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WASHINGTON – The Marine Corps has opened a number of fields to women, the service’s commandant said August 28, and the experiences of the first women to go through the Infantry Officer Course next month will help him as he makes recommendations for an increased role for female Marines.
Gen. James F. Amos spoke at the National Press Club, and reporters asked about the future for women in combat.
The commandant said many women have been in combat in the wars fought over the last decade. “Women in combat have not been an issue,” he said.
Artillery, tanks, amphibious warfare vehicles, light air defense and some combat engineer specialties now are open to women in the Marine Corps’ officers and staff noncommissioned officer ranks, Amos said. “So that’s in the process right now,” he said, adding that he believes women will be successful in those fields.
“Early indications are that that was precisely the right thing to do,” he said.
The question of women serving in infantry positions needs more data to answer, and the Corps is in the process of getting that information, the general said. Marines are receiving a survey on the subject now.
“That has yet to come in, and when it does, it will answer a lot of questions we have about women, specifically in infantry,” Amos said.
The general told reporters he wants to “get past hyperbole and past the intuition and instincts.”
“I need to get facts,” he said.
Next month, two women will attend the Marine Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va. They will spend 13 weeks going through very difficult training, and must meet the same standard that men do. “That’s the standard,” the commandant said. “That’s what it takes to be an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.”
The two women will provide him with the data he needs to make recommendations to Congress, to the defense secretary and to the secretary of the Navy, Amos said.
“We will collect the data, and then we will see where we are,” he added. “I’m not the least bit afraid of the data.”
The Corps is running a series of studies on aspects of physical strength needed in the Marines for both men and women, the general noted.
“We are going to do this the right way to set the conditions for success,” he said.