Basic Training and Gender or Women in the Military Research Proposal

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¶ … Training Women for the MilitarynEven as the lines between combat and non-combat assignments become increasingly blurred and women who are assigned combat roles find themselves in active war zones, there remain a number of questions about how women are to be integrated into the military. Some of these questions arise from simple sexism: People who think that women do not belong in the military can find reasons to support their position. Other objections to or questions about women's role in the military are more complicated. Some critics of women's full integration into the military arise from arguments about how physically fit they are.nIn this paper I will examine some questions about the fitness of women in the military in terms of designing an exercise program that would help women soldiers become as fit as they need to be. This research project is designed to assess what elements of a fitness program are most effective for women and to determine how well these aspects of the program match up with the parameters of current military fitness programs.nBefore proceeding to the research design that I am proposing, I would like to explore briefly some of the parameters of the assumptions about the ways in which women are currently trained for military duty and how well current modes of training match the requirements of fitness for the modern soldier. The argument that all soldiers (regardless of gender) should be fit may seem neutral -- after all, who can argue with the idea that soldiers should be physically fit? However, arguments about how fit women should be often contain sexist assumptions.nBasic Training in the Twenty-First CenturynThese assumptions -- that women cannot be as fit as men -- arise in part from the ways in which the U.S. military units measure fitness. Soldiers cannot graduate from boot camp without passing physical tests that emphasize upper-arm strength, a form of strength that favors men's genetically determined musculature. This prompts a series of questions, but they can essentially all be answered under the rubric of how well current training reflects the kind of high-tech warfare that is now the norm? And how much does it reflect an older mode of warfare? nThe algorithm involved in setting the current standards are complicated and even tortured. Women are barred from combat duty and yet are subjected to the same basic training requirements that are men -- but they do not have to meet the same standards. Standards that are clearly designed to meet the needs and strengths of male recruits. When considering this circular set of reasoning, it is difficult to know how to assess the physical fitness of women in the military.nDoes one try to prepare them to be combat soldiers? Is this the direction in which the U.S. military will go? Is this even a relevant question given the ways in which non-combat soldiers are frequently exposed to danger? Or if the military is dedicated to keeping women out of formally designated combat roles, is there any reason to train them to meet the types of physical demands that male soldiers -- who will go into combat -- have to meet?nThe following citation summarizes these issues, noting that the ways in which women are trained by the military reflect a very limited idea of physical strength. What is most striking about this summary is that the article is from almost thirty years ago -- a point in military strategy and technology in which traditional measures of strength were less relevant.nMost of the current arguments, says Rogan, center on physical strength and its importance in soldiering. But, she points out, women are growing up stronger because of school sports programs under Title IX. Even if most women cannot do as many chin-ups or run as far as fast as most men, can they still make capable modern soldiers? Regan's answer, which the book mainly bears out, is yes (O'Reilly, 1981).nOr is the best answer to have different soldiers train for the positions that they will be most successful in, regardless of the gender of the soldier -- even though the effect of such training will in all likelihood lead to a de facto segregation of training program. A possible example of this would be to select soldiers who are likely to be the best shots and give them extra training in this area. If this were to be done, then the majority of sharpshooters might well be women: "Women often do better at riflery than men because they listen to instruction while men tend to think they know it all" (O'Reilly, 1981).nArguably one of the major reasons that current physical fitness programs in the military are structured the way that they are is because there is sufficient misogyny in the armed forces to set up programs in which women will necessarily fail. The following on-line comments are typical of this attitude. The first describes himself as "Medically Retired 11B4V. Former instructor":nYour basic training is going to be a cake-walk and all the male trainees are going to get over, too, because in gender-integrated training, the weakest are in charge! I called it the "Barney Army" when I was an instructor at Ft. Jackson and many of the higher-ups reacted with anger, but not disbelief, that I would think such a thing.nGo ahead. Stand there in formation at graduation and pat yourself on the back for having undergone such an ordeal and for having "earned" that black beret but the truth is, all you've done is passed as the lowest common denominator and deprived those who are stronger from "being all that they can be".nI can guarantee you that the typical grad from your gender-integrated BCT unit would not make it through two weeks of Infantry OSUT. You are going into the weak, watered-down version of the Army. Be proud. (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100121052640AAZ1xPL)nA second quote (by an Army MP) from this same source reflects the same attitude. It is important to note that these quotes are only a few weeks old: They reflect current attitudes in the military.nsame training ....yes same standards far from itnif a guy does 42 push ups 53 sit ups and runs his two miles in 15:54 he gets a score of 180 on the pt test which is the bare minimum, howeverna girl has to do 19 push ups 53 sit ups and gets about 19 minutes to do there run ....ni kinda think that is retarded because as a dear friend of mine said "bullets dont travel faster for men and slower for females" also i dont wanna be in a firefight one day and sprinting to where i need to be and have someone who "passed the pt test" still lagging behindnI have presented the above description of the current state of physical training for women because any experiment designed to initiate new forms of physical training must take into account the current methods as well as current attitudes. The presumption of this paper is that there may be changes in the physical fitness regimens in the military that will benefit not only female soldiers but the service a a whole. That presumption is based on the fact that there are problems and contradictions -- as well as anachronisms -- in the current modes of training that could be ameliorated. Before exploring such possibilities, it is important to note that such changes might well be dismissed summarily by military officials.nResearch DesignnThe key to the following research design is the existence of a control group on whom no interventions are performed. In this case, this means that the control group will consist of a group of female soldiers who undergo physical conditioning as it is currently carried out in the armed forces. The function of a control group is that it provides a baseline. The results of the control group (such as how well women trained in the current methods fare in terms of passing basic training) are compared to the results of other groups (in this case, women who are trained in different ways. nThere will also be three other groups that are treated in a variety of different ways, with different variables (or interventions) being tried in each case. I should note that in the real world, it might be difficult to get one of the armed forces to agree to such an experiment given that the services are in many ways conservative and that the way in which basic training is conducted has a great deal of mythology about it.nThis does not mean that basic training has not changed over time, for it has -- and it has changed even during the course of the current two wars, as described below:nChanging civilians into Soldiers is what TRADOC does as the architect of the Army, and that involves changing with the times. Gone are the days when recruits arrived at basic training to learn just the fundamentals of weaponry, how to fight from a foxhole, how to march in parade formations… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Basic Training and Gender or Women in the Military.  (2010, February 14).  Retrieved January 25, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/basic-training-gender-women-military/4595

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"Basic Training and Gender or Women in the Military."  Essaytown.com.  February 14, 2010.  Accessed January 25, 2020.
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