Sgt. Stephany Rector, administrative specialist, installation personnel administration center, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, completes pull-ups outside of her office, Dec. 3. Five female lieutenants will take on the Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course this summer. (Lance Cpl. Tabitha Bartley/Marines)
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The largest contingent so far of female lieutenants has volunteered to take on the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course this summer as part of ongoing research into which new combat assignments may be opened to women in the future, the commandant said.
The five volunteers will take part in the difficult 13-week course at Quantico, Va., beginning in July, Gen. Jim Amos told the House Armed Services Committee on April 16. If they all report, that will more than double the number of volunteers the Corps has had at IOC since it began Pentagon-mandated research last year.
Amos disclosed the information about the new volunteers after Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., asked during a hearing how the service is progressing on an implementation plan, due this spring, following the Pentagon’s historic decision to reverse its longtime ban on women serving in ground combat units. The move, announced in January, opened about 237,000 jobs across the |services to female service members, including 53,721 in the Corps, Marine officials said.
The commandant said the service’s ongoing development of gender-neutral physical standards will be complete by June, and the Corps will test Marines on those for the rest of the year.
"So that will actually set the conditions to open up basically everything in the Marine Corps with the exception of infantry and reconnaissance," Amos said.
Research for those demanding fields is being handled differently. Amos told lawmakers that the effort at IOC will provide him with the information he needs to make recommendations to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
"I just need to get enough information in that area to be able to make to my secretary a reasonable … analytical recommendation, instead of just some hyperbole stuff," Amos said, responding to Sanchez.
To date, four women have reported to IOC. In the fall, one woman failed the arduous initial Combat Endurance Test, while another was dropped about a week into training due to stress fractures. Two more women reported in March, and also failed the initial endurance test.