It was reported on OMV HERE. Now see the follow up below.
The Marine Corps’ effort to evaluate whether more combat jobs should open to women marked another milestone last week when the second of two female volunteers washed out of infantry officer training.
A second lieutenant, she was dropped from the program Friday after failing to complete required training due to unspecified medical reasons, a Marine official told Marine Corps Times. It’s unclear whether she was injured or if she became ill.
The other volunteer, also a second lieutenant, dropped out Sept. 28 after she was unable to complete the program’s introductory combat endurance test. Nearly 30 men also washed out on the first day.
Known as the Infantry Officers Course, the demanding 13-week program is based at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. The current class, which began with 109 students, is the first to have included women. On average, about 25 percent of the men who enroll in IOC fail to complete it and voluntarily withdraw.
The Corps sought female volunteers for the course as part of a broader research effort to assess how female Marines might perform in assignments whose primary mission is direct ground combat — jobs they are prohibited from filling now. Just the two women stepped forward. Marine officials have declined to identify them, citing a desire to protect their privacy.
Upon completing IOC’s combat endurance test in September, the woman dropped from the program Friday issued the following statement via Marine Corps public affairs personnel: “I want to try to open up a door, maybe, for women after me. I don’t know how far it will open, but I’m hoping to make a difference for women down the road.”
At Quantico, those overseeing the IOC experiment have said that it will involve up to 100 female officers and take at least a year to complete. The Marine official, speaking on condition of anonymity, reaffirmed the Corps’ intent to recruit female volunteers for subsequent iterations of the course.
“This was just the first shot,” the official said.
The next IOC will begin this winter. So far, no new volunteers have emerged, said Maj. Shawn Haney, a spokeswoman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in Quantico, the command leading the Marine Corps’ research. Nevertheless, she said, the experiences of these first two volunteers will prove valuable as senior leaders contemplate potential next moves.
As part of the Corps’ ongoing review, officials have opened nearly 400 jobs in select ground combat units — billets in artillery and tank battalions, among others — to female officers and staff noncommissioned officers. Previously, only men were allowed to fill those jobs. Additionally, Marine officials are exploring whether the service should develop “gender-neutral” physical standards.
Taken together, all of these efforts are expected to inform a recommendation from the Marine Corps to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on what additional changes — if any — should be made. That’s due to the Pentagon in early November.
“All information gathered as part of our quantitative research efforts, to include IOC, will be provided to our senior leaders as part of our recommendation and report,” Haney said. “For IOC specifically, such information includes recruiting of volunteers, volunteer data and performance of those who reported to IOC for training.”
USA Today’s Jim Michaels contributed to this report.