Harold Hutchison, DCNF
- The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) released a policy analysis that called changes to the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) “an April Fool’s joke.”
- The military advocacy group blamed officials from both the Trump and Biden administrations for the “fiasco.”
- Women struggled to pass multiple versions of the ACFT, leading to the revised guidelines, the CMR report said.
- “It takes a lot more physicality to be in the infantry, or Special Forces, or artillery unit than it does to be a cyberwarrior, or to be a cook or logistician,” Republican Florida Rep. and former Green Beret Michael Waltz told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A military advocacy group labeled changes to the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) “an April Fool’s joke” due to the scrapping of gender-neutral standards in a report released Thursday.
Civilian and military leaders under both the Trump and Biden administrations bear blame for “miscalculations and mistakes in judgement,” the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) Policy Analysis provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. The group noted that 85% of women were failing the first gender-neutral version of the test, leading to two sets of revisions after “congressional pressure” that led to a 2021 RAND corporation study.
The CMR report called out multiple high-level military and civilian national security officials as “architects of this fiasco.”
“I think it made sense to move to a gender-neutral construct that was focused on the physical needs of the job,” Republican Florida Rep. Michael Waltz, a former Green Beret, told the DCNF in an interview. “It takes a lot more physicality to be in the infantry, or Special Forces, or artillery unit than it does to be a cyberwarrior, or to be a cook or logistician.”
“Now they’re moving backwards,” Waltz added.
As the Army rolls out its Army Combat Fitness Test, more evidence is needed to prove that all six test events adequately predict performance on combat tasks or reduce injury risks and that combat task performance is a necessary metric for all Army jobs. https://t.co/Ta6sqaoXll
— RAND Health (@RANDHealth) April 7, 2022
“RAND gathered data from 630,000 tests with 460,000 soldiers, and the results were dismal,” the CMR report said, noting that only 52% of women passed the third version of the ACFT compared to 92% of men.
“After release of the RAND report, the Army announced ACFT 4.0, which reneged on previous promises to implement gender-neutral standards,” the CMR report went on to say. The group noted that in a Jan. 24, 2013 press conference, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that standards would be questioned if not enough women passed.
The CMR Policy Analysis cited reports that female students at the Army’s Ranger School were allowed to remain despite “major errors” in 2015 and claims from a whistleblower that a woman training to be an Air Force combat controller was invited back in 2018 despite failing the Special Tactics course.
“Now that policies exempting women from the combat arms have been totally eliminated, gender-normed tests and scores are no longer tenable,” the report said.
#ICYMI @SecArmy issued an Army Directive outlining a time-phased implementation of a revised Army Combat Fitness Test. Changes made to the ACFT incorporate feedback from Soldiers and independent analysis of test performance. #ArmyFit ⬇️ https://t.co/0ilBVVYu5X pic.twitter.com/0TI0bFTCcM
— U.S. Army Materiel Command (@ArmyMateriel) March 31, 2022
The report also warned that “unnecessary casualties and mission failures in environments where physical strength matters” could result from “gender diversity quotas.”
“With ‘diversity’ assigned priority in today’s woke military, why would gender-neutral standards work any better in advanced training for the infantry or Special Operations Forces?,” it added.
The Department of Defense did not respond to an email from the DCNF requesting comment.
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