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. Charvel

    About time. They are trained like any other recruit... they learn to fire a rifle. All Marines are riflemen first.

    April 19, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • sean

      Yea they train like any other recruit....uh no they don't. They have totally different physical requirements, ie dead arm hangs in lieu of actual pullups etc etc. They definately are NOT trained the same. Wait til one of them has to go to the rear with the gear because they are unsanitary on their period. Yes folks, it already happens all the time.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • portland tony

      Officer's training is about tactics, not about shooting a gun...jeez!

      April 19, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • cee

      Ummmmm Your kinda wrong but ok.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Bones

      Now riflepersons. Remember no gender specifics.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Phreddie

      Once we (USMC) have a gender neutral PFT, and all are held to the same standards, equality will follow. Since there is a perception that (the average) women cannot perform as high in physical tests, there will always be a bias against them in filling certain MOSs.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • bannister

      The key word is rifleMEN.

      The feminization of our military is not about "equality" or "fairness". It's about weakness. Our military is being INTENTIONALLY weakened by traitors who have infiltrated the inside of our government. We are being softened to accept global governance.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • J.C.

      "They are trained like any other recruit"

      Except for being held to entirely different physical standards.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreeman

      Thats right Charvel, If the woman can shoot then she obviously is MORE then qualified to lead grunts in the field. Forget about the physical demands. It is just the Marine Corps.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Charvel

      Sorry for my mistake on the PFT part. It's been 25 years since I was in. I figure the Commandant would have changed the women's PFT since he added the crucible.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Good point. Spoken like a true non-infantry Marine and person who doesn't know what he's talking about.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bugbuster

    As a woman, I am fine with women serving in any role as men, if they are physically capable of doing so. I think it's great that they are developing a gender-neutral fitness test. It's about time. To often women fight to be able to do the same jobs as men, but are physically unable to keep up.

    April 19, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Sweety, don't confuse the Army with the Marine Corps. The Army is the Marines little sister that copies everything the Marines do. When you said "I think it's great that they are developing a gender-neutral fitness test. It's about time."? For years the Marine fitness test was biased AGAINST the men. They finally fixed that in the late 90's. The Army on the other hand, has developed a new test to be in effect later this year.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      if women have to fight to keep up physically than wouldn't a gender neutral test be a bad thing for the military? Sounds like we'd just be lowering the bar.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreeman

      I agree, the Marine Corps should lower the physical requirements so women can take up frontline positions. We can also request insurgents lower their threat, so women can keep up with the frontline battles.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • bannister

      There is NO SUCH THING as a gender neutral fitness test. If a woman can't EQUALLY perform like a man, she should not except EQUAL results of outcome.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      They would have to Psychologically be able to cope as well. Which most women, I think, Are not.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      (hanging the reply here because my browser is acting weird today)

      I happen to be female. Very average in a lot of ways. A friend of mine was in the Army. Infantry, to be specific, served in Kuwait, etc. He's also two inches shorter than me, very slender build, and, frankly, I could have taken him apart if it came down to that. I'm stronger than he is, tougher than he is, and meaner than he is. What's the difference, military-wise? He's male.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. John

    I pity the first female Lt. trying, yes I meant trying, to command a platoon of grunts in the Marine Corps. She will cry every single day. I just hope it is not in front of the troops.

    April 19, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      What century are you living in? Women can endure stressful situations and can lead effectively - it's about the person, not about the gender. Mental toughness is more important for a leader to succed as physical toughness. And with modern technology, what is critical in warfare is physical endurance and skills, not so much supreme physical strength.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • cee

      John as a former grunt I agree with you 100%.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • cee

      @Suzanne have you served in combat? Do you know any grunts? Well I spent 8 years as a grunt and every infantry M.O.S. doesn't just require you to carry a rifle or use "high tech" equipment and I would have loved to have had a female on my gun team so I could hand her over a 30+lb mortar tube, bye-pod or base-plate to add to the other 65+lbs we have to carry and see how she feels after a 30 mile hump along with a week long field op which consists of more hiking and the digging of mortar positions several times per day and that's just regular training that we would do just about every week when not deployed overseas. Female Marines can make great leaders but if you have never been part of a infantry unit you really just don't have a clue how hard you have to be physically as well as mentally to carry our a mission or to even survive all the training.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • OutPastPluto

      ...which makes the woogie no different than any other green officer that's ever tried to command Marines.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreeman

      They will cry, then Marines will receive brief after brief after brief on how to be more sensitive to the needs of the females "trying" to lead a force that use to be one of the greatest feared fighting forces in the world.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. papawnick

    Same training and same requirements and physical standards. If not could cost another their life. Personally I think it a terrible idea as I hold women with great respect. But many people do not like women they would rather male women. I think femine women are great and Hurray for the difference.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Anonymous

    If women want to join infantry units then the physical standards need to be raised to that of men.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreeman

      Stop making sense Anonymous. You obviously are not in the Marine Corps.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Redleg

    Ever notice how many guys who want to restrict women's service never were in the service in the first place let alone combat arms?

