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Editorial: Step toward equality

Jul. 12, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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The Marine Corps should go the final step and allow women candidates who have washed out of the Infantry Officer Course the option to attempt it a second time, just like the men.

The Corps recently revised the requirements for the Infantry Officers Course to allow all female company grade officers a chance to apply. This pool of applicants, ranging from new graduates of The Basic School to seasoned fleet captains, reflects the pool the Marines pull from for male applicants.

A further revision stipulates that women candidates must now score a first class on the male physical fitness test — just like the men.

Though the two revisions are big steps toward equal opportunity, one last step remains conspicuously absent.

In a Washington Post op-ed this year, failed IOC candidate 2nd Lt. Sage Santangelo cited the lack of a second chance as a key contributor to the failure rate among women — so far 100 percent.

The hangup is on the Combat Endurance Test, a grueling 14-hour physical exam that is shrouded in secrecy and requires an almost perfect physical fitness score to complete.

Without knowing what’s coming, some Marines exhaust their energy in the first legs of the exam. On their second attempt, those male Marines know what they’re facing — and are more likely to pass. It’s not just physical fitness and experience in these cases, but direct knowledge of the rigors of the test which makes the difference.

To promote true equality, the Corps should consider granting women the same opportunity.

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