PULL-UPS - PULLING DOWN THE CORPS
by Andy Weddington
Friday, 10 January 2014
"The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God." Euclid
THE MARINE CORPS BUILDS MEN
That was a slogan on sundry U. S. Marine Corps recruiting posters for decades.
Today that slogan, that was more than a slogan - it was reality (the kind of men, rough ones, George Orwell referred to that stand ready to do violence on our behalf so we may sleep peaceably in our beds at night) - is considered sexist, homophobic, and politically incorrect. And that's just for starters.
Today's Marine Corps is - against all laws of biology; chemistry; physiology; physics; ergonomics; evolution; and Mother Nature - trying to build women into men (while there are some 'men' who cannot be built into men).
And it's not working.
Gender-neutrality (essentially building men into women) is designed to fix the problem.
But in the news recently is report that the new physical strength testing standard for women Marines - 3 pull-ups - has been suspended. Indefinitely possibly. Forever a better endstate.
Data showed only 45% of females tested could perform 3 pull-ups.
Marines, past and present, do not believe that data. Those women (in the 45%) did not perform 3 strict dead hang pull-ups. That is, starting from a complete straight arm dead hang; pulling straight up, without use of legs kipping or rocking, until chin clears the bar; returning to a complete straight arm dead hang; pausing a second; and completing 3 repetitions. Not just suspect. Do not believe it.
The true number is likely less than 10% - were execution of the exercise strictly enforced. Though such strictness hardly fits with the definition of gender-neutral.
But the number is moot. Never mind the pull-ups.
And never mind the other irrelevant nonsensical carefully orchestrated gender-neutral field tests. For a short stint on the PT field - laboring to perform physical tasks once, twice, or a few times under simulated conditions - is not day-in and day-out life in a ground combat unit (especially the infantry) where strength and stamina is necessary and routine (training area and battlefield).
A retired Marine recently wrote me, 'Forget pull-ups and all the other not necessarily relevant measures for determining strength and stamina and performance dictated by battlefield chaos. How about reality?'
Correct, how about reality. Turns out I've been thinking about that.
Thus, for example, consider a notional fireteam in an infantry battalion...
Team Leader: 6' 2" 187 lbs (male)
Automatic Rifleman: 5' 11" 170 lbs (male)
Grenadier: 5' 10" 190 lbs (male)
Rifleman: 5' 6" 119 lbs (female)
Note weights are without gear and weapons.
Now consider the team is engaged in a raging firefight. The team leader is seriously wounded - stranded on the battlefield. Death is certain if not rescued. The automatic rifleman and grenadier are not positioned to rescue their leader. The rifleman is not only closest but has the safest path to render aid and carry him to safety. Alas, she cannot do the job, her duty. Why? Physics et al., are in play.
Yet all the males in the fireteam are capable of rescuing her should such be necessary. So much for equality. And gender-neutrality. The team leader dies. Senselessly.
And for politics a Marine unit, at the nitty-gritty fighting level, is not mission capable.
Furthermore, why has the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (the test bed and clearing house for all ideas serious and silly by means of 'Special Purpose - Experimental') not stood up a female rifle company, within a deploying infantry battalion, and monitored the reality experiment? I've called for an all-female battalion in past commentary but will settle for a company.
The answer known.
There's little else of importance to offer.
The matter of males being ordered into ground combat MOSs and females volunteering (and taller heavier females) - sexism, discrimination, and more - is another conversation as there is more than size and strength at issue.
The pull-up - but mostly flaccidity in head, heart, and elsewhere in Congress, DoD, and the Corps - is pulling down the Corps. And how serendipitous, spooky really, 'pull up' is an aviation term to prevent flying a machine into the ground.
Ugly. And uglier still it'll get - until lots of men, and women, are recklessly injured and killed; training and combat. This is the citizenry's to fix. A draft will awaken them.
But, chin up, Marines. Take solace gender-neutral uniforms (a recent imbroglio), and undergarments, are not seabag issue; yet.
What follows is battlefield reality. It's not theory. It happened. And it happened where most violence and horror happens - at the small unit, the fireteam, level.
This remarkable heroism was brought to my attention after building the notional fireteam above - proving there's no need to invent anything. And there's nothing like fact, experience, and common sense, as basis for courage telling the truth - a commitment to this forum that will be honored.
Bravo, Staff Sergeant Timothy Williams. Semper Fi, Marine!
THE MARINE CORPS BUILDS MEN - STILL
Over the course of 26+ years, I served with and led many a fine female Marine. None, to my knowledge, were capable of doing even a handful of correct pull-ups. And none of them had any business in a ground combat unit. And that goes for some male Marines, too. Though all were rifleman. And rightfully so.