    April 19, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • cee

      No not at all actually as a former 0341 in the Marine Corps I was most definitely a grunt and served 8 years as one and every grunt I know thinks that this is a terrible idea.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Castro

      I am a former Marine and was in a combat arms MOS (Field Artillery). I believe the majority of women wouldn't physically be able to do the job. I don't think it would be a good idea to have women in combat.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      🙂 so true! Internet warriors who always claim they were seals or some other crap.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. PCola Vet

    Israel and other countries do this, and why NOT the US? Not only keeps them in shape, but they can handle very stressful situations just as good as guys, I've seen this up close and personal, also guys just look at your wives at home and how they handle the klds and multiple deployments. Don't peez off a woman, lol. Grab your weapon sister, we're goin downrange. Ooh Rah!!!

    April 19, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But in order to do so, she must get back to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, speaking only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again but we must all follow the "Palin Path". In the days , weeks, and months to come, I will attempt to elaborate on the "Palin Path" so that everyone has a clear understanding Of Sarah Palin's vision for our country.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |

    The military service members being investigated are two Marine dog handlers, five Army Special Forces members, two Navy explosive-ordnance experts and one Air Force member, a U.S. official said. The military service members being investigated are two Marine dog handlers, five Army Special Forces members, two Navy explosive-ordnance experts and one Air Force member, a U.S. official said.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Susan

    You are called grunts for a reason. Pull your heads out of your fourth point of contact and oh BTW the Army does not copy everything the Marines do. The Marines have 1/5 the capability of the Army. If even.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • PCola Vet

      Easy there Susan, you're NOT taking into consideration that the Marines have a much smaller force, but are also given the most dangerous of missions and for the MOST part are the 'tip of the spear' on major assaults. Also the training is waaaay more intense than the Army. No offense to the GI's.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      I disagree with you. The army is a larger group of people, but they cannot do 5 times what the Marines can. In fact, the Marines do more with less all the time. I would not say that the army is worthless, they definitely have their place. However, they are not equal to or greater than the Marines.

      When I was younger, my grandpa, who retired after 25 years in the army, told me I should enlist in the Marine Corps. He said they are better respected because they are better trained and have more discipline. He was right.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      Shouldn't you be under someone's desk?

      April 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mikrik13

    They better all be 6 feet tall and mean as snakes.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. linda

    It's about time. They should check out that 90 year old lady who shot at an intruder down in San Antonio.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      Throw a hundred pounds on her back and let's go out for a walk looking for bad guys. Still sound good?

      April 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Falconi1

    The issue has less to do about the ability of a female soldier to do the job and more to do about how the presence of females will affect the other soldier in the unit and ultimately the ability of the unit to complete its missions because of it.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      No. It is about them being able to do the job. They can't. Period. And the atmosphere will definitely be different because there will be huge resentment among those men in the squad who CAN pull their weight and who will now be expected to pull hers too. Extra water, ammo, and weapons gets heavy, and when you have one less person to divide it among you carry more and you are not gonna like the weak sister whose extra share you are carrying.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SgtUSMC63-69

    All I can say is THANK GOD I am not in th Corps anymore.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      We're all in agreement with that!

      April 19, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    "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."

    Just another way to keep women down while they perform the exact same job as men. Time to change it and allow these women to receive credit for combat duty performed and be able to be promoted.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreeman

      Your right "Paul." Let these women step up. Whether they get sent home early for getting pregnant during deployment or to the FOBs for that special time of the month. Let us find a gender neutral physical test, like hop scotch, to level the playing field. Same with the olympics, no more segregation amongst males and females.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check your facts

      This statement is patently false. "Attached" has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you were in combat, or with your promotion eligibility. It has to do with support relationships between the supported and supporting units, and therefore is also not an informal designation. If you serve in a combat zone, regardless of gender or unit, you get a combat fitness report or evaluation. Period.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      Attached means they are along for the ride. They don't help. They are just an extra body. That is not the same. They are not part of your squad, and do not carry your gear. They are basically tourists who get to hang out with you, and they are only responsible for their own stuff. Make them part of the unti and count on them to carry their share and that's a whole other story. Not even close to the same. They are like the embedded reporters. There for the ride but you can't count on them to help you and you have to do your job PLUS protect them too.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
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