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. NotAnEqual

    Iris – This isn't about jealousy, but thanks for trying.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DeVille

    Forgot to mention, I've seen more men than women lose it. That is just one example of an individual who shouldn't be a soldier. Would you feel the same if it was a man that almost got your husband killed-which happens more often?

    April 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Adam James

    I'll be fine with it when 18 years old girls are required to sign up for the Selective Service or risk being denied their student loans as are there male counterparts. This have it both and all ways mentality has to stop. Perhaps, when folks see a young girl be forced to throw herself into the potential draft lottery and therefore potential combat, then we'll finally come to our senses here. Is it considered unfair that men are not qualified for the job of surrogate mother? I'm sorry, but this is just getting ridiculous.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dusty2701

      I agree. Young men don't have the option of choosing to register for Selective Service. Level the playing field and require young women to also register and then I'm all for putting them in combat units. If equality is what women are after in the military then go all the way. Some day the draft will have to be reinstated and the women who want to be "just one of guys" will have their chance.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NotAnEqual

    Given the male/female ratio – of course "more men" loose it. And I'm not trying to say the ONLY reason this happened was because she was female. Just giving an example. I probably should have left that out since anyone with a weak argument is going to pick on that point and ignore everything else

    April 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Left out

    geesh all this talk just makes me want to sign up! I can't wait to get in there and talk about my period. Hope I get to fight a bad guy while I'm crampin cause then there's no hope for him.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smedley

    Who will care for all the babies?
    Who will care for all the babies?
    Who will care for all the babies?
    Who will care for all the babies?
    Who will care for all the babies?

    April 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DeVille

    Small example for anyone who doesn't think women are good at combat.
    Leigh Ann Hester (born January 12, 1982)[2] of the 617th Military Police Company, a Kentucky Army National Guard unit out of Richmond, Kentucky, received the Silver Star for her actions on March 20, 2005 during an enemy ambush on a supply convoy near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq.[3]

    Hester's squad of two women and eight men in three Humvees was shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when approximately 50 insurgent fighters ambushed the convoy with AK-47 assault rifle, RPK machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester maneuvered her team through the kill zone and into a flanking position, where she and her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and M203 grenade launcher rounds. Hester and Nein assaulted and cleared two trenches. During the 25-minute firefight, Hester killed at least three enemy combatants with her M4 carbine.[5]

    When the battle was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one captured. Sergeants Hester and Nein were both awarded the Silver Star. Nein's was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Also awarded the Silver Star in this ambush was platoon combat medic Specialist Jason Mike, who took up and simultaneously fired an M4 carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun in defense of his comrades.[5]
    From Wikipedia but can be backed from many other quality sources.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

    If a woman wants to volunteer to serve her country...then I am in full support of them. Those of you who sit here have the luxury to ridicule them while you do nothing for your country. As a veteran, as long as they did the job they are assigned, I was proud to be there with them.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Charles

      Damn Skippy! Agree with you wholeheartedly Mike! Any woman that can do the job – should be enabled to do it!
      God bless our Women Marines!!!! Toughest babes in the world! I love em!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Iris

    "Iris – This isn't about jealousy, but thanks for trying."

    Could have fooled me. Your statement says it all. Stick with tending the wounded and computers? Apparently, you are not aware that those are not the two ratings/MOS's that females participate in. Women in the Marine Corps are not medics. Those are Navy Corpsman. I think it's cute that you are somewhat wearing your husbands's job on your sleeve, and sometimes there isn't anything wrong with it. But, what is your basis on? Because your husband had a bad experience? Not good enough.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NotAnEqual

    As I said, there are exceptions to every rule but that doesn't mean we need to let everyone do it just because a few did. I've met some pretty bad ass female Marines and I'm not trying to say they all need to stay in the kitchen – just be awesome in another MOS.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hell Atlantic

    i don't believe in men and women being equal, women are inferior to men and their menstruation's attract bears, its a proven fact. that having been said if a woman can pass the same tests as men and prove herself under the same conditions as men and has the metaphorical balls to fight then i have no prob. just like how i don't care much for the men who love other men, but if they want to protect the country and defend this nation then so be it. there's no difference between a strong woman and a weak man who can't make it as a Marine. if the strong woman can pass the tests that a weak man can't then let her in. if she dies in comabt then i'll thank her on Labor Day for her sacrifice.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trigger

      **That's Memorial Day

      April 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Iris

    " I've met some pretty bad ass female Marines and I'm not trying to say they all need to stay in the kitchen".

    Yes, you did. You said, stick to tending the wounded and a computer desk. Or, are you going to recant that statement?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tugs

    We did this in Canada almost 30 years ago, it will be difficult for everyone to adjust at first but persevere all will work out in the end.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TomCom

    Women can be pretty tough mentally and handle quite a bit. The strength factor concerns me though.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DevilDogs

    I say use the current standards and let them in. They should sign up for with a primary MOS that they currently qualify for and then can pursue infantry if they can pass them male PFT. As difficult as SOI is let them wash out and return to their normal MOS. Essentially run it like a special forces indoctrination as basically it would be that level of intensity for a female to step up into. They pass the physical entrance, go through the school, and if they make it like the rest of the men then they are Infantry. That would work great. The downside is regardless of what unit a female is with...when their is a majority of men in that unit she will always get preferential treatment.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Charles

      Then let em be run by women! They are tougher than most men!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
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