First Female Marine AAV Officer Set to Graduate Training

Marines with the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion await orders while conducting beach operations at Camp Lejeune. The Corps will graduate its first female assault amphibian officer on Oct. 3. (US Marine Corps photo)
Military.com |

Days after the Marine Corps welcomed its first female infantry officer, the service is set to mark another milestone.

A female officer enrolled in the Corps' assault amphibian officer course aboard Camp Pendleton, California is set to graduate Oct. 3, Capt. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told Military.com. When she does, she'll be the first woman to earn the military occupational specialty of 1803, assault amphibian officer, qualified to be a platoon commander for Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles, better known as AAVs or Amtracks.

Pena did not release the officer's rank or name ahead of her planned graduation.

Like ground infantry jobs, jobs within armored vehicle specialties including AAVs and Light Armored Vehicles were closed to women until 2016, when all jobs across the military were declared open to both genders.

To date, two female enlisted Marines have graduated AAV training, Pena said.

The officer preparing to graduate has completed an intensive 12-week course including land water survival skills, vehicle maintenance and management, gunnery skills, amphibious operations, and offensive and defensive operations. The last four-and-and-a-half weeks of the course are spent at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, California and emphasize maneuver and operations in combat.

"The purpose of this course is to provide the training necessary to serve as platoon commanders of an Assault Amphibian unit," a course description posted to the Marines' official website, which still contains exclusively masculine pronouns, reads. "The course ensures the AAV platoon commander is trained to prepare his crews and AAVs for the tactical employment of troops and equipment during ship-to-shore movement and subsequent operations ashore."

The soon-to-graduate assault amphibian officer will represent the latest in a series of firsts for the Marine Corps. On Monday, the Marine Corps announced the graduation of the service's first female infantry officer following her graduation from the service's infantry officer course.

In April, the service welcomed its first tank officer, 2nd Lt. Lillian Polatchek. And two female artillery officers, 2nd Lts. Katherine Boy and Virginia Brodie, have already joined the fleet after completing required job training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in June 2016.

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

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