Now that the Pentagon has removed the ban on women in combat, the first females are eagerly beginning the application process to join Marine Special Operations Command.
At least three so far have begun the application process, Marine Corps Times reports. The first application came in the first week of January. That female applicant was turned away and told to come back with completed pre-requisites.
“MARSOC remains committed to sustaining and improving our combat effectiveness through the systematic application of our standards,” Capt. Barry Morris, a spokesman for MARSOC, told Marine Corps times. “With clearly articulated and codified standards, MARSOC will enhance its ability to screen and select the best and most fully qualified Marines to become critical skills operators and special operations officers, increasing the overall combat readiness of our force.”
But even though the ban officially must be lifted by April 1, the next screening for MARSOC does not take place until August, so that’s the earliest that women will be able to start moving through the screening process.
The screening process involves a grueling, three-week course testing the physical and mental limits of applicants as far as they can go. Applicants have to successfully pass swimming tests, land navigation tests and psychometric tests. After the three-week course, Marines then move on to a 19-day phase. Then, Marines have to pass a nine-month training course.
Gender neutral standards are already in place and arrived far in advance of instructions to restructure training programs. Back in February 2015, MARSOC commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman said that the command was working on “a good objective set of gender-neutral standards.”
The influx of women is unlikely to be met with public cheers, though a RAND Corporation survey conducted in December found that 85 percent of special operators opposed serving with women. Although the military has assured special operators that standards won’t change, special operators simply don’t trust leadership.
As he was in the process of retiring this January, Gen. John Kelly insisted that the Marine Corps will in fact face serious pressure to lower standards by “agenda-driven” officials.
“There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles; why aren’t they staying in those other roles; why aren’t they advancing as infantry people?” Kelly asked.
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