Move over, GI Jane. The Marine Corps’ graduating class will for the first time ever include women as graduates of its infantry training course.
The Marine Corps Times described the event as “a historic milestone,
one that would suggest at least some female Marines possess both the physical strength and acumen to keep pace with their male counterparts on the battlefield.”
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A graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at Camp Geiger, N.C.
Fifteen women volunteered to train at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina nearly two months ago. Three are graduating; a fourth finished the course, but was injured and couldn’t pass a required fitness test, CNN reported
. She will be allowed to graduate once she recovers and passes.
The women had to go through the same grueling tests as their male counterparts. That included carrying 90 pounds of combat gear on a 12.5-mile march, a Marine spokesperson said.
The Marine Corps Times said that seven women remained at the beginning of the grueling march, along with 246 men. It’s unclear how many men passed the course.
Despite their accomplishment, the women will not serve in combat units, CNN reported. Their 59 days of arduous training was meant to be part of the Marine Corps’ ongoing research into the possibility of having women serve in combat.
Enlisted infantry school lasts eight weeks and includes physical training, classroom work, and overnight field exercises that involve live-fire events, according to the Marine Corps’ website.
CNN noted that 10 women officers have entered the Marine infantry officer-training program at Marine Base Quantico, Va., but none of the officers have completed the course.
The Pentagon has ordered all services to open up all combat roles to women by 2016, though they can request exemptions for some positions.
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