This is in response to "One hundred percent equal" (letter, May 6). I realize that there are those who still believe the Army exists for the sole purpose of exhibiting brute strength and being able to kick down doors as hard as possible. However, brains and brawn don’t always go hand in hand. I’ve known people who have passed their PT tests by the skin of their teeth but have saved the lives of others through their ability to analyze enemy activity and predict their movements.

The letter writer seems intent on focusing on the different PT standards between gender, but what about age? The PT standard goes down as you get older as well — should we kick out our most experienced soldiers because they can’t run as fast as the privates and lieutenants just entering the service? Should we discharge our best analysts because they’re on profile and can’t do as many push-ups as the guy who fuels trucks? What about the people working in route planning? They’re ineffective planners because they can’t do 100 sit-ups in two minutes?

The PT standards state that they are in place to make sure that soldiers are in good physical fitness condition — minimum good physical fitness condition simply varies by age and gender — they say nothing about being the minimum requirement for being the best and strongest.

The different standards in AR 670-1 don’t just vary between men and women, either; there are exceptions to policy in many other instances. For example, there was an article just a few weeks ago about a soldier who was permitted to keep his beard because of his religion. It’s about looking professional in the American culture — someone who gets paid much more than the letter writer and I decided that it looks unprofessional for men to have their hair in a bun in the U.S. military.

Policy changes all the time. If the letter writer thinks it would look professional for all male servicemembers to be allowed to have long hair, perhaps he should start a petition and write his congressman. The various standards are in place not because the Army is soft, but because it embraces diversity. It’s not something that was thought up on impulse; statistically, diverse cultures (such as that of our own country) have simply been proven time and time again to work more effectively.

Vivian AndrousLawton, Okla.

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