As the Pentagon seeks to integrate women into combat capacities in the coming years, the Marine Corps has been experimenting with running women through its existing combat training regimens.
For more than a year, the Marines have experimented with passing women through the Corps infantry officers course. Of the 10 lieutenants who have tried, just one passed the initial combat endurance test. She dropped out shortly thereafter due to injury.
And as the Corps continues to grapple with women in its Infantry Officer’s Course, it announced this summer that it would begin allowing women to try the enlisted equivalent — the School of Infantry. The Marines, however, stated that even if women were able to successfully complete the 60-day course, they would not be granted access to the field.
There was also some debate about where the women would come from. Could any female enlisted Marine of any rank in any occupational field raise her hand and seek to enroll in SOI? The answer is no, Dan Lamothe at the Marine Corps Times has learned.
The women who will attempt to pass through the School of Infantry will entirely be made up of recent graduates from Boot Camp, Lamothe writes, citing an unnamed source. The course, which takes place on a satellite base near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, has no gruelling entry test like it’s counterpart for officers. There are, however, several days in the field, and hikes ranging from 5 to 20 kilometers in distance.
Limiting the participants to newly-minted Marines is smart for a couple of reasons. First, they’re generally in better physical condition than Marines who have been in the fleet for a couple of years, having just completed a pretty gruelling 13-week training program. Secondly, it will be less disruptive to their careers, not pulling a higher ranking Marine away from her unit for a two month experiment.
The first Marines, who will all be privates and privates first class, will begin training next week. They all volunteered, Lamothe writes.
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