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Preparing for Combat Readiness for the Fight: Physical Performance Profile of Female US Marines
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA SAN DIEGO United States
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Females have been restricted from serving in direct combat arms positions for decades. One reason for the exclusion derives from the perceived physical demands of these positions. As a result, many current efforts are directed toward defining the physical demands of combat arms positions. The purpose of this study was to develop a physical performance and body composition profile of females who could overcome the physical demands of combat tasks that rely primarily on upper body strength. This study is based on an analysis of archival data from 2 separate samples of active-duty female Marines n 802, who had been recruited to participate in heavy lifting tasks. These tasks included lifting a heavy machine gun HMG lift cohort 1, n 423 and Clean and Press lifts 29.5-52.3 kg cohort 2, n 379. To develop the physical performance profile, data from annual physical fitness tests were collected, which included run times, ammunition can lift, 804. Seven-meter 880-yard movement to contact, and the maneuver under fire. In cohort 1, 65 females 15 n 423 females successfully completed HMG in cohort 2, 33 females 9 n 379 females successfully completed another strength task, a Clean and Press of 52.3 kg. In both samples, female Marines who were successful on these tasks also outperformed their unsuccessful counterparts on the annual physical fitness tests. In addition, larger females typically outperformed their smaller counterparts. Females seeking assignment to closed combat arms positions would thus be well served by targeting upper body strength, while maintaining overall physical fitness.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE