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Army July 21, 2011
WITH all the media coverage about women being
allowed to be placed in combat roles and discrimina-
tion, it begs the question -- do we lower standards
for basic fitness assessments (BFAs) to allow more
women to enter in combat roles?
This would change legislation that was amended in
1995 under Section 43 of the Sex Discrimination Act,
which allowed women into all non-direct combat roles.
I personally have no problems with serving along-
side women, as long as they are held to the same
standard as their male counterparts. To achieve this, we
should show no discrimination, eliminate the separate
BFA requirement for women and hold all Army mem-
bers across the board to the same requirements regard-
less of role and gender.
Despite the differing standards for each age group,
they are applicable to all roles regardless of corps, from
the infantry soldiers on the ground, to the medics in
RAPs around Australia.
There is a requirement for a certain standard of fit-
ness for members in combat roles and this should not
be relaxed just so Defence can show it is a non-discrim-
By all means, open up roles such as infantry to
women, but demand the same level of fitness that is
expected of all infantry personnel.
Allow women to attempt selection courses for
Special Forces, but do not treat them any differently to
We as a defence force and as a society would not
expect the SF to lower their standards for anyone, and
nor should the Army as a whole.
The only way we can show ourselves to be non-
discriminatory to women, and still maintain the high
standard of fitness and excellence that is the trademark
of the ADF, is to remove all special treatment and treat
every member the same regardless of gender.
We need to ensure all soldiers can be confident that
the men or women next to them are able to carry out
their duties to the same level as every other soldier, to
the same high standard that is currently expected.
It would be detrimental to the effectiveness of the
Army as a fighting force to lower the standard to allow
women to enter combat roles if they cannot keep up
with the tempo and demanding nature of the work.
Sig Karl Sullivan
The Director of Army Health, Col Leonard Brennan,
YOUR comments in relation to BFA standards are
noted and the broad direction you are suggesting is
already contained within Army standards for physi-
cal capacity and performance.
These standards are reflected in Army's condition-
ing model and physical conditioning assessment sys-
tem. Within the ACM, the BFA remains as a measure of
baseline fitness. It provides commanders and members
with a simple assessment of physical capacity and cor-
rectly reflects baseline minimum outputs based on age
Army is, however, continuously re-evaluating the
physical employment standards required for military
A good example of this work is contained in the
Occupational Standards for Employment Categories
(OSEC) project. This project has two main compo-
nents: the new Medical Employment Classifications
(MEC) system and Physical Employment Standards
Each soldier in the Army must have the correct
MEC, as this informs employability and deployability.
The Army has commenced implementation of this
new system. PES will provide a means of assessing
if females and males are physically suitable to be
employed in combat-related trades and is aligned to the
allocation of the correct MEC.
PES will quantify the physical demands for each
employment category in the Army regardless of gender.
It will be based on essential trade tasks, performed
under operational conditions. PES for each trade will
apply regardless of age or gender and relate to demon-
strated physical proficiency.
The new MEC system and PES are important
aspects of a complex issue. They enhance the Army's
ability to transform an untrained individual into a fully
conditioned soldier with the physical and mental resil-
ience for complex modern military operations.
We will ensure we communicate to soldiers all rel-
evant information regarding the OSEC project and its
implementation between now and the end of the year.
Army requires every professional soldier to under-
stand the need to be resilient. I am confident the OSEC
will provide a robust and relevant framework that will
allow us to support all members of the Army and the
ADF regardless of age or gender.
We need fitness equality
project aims to
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