Arnold Ahlert / March 18, 2021

An Army of Social Justice Warriors

Lowering standards for the sake of “equity” for women will harm military readiness.

“Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” was one of the 17 executive orders President Joe Biden’s handlers got him to sign on his first day in office. It states that “all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” In short, wholly irrespective of biological and chromosomal reality, the Biden administration and its supporters now consider “man” and “woman” to be interchangeable concepts. Yet if that’s the case, then why is the United States Army considering a reversal of its new “gender-neutral physical test” and including different evaluation categories for men and women?

“Research showed that the Army Combat Fitness Test [ACFT], which is the same for male and female soldiers, was leading to lower results for women with a knock-on effect for promotions,” reports The Telegraph. “An early Pentagon study showed that women were failing the ACFT at a rate of 65 per cent, while only 10 percent of men did.”

A report issued late last fall showed a similar discrepancy with 54% of women failing to make the grade, compared to only 7% of men, during the second quarter of 2020. “In the ACFT there are six events — the maximum deadlift, a standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, a sprint, drag and carry, leg tuck, and a two-mile run,” the report explained. “To pass the test those taking it must score at least 360 points out of a possible 600, and those who achieve higher scores are more likely to be promoted. However, average scores for women so far are said to have been 100 points lower.”

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who served as Army secretary until 2019, was unmoved. “If you can’t pass the Army Combat Fitness Test, then there’s probably not a spot for you in the Army,” he said in 2018, after planning for the test was revealed.

Not quite. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the military’s once-primary mission — fighting and winning wars — is no longer its top priority. As The Washington Post explains, the test in its current form “has yielded a dramatic gender gap, raising questions about whether the service might unintentionally compound barriers for women trying to move up the ranks … in an institution already struggling to shed historical gender and racial disparities.”

Such “disparities” have been brought to the attention of Congress, which has now put a stop to the test’s implementation. Meanwhile, the Army is conducting an independent review to determine whether or not the test is “fair.”

Fair to whom? The current ACFT was developed over seven years and specifically designed to simulate aspects of combat, such as dodging enemy fire or dragging a wounded comrade across a field. Officials explain that 20 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed inadequacies in the Army’s previous training regimen. Inadequacies that engendered frequent injuries.

Regardless, the political pressure is apparently on and the orchestrations to accommodate it will now include “gender-specific” evaluation categories aimed at ensuring the aforementioned equal levels of promotion between the sexes. These include separate percentile bands for men and women that would be gender-blind when soldiers go before a promotion board. “We are not going to artificially inflate the raw score for women, but we have to figure out a way to make it fair to both genders,” an unnamed Army official said.

Why? Didn’t Biden’s executive order eliminate “gender differences”? Weren’t those who complained that men identifying as women would dominate athletic events dismissed as bigoted or transphobic, while supporters insisted there should be no restrictions imposed on transgender athletes?

Isn’t ensuring the military maintains a single standard of lethality even more important than what happens in sports?

Apparently not. “The need to broaden the recruiting pool to meet the increasingly technical realities of war runs counter to the endless pursuit of fitness as a measure of readiness,” asserted Emma Moore, a Research Associate for the Military, Veterans, and Society program at the Center for a New American Security. Moore did acknowledge that physical fitness is important, but using such tests as a filter for retention and promotion “leads to repercussions that can arbitrarily hold women back.”

Captain Kristen Griest, the Army’s first female infantry officer, disagrees. “The drastically lower female standards of the old Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) not only jeopardized mission readiness in combat units but also reinforced the false notion that women are categorically incapable of performing the same job as men,” she writes.

It’s a false notion the Army apparently endorses: One of the expected changes in the test will be how core body strength is measured. Rather than hanging from a bar and tucking their legs to their chests, soldiers will be given the option of doing a two-minute plank exercise. That alternative was “temporarily” introduced last year in response to a high failure rate by women.

Now it appears the change will become permanent. “What we’re really trying to figure out is how do you incentivize excellence in improving physical fitness without adversely impacting any demographic negatively within the Army,” explained Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commanding general of the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT), which designed the new test.

The military’s concern with “demographics” is quite revealing. It suggests that, much like other aspects of America culture, merit will be replaced by “equity.”

Hence, style becomes as important as substance. As President Biden explained, “We’re making good progress designing body armor that fits women properly; tailoring combat uniforms for women; creating maternity flight suits; updating — updating requirements for their hairstyles.” Biden also signed another executive order approving “sex reassignment” surgery for active-duty personnel.

Again, what does any of this have to do with military preparedness? For even asking the question, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was excoriated by a cadre of military personnel who took him to task for daring to state that “the U.S. military exists to fight and win wars” and that it is “not an NGO, it is not a vehicle for achieving equity, it’s not a social experiment, it’s definitely not an employment agency.”

The military’s response? “I want to be very clear right up front, that the diversity of our military is one of our greatest strengths,” insisted Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby.

The DOD also posted a tweet, stating, “Women were limited to supporting roles in the military early on. Since then, women have made great strides to shatter glass ceilings within the military.”

Perhaps shattering glass ceilings — as opposed to shattering enemies — is the best we can expect going forward.

Along with rigid ideological conformity: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a February 5 memo directing commanders to institute a one-day stand-down within 60 days to address “extremism” within the ranks.

Make that some extremism. “The prevalence of extremist and white supremacist ties among service members and veterans was expected to be an urgent issue for President Biden and Austin, who is the first Black man to lead the Pentagon,” NPR reported.

Extremist and white supremacist ties as defined by whom? For a military intent on turning genuine warriors into social justice warriors, the answer is irrelevant.

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