We Could See The First Female Marine Infantry Officer Graduate Before The End Of The Month

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A Marine on track to become the branch’s first female infantry officer has managed to overcome the obstacles that have felled her predecessors since the Corps opened its notoriously intense 13-week course to women in 2012, several Marine Corps officials told Task & Purpose.


The unidentified Marine lieutenant has advanced further through the branch’s grueling Infantry Officer Course than the 30 female officers who preceded her in the last five years, sources told Task & Purpose. If she prevails through to her class’s projected graduation date of Sept. 25, she’ll join the ranks of the hundreds of male officers who conquered the secretive training pipeline before her.

“She’s completed all of her tactical movement requirements,” Capt. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Training and Education Command that oversees the IOC pipeline, confirmed to Task & Purpose. “As far as I know, she’s gotten further than any other female candidates up to this point."

Since March 2016, when the Department of Defense signed off on the Corps’ gender-integration blueprint, 248 women have joined units that were previously exclusive to male service members, a Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokesman told Marine Corps Times on Aug. 10.

The most recent female officer to attempt the IOC did so in both April and August 2016, crushing the initial Combat Endurance Test that has thwarted candidates in the past, Military.com reported in early August. But that candidate eventually dropped out of the pipeline after failing two of the course’s six graded tactical-movement exercises.

According to Marine Corps requirements obtained by Task & Purpose, the brutal slogs range between 6.4 and 9.3 miles with weight loads of up to 152 pounds, as of October 2016. It is unclear if those requirements were changed following the previous candidate’s two attempts earlier that year.

Photo via DoD

According to a side-by-side comparison of Marine Corps and Army officer training hikes regimen, updated in October 2016, the IOC maneuver requirements are far more intense than those faced by even the elite Army Rangers.

Photo via DoD

Though perhaps as intense as the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection that saw its latest female candidate wash out in early August, the 86-day IOC is considered the most grueling training regimen in the Corps and among the most challenging training courses for U.S. infantry troops.

“It’s essentially [The Basic School], but on steroids,” an active-duty Marine and recent IOC graduate who declined to be identified told Task & Purpose. “It’s the varsity level for a lot of skill sets, techniques and procedures that are refined through the most mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally challenging situations you’ll ever experience.”

According to retired Army Col. Ellen Haring, who critiqued the IOC requirements just weeks before the Corps updated its comparison in October 2016, the Corps’ criteria have been a “moving target,” designed to screen out ambitious female candidates by front-loading the Combat Endurance Course to the start of the pipeline and emphasizing physical strength over other traits with outsized weight requirements.

Photo via DoD

Infantry Officers Course 2-15 students carry a casualty away from a simulated Improvised Explosive Device explosion while on patrol during Talon Reach V at Range 220, March 26, 2015

“It weeds out potentially smart people who can’t carry heavy loads,” Haring told Task & Purpose. “Why would an officer be a donkey for the organization? Is that what the Marine Corps wants out of officers?”

Regardless of the current standards, the success of the first female infantry officer in the IOC would represent a “watershed moment” for both gender-integration advocates and a Corps that’s faced a bruising year of sexism and controversies, according to retired Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who was relieved of her command of a training battalion at Parris Island in June 2015 amid claims she created a “toxic” climate.

“The minute she is handed her certificate of course completion, it will become real to women Marines that if they commit themselves to being stronger, faster, and tougher, they truly can achieve success in any job in the Marine Corps,” Germano told Task & Purpose. “She will have earned her place with every step she took and every drop of sweat she shed, and once other women see she was able to do it, they will follow.”

Photo via DoD

Marines with Infantry Officer Course conduct lane training at Range 220, the Combat Center’s largest military operations on urbanized terrain facility, Sept. 22, 2016, as part of Exercise Talon Reach. This exercise is the IOC students’ last training event before graduation. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Eric Clayton/Released)

While the unnamed lieutenant may have overcome the biggest obstacle for her fellow female IOC candidates so far, she still has one more major challenge ahead: PALMFEX, the multi-objective live-fire exercise conducted at Twentynine Palms in California that marks a “culminating event” for all aspiring infantry officers. But for a pipeline like IOC, even success there doesn’t mark a final victory.

“On the last day of the course, you can assume that you are not always guaranteed graduating,” the recent IOC graduate told Task & Purpose. “I give that as advice to every single person: You think that the day is over and you can lay your head down, but it’s only begun. That's just the nature of war.”

Photo via DoD

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal officially endorsed Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) for president on July 18. A former Marine infantry officer who deployed to Iraq four times, Moulton joined McChrystal on MSNBC to discuss the endorsement, and whether he's bothered that he hasn't found a spot on the crowded Democratic debates so far.

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(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill Dodge)

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump announced.

"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," Trump said during a White House ceremony. "The drone was immediately destroyed."

"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," he continued. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait and to work with us in the future."

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. Michael L. K. West)

The Army may be celebrating its prized Army Futures Command (AFC) reaching full operational capability, but the organization's leaders still have quite a to-do list in front of them.

AFC commander Gen. John Murray briefed reporters on Thursday alongside Bruce Jette, the Army's Assistant Secretary of Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, on the progress of the Army's modernization roadmap and what's coming down the pipe to help soldiers soldiers win the conflicts of the future.

But while that lawmakers skirted questions on the war in Afghanistan during former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper's confirmation hearing for defense secretary this week, AFC's top priority remains, first and foremost, the soldiers fighting in conflict zones right now.

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The official trailer for Top Gun: Maverick is here, and if you were praying to God there would be another volleyball scene, you are in luck.

Slated to hit theaters in 2020, the sequel to 1986 classic features Tom Cruise back in the role of Maverick, only this time he's a Navy captain behind the stick of an F/A-18 Hornet.

The two-minute trailer features a number of throwbacks to the original Top Gun: There's Maverick pulling the cover off his motorcycle and driving down the flight line, a shirtless volleyballer (there was no way you would have escaped this), and a piano-playing scene with Great Balls of Fire, my man.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the film also stars Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Ed Harris. The film hits theaters on June 26, 2020.

Watch the trailer below:

Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2020) - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com

Marine veteran Brian Tally has been fighting for the last three years.

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