Out of the seven female Marines remaining at the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, N.C., four have passed the most strenuous test of the 59-day enlisted infantry training — a 12½-mile hike in full combat gear.
At around 3 a.m. Monday, 253 Marines began the 'hump' through the woods and were allowed to stop every half hour for a 15-minute break.
The three women and 26 men who were unable to complete the march will be given a second opportunity, and so far, two of those women have elected to do so.
There are still more tests that the four female Marines in Delta Company will have to pass as they work towards next month's graduation. One is the final Physical Fitness Test, where the women will have to perform pull ups — as men do, with male scoring.
These female Marines are participating in the Infantry Training Battalion course as volunteers in an ongoing research study by the Defense Department. The Marine Corps will continue to accept women into the course in order to gather enough data to analyze if women are capable of serving in direct combat roles.
Since 1994, women were exempt from ground combat roles, including infantry, artillery, armor, and special operations units. In January of this year, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the rule restricting women from serving in combat units.
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