Female Marine officers, staff NCOs to join grunt units
By Jeff Schogol
MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN - NOVEMBER19: (SPAIN OUT, FRANCE OUT, AFP OUT) Sargent Sheena Adams, 25, US Marine with the FET (Female Engagement Team) 1st Battalion 8th Marines, Regimental Combat team II stands guard while on patrol on November 19, 2010 in Musa Qala, Afghanistan. There are 48 women presently working along the volatile front lines of the war in Afghanistan deployed as the second Female Engagement team participating in a more active role, gaining access where men can't. The women, many who volunteer for the 6.5 month deployment take a 10 week course at Camp Pendleton in California where they are trained for any possible situation, including learning Afghan customs and basic Pashtun language. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Female Marine officers and staff noncommissioned officers will soon be assigned to infantry battalions.
With all combat arms jobs now open to women, qualified enlisted Marines could soon be moving into infantry battalions. Since Because no female officer Marine has graduated from successfully completed the Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course, though, there currently are no women to lead them.
To begin building that cadre of women leaders, Marine officials will soon assign female to assign officers and staff NCOs to infantry battalions where they will ill serve in support roles military occupational specialties, officials said.
These female Marines or sailors Corps or Navy officers and staff noncommissioned officers will help male infantrymen adjust to the changes in their units before female grunts join their battalions, help women get Marines in infantry battalions seeing "a competent female that is doing her job" before junior female Marines join the units, said Col. Anne Weinberg, deputy director of manpower integration.
"I think there's a 'you gotta see it to believe it' aspect in some of these units," Weinberg said at a Thursday media roundtable.
The female leaders’ main responsibility will be to assist the entire unit, not just the women grunts junior female Marines, Weinberg said.
"We really didn’t look at them as helping the junior female Marines," she said. "We really looked at helping the unit writ large — as a resource to the commander, as a sounding board for something that might happening in their particular mission."
A Marine ensures members of their unit are safe as they board a Landing Craft Air Cushion at sea.
Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols/Marine Corps
However, the female officers and staff NCOs’ secondary mission will be to serve as a resource for any female infantrymen junior female Marines who join the infantry battalions, Weinberg said.
"If they feel like there's something they can't talk to their male leader about, just to have that same gender face," she said.
The cadre of women female leaders is are expected to be in place in infantry battalions at least 90 days before the first junior female Marines arrive, Weinberg said. The first poolees are expected to ship to recruit training for infantry MOSs in October, so the earliest they would join infantry battalions would be early next year.
However, 233 female Marines have already graduated from the Infantry Training Battalion or other MOS schools previously closed to women as part of the Marine Corps' Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force study, she said. Those Marines have the ability to make lateral moves into infantry and non-load-bearing MOSs before October.
"If we do get some lat-movers, we'll get the female leadership in place sooner rather than later," Weinberg said.
At least three Two female Marines who have qualified for combat arms jobs graduated from ITB have told Marine Corps Times they intend to apply for lateral moves into those fields infantry.
About 200 female Marine leaders are already assigned to units in other MOSs that had been restricted to men only, Weinberg said. The first poolees are expected to ship to recruit training in June for those MOSs, such as tanks and artillery, said Stephen Wittle with of Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
In May and June, all Marines will receive two days of training on the Marine Corps' gender integration plan, Weinberg said.
"We're doing it for the entire Marine Corps, not just the previously closed MOSs," she said. "[It's a] great opportunity to take people aside and focus on this for two days and have an opportunity to talk about institutional change, unconscious bias."
In addition to learning about why the Marine Corps has opened all MOSs to women, Marines will have to complete training vignettes, Weinberg said.
"Some of the scenarios are: You're in the field; you only have this certain amount of space for billeting and you've got three women and six guys; how are you going to billet?" she said. "Just some common sense things that these units probably haven't had to deal with."