Report: 85 percent of female Marine recruits failing combat job tests

Report: 85 percent of female Marine recruits failing combat job tests

More than 85 percent of female recruits for Marine combat jobs newly open to them have failed the fitness tests, according to a Tuesday report from The Associated Press.

Citing data it obtained, the AP said 6 out of 7 women, or 85.7 percent, in the last five months have failed tests that include pullups, ammunition-can lifts, a 3-mile run and combat maneuvers.

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The failure rate for women is significantly higher than for men. Forty out of about 1,500 male recruits failed the tests, according to the AP, a rate of about 2.7 percent.

The tests happen about 45 days into basic training. Those who fail are moved into other, less physically demanding Marine jobs.

The service put the physical standards, which are the same for both men and women, after the Pentagon opened all combat jobs to women late last year.

The Marines was the only military branch to request keeping some jobs closed to women, but Defense Secretary Ash Carter overruled the service.

After Carter’s announcement, a few lawmakers said they supported the move only if physical standards were not lowered to ensure women make it into the newly available roles.

Military officials have repeatedly vowed not to lower standards, but the lawmakers feared there would be political pressure to do so if women fail to meet them.

In an interview with the AP, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said the new standards have had the effect of improving everyone in the Marines, male or female. That’s because prior to the new tests, the 40 men who have failed would not have been denied combat jobs.

"I think that's made everybody better," Neller told the AP. "We're trying to raise everybody's bar a little bit and we're trying to figure out how to get closer together, because at the end of the day we're all going to be on the battlefield and we all have to be able to do our job."

Neller, though, acknowledged it will be an adjustment for men to have women in their previously all-male units.

“I think a lot of the talk is more just maybe they're nervous about the unknown," he told the AP. "But there are some things we're going to have to work through."