America’s first female Army Infantrymen are here, but not all of them made it through.
In fact, only eighteen of the thirty-two female infantry recruits made it through the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort Benning, Georgia.
While the attrition rate doesn’t seem all that alarming, it strikes a more concerning tone when factoring in that the females needed only to meet the much-lower female standards for physical fitness that separate them from their previously all-male counterparts.
That said, there were some women who certainly gave their male colleagues a run for their money.
“There was even one female that did better than 90 percent of the males on the PT test,” said one 22-year-old male trainee, who reportedly had high PT scores. “Speaking as the person who had the second-highest PT score- she had me looking over my soldier the whole cycle. It was something that definitely made me better, and maybe kept me up nights a few times. But certainly by the end of the cycle, I was doing more push-ups, because I had her chasing me.”
However, some sources who graduated from within the unit -whom requested concealed identities to protect their new careers- claimed a clear double-standard between males and females in their training cycle, including lighter rucksacks and lower expectations.
“No way,” one soldier told Popular Military when asked if women were held to the same standards. “Lighter rucks, things like that.”
The females graduated from the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment last Friday, stepping off Benning’s grounds as the first female junior enlisted infantrymen.
According to the Army Times, the new breed have been sent off to new assignments, with some heading to Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division and others awaiting airborne school for their eventual transfer to Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division.
Leadership attributed the high female attrition rates in the class -nearly fifty percent- to a private’s size and stamina when carrying the standard 35-pound rucksack and combat loads, with most of the women only around or under 5’4 and weighing less than 125 pounds.
Still, the fact remains that over half made it through the training, ushering in a new era for the United States Army.
“A lot of the females, when they started, in the beginning- I would think one way, I’ll be honest with you,” said Sgt. 1st Class Karen Carter, a senior drill sergeant. “But they were incredible. Regardless of how much they weighed or size.”
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