Well played, Marine Corps

Last week it was announced that the USMC will be allowing women to attend its infantry training programs, beginning with the Infantry Officers’ Course and later expanding to training opportunities for enlisted women. While this doesn’t mean that female Marines who complete the training would now be allowed into combat roles, it is still a big step, and a smart move by the Marine Corps.

Many people feel at this point that it is inevitable that our military will have full equality of opportunity. This step seems to be an indication that the Marine Corps certainly thinks so. By starting to filter women into infantry training now, the Corps is putting itself in position to be able to implement immediately when that time comes.

More importantly in the short term, it allows the Marines to take the next step in the exploration of lifting the ban on women in combat that has been going on for more than a year. A close look at standards, an assessment of what is truly required in order for combat units to be effective, will be an important step. The Marine Corps Times reports that “new functional fitness tests are being developed to help Marine Corps leaders determine how women and men perform in, and cope with, various combat tasks. The goal is to establish “gender-neutral” physical fitness standards.” Incorporating women into infantry training programs allows the Corps to test and refine these standards in a hands on manner with real men and women, and doing so now, before there is any directive requiring women to be allowed in combat units, gives them time to do this the right way.

I have stated before that I think women should have the same opportunities as men to serve in our military, provided they can meet the necessary standards to ensure the maximum possible safety and effectiveness of our combat forces. It’s great to see the USMC taking serious and responsible steps toward this.

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6 Responses to Well played, Marine Corps

  1. Pingback: Thursday trivia #57 | Paul's Down-Home Page

  2. Ron says:

    I think you and the Marine Corps “Enquirer” miss the point of this announcement, this is an experiment to see whether the hand selected few can make it through the infantry officers course. I must emphasis, hand selected because IOC is very physically demanding MOS producing school. Rightfully so, since the average riflemen carries 83lbs of gear in his assault load today (minus crew served ammo, extra batteries, rockets, mission specific pyro).

    Just look at Operation Kanjar in Afghanistan in 2009, were the Average Marine stepped off the helicopter with 100 plus lbs on his back and many of them conducted week long movements to contact with all that weight in the the 100 plus degree heat of Helmand Provence. There is a famous photo of a Marine Mortarmen, whose pack weighed 145lbs having to take a break and stoop over to bear the weight.

    • caidid says:

      I understood from all of the reports I have read that the women going through the infantry officer course would be volunteers, not hand selected individuals. Do you have other knowledge that this is not the case? Just honestly curious.

  3. Ron says:

    You are right, they will volunteers.

    In the current senior TBS class on deck, it looks like there are two interested.

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  5. Ted says:

    I have some first hand knowledge of current training for both sexes and therefore cause to approach the results of this study only dubiously. Previous reports (produced by a cabal of female general officers far removed from the gritty realities of our current wars) cite “combat commanders” saying that they saw male and female Marines as equal to all combat tasks and I have yet to meet any of these men in what is still a very small Marine Corps (and smaller infantry). I couple that with too many recent memories of women Marines falling out of conditioning hikes or literally squeaking in terror at the idea of surmounting the parallel bars. While I readily admit that there are those female Marines who race through the obstacle course like gazelles and march on without complaint, I wonder if the Marine Corps will (be allowed to) admit that it is not the majority. All of the female Marines that I have spoken with or seen quoted do not want to be infantrymen. So one wonders where this issue stems from and if the facts on the ground will matter.

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