A milestone will be reached Monday that no Marine has ever reached before in the Corps’ entire 250-year history. That day an officer will graduate from the infantry course. And like all officers, this one has met every requirement the Marine Corps has asked of its soldiers.
Only, this soldier is different. She’s a woman.
A U.S. official confirmed the news without making public the officer’s name, according to ABC News. The Marine Corps Training and Education Command said that “four female Marine officers have volunteered and attempted Infantry Officer Course” since April 2016 when ground combat specialties were opened to women. But the officer graduating Monday is the first to pass it.
According to The Washington Post, the woman is a lieutenant who, along with her male colleagues, completed a rigorous combat exercise Wednesday at the Marines’ rugged training facility in Twentynine Palms, California, which was the capstone requirement of the 13-week-program.
The breakthrough got its start in 2015 when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all branches of the armed forces to open up combat roles to women. Previously, a ban had been strictly enforced that prevented women from serving on the front lines.
When Carter made the announcement, the Marine Corps formally advised that women should not serve in that capacity, preventing them from working in combat units. Even though the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command urged the Marine Corps to ease their position, that branch chose not to.
At that time in 2015, Carter had said, “We are a joint force, and I have decided to make a decision which applies to the entire force.”
The woman is the first to complete the course out of three dozen to have tried, reported The Washington Post. She will command a platoon of about 40 Marines.
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