The Marine Corps is currently looking for female volunteers to attend the Infantry Officers Course in Quantico, Virginia, as part of an effort to expand the role of women in the military branch.
The effort is part of an extensive research campaign to determine what additional–ground combat related–jobs could be opened to women in the not-too-distant future, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marines’ assistant commandant, said to the Marine Corps Times.
However, there are no current assignments or billets open to women in infantry battalions, so the women who attend and complete the training won’t be immediately assigned to one of those roles–mostly because they don’t exist yet.
Although other combat related courses and jobs were opened up to female Marines in February, the infantry course has always been, up until now, a male only school.
Starting in May about 400 positions within six different battalions will be open to women and current enlisted and commissioned female Marines. The battalions include amphibious assault, artillery, combat assault, combat engineer, low-altitude air defense and tank.
Through the experiment the Marines will study how women perform in various combat tasks, how well both men and women work together in those roles, and they hope to establish gender-neutral physical standards. But they are suggesting that the standards will be more demanding for women than what’s required in their current PFT.
Right now the opportunity is only open to female officer candidates once they complete the Basic School, but, again, it’s suggested that once the standards have been set it will be opened up on the enlisted side as well.