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. Anne-Marie Taylor

    Do not forget the Amazon women. I agree that the testing standards should not be lowered, by my goodness there are some women that CAN pass those stanadards!

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

      I wa in the Marine Corps. Yes, thre may be one out of a couple thousand who can hack it. Think that'll be the only ones who would be there though? You are asking young men to trust their lives to someone who almost certainly will not be able to perform at the same physical level that he is. It's like you getting shot and expecting your kid who is half your body weight to be able to drag you out of the street to safety. One or two tough little kids might be able to do it, but the overwhelming majority would not.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Iris

    It's a step!

    April 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Arpad

    They tried this on subs but it was determined that Russian sonar could pick up the sounds of the female orgasm so the program was sqashed.

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

      You're assuming you can give her one...

      April 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wobbles

    As a former Marine Corps infantryman I am very disappointed by this failure in leadership at the highest levels of the Corps. War is not the place to test social theories or to give "equal opportunity". War is about one thing: winning. The Marine Corps holds females to lower standards than males, which may be fine in a support job, but not in the field. I have zero confidence in a female's ability to drag a fellow marine's 200lbs body weight + 50 lbs of gear out of the line of fire if he gets hit. This is life and death we are talking about. No Marine should have to go into combat with a Marine beside him that he cannot trust to be able to do the same things he can do. This is a bad idea.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      As a former 0331, I too agree that the battlefield is no place for women. The last thing I'd want to see is a woman having her head caved in during hand to hand combat; too much of a distraction. Call me old fashioned, but I still have an ounce of chivalry left.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      First off, thank you for serving. I have to say I largely agree with you. I'm all for a woman being at the tip of the spear, but what percentage of women could realistically do what you say, you know? It's not about whether a woman can perform the same number of pullups in a PFT, and I don't doubt that some women can hump the gear with the same level of endurance. But it has everything to do with hauling hundreds of pounds of slack or near-slack weight out of harm's way when the schit goes down.

      It's more of an economic concern, to me, rather than a social one. The question is: How much time, effort, and money would it take to find such a woman candidate, versus having a much larger pool of men to choose from? Needle in a haystack.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • roger

      Wobbles you are correct. I was an Infantry rifleman in Vietnam 68/69. God what a wretched existance. Exhaustion, hunger, sickness. Physically being pushed to the limit every day. A month or two without a bath. This is no place for thoughts of "opportunity." Dying starts to seem like a better option than living after you have been in the bush for a while. Please keep women out of it.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • AreYouSerious

      I always wanted to be in the Infantary and I didn't know I couldn't till I read this article. Boy, was I upset. Though, after reading your commet I guess I get where you're coming from. I know I could never get as strong as yall or be able to endure as much, but I'd like to be given the chance to try. Men aren't the only ones who want to defend their country. I say, if we can pass the SAME standards as men in infantry training why can't we join?

      June 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lex

    If women are up to the mental and physical challene then why not let them do infantry training. Yes, there are physical differences between men and women. But if some women are physically able to complete the same training then they should be allowed to be in the infantry. Men will just have to learn that they need to treat women the same as they do other men in combat.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      The mental aspect? Sure. The physical aspect? Not even close to likely. I WAS a Marine infantryman. I have never met a woman since those days who could have met the physical standards. It's just plain genetics. They are smaller and weaker and no politically correct nonsense is gonna change that.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lex


    April 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lennyb00b

      If they can't shove someone off of them who's slippin the pork to 'em how are they gonna drag em outta harms way???

      April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Old_School_Devil_Dog

    Puss n' Boots............give me a break.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hosub Hwang


    "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."

    Maybe you're a former Marine infantryman. Maybe you have insider information. Definitely, you didn't read or finish the article. So its not a gender-neutral physical exam?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      If a chick weighs 130 are you telling me she's really gonna carry 100lbs of gear and weapons like we did and perform at the same level? You are deluding yourself.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSgt CI

      Their "gender neutral" training means that I have to do 20 pull ups while a female has to do 6. It also means that I have to run 3 miles in 18 minutes, but a female has to do it in 21 minutes. And don't even get me started on the CFT. There will never be a "gender neutral" standard as no women would be able to get into boot camp minus a few. Kills recruiting, not going to happen.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hosub Hwang

    Its not a matter of whether you think they can or not, its a matter of the examination's conclusion on their ability to perform. If the woman in question fails to meet the physical requirements, then they would not be accepted...right? Conversely, they would be incorporated if they did meet the requirements.

