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. Charles From long island

    I’d like to make this clear, war is not fair. To attempt to modify the military and potentially put lives at risk in the name of fairness is illogical, especially while the military is currently engaged in a conflict as we speak. Many are treating this as an issue of women’s rights; this is simply not the case. Women have no more of a right to serve in a combat roll, then a wounded marine has the right to live. When you’re in a situation when you are relying on the person to your left or right to be capable of carrying you to safety and they aren’t physically capable, you’re doing just that. Think for a minute, a grown man plus the 150 pounds of gear that is strapped to his body, isn’t it fair to say it is unreasonable to think a woman half his size will be capable of carrying him? Not to mention In the middle of the desert there is no privacy and no wash facilities, marines sleep in the dirt. We do not demand that professional sports teams include women on them, marines are professionals in the art of war, the risks are much greater than losing a game. People are saying women are engaged in combat today and dying, etc…while I was in Afghanistan I cannot say I experience women right alongside me. Surely there have been women that have unfortunately paid the ultimate price but this is not a justification to send them into an even more hostile environment. It is socially unacceptable to strike a woman on the basis they are less capable of defending themselves against a man, and should also be defended by a man, we cringe at the idea of a man abusing a woman. So why would it be a good idea to put women into a inviroment where their least concerns would be getting physically hit? Do we really want our daughters, mothers, sisters and wives to experience war?

    April 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • AreYouSerious

      You ever see the news about people, including ladies, lifting cars or other really heavy objects? Well, that's called adrenaline rush. Plus, women don't even need that to lift a wounded soldier. It's called will power, mind over matter, and strength. Oh, and the reason you didn't fight along side women in Afghanistan is because THEY AREN'T ALLOWED TO FIGHT ON THE FRONT LINES! That's sorta what the articles about.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. roger

    Please keep women out of the Infantry. i was an Infantry rifleman in Vietnam 68-69. It is a wretched existance. Filthy, hungry, sick and fatiqued to the point of collapse. This is in addition to an opposing army trying to kill you. The Infantry in war is not a great career opportunity as many might view it. It is hell on earth. In 1969 I went 2 months without a bath. Forget Iraq. in a World War II, Korea or Vietnam type war where you are in the bush for weeks and months there is no lustre to the job. I hear supporters say that 'women can shoot as straight as a man and are just as brave as a man." Perhaps so, but that means NOTHING. The ability to endure fatique and hardship are far more important in the Infantry.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • AreYouSerious

      Fatigue and hardship is like the basis of women living. You think they can't handle that, well I think they can. I know a woman who was abused AND had to work on sometimes two hours a night for days in a row at a job that required lots of heavylifting. You don't worry about hardship and fatigue. Everybody's got their own motivation.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 11BDave

      Man not only did my unit invade Iraq and do a lot of missions closing with and killing the enemy, but we went without showers for 3 months. It took us that long to have an Iraqi contractor come in and build us a shower. Even then we only had two showers a week. Privacy? Kick that out the window. We lived in a grain warehouse for 7 month doing combat patrols on the Syrian border. Did not see a cot until the 4th month in country, slept on concrete. You want to talk about what we carried? Here goes, I had to carry a Javlin missile, CLU, laser range finder, 200 rounds for the 240 and AT-4 on my back.Then there was my personal stuff, body armor, ammmo, water, ruck, and assault pack. Don't get me started on the mountains in Afghanistan. PC at it's best!


      Follow me!

      July 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sabbotage

    The issue that really matters is this. If a woman wants to be on the front line, I say let her. As long as she can adhere to the EXACT same standards as the men. No special relief from the field to wash while male counter-parts are left in the field. Same PT requirements as the males. No special requirements for women. A 100lbs man has to do the same as a 180lbs man. He has to lift the same and carry the same. Women have to be able to do the same.

    July 10, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Xameen

    Jan04theuntrendygirl I think the bigger quotisen is Why do women need protection? If fathers teach their sons to be real men and to treat women with respect, women wouldn't need protection. Of course, it's every man and woman's responsibility to protect the weak for the able to assist those who are not. It's not just a gender issue, it's a human one.

    July 14, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
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