Women to attend Marines' infantry school
The U.S. Marine Corps logo is seen at the Marines' base in Quantico, Virginia.
April 19th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

Women to attend Marines' infantry school

[Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Marine Corps plans to allow a yet-undetermined number of female volunteers to enroll in the school that trains its infantry combat officers, the Marine Corps Times has reported.

The plan to open the Infantry Officers Course to women is part of the service's effort to determine which additional jobs may be open to women in the future, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marines' assistant commandant, told the Marine Corps Times.

"We are in the process right now of soliciting volunteers," Dunford told the Times for a story published Wednesday.

Enlisted women also eventually will have a chance to take infantry training, Dunford told the Times, which reported that it wasn't yet clear what path the women who complete the training would follow.

The decision to open the school to female volunteers is part of a research plan implemented after Congress directed the Marines to review their policies on assigning women to ground combat elements, Capt. Kevin Schultz, a Marines spokesman, told CNN on Thursday.

“The Marine Corps has initiated a measured, deliberate and responsible research effort in order to provide the commandant with meaningful data so that he can make a fact-based recommendation to the senior leadership of (the Defense Department) and Congress,” Schultz said.

Under a 1994 U.S. military policy, women are restricted from formally serving in small ground units directly involved in combat. The reality of the last 10 years of war, however, has been that many women serve in support positions - such as military police or medics - that place them in harm's way. They are not formally assigned to combat units, but rather informally "attached," which means they do not get the crucial credit for combat duty that is needed for promotions to higher grades.

Over the last several years, advocates as well as some senior U.S. military commanders have increasingly called for more ground combat jobs to be open to women, Starr reported.

Earlier this year, CNN's Barbara Starr reported that the Pentagon was planning to open up nearly 14,000 jobs to military women - jobs that would place them closer to the front lines of combat.

Some of the newly opened jobs were to include specialties such as tank or artillery mechanic, missile launcher crew members and field surgeons in forward deployed brigade combat teams. However, women still would not be permitted in frontline jobs directly involved in combat such as infantry units or counterterrorism sniper teams.

The Marine Corps Times also reported that the Marines are developing "gender-neutral" physical fitness tests for combat tasks. Such requirements would not differ for men and women, and would suggest that women who wanted to perform such tasks must prove that they could do so at the level of their male counterparts, the Times reported.

Wanted: Women in top military roles

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Filed under: Marines • Military
soundoff (317 Responses)
  1. M1sf1ts

    "Fair Share" Means Mandatory Military Service

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. charles

    I am a firm believer in equality. If a women can do the same exact test. I mean take the same MALE physical and can pass for their age group then they should be allowed to do the same job. There should not be two different standards.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Test 1: please pee standing up.........

      April 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      SEMPER FI brother. They need to pass the exact physical tests the men do! NO WATERING DOWN OF REQUIREMENTS!

      April 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cricket

      Women can aim, it they have the inclination to. Trust me.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Iris

    I know I personally couldn't meet the physical qualifications, but there ARE women out there who can. Im sick and tired of reading comments from males who were infantry who insist that no way this can be done without lowering the physical requirements. Why are you so threatened? How do you even know if it hasn't happened yet? Times are changing boys. As I tell my female friends, put your big girl panties on. You don't have to like it, but eventually you will accept it.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      Iris. Maybe there ARE women out there who could hack it. And what would that be? 1 out of a thousand? Would you want to bet your life that you got the one or that you got the 999? Those are crappy odds. You know it won't just be the 1 who can actually do it who makes it through.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      This is a mistake. Even now, women can't handle the same physical requirements as men. IE, you do 3 days in the field, get to come back and shower and sleep in your own beds, then go out for another 3 days (for a month), men stay out all month. Physical requirements are less, muscle mass is less, bad call. Women don't belong in the infantry, physically. Mentally I got no issues with it. This is proven, women in the military is a DOUBLE STANDARD that lives within double standards. No equality exists.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Furthermore, your hygene issues, causes problems in the field long term. Times are changing, but war shouldn't be fought by women. It's not a matter of changing times, equality or any of that crap. It's a matter of slowing down the rest of the troops hiking 50 miles into a warzone, not having vehicle support nor the body mass/upper body strength to hold 180lbs of gear. Yes this is inside Army truths.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. smknutson

