U.S. Marine Corps photo / Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas.

“Clearly, the jury is out” on whether having women serve in Marine Corps and Army infantry units makes the U.S. military more combat effective, Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo / Lance Cpl. Richard Currier/ Released.

The career of one of the first female infantry Marines has come to an ignominious end after she admitted to having a romantic relationship with a Marine under her command whom she later married, Task & Purpose confirmed on Wednesday.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo / Sgt. Gregory Boyd.

Slowly but surely, more women are joining the Marine Corps' ground combat arms community, which had been exclusively male until a couple of years ago.

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Paul Abell / AP Images for U.S. Army Reserve.

I joined the Army at 19, straight out of a grocery store job in California and completely clueless about military life. Looking back there is plenty I would have done differently, like focus on my military skills as much as I did on my MOS skills. When I deployed to Iraq and embedded with infantry units during combat operations I learned real fast that qualifying with my rifle did not prepare me for combat missions, but I managed by watching and copying what the guys did. Being a woman attached to all-male units also required a delicate balance of professionalism and friendliness, something the first women in combat arms units will soon learn.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia Leaders

So, the Marine Corps was the last service to buckle on the women in combat arms question. It has finally laid out its plan for making it work.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer

When the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, commonly called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or DADT, was debated in 2010, some prominent leaders spoke against it in hyperbolic terms. Then Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said that gays serving openly in the military could cause a “distraction.” He went on to say, "When your life hangs on the line, you don't want anything distracting. … Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives." He didn’t actually describe what gays would do that would cause a distraction.

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