Pvt. Gloria Murphy cleans a machine gun during Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Female Marines may now enroll in the machine gunner course on an experimental basis. The Marines' restriction on women holding infantry jobs may change in 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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The first enlisted female Marines will start training in mortarman and infantry assaultman specialty schools next week as the Marine Corps kicks off the next phase of its Women in Service Review study.
A total of seven new military occupational specialty schools are opening to female Marines. For the first time, female graduates of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., will be able to volunteer for MOS training in the following specialties:
■ 0331 Machine Gunner
■ 0341 Mortarman
■ 0351 Infantry Assaultman
■ 0352 Anti-Tank Missileman
■ 1812 M1A1 Tank Crewman
■ 1833 Assault Amphibious Vehicle Crewmember
■ 0811 Field Artillery Cannoneer
The move came in a White Letter Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos released in March that also announced the creation of the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force. The GCEITF is co-ed group designed to evaluate and compare the physical performance of male and female Marines in ground combat jobs in order to determine appropriate physical and performance standards for the various specialties.
“I have approved the expansion of our entry-level training research effort,” Amos wrote in the March 12 letter. “Upon graduation from recruit training, female Marines will now be able to volunteer for additional closed MOS training schools prior to continuing on to their assigned MOS.”
Like the enlisted and officer infantry schools the Marines opened to women last year, these schools cannot offer female graduates an MOS designation, so they must pursue a non-infantry specialty following completion of training.
Marine officials plan to recruit a total of 230 female Marines to fill the seven MOS schools, but the project may be off to a slow start. There are two volunteers so far—one each in the 0341 and 0351 specialties—with recruiting effrots not yet begun for three of the seven schools.
The newly open schools will be available to female boot camp graduates in addition to Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which saw its first female graduates late last year. Since then, 223 female volunteers have entered training and 86 have graduated across 12 training companies, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Maureen Krebs.
According to a March brief reviewed by Marine Corps Times, the Marine Corps plans to officially open a number of the 31 MOSs that remain closed to women prior to the completion of WISR at the end of 2015. It’s not clear, however, which fields are the most likely to open with this move or when it might take place.