The first enlisted female Marine has applied to make a lateral move from her current occupation and into the infantry.
“These requests take time, and to help put things in perspective, lateral-move processes involve counseling, reviewing physical readiness, completing resident Professional Military Education, individual performance, competiveness in MOS and ultimately needs of the Marine Corps,” Marine Capt. Philip Kulczewski told Military.com. The Marine is a junior enlisted lance corporal.
The Marine Corps has stated that the earliest a female can enter ground combat roles like rifleman or machine gunner is October 1.
“This process ensures the Marine Corps will adhere to its standards and will continue its emphasis on combat readiness,” Kulczewski added.
A total of 233 female Marines have gone through the Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Geiger in North Carolina. The Marine Corps has since told these Marines they could move over to an infantry unit if they so desired. This applicant in particular does not come from that cohort of 233.
Military officials have repeated the message over and over again that as female integration continues to be implemented, physical standards for these combat roles will not be lowered, and if they do change, it will be for everyone, not just a particular group. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently pledged exactly that during a recent speech at Camp Pendleton, in which he also said the decision to open all combat roles to women is as irreversible as integrating blacks into the military.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s decision to open all combat roles to women in December has opened the floodgates for female applicants. In the Army, a total of 44 women have asked to become officer, and 25-year-old police officer Tammy Grace Barnett recently enlisted as the first female infantry recruit for the service.
Barnett will begin basic training next year. While she at first intended to join military police, she later changed her mind, saying, “infantry is similar, and they are more on the front lines, like law enforcement here, and I said that’s what I want to do.”
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