By C.J. Lin
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — A year after the Pentagon opened combat jobs to female servicemembers, plans for integrating women into these jobs remain problematic, women’s advocates said this week.
The Marine Corps and the Army, which have the largest number of military occupational specialties still closed to women, have, according to critics, unclear and inconsistent approaches to integrating women fully into the forces by January 2016, the deadline set by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The Marines have made little progress in integrating women into jobs they already qualify for, and the purpose of a proposed physical screening test is questionable since it focuses on strength-based measures and not skills actually needed for the work, according to Greg Jacob, a former Marine and policy director of the Service Women’s Action Network.
The Marines’ plan calls for testing women to see if they can deadlift 135 pounds, bench 115 pounds, carry 95 pounds for 50 meters while wearing full combat gear, load a 120mm tank round and scale a 7-foot wall. But these skills might not be needed, Jacob said.
“It’s not looking at the jobs,” Jacob said at a Wednesday briefing on Capitol Hill. “If you want a job in the artillery, you have to pick up the artillery shell and shove it into the breach of the gun. Is this proxy test going to evaluate that? We don’t know ... It’s a plan but you’re not really sure what it’s explaining or what it’s doing.”
Jacob also questioned whether the current standards are gender-neutral.