The distinct branches of the United States military are making efforts to shatter the age old glass ceilings that have prevented women from serving in combat roles. The Army has been spinning the successes of a recent group of recruits, but controversy is brewing as some say that standards were lowered to get the women through infantry training.
18 of the 32 female infantry recruits passed the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort Benning, Georgia and joined the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment last Friday. Some are headed to Texas for cavalry training, while others are headed to jump school.
The Army had been expecting some to fail. Even with 14 washing out, they were pleased. But the new rumors suggests that the standards some of those women had to meet were not the same as those met by their male colleagues.
Some made it through by the higher standard, too. One of the male recruits bragged about one of his fellow soldiers to PopularMilitary.com. “There was even one female that did better than 90 percent of the males on the PT test. Speaking as the person who had the second-highest PT score, she had me looking over my soldier the whole cycle. It was something that definitely made me better, and maybe kept me up nights a few times. But certainly by the end of the cycle, I was doing more push-ups, because I had her chasing me.”
Others felt like the double-standard wasn’t right. Some complained that the women didn’t have to carry the same weight. Most carry a 35-pound rucksack. The difference in size, though, meant some of the women couldn’t carry the same weight.
Still, this marks a turning point in the way the Army will handle women in the infantry. And the lessons learned from this first class will surely be used moving forward.
“A lot of the females, when they started, in the beginning- I would think one way, I’ll be honest with you,” said Sgt. 1st Class Karen Carter, a senior drill sergeant. “But they were incredible. Regardless of how much they weighed or size.”