Female Marines Will Have to do Pull-Ups by 2014

New standards shrink training gap between women and men.

U.S Marine Jennifer Esch, 28, practices choking Staff Sgt. John Abney during a martial arts course at Camp Commando in Kuwait, Nov. 28, 2002.

U.S Marine Jennifer Esch, 28, practices choking Staff Sgt. John Abney during a martial arts course in Kuwait, Nov. 28, 2002.


All female Marines will have to perform pull-ups as a part of their physical fitness tests by 2014, the Marine Corps announced Tuesday, replacing the current practice of a flexed arm hang.

The change to the Female Physical Fitness Test, or PFT, will take place over two phases, according to a Tuesday announcement from Commandant Gen. James Amos. A transition period will begin on January 1, 2013 to allow commanders and female Marines to adjust to the change. By the beginning of 2014, the flexed arm hang will still be a part of the initial testing for female Marine recruits and officer candidates, but they will have to perform pull-ups to graduate.

A perfect score according to the new physical requirements will be eight pull-ups. Women will have to perform at least three.

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The change comes amid a testing period in the Marine Corps, which has temporarily lifted restrictions on women training for combat positions. This includes two female officers who began, but did not pass, the Marines' grueling Infantry Officers Course this fall. Women are currently not allowed to serve in ground combat roles in the military.

At least one female Marine welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate herself on equal footing to her male compatriots.

"As a female, I feel that I have spent more time proving I was not a stereotype to my male counterparts as opposed to doing my job next to them," says Danielle Jarousse, a Marine reservist who served on active duty from 2006 to 2011 as a CH-53E helicopter technician. "Men have commented over and over about females not doing pull-ups and here is our chance."

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The current PFT mandates all Marines do sit-ups and a timed 3-mile run. The men would also do pull-ups. The women would perform the flexed arm hang, involving gripping a bar with palms facing out or inward and starting with the chin at level with or above the bar, according to Marine Corps training information. They can be helped to this position. Time stops when there is no longer any "flexion at the elbow."

Jarousse, now a government employee and CrossFit competitor and coach, says many of the Marine standards for women are not practical. She can perform 10 dead hang pull ups, run a mile in 6:48 and dead-lift over 300 lbs, she says. Yet despite her 5-foot 9-inch frame and 30-inch waist, she adds, the Marine Corps weight restrictions deemed her not physically fit by the old standards.

"The new ALMar should be amazing," says Jarousse of the new "All Marine Corps Activities" announcement. "I am 100 percent in support of [it]."

This story was first reported by MarineCorpsTimes.com.

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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at pshinkman@usnews.com