(CNSNews.com) -- Females in the Marine Corps currently are not required to do even a single pull-up, and a deadline mandating that by Jan. 1, 2014, they be able to do at least 3 pull-ups as part of their training has been delayed for at least a year, the Corps quietly announced on social media.
Unlike their female counterparts, male Marines have long been required to do at least 3 pullups as part of the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). That's the minimum requirement for males.
Female Marines are required, however, to do a flexed-arm hang from a bar, and their PFT score is calculated based upon how long they can properly hang on the bar. (See video for pull-ups and flexed-arm hang demonstrations.)
Currently, “women aren’t able to make the minimum standard of three pull-ups,” Marine spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan told CNSNews.com. Fifty-five percent of female recruits tested at the end of boot camp were unable to do three pull-ups (1 percent of male recruits also failed).
Marine officers told NPR off-the-record that, given the three-pull-ups rule, they were afraid of losing “not only new recruits, but also current female Marines who can’t pass the test.”
Female Marines will be allowed to do the flexed-arm hang instead of pull-ups this year. With the arm hang, a person grabs the bar with both hands and pulls their body up and holds their chin above the bar for as long as possible.
If a female Marine can hold that flexed-arm hang for 70 seconds, she scores 100 points; 60 seconds, 80 points; 30 seconds, 30 points -- see chart.
The deadline for women to meet the men’s minimum standard of three pull-ups has been postponed a year and “will continue to be assessed,” Capt. Flanagan told CNSNews.com. The Marines' Twitter announcement on the topic was posted on Nov. 20. But by Dec. 27, few media outlets had mentioned the news.
Pull-ups have been used to test Marines’ upper body strength for over 40 years. The ability to pull-up one’s own body weight over a bar shows the upper body strength that, in combat, is needed to lift fallen comrades, pull one’s self over a wall, and carry heavy munitions. Combat Marines also carry a pack that weighs around 90 pounds, with gunners carrying an additional 50 or 60 pounds.
Women in the Marine Corps will be allowed into ground combat in 2016. The delay in meeting men’s physical standards has raised questions about “whether women have the physical strength to handle ground combat,” reported NPR.
“‘If you can’t pull yourself up, have the decency to pull yourself out,’ Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer and military historian, told Time.com. “‘The military, despite all the post-modern technology, is still essentially physical.’”
The Marines’s “Corps Report” anchor, Lance Cpl. Ally Beiswanger, explained that the deadline has been extended to allow for “further gathering of data to ensure that all female Marines are given the best opportunity to succeed.”She also stated that last year she could only do one pull-up, and “now I’m up to eight.”