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First Group of Women to Attend Infantry Training

Marines with a Female Engagement Team fire at paper targets during a combat marksmanship training exercise here. FET members learned how to employ their weapons properly in a close combat situation and what to do in case of a weapons malfunction. This evolution is one portion of the FET's pre-deployment preparations for a tour in Afghanistan where they will embed with infantry units. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. John M. McCall)

The Marine Corps plans to send the first group of female Marines through the previously male-only Infantry Officers Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., this year. The change is part of a research initiative to determine what additional combat-related jobs could be available for women in the Corps.

In a February ruling, the Pentagon lifted some restrictions on positions women can hold, putting them closer to the front lines at the lower battalion level, not just the combat brigade level.

This recent change takes the issue one step further for females Marines. The women to attend infantry training will be on a volunteer basis and it is unclear how many will respond to the call, according to an article by independently-owned Marine Corps Times.

Sgt. Christina Scott, a Female Engagement Team member in direct support of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, comforts an Afghan baby while visiting the small town of Kightewahn in the Kajaki District, March 14, 2012. Scott, from Lawrenceville, Ga., is on her fourth deployment, her first as a FET member. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James Mercure)

Enlisted female Marines will have the opportunity to attend infantry training as well and plans are being developed to assign them to Infantry Training Battalions.

It is unclear what future roles the Corps has for the women who complete infantry training, but Marine Corps officials plan to make an announcement in the near future, according to the same article.

In addition to opening up infantry training, the Corps is developing new gender-neutral fitness tests that will mirror combat-essential duties. The tests will be the same for both sexes, unlike previous tests. This will ensure women wishing to enter infantry training will be eligible only if they can keep up with the male infantry Marines.

“There is a plan to evaluate males and females against those standards and potentially a downstream plan to put women through other training that actually will be informed by our experience with infantry training,” Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said in a Marine Corps Times interview.

While this move by Marine Corps officials is a controversial one, it comes at the tail end of a more than year-long study of the issue. The change doesn’t mean women will be entering infantry ranks any time in the near future, the Corps is simply experimenting to see what results come from women receiving the training and being assigned to infantry battalions.

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  • Anonymous

    You have ‘yet to see women do this” and “yet to see women to that” Well how the hell are you able to tell this if you haven’t allowed them the same amount of training and the chance?

  • Leatherneck

    I wholeheartedly believe that women will slowly start making their way into infantry based Military Occupation Specialty’s…and be fully qualified to be there. Until then, the women considering taking this avenue need to ask themselves one question. Am I doing this because I want to lead Marines into the fight or am I doing this to prove a point? I have sat in and listened to several reasons by several different women in the Marine Corps on why they would or would not attempt the life of an infantryman. Let me just say one thing. If you only want to prove a point You Will Get Marines Killed.

    If you want to prove a point, go head-to-head with a male in a triathlon. Save your women’s equality crap for something that doesn’t involve human lives.