In this April 23, 2019 photo, research scientist Leila Walker, left, is assisted by nutritional physiologist Holly McClung, center, as they demonstrate equipment designed to evaluate fitness levels in female soldiers, not shown, who have joined elite fighting units such the Navy Seals, at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, in Natick, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Military studies 'hyperfit' women who pass grueling courses

July 21, 2019 - 9:09 am

ARMY SOLDIER SYSTEMS CENTER, Mass. (AP) — In the nearly four years since the Pentagon announced it was opening all combat jobs to women , at least 30 have earned the Army Ranger tab, two have graduated Marine infantry school and three have passed the grueling initial assessment phase for Green Beret training.

Their numbers are small. But their completion of some of the military's most arduous physical and mental courses has raised an intriguing scientific question: Who are these "hyperfit" women and what makes them so competitive?

Army medical researchers hope to uncover answers in a just-launched voluntary study. The goal is to identify the attributes — whether mental, physical or psychological — that help the women succeed. By unlocking those secrets, maybe they can help other women compete for the same jobs.

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