FORT STEWART, Ga. - Members of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, visited with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Spartans’” command group, as well as key leaders and staff members from the 3rd Infantry Division and the Spartan Brigade here, Jan. 24.
They were gathered to discuss the specifics to an important endeavor the Spartan Brigade is undertaking at the behest of higher command.
The 2nd ABCT is conducting the Physical Demands Study on behalf of TRADOC, and the USARIEM, in order to gather the necessary data required to develop "gender neutral physical standards." These validated standards will shape future recruiting and accessions of both males and females into the evaluated MOS’s.
As this is a very high-profile topic, that generates a wide spectrum of opinions, I thought it best to sit down with Col. Scott Jackson “Spartan 6,” commander of the 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, and ask him a few questions about the program, and the Spartans involvement, so that everyone can understand just what is going on.
The following is what he had to say.
Q: Sir, what exactly is it that our Brigade is doing in regards to the upcoming task at hand?
SPARTAN 6: Part of the Army’s Soldier 2020 program is what the Army is calling the Physical Demands Study. The study is a standards-based evaluation of selected MOS-related skills and tasks. Second Brigade’s mission is to assist with the evaluation of four MOSs, the 11B Infantryman, 11C Indirect Fire Infantryman, 19K Armor Crewman, and the 19D Cavalry Scout. Second Brigade has been asked to basically run this study in conjunction with TRADOC and USARIEM. Both male and female Spartans will participate in the study, and this will provide the data the Army needs so it can make an informed decisions not just about the integration of women into all MOSs in the Army but also set standards for future recruits prior to contracting for a particular MOS.
Q: How exactly will this study work?
SPARTAN 6: Well we are gathering data in regards to the four MOSs I just mentioned. So to do this we are establishing a platoon size element for each MOS. Those four elements will each have their own control population of male Soldiers that are already trained and operating in the MOS they are being evaluated in. Within each platoon will also be a like number of females. After a training period, both the females and males will conduct a series of tasks; some of them common to all four MOS’s, and some of them will be MOS-specific tasks that only those Soldiers in the corresponding MOS group will conduct. The purpose of the test is not evaluate it from a 'go or no-go' perspective, but to look at the physical cost and requirements of performing the tasks on both males and females.
Q: Sir, how could this process eventually affect the current standards set in place for these four MOSs? More specifically, is there any possibility of current standards being lowered to allow women to be able to participate in said MOSs?
SPARTAN 6: For many of the tasks being evaluated there is no standard currently. No where will you find a standard for filling 26 sandbags, or carrying 30 ammo cans of 25mm ammo- which are two of the evaluated tasks; and that’s okay, because the purpose of the test is to determine what the physical requirements are to be a successful infantryman, mortarman, or armor crewman. The Physical Demands Study will make it so we can identify and recruit future Soldiers that will have the necessary physical traits to perform on the battlefield, regardless of gender. Current standards will not change. We are examining the physical requirement to meet the current standards. We are gathering this data so that in the future it will be possible to pre-assess a would be Soldier’s ability to meet the standard, prior to entering their MOS, regardless of gender.
Q: When will all this be taking place Sir?
SPARTAN 6: Both the female and male testing populations will begin training on these tasks very soon. They will train for the better part of February and then conclude the study with the actual evaluation, a test period scheduled for the first couple of weeks of March.
Q: Sir what is required to make this study successful?
SPARTAN 6: Commitment and Understanding. It’s a volunteer study, so really the most important part of this is the Soldier participants. Participants in the study on both the male and female side of the house have to understand the study’s importance, and be ready to give it their all. They have to be fully committed. To get that commitment, everyone needs to understand the overall importance and role this test has for our Army. I would also add ‘teamwork.’ Our concept for this exercise has everyone working together from the start because this is not an exercise in man versus woman; it’s about evaluating and preserving Army standards.
Q: Sir, what are some challenges you see before the Spartan Brigade in accomplishing this mission?
SPARTAN 6: To be honest with you, I don’t see any challenges here. After talking to potential candidates in a briefing held a few days ago, all I saw was positive feedback. I also think these Soldiers have a good understanding of the importance of this mission, and our leaders are dedicated to setting the stage for the collection of good data.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about the study and the Spartan Brigade’s new mission?
SPARTAN 6: Yes. I personally believe that every generation gets a chance to ‘vote’ on a strategic issue for their organization, and I believe this is one of those rare opportunities. This is our chance as Spartans, as American Soldiers, to participate and help policy makers make a good, smart and informed decision. It will take dedication and commitment, and the Spartan Brigade is absolutely the best brigade to spearhead this endeavor.