Women: Front-line Duties & Fitness Requirements

This question was posed in the December 2014 issue of Soldier Magazine by an anonymous soldier:

“With regard to the debate on females possibly being allowed to carry out front-line combat duties in Infantry units, can someone tell me whether the fitness requirements will be adjusted if they are permitted to fill these roles? Currently, other regiments give women a little extra time on aerobic assessments and require them to do fewer press-ups, for example. When both sexes are deployed to do the same job they should hit the same requirements physically, in my opinion, just as we would have to on all other courses. And if we do make physical assessments gender neutral for the Infantry then why not apply that to the rest of the Army? Surely, it would enhance our overall combat effectiveness and I know that other Nato armies now widely use such assessments.”

Lieutenant Colonel Sheff Appleby RAPTC, SO1 Physical Development within D Trg (A), responded:

“Only our basic personal fitness assessment takes into account age and gender. This test is used by the Army mainly to gauge an individual’s commitment to personal conditioning. But gender neutral testing does apply with the annual fitness test (AFT), which contains an eight-mile loaded march over varying terrain in two hours carrying weights determined by career employment groups, which are cap badge and trade specific. The AFT measures basic military-specific fitness for employment and role and is the stop check for progression onto training for operations. Once that next stage is under way you are again assessed on a gender-neutral basis. You take one of six tests determined by the commander who has already examined the demands of the role concerned.”


Soldier (2014) ‘Will Female Fitness Go Up a Gear?’ Soldier: The Magazine of the British Army. December 2014, pp.57.


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