I've been debating his column on an online forum, and received this, from an enlisted man:
As it happens, last night was the annual ruckmarch, in full battle order (70+ pounds of kit, including a rucksack with full kit, tac vest, rifle, and full ammo load (blanks)) of 13 kilometers. 53 men started out, and 4 dropped out due to routine injuries. 11 women started out, and one finished. Now granted, the requirements we have are a little higher than standard (50 pounds), but not by all that much. That's an anecdote, to be sure, but you can consider it first-hand, and you can check it by emailing any CF recruiter. Dan is absolutely correct about the physical toll, and there is considerably more weight involved now than before, what with Gawd-awful body armour and the wireframe rucksack from hell. I can hardly move today.
In Afghanistan, the load is about the same (unless you're a section machine gunner, who are all built like Arny), but the march much longer and usually much hotter. The chances of you having to wrestle Taliban or partake in a bayonet charge are slight, to be sure, but that's not the point, is it? People have to show up for the battle in order to win, and if members of the section are spread out behind like dropouts on the Bataan death march, the fighting ability of the section isn't quite up to snuff.
The modern battlefield is considerably more labour intensive than the 18th century battlefield and much closer to the 14th century battlefield in terms of exertion. The physical demands on a modern soldier are about the same as those on a mounted knight, with roughly the same amount of weight involved. The videos you find on YouTube show only static warfare - of necessity - and not section attacks where heavily laden infantry are rushing across open ground in 2 meter dashes every 10 seconds in flying leaps for 100s of meters.
The kinds of misperception afoot in civilian society are probably the prime reason civilians ought not make military policy. "Stats" tell you very little - and especially when you're looking at stats of irrelevant things.
Fair enough. I'd still like to note one women DID finish that ruck march. And I'd suggest there should be a single standard for all genders, all ages, instead of the four standards that currently exist.
(I still think Coren's article was mean and disrespectful.)