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Female Marine Reaches End of First Phase of MARSOC Course

Marines with the Lioness Program refill their rifle magazines during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. (Photo By: Sgt. Jennifer Jones)
Marines with the Lioness Program refill their rifle magazines during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. (Photo By: Sgt. Jennifer Jones)

The first Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command assessment and selection course to admit female Marines had one woman make it to the end of the first phase, MARSOC officials confirmed this week.

A female corporal stayed in the 19-day course until its completion at the end of August, but did not have the minimum academic and physical training scores needed to make it to the second phase, MARSOC spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler told Military.com.

The Marine, who has not been publicly identified, plans to re-attempt the assessment and selection (A&S) phase when the next cycle begins early in the new year, he said. Marines trying out for MARSOC are given up to three attempts to make it through the first phase, as long as they are not limited by remaining time in service or time in their current rank, and there are enough "boat spaces" in the course to accommodate them.

The A&S phase began Aug. 11 with two female Marines. The other woman, a staff sergeant, departed the course a day in after failing to complete a timed ruck march within the required time. It's not clear if the staff sergeant plans to re-attempt the course. Thirty-one male Marines had also washed out of the grueling course before the first week was out.

According to MARSOC promotional materials, Marines must be able to complete a 12-mile march carrying a pack weighing more than 45 pounds within three hours to pass the first phase of A&S. Participants are also required to tread water for 15 minutes, to swim 300 meters in their camouflage utility uniforms in under 13 minutes, and to get top scores on regular physical fitness tests, in addition to achieving passing scores on various classroom exercises.

"Each event has a minimum passing number," Mannweiler said.

MARSOC officials are no longer providing specifics about which events or disciplines female participants wash out on, Mannweiler said, noting that the command does not publicize that information when male Marines wash out of A&S.

"We don't want to discourage women who have the talent and the capability," he said. "I don't want that to be the barrier for the first women graduating."

Both female A&S participants came from administrative military occupational specialties. They were permitted to participate in MARSOC A&S following a decision by Defense Secretary Ash Carter late last year to open all military jobs to women, including those in infantry and special operations units.

Earlier this year, Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, then the commander of MARSOC, told Military.com the command had leaned into the new reality by having recruiters notify eligible female Marines of the opportunity to apply for special operations.

While the opportunity is still available, Mannweiler said, MARSOC does not currently have any other female Marines committed to participating in the next A&S course.

Those who do make it through the first A&S phase must then pass a second, more secretive and intensive three-week A&S phase. Upon successful passage of A&S Phase II, Marines are invited to participate in the high-intensity nine-month individual training course, which covers the entire spectrum of Marine Corps special operations, including special reconnaissance, irregular warfare, survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE), urban operations, and more.

--Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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Marine Corps Women in the Military Marine Corps Special Operations Special Operations MARSOC Hope Seck Headlines Featured

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