Few Women Signing Up for Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course

Few Women Signing Up for Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course

No women have volunteered for the January round of the Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course, leaving the Marine Corps' goal of testing at least 90 more women in the course looking like it may be difficult to fulfill.

So far, only two of 80 or so eligible women have volunteered for the course, and of those two, one left on the first day (along with 26 of the 107 men) and the second dropped after two weeks for medical reasons.

The research effort was launched after the Pentagon opened to women more than 14,000 jobs that could place them closer to front lines and combat. The research is part of efforts to gather information that could help guide decisions on what opportunities can be opened to women.

According to an article by the Washington Times, Tests include lifting a 72-pound machine gun above their heads while wearing a 71-pound rucksack, marching 12 miles in less than five hours carrying a 71-pound rucksack and evacuating a mock casualty weighing about 200 pounds. The scores will be used to compare male and female performance and to gauge whether the current combat fitness test and physical fitness tests are appropriate measures for combat fitness.

Only new female lieutenants are offered the chance to volunteer for the Infantry Officer Course. This has upset some senior female officers, who say they would jump at the chance and might better handle the stress of being the only woman in an intense, all-male environment than brand-new female officers.

In addition, the senior women attribute the lack of female volunteers to the fact that they would not be assigned to infantry jobs even if they complete the course. Successful candidates would have to return to their previously assigned jobs.The Corps also will submit the results from a servicewide online survey of active-duty Marines and some reservists about their experiences with female Marines and the potential challenges of opening more units and positions to women.

After this, “I’ll be able to look Congress, secretary of defense, secretary of the Navy in the eye and say, ‘Sir, this is my recommendation when we’re all through,’” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos said in August.