Just days after military ground combat and special ops jobs officially opened to women –the Marine Corps’ special operations command announced the first female applicant surfaced.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of MARSOC, told Military.com: “The very first week of January… we had one female applicant on the West Coast. “Unfortunately, there was something in the prerequisite stuff she didn’t have, a [general technical] score or something. It was, ‘get re-tested and come on back,’ that kind of thing.”
A Marine must have a minimum GT score of 105 and a minimum physical fitness test score of 225 to qualify for MARSOC critical skills operator assessment and selection. They must be a seasoned corporal or a sergeant, or a first lieutenant or captain. The command does not have a so-called “street to fleet” recruiting program. Instead, it recruits from “within the ranks” of the Marine Corps.
Osterman says MARSOC is “actively soliciting and recruiting” qualified female Marines. “We’ve notified or contacted every one of them and let them know, ‘it’s open, you’re eligible,'” he said.
He could not specify how many women had applied in January, but said the command has already received “several requests” from female Marines to enter the assessment and selection pipeline to become a critical skills operator.
MARSOC is currently making plans to prepare its leadership for the arrival of female trainees and operators. Osterman said he believes there are benefits to having female operators downrange.
“There are things that women can do, as I’ve seen many times in Afghanistan and Iraq, where there’s a lot of value added in the combined arms kind of approach,” he said.
Osterman said in terms of training and job skills, the command has an advantage over the Marine Corps in that there were already clear gender-neutral physical standards in place for critical skills operators. “It’s a pretty sophisticated standardization system,” he said.
The “nororiously grueling” training pipeline for MARSOC starts with two assessment and selection phases, which are followed by a nine-month individual training course. During that time, Marines are trained in “survival, evasion, resistance and escape [SERE], special reconnaissance, close urban combat, irregular warfare and many other skill sets.”
40 percent of Marines who enter the MARSOC pipeline go on to become critical skills operators.
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