WASHINGTON - The US Marine Corps has delayed a physical fitness requirement for women after more than half of female troops at boot camp couldn't do three pullups, officers said Thursday.
The pullup rule was supposed to go into effect with the new year but has been postponed indefinitely as commanders were concerned about losing female Marines and prospective recruits, officers said.
The commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, "has decided that Training and Education Command will continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed," spokeswoman Captain Maureen Krebs said in a statement.
In the meantime, female Marines will return to a less-demanding "flexed arm hang" - which requires them to hold their chin above a bar.
Physical fitness tests, particularly upper body strength, have come under the spotlight as the Marine Corps and the Army prepare to open all combat jobs to women by 2016.
Military leaders say they are developing gender-neutral tests for combat roles, but some critics and lawmakers are worried that physical requirements will be watered down for female troops.
The new rule for a minimum of three pullups for female Marines was announced in November 2012, and the Corps gave women a year to train for the change.
But at the Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina's Parris Island, roughly 55 per cent of women could not perform the minimum three pullups, Krebs said.