    Honestly, this is why I don't read the comments anymore. Good day.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      BS. It's a matter of what they can and CANNOT do. No PT test is gonna be the same as actually doing the actual job. How about you run down and enlist in the infantry and find out for yourself what those tasks are before you run your suck?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Iris

    Susan, I was with you until you made this comment:


    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."

    You are clueless. I invite you to head over to Camp Lejeune for a day, and watch what these Marines do. It is amazing. I am prior Navy myself, have been all around the world, my Father was a retired Marine and my husband has 9 years in the Marine Corps, and I will tell you as honest and bluntly as I can. I appreciate all branches, but the Marines have earned my respect the most. They just seem to do it better.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      I'm sorry, Iris. Its just that some of the men making comments here really get my goat. Do the Marines commenting about females in a derogatory light really disrespect their fellow sisters in arms? Because the same females they do not want in their ranks would surely have their back in a cross fire. I may have crossed the line a bit in my anger but as a retired Sergeant First Class, USA, I have seen both strong and weak. And it almost always had to do with mental capabilities, not physical. Having said that, I do respect the Marines...and all branches of the military. It is just the narrow-minded opinions of men who cannot see past their own noses that pizzes me off. Thanks and Semper Fi.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ArmedAmerican

    More bodies for the war machine.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Talan7

    My 1st job in the ARmy was ammunition specialist which mean I humped ammo. This specific job was just opened to women a few years before I joined in 87. After training I went to my duty station (FT Bliss). At my unit I was placed on a 2 man team. I had a specialist in charge, I was a PFC. The specialist did the paperwork, while I did most of the lifting. That's how it was, you followed orders. After a year I moved up in rank to specialist then was assigned a new soldier who was a woman as my partner. After about a week she complained and went on sick call and got a profile that said she couldn't lift over 30 lbs. Our lightest box of ammo was 65 lbs. My seargent made us switch roles and told me to do the lifting and for her to do the paperwork. I thought this was unfair. I did the lifting and the paperwork, I had no use for her.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ambi taylor

      That is crazy and agree before they put her on the team she should have been able to lift and haul the ammo in YOUR story i totally agree with you, she should have had to do her job for a year or two until she got promoted like you and could do the paper work.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CJ

    We don't hold female police officers or fire fighters to the same standards as men, pay them the same and allow them to advance, so why not infantry also?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      If something goes south here in the states as a cop, how far away is the nearest hospital? A few minutes? There it can be hours. Here the crook is gonna be quickly outnumbered and on the defensive. There, it is just as likely you are the one outnumbered and on the defensive. Here, you may take small arms fire. There, you are taking RPG's, heavy machine gun fire, and mortars. They are two separate and totally unrelated things. Apple to Oranges.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Iris

    And to the person who made the comment about how men are designed to want to protect women, that was years ago. I hardly see that these days, our generation has changed so much.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Melissa

    Ah, yes. The age old ridiculous assessment that:

    "A woman can't carry a 200 pound man plus 50 pounds of armor out of combat."

    Two things on that: 1) I know a number of Marine infantry males who neither weigh 250 pounds geared up, nor could they in current physical (active duty) condition move such a large human being anyway. It's not only females that could fail at this. 2) It's only 250 pounds! Dear lord, as a non-exercising 28 year old female just yesterday I flipped a 50 pound bag of portland cement on each shoulder, and I don't train for anything. If I had training, I would think the 200 pound mark (which would come more in line with the average soldier weight) would be fairly attainable.

    And let's be realistic. A man will shoot you dead. Quick, fast, no fuss. A woman will happily take two weeks off work and stretch your death out as painfully and long as possible if you've threatened her or her family.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • wobbles

      Really? Let's see how many women can do it. It's ge old because it's true. You ARE weaker. You were made that way. Sorry for your genetics.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cricket

      wobbles, why is it that men want to contol what a woman wants to do with her own body, then? And you KNOW w t h I'm talking about.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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