While many have tried with no success, one female Marine officer is preparing to attempt the USMC’s brutal Infantry Officer Course, hoping to become the first woman to complete it.
The female second lieutenant is scheduled to begin the course in three months, according to Marine Corps Training and Education Command spokesman Captain Joshua Pena. The officer will be the second woman to attempt the course since the USMC opened up all combat jobs to women.
While 27 female officers attempted the course from 2012-2015, during an evaluation period, none passed. In the same timeframe, two other women attempted the course for the ground intelligence occupation and failed.
The 30th and most recent officer attempted the course twice in 2016. She was dropped on both tries for failing to complete two conditioning hikes, despite passing the Combat Endurance Test that knocked most women out of the course.
Outgoing Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told reporters earlier this month that the Marine course involves carrying a large amount of weight, which is a huge physical demand on the female frame.
“One of the things about IOC is that it involves carrying a huge amount of stuff,” he said. “And if you are in the infantry in the United States Marines, you’re going to break down.”
The issue of weight isn’t exclusively a female one. Both General Joseph Dunford and Commandant General Robert Neller have had medical interventions to replace or reinforce joints that have been worn down by their high-impact careers.
That said, Mabus isn’t terribly concerned with how many tries it may take before a woman passes IOC.
“The important thing is that it’s open for anybody who qualifies,” he said. “It’s just that you have a chance to make it through.”
The SecNav went on to say that the grueling attrition rate -for men and women- is just part of the job when it comes to combat roles such as infantry.
“Now the standards they’ve set have to be job-related. They have to be aligned with what a person has to do in the field. So I’m pretty confident that they are,” he said.
According to Military.com, the enlisted infantry side has had much greater success with females making the cut with easier standards, compared to what is expected in Infantry Officer Course. Three enlisted female Marines are joining an infantry unit this month and female recruits with infantry contracts scheduled to graduate before February.
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