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Offline, Episode 2: Should Women Serve in Combat? by Russell Berger - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, HD Videos

September 15, 2013

Video Article

In the second episode of Offline, an unscripted presentation of guests debating controversial subjects in the CrossFit world, the topic is whether women should serve in combat roles. Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced it would allow women to apply for front-line combat positions.

Host Russell Berger welcomes guests Zach Forrest, owner of CrossFit Max Effort and a member of CrossFit’s Level 1 Seminar Staff; Jody Geare, a firefighter and EMT; Aly Linehan, coach at CrossFit Purgatory; and Chris Stokes, a Marine veteran and principal at CrossFit Hail Fire.

Linehan, a former Air Force linguist who has been on multiple deployments, questions whether a woman would be able to carry more than 70 lb. worth of equipment “over and over on rugged terrain.”

“I think, biologically, a woman’s body will break down faster than a man’s,” she says, “then she becomes more of a nuisance.”

Berger notes that Julie Foucher, who placed third at last year’s CrossFit Games, finished the Pendleton 2 event that year ahead of most men and that several women at this year’s Games put more weight overhead than he did while in the military.

But that’s not comparing apples to apples, Forrest says.

“If we were to look at technique in sport versus technique used on the … battlefield … it’s going to be different,” he explains. “The productive application of force—the way we teach in the Level 1—is completely different when you have to learn it on the fly. There’s more of a margin of error.”

Post your opinion to comments.

Video by Russell Berger and Noor Greene.

16min 24sec

HD file size: 303 MB
SD mov file size: 114 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: Staying in the Fight by Mark Divine, published Sept. 12, 2011.

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5 Comments on “Offline, Episode 2: Should Women Serve in Combat?”


wrote …

Good discussion. Russell did an excellent and even-handed job, and there was a good sharing of views. We'll have to see how it goes, over time.

Really good job. Thanks to all.


wrote …

They are missing big points. The women performed well in the best conditions possible. They had sleep, food, and a good support system. As a grunt you will have very little to none for long periods of time. As for change, Israeli attempted to place females in the infantry, needless to say it failed. Israeli has a more accepting cultural outlook towards the military than us.
That is not to say women cannot be in Spec. Ops., or CIA they have a different mission. I am just saying that they should not be placed in the infantry. You are outside the wire for months at a time, 4 hours of sleep a day if you are lucky, 70 pounds of gear (low end), patrolling all day and raiding at night, poor environmental conditions, not talk to your loved ones for weeks-months depending on the mission, and maybe you get to eat a MRE, and maybe hot chow if its a holiday. Combat is completely catabolic state, you are not getting stronger.
As for the female fire fighter, Combat and fire fighting are very different worlds. I Respect her, but please she has no experience in the military. Cultural dynamics are different. These are only some of the points being missed.
All this being said. Thank you to my brothers and SISTERS at arms for your serves and sacrifice. May we never forget and may you live happy and long lives. God bless them and the crossfit community.


wrote …

very interesting. I wish i could of mentioned something in the middle there. when they say there will be political pressures to lower the standards so woman can pass the tests.

I am a firefighter and that is exactly what happened in our city. Girls made the cut to get the job, but then at our yearly physical test they kept failing. the weight and demands of the test is based off a % of your weight and age. HR decided to lowered the standards for woman only so they could pass. so low in fact that it is laughable. to compare the requirements of a man and woman in the 20-29 year old age group. a man will have to bench press body weight to pass. woman will have to ben press48% bw. men leg press 134% bw. woman 70% . men need to accomplish 20 push ups. woman 15 from their on so forth.

I am in a unique situation where I've been able to work with woman who are capable of doing the job and at the same time woman who fell through the crack of a now politically influenced system. Yes there are woman out there who can pass the tests, and i am glad to work with them. personally I don't treat them any differently. but now because they've lowered the standards for the few who could no longer make the cut. we are now forced to work with partners who are incapable of doing the job.

to conclude, I have no problem with them trying, as long as the standards to get on, *and stay on* a combat unit are the same across the board.


wrote …

Let em try! I've served with guys who can't carry their own weight.

Army CPT


wrote …

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