Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger on Friday took to Twitter to announce his goal of having more female Marine officers attend the Corps’ grueling 13-week Infantry Officer Course, known as IOC.
His announcement came the same week the first woman to pass the course had gone on terminal leave, a Marine Corps spokesman confirmed Tuesday, leaving the Corps with potentially only one qualified female infantry officer.
While the Corps saw a 60 percent increase in women serving in ground combat roles in 2019 overall, that growth was nonexistent when it came to infantry officers.
Since ground combat jobs were opened up to women in 2016, only nine women have attempted IOC ― the required school for infantry officers ― and only two have passed, Teresa Ovalle, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told Marine Corps Times Tuesday.
Finding female officers to volunteer for the course remains difficult for the Corps, which has just one female officer scheduled to attend IOC in 2020, Ovalle said.
On Friday the commandant wrote that he wants the Corps to take “immediate action” in identifying company-grade female officers to attend the course.
Capt. Marina A. Hierl was the first female Marine officer to receive the 0302 infantry officer military occupational specialty when she graduated from the course in September 2017.
Hierl started her career in the fleet as a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, and eventually ended up as the assistant operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, before going on terminal leave in mid-February, Marine Corps spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told Marine Corps Times Tuesday.
The second woman to graduate IOC, in June 2018, is an 0203 ground intelligence office who went on to pass the Corps’ Scout Sniper Unit Leaders Course, putting her on a path to potentially lead a sniper platoon.
In June 2019, she was serving as the assistant intelligence officer with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
The Marine Corps has not yet been able to confirm to Marine Corps Times that the ground intelligence officer is still in the same role.