First female Marines begin the Infantry Officer Course
Women in the U.S. military have been flying warplanes for years, and recently began serving in artillery and tank units. But they’re still barred from direct ground combat.
Now, for the first time in the course’s 35-year history, the Marine Corps is putting the first women through its grueling Infantry Officer Course: 86 days crawling through obstacle courses, lugging heavy machine guns, navigating the woods at night.
Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, the top trainer at Marine Base Quantico in Virginia, says there’s a good reason the course is so tough that 1 in 5 Marines fail.
“These officers, these lieutenants are going to go out there and lead platoons of enlisted Marines on the battlefield,” he says.
The 24-year-old, stocky young woman is a Marine lieutenant and college athlete from the Southwest. The only other woman in this course, a 33-year-old officer from the West Coast, is a serious distance runner.
The Marine Corps won’t disclose their names. The women have been promised anonymity for volunteering to take part in this research study.
Eventually, the Marines hope to have 100 female volunteers to see how many — if any — can pass this tough test that’s required of all Marine infantry officers.
The Marines are never told what will come next. Capt. Brian Perkins says that’s part of the plan. Combat is always uncertain, and officers need psychological stamina along with physical strength.
“You don’t have to be in the absolute best shape of your peers coming here,” Perkins says. “But if you’re mentally tough, you can outlast a lot of guys.”
It’s only a matter of time before women are serving in combat ground units, so it makes one how the anti-women wing of the GOP will react when the DoD attempts to place women in infantry/cavalry/Marine units.