Army Spc. Theresa Lynn Flannery runs for cover as the Spanish base comes under attack outside Kufa, near Najaf, Iraq, in this 2004 photo. Along with a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor recommendation, Flannery, 26, from Kentucky, is also receiving a Purple Heart for an injury she received while under fire during a battle at Najaf. (Gervasio Sanchez / The Associated Press)
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BY THE NUMBERS
14 percent of active-duty soldiers are women (203,000 of about 1.4 million).
23 percent of the Army Reserve and 15 percent of the National Guard are women.
78.2 percent of positions were open to women, as of Oct. 31.
8,851 female soldiers were deployed as of Oct. 31.
110,000 jobs now closed to women.
28,000 jobs now closed by unit.
13,200 jobs now closed in spec ops.
Jobs open to women
As of Sept. 30:
Active: 76.4 percent
Guard: 86.2 percent
Reserve: 97.7 percent
Total: 78.2 percent
MOSs open to women
As of Sept. 30:
Enlisted: 166 of 180 (92 percent)
Warrant officer: 70 of 71 (98.5 percent)
Commissioned officer: 182 of 187 (97.3 percent)
Total: 418 of 438 (95.4 percent)
As of Sept. 30:
Active Guard Reserve
Lieutenant generals: 5 0 0
Major generals: 7 2 4
Brigadier generals: 11 16 12
Killed and wounded in action
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 61 KIA, 623 WIA
Operation New Dawn: 0 KIA, 12 WIA
Operation Enduring Freedom: 16 KIA, 212 WIA
What’s your take?
The introduction of women in direct combat units will bring big changes to the physical fitness test.
Make that tests.
Officials are designing a new baseline test for all soldiers. This will measure cardio fitness and core strength. The test is in the works but should be validated this year.
Those in the combat-arms community will see five to seven military occupational specialty-specific events added to the baseline test. The events are based on things every soldier — man or woman — must be able to do to serve in specific combat roles. This includes everything from dragging soldiers in combat evacuations to the strength and agility needed to lift and feed tank ammo.
Don't worry, you won't be bench-pressing artillery shells or running 500 yards with a gun tube over your head. The brainiacs at the Army Research Institute will take the physical tasks that directly correlate to your day-to-day duties, punch in some scientific calculations and come up with the physical activities and exercises that best build and measure the physical qualities needed to do your job.
You might be required to lift certain weights in certain ways, or make a ruck march in a specified time. Whatever the case, Gen. Robert Cone, who heads Training and Doctrine Command, said he doesn't want an event that only 10 people can do — or one everyone can do because it is too easy. The goal is an accurate test of legitimate standards.
The Army has been leaning this way for some time.
A new Army Combat Readiness Test was part of the redesigned fitness test Cone shot down last year. The ACRT incorporated sprints, climbing drills and other high-intensity exercises that mimic the challenges soldiers face in combat. It kicked off with a 400-meter run in full body armor and with weapon in hand. This segued into an obstacle course with low hurdles, high crawls and over-under obstacles to test individual movement techniques. Soldiers then did a 40-yard casualty drag, followed by a 40-yard run with ammo cans atop a balance beam. Next came point, aim and move drills, followed by a 100-yard ammo can shuttle sprint. The ACRT wrapped up with a 100-yard agility sprint.
That's not to say your MOS-specific test will include any of these events. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler wanted to toughen the test by making soldiers run four miles in 36 minutes or less and complete a 12-mile ruck march in four hours or less.
What your fitness test will look like is anyone's guess. But Cone is going to leave no stone unturned as he looks to build accurate standards and tests that best measure to those standards. In fact, that is why he scrapped the five-event fitness test last year — it was not a significant improvement over the current test, and it failed to measure the warrior tasks and battle drills, he said.
Cone also knew an overhaul of standards was coming to accommodate the integration of women in combat units and decided it was best to incorporate all changes at once.
The new tests will be administered at recruiting stations to separate the could-be from the wannabe. Recruits will take the MOS-specific fitness test to determine whether they have what it takes. They won't have to ace the test but rank high enough to show strong potential for success.
Those soldiers will train to those standards at boot camp and will have to meet those standards to graduate from Advanced Individual Training. Every soldier assigned to a combat unit will be tested against the standards annually, and possibly every six months, Cone said.
The changes will be designed to flow with the recharged master fitness training program and renewed emphasis on physical training.
"If you have a PT test that has clear relevance to the job you are doing, you are more likely to put greater emphasis on that as a unit commander," Cone said.