The United States Army is still fine-tuning the upcoming overhaul to its Army Combat Readiness Test (ACRT), but the branch's secretary has already reiterated that women and men will be held to equal standards.
In a Feb. 15 Pentagon media conference, Army Secretary Mark Esper said the new ACRT will not be tailored to any specific age or gender because "combat is combat" and "the enemy does not specify who they’re going to shoot and not shoot," according to a report by Task and Purpose.
“That’s the direction we’re moving in: a gender-neutral physical fitness test,” he said. “By the way, the women I’ve talked to want that.”
The new test is expected to be implemented in 2020. As previously reported by Club Industry, it will incorporate weights and elements of high-intensity interval training to ensure soldiers have "explosive power."
In January 2017, the Army introduced a new, gender-neutral Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT). The test places a greater emphasis on Army applicants' physical strength and aerobic abilities in hopes of preventing injuries, limiting attrition and promoting overall "Army readiness," Army spokesperson Jennifer Johnson told Club Industry.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who trained female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, told Task and Purpose that women should not be thought of as less capable simply because, historically, they have been asked to do less.
“I saw first-hand on recruiting duty and at Parris Island that when women were held to higher standards for performance, they rose to the challenge every time,” Germano told Task & Purpose. “The rate at which women Marines are excelling at doing pull ups is a great example of this.
“Women in all of the services are proving they have what it takes to get stronger and faster, and making the physical fitness test gender neutral will not only hold everyone to the same high standards, but will go far to eliminate both negative perceptions about the capabilities of women and mistrust due to double standards for their performance," she continued.