Two female Marine officers who volunteered to attempt the Corps’ challenging Infantry Officer Course did not proceed beyond the first day of the course, a Marine Corps spokesperson confirms to the Free Beacon. The two were the only female officers attempting the course in the current cycle, which began Thursday in Quantico, Virginia.
With the two most recent drops, there have been 29 attempts by female officers to pass the course since women have been allowed to volunteer, with none making it to graduation. (At least one woman has attempted the course more than once.) Only four female officers have made it beyond the initial day of training, a grueling evaluation known as the Combat Endurance Test, or CET. Male officers also regularly fail to pass the CET, and the overall course has a substantial attrition rate for males.
The Marine Corps spokesperson, Captain Maureen Krebs, told the Free Beacon that the two officers, “did not meet the standards required of them on day one in order to continue on with the course.” Fifteen male officers also did not meet the standards. Of the 118 officers who began the course, 101 proceeded to the second day.
The Marine Corps, along with the other services, has been evaluating how to comply with the order to gender-integrate its combat arms specialties by the end of this year, or apply for special exemptions.
The results of the Marine Corps’ experimentation thus far has revealed a pattern: Female enlisted Marines have been able to graduate from the enlisted School of Infantry’s Infantry Training Battalion in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, though at a lower rate than male enlisted Marines, while female officers have faced great difficulty in graduating from the course in Quantico.
This situation has led some involved with the policy debate in Washington, D.C., to suggest that the standards at the officer’s course in Quantico–which are substantially higher than for the enlisted course–are unrealistically challenging, and need to be lowered.
The Marine Corps is in a tough spot. Marines follow orders, and the order is to integrate the genders. But the effort to integrate has revealed something that is uncomfortable for proponents of reform: Keeping the traditionally high standards of the Marine infantry will result in a situation where there are a handful of enlisted female Marines in every infantry battalion, and effectively no female infantry officers.
Pressure will become tremendous to reduce those standards–something that the overwhelming majority of Marines, including those women who currently wish to serve in the infantry, believe would be damaging to the service.
Update, 10:45 a.m., 10 January: An earlier version of this post stated that only three female officers had made it beyond the first day of training in the past. In fact, four have proceeded beyond the first day of the course in the past, according to publicly available information. We regret the error.