A Marine Corps lieutenant is well on her way to becoming the first woman to secure the military occupational specialty of infantry officer, having completed roughly five weeks of the grueling 13-week Marine Corps infantry officers' course.
The officer, whose name has not been released, began the course in early July, said Maj. Amy Punzel, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command. There are approximately eight weeks left in the course, Punzel said.
To date, more than 30 female Marine officers have attempted IOC, most of them as volunteers on an experimental basis before the course formally opened to women in late 2014. Very few made it past the combat endurance test, a notoriously difficult ordeal at the start of the course with a high washout rate.
The most recent previous attempt was earlier this spring.
In a brief with reporters this week, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters mentioned the officer currently in the course, suggesting Marine Corps leadership is watching her achievements closely.
"We have a female officer right now in Infantry Officers Course, and she's part of the way through, doing very well," he said. "These are successes that never seem to get out in the press."
Meanwhile, female enlisted infantrymen are already being assigned to operational infantry units in keeping with a Defense Department mandate that opened all previously closed fields to women at the start of 2016.
Walters said this week that 278 women are now serving in jobs from which they'd previously been excluded, and another 40 female recruits had enlisted with contracts for these jobs.
"Do we have hordes [of female Marines entering combat jobs]? No," Walters said. "But we have a pretty good nexus that are attempting to make these choices in life. And I'm very proud of them."
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.