News: 2nd BCT soldiers participate in Soldier 2020 Study
Story by Sgt. Vincent Byrd
FORT BLISS, Texas — More than 60 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division participated in a physical demand study conducted here, Dec. 9-13, 2013.
The physical demand study is part of “Soldier 2020,” a scientific approach for the Army led by Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC, to identify and validate standards for high demand tasks in its Combat Arms branches. The main purpose of the study is to ensure the defined tasks are executed without compromising readiness or mission accomplishment regardless of gender.
In 2011, the Army began assessing the barriers that impede female Soldier participation in different military occupations that were previously closed to women. In 2012, more than 14,000 positions were opened to female soldiers. In January 2013, the secretary of defense in collaboration with the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, also known as DGCAR, a memorandum restricting women from direct ground combat.
The Army is taking a deliberate approach to open the remaining specialties without sacrificing warfighting capability or the trust of the American people.
The study is separated into five phases that will go through the end of 2015. “I volunteered for this study so that the future female soldiers will have the option to join a [combat arms] MOS, if that’s the job they want,” said Pfc. Brooke Ballagh, a health care specialist assigned to 2nd BCT, 1st AD.
The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, and Army Research Institute are working together to develop an accurate assessment of soldiers performing identified tasks. USARIEM is using a scientific approach in collecting the data. Male and female soldiers wore a full combat load and conducted and specified task their heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen consumption were monitored and recorded. The intent of this study is to determine performance standards regardless of gender.
U.S. Army TRADOC, is focusing its efforts on the engineer, field artillery, armor and infantry branches, which include some of the most physically demanding jobs in the Army: 11B Infantryman, 11C Mortarman, 12B Combat Engineer, 13B Cannon Crewmember, 13F Fire Support Specialist, 19D Cavalry Scout and 19K Armor Crewmen. TRADOC, along with other research institutions, identified 31 common and physically demanding tasks in these career fields. Tasks like building a fighting position, road marching, casualty evacuation and inserting 25mm barrel into a Bradley fighting vehicle are tasks commonly associated with these specialties.
“I think it’s a good [study] for those females who actually want to be part of this MOS,” said Spc. Zandra Green, a unit supply specialist in 2nd BCT, 1st AD. “If she is able to complete the task to standard, I see no problem with her being part of one of these MOS,” she said referring to the tasks being evaluated.
“If they can handle the job and the physical demand it takes to complete the job let them serve; we are all soldiers at the end of the day,” said Pfc. Neil Burcham, a cannon crew member with 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT, 1st AD.
TRADOC’s overall efforts will ensure success at the organizational and individual soldiers level.
“The reason why we are doing the study is to help identify the standard, so we can have the right soldiers that fit that MOS,” said John Myers, TRADOC plans analyst.
The goal of the study is to identify the best qualified soldiers for the job. The Army’s future will require more mental agility, teamwork and resilience from all soldiers regardless of race or gender, as the Army continues to cultivate a climate of equal opportunity for all soldiers.
Spc. Patricia Nunez, a human intelligence collector with 2nd BCT, 1st AD, said a woman can accomplish anything in life if she puts her mind to it.
“I volunteered for this study because I wanted to test my physical ability, how far I can push my body,” she said.
Soldiers 2020 reflects the Army’s efforts to address policies on women in combat. In May 2013, the Army submitted an implementation plan to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of defense. Complete integration of women into all positions will be effective no later than Jan. 1, 2016.