have a higher chance of convincing a Michigan fan to do the O-H-I-O chant with you than a non-combat role personnel being SMA.
So putting women in a combat role is creating more equality. But I would like to challenge the military to not stop with more job opportunities. Women need to be held to the same standard as men.
The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) gauges a soldier’s physical readiness. The slowest a 17- to 21-year-old male can run and still pass the two-mile test is 15 minutes and 54 seconds. The slowest a 17- to 21-year-old-female can run and still pass the two-mile test is 18 minutes and 54 seconds.
The Army is claiming to have equality, but by having two different standards for the APFT, it is saying men and women are different.
The military needs one standard for all.
“When you’re looking for the best of the best you cast a wide net,” said Jon Soltz, the chairman of the veterans group VoteVets.org, in the Jan. 23 AP story. “There are women who can meet these standards, and they have a right to compete.”
But right now, that is not happening, and women and men will always be seen as different until they are compared at the same level.
Demi Moore’s character in “G.I. Jane” was right to complain about passing a physical test while her male counterparts in front of her failed. It is seen as an exception because she is a woman. But a time will come when that exception won’t matter. Everyone had better do what is required of them, men and women both.
“We’re not asking that standards be lowered,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., in the AP story. “We’re saying that if they can be effective and they can be a good soldier or a good Marine in that particular operation, then give them a shot.”
This goes without saying, all soldiers, male and female alike, better pass his or her physical requirements to be considered combat-ready.
There is talk of moving to one standard, so this concern might be a moot point. The only fear I have is that the same push, fervor and zeal will not be applied to pass these equal standards as it was for pushing women into combat roles. For equality goes both ways.
Daniel Eddy is in the Ohio Army National Guard.