A female lieutenant in the Infantry Officer Course hangs during the obstacle course portion of the initial Combat Endurance Test at Marine Corps Base Quantico in July. (Staff)
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Four more women took on the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course on Thursday and washed out, the latest chapter in the service’s ongoing research into which roles women should be able to fill in combat.
The women failed the school’s introductory Combat Endurance Test, a grueling exam designed to assess physical strength, stamina and the ability to make decisions while exhausted. They were recruited on a voluntary basis to attempt IOC at Quantico, Va.
All told, 81 male and female Marines began the initial endurance test yesterday at Quantico. Sixty-five men passed; 12 male Marines and four female Marines did not, said Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
Women began reporting to IOC on a voluntary basis last year. Counting the latest class, 10 women have attempted IOC, and none has passed. Nine failed to make it through the combat endurance test. The tenth passed the initial test last fall but was dropped a little more than a week into training due to stress fractures in her foot, Marine officials said. Two women were among the last class of 79 Marines who attempted it in July; both failed the CET.
The 13-week course is considered among the toughest in the U.S. military and is part of the Pentagon’s ongoing effort to determine which additional jobs in combat units should be opened to women. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, announced in January the Pentagon would open about 237,00 jobs across the services, including 53,721 in the Corps. The services will continue to conduct their own experiments to determine if certain military occupational specialties should be kept closed to women.
The latest IOC course kicked off one week after female Marines reported for the first time to enlisted infantry training at Camp Geiger, N.C. Fifteen women reported to the Infantry Training Battalion course there last week. As of Friday, Krebs said, 13 of them were still undergoing training, which is overseen by School of Infantry-East.
Neither the women reporting to IOC nor ITB will be assigned an infantry military occupational specialty if they complete training, officials said. Rather, Marine officials will note it in their official military record for tracking purposes.