One team one fight: 1st Cav participates in new study
July 24, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - The secretary of defense rescinded the direct ground combat assignment rule, which stated that women could not serve in certain duty positions.
While groundbreaking, this action did not open all of the military occupational specialties that are currently closed to women. In the effort to make strides toward opening all MOSs, the Army is executing a study to assess the physical demands required to do those jobs.
Soldiers assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division participated in the gender neutral physical demands study as part of this assessment July 10-18 here.
The study was designed to predict a Soldier's ability to perform the most physically demanding tasks of currently closed military occupational specialties.
"(The secretary of defense) also specified that in opening these MOSs, we had to scientifically develop occupational physical performance standards for those jobs," said Jack Myers, a planner in the Training and Doctrine Command's G-3/5/7 section.
Male combat engineers and female Soldiers in various MOSs completed a predictive test and simulation tasks that tested their upper and lower body strength and their endurance level.
The goal of the study was to see the relationship between the results of the predictive tests and simulated tasks.
Myers said the study was basically creating a physical Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery that screens applicants looking to join the Army for potential jobs. Once approved, the "physical ASVAB" may be implemented at military entrance processing stations and recruiting stations.
"We know what combat engineers have to do," Myers said. "The question is, what do they have to do to accomplish that."
In September, Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team participated in a verification process to determine the physical performance requirements of the tasks.
While performing the tasks, scientists physically measured how hard the Soldiers were working. Soldiers' heart rates were continuously checked by heart rate monitors.
The different tasks measured different components of fitness to include lower and upper body strength, speed, power and endurance.
"Soldiers have to meet certain standards (for their jobs), and right now we're proving that we can," said Pvt. Rae Joseph, a Bronx, New York, native.
Joseph, a multiple launch rocket system operations specialist assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Cav. Div., said she enjoyed being a part of the study.
"It was hard, but it wasn't impossible," Joseph said. "This test works out everything. It even works you mentally."
Joseph is one of about five females in her unit.
Although the study focuses on integrating females into combat MOSs, the tests that will eventually derive from the study's result will be given to all incoming Soldiers, regardless of gender.
"If the secretary of defense said tomorrow, 'This gender integration in combat units, we're not going to do that,' this study will still be very important, because we can't waste time having Soldiers who don't have the physical capabilities to be successful in an MOS get hurt," said Edward Zambraski, a consultant in the Military Performance Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
Zambraski said the study not only helps cut down on potential injuries sustained in the Army, but it also helps get the right Soldier in the right job early.
Pfc. Jeremy Barrientes, a combat engineer assigned to Company B, 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div., said he is all for having females in combat jobs.
Through the various tasks, Barrientes had to overcome his own set of challenges. Even in his MOS, he said there are things he must work harder at.
"Being as short as I am, I see a lot of things I have to overcome," said Barrientes, a Lubbock, Texas, native. "We work with a lot of heavy weaponry, and you have to have some type of strength to get there."
Although Barrientes stands 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 119 pounds, he feels he is physically capable of doing his job, and the study helped prove that.
"I feel this study will help people coming into the Army a lot," Barrientes said. "I think these tests are physically challenging enough to know if someone is capable of doing the job."
After completing the tasks that included extracting a simulated casualty from a gunner's hatch, dragging a 270-pound simulated casualty 15 meters, creating a fighting position by carrying a total of 16 sandbags 10 meters, and completing a step-up task with an extra estimated 50 pounds, everyone - male and female, was exhausted.
The sound of Soldiers' steady breathing gave way to heavy breathing while sweat formed on their once dry foreheads.
"This test will help people determine if they want a physically demanding job and just how demanding it may be," said Pfc. Elisha Topete, a supply specialist assigned to Company D, 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div.
Topete, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, said if the Army implements the predictive test before Soldiers join, the Soldiers will not be surprised by their job after joining.
"By having this study, it will give Soldiers a better idea of what to expect from their job" she said.
Studies will also be performed on the following MOSs: indirect fire infantryman (mortarman), infantryman, cannon crewmember, fire support specialist (forward observer), cavalry scout, and M1 tank crewmember.