Army managers (not leaders, they’re fresh out of leaders) were in a tough position. They had sworn to uphold combat arms fitness standards and prevent ineffective soldiers from joining, but they were ordered to make Social Justice, as defined by a system of race and sex quotas, paramount in personnel management. All while maintaining a fiction that these were anything but race and sex quotas!
What’s a self-before-service careerist to do? Why, “suck up and squirt down,” as always. If the personnel don’t meet the standards, a careerist lowers the standards, and conceals the standards plunge by any obfuscatory technique that seems to be handy. The ends justify the means — and the ends never have anything to do with combat readiness.
One way this is being done is with a new fitness assessment called the OPAT, or Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is just for soldiers trying to change jobs to a more physical specialty. It involves four exercises:
- A standing long jump;
- Seated power throw of a 2 kg (4.4lb) ball;
- Deadlift from the ground to standing erect with arms at full hang, using a trap bar;
- A new kind of shuttle run on an electric timer, which is scored by repetitions.
The political officers developing the test considered using combat-oriented tests of ability like the Ranger Physical Assessment Test, but those tests didn’t meet the prime objective of removing physical fitness as a limitation on the assignment of careerist women officers. The OPAT uses the tools of modern fitness assessment and management, but limits them to an extremely low standard, to get around the biological complication of sexual dimorphism in Homo sapiens.
For combat arms, you need to jump 160 centimeters (about 5’3″), throw the ball 450 centimeters, deadlift 160 pounds, and complete 43 lengths (one way) of the 20-meter shuttle run. The reason? For the greater glory of the Rangerettes, of course.
This new requirement comes as the Army works to integrate women into its previously closed combat specialties. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Dec. 3 lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service, paving the way for women to serve in the previously all-male infantry, armor and Special Forces fields and opening nearly 220,000 jobs across the military.
A team of OPAT experts, as part of the Army’s broader effort to educate the force on opportunities now available to female soldiers in previously closed jobs , will travel to the service’s major installations beginning later in September.
The women admitted under this standard aren’t really the problem — because the standards are sex-neutral (the credentialed-but-uneducated cretins who drafted them say “gender-neutral,” because they haven’t mastered the denotational difference between sex and gender), they will admit lots of men to combat arms, men who are as strong as the average woman.
Or, as fitness expert MAJ Nick Barringer breaks it down in another story in Army Times, for the four exercises, based on published papers: as strong as the average 12-year old Hungarian boy. As strong as average 9-to-14-year-old boys. One-sixth as strong as 13-to-15-year-old boys who had eight weeks of training with a trap bar. And as strong as a 16 to 35 year old male non-athlete in “poor” health, or a “very good” senior citizen.
Nick sums it up:
The current standard for combat arms, according to the OPAT, requires you to have the lower body power of mediocre 12-year-old, the upper body power of an elite 14-year-old, the strength of an average 13-to-15-year-old who works out, and the endurance level of a fit senior citizen.
I get that some will argue that these are the minimum physical performance requirements when correlated with basic soldier tasks in the combat MOS world. However, we are looking at the minimum standard the wrong way.
Right now, it’s being used as an access point, measuring when a soldier is at his or her best. Instead, it should be the minimum level of performance a soldier can maintain indefinitely when at his or her worst.
When these soldier tasks happen in the real world, is the individual well-rested, perfectly fueled and adequately hydrated? Probably not, so we need to start at a point where even on the worst day their power, strength, and endurance is at a level that leaves no question they can perform above and beyond the minimum requirement as long as needed.
MAJ Barringer, hope it was worth it, because you just threw your career away by failing to see the glories of the emperor’s raiment. But he’s not done:
Otherwise, the only test standard that should be raised is the number of shuttles: If an individual who barely meets the current strength and power standards happens to meet a fit prepubescent teen, they at least better be able to run.
In a way, albeit a perverse way, the OPAT approach is pure genius. The weak, unfit men who will need to be carried by their fit peers or stuffed into rear-area supernumerary positions will far outnumber the women who will need similar treatment. The women won’t look nearly as bad as they have so far, not surrounded by acres of Millennial (or is it Millenial — not based on mille annum, but mille anum?) cheetos-chewing couch commandoes.
Now, this couch potato test will not be applied to currently serving soldiers in the combat arms. The Acela aristocracy has got a bunch of wars they’ve started, and it’s not like they’re going to send their own kids (male, female, or confused) to fight them. The test will only be used to sweep volunteers from non-combat specialties through to combat arms unimpeded. The real purpose is to open the door to careerist female officers, especially Academy graduates.