A reader writes:
The female veteran wrote: "It’s just biology; men have more muscles in their bodies. It may seem unfair, but physical fitness matters in battle." Yeah, and solving the problem is not excluding women from certain roles, but those who can't meet the standards. If that means few women make it, so be it. But the test should be based on standards, not gender.
Another is on the same page:
This last reader's comment seems to call for the institution of a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) for certain combat positions. As someone who is completely in favor of women's participation in combat (if they so wish), this seems completely reasonable to me. In the field of employment discrimination law, if an employer can prove that a certain occupation absolutely requires certain physical attributes, and can test for those attributes in a neutral way, that is a BFOQ, and is a legal defense for accusations of employment discrimination. No doubt the armed forces would be able to make good cases for a BFOQ for certain combat positions.
A few readers questioned the veracity of the veteran:
I just read the supposed testimonial from the person who claims to be a woman veteran who was in the top 5% of her company, and I call bullshit. I am not a veteran and have never done basic training, but this line is the giveaway: "Thirty pounds of my own equipment was about all I could manage for 12-mile hikes." I am a 44-year-old working mother, 5'2", and 110 lbs. I am much smaller than most women. I have been active and athletic my whole life, but I work in a professional office in front of a computer. With very little advance prep, I can (and do) easily backpack for multiple days carrying a 40-50 lb pack.
I expect you'll see a lot more from active duty men and women on this. It just reeks of how someone against this policy would like to prove themselves right.
Update from a reader:
The response to the vet who speaks of carrying a 30 pound ruck is wrong and obviously, as she admits, from a civilian. A 12-mile march in the Army is not the same as a 12-mile stroll through a national park. Along with that rucksack, the soldier will also carry her weapon (7 pounds minimum), a gas mask, load bearing harness, a couple quart canteens of water or a full Camel Back, possibly body armor, a Kevlar helmet, and any other gear in her numerous uniform pockets. Oh yeah, she's also wearing combat boots. These marches – also known as forced marches for a reason – are often done in extreme types of weather with few occasions for rest. The soldier marches at a very quick pace, stretching her stride as long as physically possible. It's hardly a walk in the park.