More than 600 female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units

news
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Victoria Fontanelli, an administrative specialist with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, moves through a simulated village inside the Infantry Immersion Trainer as part of training for the Female Engagement Team, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Oct 16, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Brendan Custer)

Widespread sexism and gender bias in the Marine Corps hasn't stopped hundreds of female Marines from striving for the branch's most dangerous, respected and selective jobs.

Six years after the Pentagon officially opened combat roles to women in 2013, 613 female Marines and sailors now serve in them, according to new data released by the Marine Corps.

"Females are now represented in every previously-restricted occupational field," reads a powerpoint released this month on the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP), which notes that 60% of those female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units joined those units in the past year.



A slide from the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP) released in December 2019(U.S. Marine Corps)

Despite the rapid growth, an important distinction must be made in the data. Though there are 613 female Marines and sailors serving in previously-restricted units, only 231 of those female Marines have earned a previously-restricted military occupational specialty (MOS).

This means there are hundreds of female Marines who are serving in combat units, such as infantry or artillery, but who are technically not trained as infantrymen or an artillery cannoneers.

For example, there could be a female Marine whose MOS is 0621, field radio operator, not 0311, infantry rifleman, but who is nonetheless attached to an infantry unit to perform a vital role there.

Does this mean female Marines who have an MOS that was not previously restricted are not seeing as much combat as other Marines in a combat unit? Not necessarily, explained Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman for Manpower & Reserve Affairs at Marine Corps Headquarters.

"If you belong to a unit, regardless of your MOS, you're a member of that team and you're going to be utilized in the best way possible to support the mission," Thomas told Task & Purpose. "Every Marine is a rifleman regardless of your MOS. Whether you're comms, logistics, infantry, whatever unit you belong to, you're going to serve and achieve that mission."

So if a female Marine radio operator is attached to an infantry unit, they might be setting up comms with battalion staff or out on patrol with an infantry platoon. That combat exposure wasn't officially possible for women before infantry and other combat units opened up to them.

That said, out of those 613 Marines and sailors in previously-restricted units, there are also 231 female Marines who have earned a previously-restricted MOS, like infantry, artillery, etc. Those numbers are also growing fast: out of the 231 female Marines who earned a previously-restricted MOS, 89 of them (39%) earned them in the past year.

One of them was Lance Cpl. Alexa Barth, who last month became the first female Marine in history to graduate the grueling Basic Reconnaissance Course, thereby earning the coveted MOS 0321, or Reconnaissance Marine.

According to the powerpoint, 83 female Marine officers in total have attempted to earn previously-restricted MOSs, 52 of whom were successful. The most popular fields were artillery and combat engineers, the powerpoint said.

On the enlisted side, 387 female Marines attempted a previously-restricted MOS, 179 of whom were successful. The most popular fields for them were infantry, assault amphibious vehicles and artillery.

The Marine Corps also calculated the attrition rates for both male and female Marines at previously-restricted MOS schools since 2015. For male officers, the attrition rate was 13.5%, while female officers dropped out at a rate of 29.5%. On the enlisted side, 11.2% of male Marines did not make it through their MOS school, along with 23.9% of female Marines.

As shown by a recent investigation of Marine Corps culture, female Marines face resistance from men across the Corps, from basic training onward. But in the powerpoint, the Corps lays out that sustainment, the fifth and final phase of the MCIIP, "is focused on ensuring that career progression for female Marines is equitable (true opportunity, without undue advantage)."

Specifically, sustainment will involve measuring female Marine performance among their male peers; looking for outliers from the normal distribution; and understanding any implications the data might present. Some of the takeaways from that effort may not emerge for several years as the Corps gathers relevant data, the powerpoint explained.

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

Read More
Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

Read More
A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More
Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

Read More
Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Oscar Temores and his family. (GoFundMe)

When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.

Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.

"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."

That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.

Read More