Fort Drum— Since February 6, 2004, the Army implemented Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response and Prevention (S.H.A.R.P.), a training program created in order to reduce sexual harassment and promote gender equality.
Nine years later, the class could not be timelier since Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifted the ban on women serving in combat roles. Master Sgt., Division Public Affairs NCOIC, Damian Steptore explained that the elimination of the ban only changes the assignment policy, removing gender-based restrictions. “There are no changes with our physical fitness requirements” said Master Sgt. Steptore, “and at the moment, the Army is not sure if it will remain the same or change in the future.”
A PFC., who’s actual special skill is sniper, stated in an anonymous interview that he would want maximum protection while in combat and wouldn’t feel safe having a woman backing him up. In combat, one would need to add 60 pounds worth of gear to a person’s body weight. So, if a woman weighed 120 pounds that would make her now 180 pounds. If a male soldier weighed 180, plus 60 pounds worth of gear would bring his total body weight to 240 pounds. A 120 pound woman would need to be physically capable of carrying her own gear and also able to carry the weight of an injured male soldier, if he were to get hit.
However, physical fitness requirements for men and women in the Army and other branches of military service are completely different. Male soldiers have more arduous physical fitness requirements than female soldiers and yet, both would have to be able to perform the exact same job now.
According to the Army, if an assignment is in conflict with department guiding principles, exceptions would be considered that may prohibit women being assigned to certain jobs.
Currently, closed positions will be opened to women following Army review, using the Joint Chiefs’ guiding principles and following the congressional notification procedures established by law.