    Those of you arguing about Army vs Marines just need to research Fallujah and Phantom Fury/Al Fajr, and Afghanistan from '03-'07... both times, the Army failed, ended up hiding in their fobs, and needed the Marines to come bail them out.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr Loomis

      Aren't Ready for Marines Yet (ARMY)

      April 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • hammerjacker

      If memory serves, in the end a National Guard unit bailed out some Marines.... Bad analogy.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. James

    Sick call Sick call Sick call

    April 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Profile Profile Profile

      April 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NorCalMojo

    I don't think the military is the place for social engineering, but that horse left the barn years ago.

    There are no front lines in our recent wars. If women are going to be in danger, they should be trained for it.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      There's a differnece between trouble finding you and you going out on ptrol looking for it. Huge difference. This is a horrible mistake.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carole Clarke

      Absolutely – well said. It will take a while to test it out so there is no backsliding. This is one area where we would not want to make a big mistake. We may be ready for women warriors but we may not be ready for what can happen to them at the hands of an uncivilized enemy who has no intention of abiding by the Geneva Conventions or generally accepted rules of war.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sy2502

    I laugh at all these people worrying about women on the front lines. Our military women's worst enemies are their own male comrades who keep assaulting them in record numbers, and their own male superiors who punish them instead of the perpetrators.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      How about we have someone snipe you in the middle of the street and see if someone half your weight can pull you to safety. Would you be laughing then?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      And you see that as an argument *for* mixed forces?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. M1sf1ts

    Some of Ya'll Ain't Gonna Make It. But if you do meet the standard, I have no issue with anyone's service. Good Luck! Yer Gonna Need It.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Iris

    Wobbles, I am sure by opening the Women's Infantry Officers Course, they will have Combat Readiness Tests. So, those women who do not qualify, as in they cannot perform to par, then guess what? They are not fit for combat. I know that "what if?" is something to latch ontt when people are afraid of change.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jamie

    It's all equal until one of the gals gets pregnant and has to be sent home leaving the combat unit one man short.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jon

    Clearly, the person writing this article hasn't done their research. By saying "attached" personnel don't get crucial credit for deployments needed for promotion? That's completely untrue. "Attached" just means you deployed with another unit (and will get credit for deployment needed for promotions), but working with a different unit while in theater. Please... just do a little research into military terminology before you write the article. I don't think that's too much to ask from a nationally-read journalist.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    I am a Marine Corp combat veteran of Vietnam and could never see a woman performing the same grueling physical and mental tasks in the field as a man. Sounds like our Marine Corp leadership is being politically pressured by the Marxist in the White House.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • RtUp

      I 3/5 "69". Says alot about the current "leadership"!

      April 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cricket

      Double yawn.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. M1sf1ts

    LOL, Iris, at Big Girl Panties...Just Not Grandma's...

    April 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Al Arellaga

    Per iCasualties.org, US fatality count (OEF only) was reported at 1,938. Of that, 395 were Marines. Of that figure, only 1 was female. That female died of wounds caused by a non-hostile air crash in 2002; not even combat. Even in looking at the whole Coalition (includes foreign allied countries) body count (2001-2012), there were only 37 females killed (out of 2963 total) equaling approximately 1.2%. There was no filter to see what percentage of the 15,000+ wounded were female, but even with a generous 10%, that would be 1,500. Now let's change up US Force structure to include females in infantry positions at a liberal 1 female to 5 male soldier ratio. That should bring up the female body count to ~75 Marines, or 590 Coalition, and ~3,000 wounded in the same time frame. How you like them apples? Our boys are barely covered in the VA for the disabilities received including PTSD, and you want to subject our women to that, too?
    Also, "Chicks dig Scars" doesn't translate well in reverse with guys. Chauvinistic, but true.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Iris

    Noooooooo, def. no Grandma panties, haha.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
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