The female officer will graduate from the rigorous infantry officer course on Monday after becoming the first woman to complete it.(MivPiv/Getty Images)
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017, 10:19 AM
A female Marine Corps lieutenant completed the branch’s brutal infantry officer course, the first woman to do so in the branch’s nearly 242-year history.
The unnamed officer finished the last required combat task — on a demanding training base in southern California — and will graduate Monday, a Marine Corps spokesman confirmed in a statement.
At that point, the officer and her male colleagues will have a “warrior breakfast” at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, sources told the Washington Post.
The Marine, who will likely lead a platoon of 40 soldiers, is the first of three dozen women to have passed the test since it opened up to females in 2012.
The Pentagon allowed female soldiers to compete in the grueling course on an experimental basis that year, but shut it down in 2015. During that time 32 women attempted the 13-week course, but all failed to pass it.
Training to become a Marine infantry officer is among the toughest within the military.
About 10% of applicants drop out of the course after the first day, according to the Washington Post.
Courses play to both the mind and the body. That first day not only includes combat training and an obstacle course with rope climbing, but land navigation exercises through Virginia’s hills.
It isn’t an easy task for men, either. Roughly 25% of males in infantry officer training don’t finish the course, according to USA Today.
Marine recruits seen training on an obstacle course in California.(LENNY IGNELZI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Women could again take part in the course in December 2015, after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter opened all military jobs to women.
The soon-to-graduate Marine and three other women have attempted the course since April 2016, according to the Marine Corps. At least one of them tried it twice, but was unable to complete it, according to the Washington Post.
Only 7% of the Marine Corps’ 200,000 troops are women, making it the smallest share out of U.S. military branches.
Enlisted women began joining infantry units this January.
That came after a transitional period in which Marine riflemen received training to fight alongside female comrades.
“There’s no doubt we’re leading cultural change,” Brig. Gen. James Glynn told Military.com in March 2016. “It’s not the first time for the Marine Corps, but we like a challenge.”
The Army began the process last year when Capt. Kristen Griest became the branch’s first infantry officer. She was one of the first three women who completed the Army’s elite Ranger school in 2015.
And the lieutenant’s graduation next week comes months after the Corps was hit with allegations that service members circulated nude photos of female colleagues. Hundreds of Marines are reportedly under investigation.Send a Letter to the Editor
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