First Female Infantry Soldier Makes History With US Marines

A female soldier has made history by becoming the first woman to complete the US Marine Corps’ famously demanding Infantry Officer course.

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The lieutenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, completed 13-weeks of gruelling training in Quantico, Virginia, becoming the US’s first ever female infantry officer.

“I am proud of this officer and those in her class‎ who have earned the infantry officer MOS,” said Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller in a press release.

“Marines expect and rightfully deserve competent and capable leaders, and these IOC graduates met every training requirement as they prepare for the next challenge of leading infantry Marines; ultimately, in combat.”

The course is often thought of as one of the Marines’ toughest, with around 10 percent of students failing on the first day. It’s designed to train prospective officers “in leadership, infantry skills, and character required to serve as infantry platoon commanders.”

In March 2016, then-President Barack Obama opened all military positions to women, including combat units.

“There’s no doubt we’re leading cultural change,” Brigadier General James Glynn said to the Washington Post. “It’s not the first time that’s happened in the Marine Corps. We’ve been known to take challenges head-on.”

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, former Marine captain Teresa Fazio showed her support and said the female officer would be a major asset in Afghanistan.

Robert Neller

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller. Credit: PA

“Female troops are invaluable for searching houses and communicating with local women, gaining access to spaces and information that, because of local custom, male troops cannot get,” she wrote.

The new infantry officer may be the first woman to have completed the course, but she is by no means the first one to have attempted it.

Thirty-two women in total enrolled on the program between 2012 and 2015, when the Marines experimented with opening it up to women.

Four others, including the new graduate, have attempted the course since the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women in December of 2015.

Earlier this year, news hit the headlines that current and former Marines circulated nude photos of female service members without their permission.

Neller asked female Marines to trust the leadership to “take action and correct this problem.”

Sources: BBC NewsWashington PostNew York Times

Featured Image Credit: PA

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