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Change Comes As Part of Women in Combat
By Harold Hutchison

The Army is considering new gender-neutral physical standards as the Army prepares to open combat positions to women. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the rule would be dropped in January, 2013.

“The Army will review these MOSs and make a recommendation to the Secretary of Defense if they should remain closed,” Lt. Col. Stephen Platt, an Army spokesman, told Military.com. “If we find that the assignment of women to specific positions or occupational specialties is in conflict with the department’s guiding principles, exceptions to policy will be requested, which will prohibit their assignment to certain jobs.”

“The definition of ‘gender-neutral’ must be clarified by the Army and anyone else who uses the phrase. As the Congressional Research Service has recognized, the phrase means different things to different people. Any training program that has different scoring systems or requirements for men and women should be described as ‘gender-specific,’ or ‘gender-normed.’ The phrase ‘gender-neutral,’ which often awards credit for "equal effort,’ not equal results, is ‘gender-specific’ and should not be interpreted to mean identical training for all personnel,” Elaine Donnelly, the president of the Center for Military Readiness, told SOF.

“The only way to retain high, uncompromised standards is to keep the direct ground combat (DGC) units listed all-male. That way, there is no need to spend endless hours trying to come up with ‘gender-neutral’ standards that ultimately will be unacceptable to feminists because they are ‘barriers’ to women's careers,” Donnelly added. “Gender-specific training is acceptable in basic, entry-level, and pre-commissioning programs, but only if the training programs are not used to qualify personnel for physically-demanding MOSs, or if women become eligible for assignment to direct ground combat battalions.”