Sgt. Ashley Mohr, a drill instructor with Platoon 4039, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, ensures her recruits have their valuables Sept. 17, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. Drill instructors ensure all recruits and their equipment are accounted for at the end of the day. Mohr is a 27-year-old native of Salamanca, N.Y. Oscar Company is scheduled to graduate Nov. 7, 2014. Parris Island has been the site of Marine Corps recruit training since Nov. 1, 1915. Today, approximately 20,000 recruits come to Parris Island annually for the chance to become United States Marines by enduring 13 weeks of rigorous, transformative training. Parris Island is home to entry-level enlisted training for 50 percent of males and 100 percent of females in the Marine Corps. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

The Marine Corps says it is one step closer to integrating Ash Carter’s controversial directive to open ground combat jobs to women.

Just thirty-one females have signed Marine Corps enlistment contracts for combat arms jobs since the Secretary of Defense’s mandate went into effect approximately one year ago according to Jim Edwards, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Marine leaders have expressed concerns with the low numbers, saying it’s not what they anticipated. However, Marine planners expect the numbers to rise to 200 female Marines entering ground combat jobs each year, despite the low numbers in 2016.

Twenty-one of the women graduating boot camp signed contracts for active duty ground infantry jobs, nine committed to four different artillery jobs, and one signed up for the reserves to be light armored vehicle Marine, Edwards told Miltiary.com.

In October, sixteen of the women shipped off to recruit training while the remaining fifteen remain in the delayed entry program, which allows recruits to delay their entrance date.

While the Marine Corps has two boot camps, one in Parris Island for eastern US recruits and the other in San Diego for those who enlist west of the Mississippi, the women were all sent to Parris Island, the home of the Marine’s only all-female recruit training battalion.

Nine of the women currently training at Parris Island have signed for infantry jobs.

“These are the first women to arrive to recruit training with infantry contracts, and they have all met the required gender-neutral standards,” Capt. Gregory Carroll, a spokesperson for Parris Island, told Military.com.

“This serves as a testimony to the Marine Corps’ goal of leveraging every opportunity to optimize individual performance, talent, and skills to maximize our warfighting capabilities. All nine women remain in recruit training, and the first group is scheduled to graduate in January 2017.”

These women were required to complete a gender-neutral initial strength test before upon enlistment –unlike females contracted for non-infantry jobs.

They had to complete a 1.5-mile run within 13 minutes, 30 seconds; three pull-ups; 45 lifts of a full ammo can within two minutes (not required for non-infantry enlistees); and 44 crunches within two minutes.

During training, the infantry recruits were also required to pass another strength test eight weeks into their training. They are required to complete a “classification standard” which requires six pull-ups; 60 ammo can lifts within two minutes; timed movement-to-contact and maneuver-under-fire exercises; and a three-mile run in just under 25 minutes.

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