First female Marines report for infantry training

First female Marines report for infantry training

Students with Infantry Training Battalion practice basic marksmanship techniques at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, in 2013. The students were part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. Last week, three female Marines officially transferred to infantry training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy Department of Defense)

By Jamie Rogers

The first group of women approved to transfer to the U.S. infantry — three female Marines — recently reported to their new unit at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The three women, whom the Marines did not identify by name or rank, have reported to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and each will serve in a different infantry specialty: one rifleman, one machine gunner and one mortar Marine, said 1st Lt. John McCombs, a spokesman for the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

Capt. Philip Kulczewski, a service spokesman, said that each woman previously served in other jobs in the Marines and requested transfer to the infantry after graduating the School of Infantry as part of a 2015 research initiative the Corps conducted to study the impact of gender integration.

“All 337 (military occupational specialties) are open and currently female Marines are enlisting through all program specialties,” he said. “Regardless of any demographic qualifier, any person who is qualified has the opportunity to volunteer to serve in any occupational specialty or unit.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter paved the way for women to serve in traditionally all-male, front-line combat units in December 2015 when he ordered all military jobs and units open to qualified women. Only the Marines recommended against opening all specialties to women, instead asking for an exclusion for roles including infantry, machine gunner and reconnaissance, however Carter said no.

Maria Daume, a Marine Corps recruit, pushes an ammunition can during the Crucible, a 54-hour culminating training event, on Parris Island, Jan. 5, 2017. Daume, assigned to Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, was born in a Russian prison and brought to Long Island, N.Y., at the age of 4 when she and her twin brother were adopted. (Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas)

The service has had a cadre of senior female Marines in place at Camp Lejeune for three months to help ensure other female Marines are properly transitioned into the infantry, Kulzcewski said.

“This process ensures the Marine Corps will adhere to its standards and will continue its emphasis on combat readiness,” he said.

More women are expected to join the infantry later this year, as there are nine female Marines now conducting initial entrance training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. However, it’s unclear what will happen with these jobs in the future. President-elect Donald Trump has raised questions about whether he will try to reverse the new policies for women. What do you think about the new integration of women into the infantry?

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