The Marines will let enlisted women go through basic infantry training beginning this fall — and how well the ladies perform may help determine what other combat jobs could eventually open up to female soldiers.
The enlisted women will volunteer for spots in the Corp's infantry training battalion, according to a planning document obtained by Marine Corps Times
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The document, dated Aug. 16, is titled "Assignment of Women in Combat Units."
“Female Marines will have the opportunity to go through the same infantry training course as their male counterparts,” the document states.
The program is described as research.
“Female enlisted Marines who successfully complete infantry training as part of this research process will not be assigned infantry as a military occupational specialty and will not be assigned to infantry units," the newspaper reported.
It’s unclear whether any enlisted women have volunteered yet, the newspaper said.
The infantry training battalion is part of the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry, which follows boot camp.
The service operates two schools, one at Camp Geiger along the North Carolina coast, and one at Camp Pendleton in southern California.
Enlisted infantry school lasts eight weeks and includes a mix of physical training, classroom work and overnight field exercises that involve live-fire events, according to the Marine Corps’ website.
Soldiers learn a host of skills while there, including weapons handling and marksmanship, patrolling and land navigation, and how to spot and react to improvised explosives.
They live in tents through some of the program and at times sleep outside in fighting positions, the Miliary Times said.
The inclusion of women in infantry training is part of Corps' research process stemming from the Defense Department’s repeal of a 1994 exclusion rule — opening up about 237,000 jobs to women across all of the services, including nearly 54,000 jobs in the Marine Corps, the newspaper said.
The Marines' research is expected to last years, and Marine officials have said no women will join infantry units before 2015.
Also, the services will be allowed to ask for exceptions that, if granted by the Pentagon, could keep some jobs closed to women.
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