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Headquarters Marine Corps

First female Marines attend infantry course

By Cpl. Chelsea Anderson | Headquarters Marine Corps | October 01, 2013

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Students with Infantry Training Battalion practice basic marksmanship techniques at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released)

Students with Infantry Training Battalion practice basic marksmanship techniques at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Tyler Main)


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A female student at the Infantry Training Battalion buddy carries another female student during the movement-under-fire portion of the Combat Fitness Test at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. Fifteen female Marines, just graduated from basic training, became the first women to attend the ITB course this week as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. The female Marines are expected to uphold ITB fitness standards to continue in the course, but will not receive the 0311 infantry occupational-specialty upon graduation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

A female student at the Infantry Training Battalion buddy carries another female student during the movement-under-fire portion of the Combat Fitness Test at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. Fifteen female Marines, just graduated from basic training, became the first women to attend the ITB course this week as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. The female Marines are expected to uphold ITB fitness standards to continue in the course, but will not receive the 0311 infantry occupational-specialty upon graduation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)


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Infatry Training Battalion students with Delta Co. run the movement to contact portion of the Combat Fitness Test during their first week of training at Camp Geiger, N.C, Sept. 26, 2013. The students must pass the ITB standard for the physical fitness test and CFT to continue on in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released)

Infatry Training Battalion students with Delta Co. run the movement to contact portion of the Combat Fitness Test during their first week of training at Camp Geiger, N.C, Sept. 26, 2013. The students must pass the ITB standard for the physical fitness test and CFT to continue on in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released) (Photo by Tyler Main)


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A student at the Infantry Training Battalion records his time with an instructor after completing the movement to contact portion of the Combat Fitness Test at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students must pass the ITB standards for the physical fitness test and the CFT to continue on in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released)

A student at the Infantry Training Battalion records his time with an instructor after completing the movement to contact portion of the Combat Fitness Test at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students must pass the ITB standards for the physical fitness test and the CFT to continue on in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released) (Photo by Tyler Main)


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A student with Infantry Training Battalion runs with ammo cans during the Combat Fitness Test at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students, regardless of gender, must pass the same ITB standard for the physical fitness test and CFT to continue in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. This photograph has been digitally altered to remove the student's nametape.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released)

A student with Infantry Training Battalion runs with ammo cans during the Combat Fitness Test at Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 26, 2013. The students, regardless of gender, must pass the same ITB standard for the physical fitness test and CFT to continue in the course. The students are part of the first ITB company to include female Marines as part of ongoing research into opening combat-related job fields to women. This photograph has been digitally altered to remove the student's nametape. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler L. Main/Released) (Photo by Tyler Main)


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A combat instructor at the Infantry Training Battalion times a female student as she completes short sprints as part of the High Intensity Tactical Training assessment aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 27, 2013. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

A combat instructor at the Infantry Training Battalion times a female student as she completes short sprints as part of the High Intensity Tactical Training assessment aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 27, 2013. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)


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Students at the Infantry Training Battalion carry packs on a 5-kilometer hike during their first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. The students will complete 10-kilometer, 15-kilometer and 20-kilometer hikes throughout their training iteration. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

Students at the Infantry Training Battalion carry packs on a 5-kilometer hike during their first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. The students will complete 10-kilometer, 15-kilometer and 20-kilometer hikes throughout their training iteration. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)


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A combat instructor at the Infantry Training Battalion observes as a female student removes her pack after failing to keep up with the other students on a 5-kilometer hike during the first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. Students will be counseled for failing any of the first three hikes during their training, but must pass the 20-kilometer hike midway through the cycle to continue training. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

A combat instructor at the Infantry Training Battalion observes as a female student removes her pack after failing to keep up with the other students on a 5-kilometer hike during the first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. Students will be counseled for failing any of the first three hikes during their training, but must pass the 20-kilometer hike midway through the cycle to continue training. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)


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A student with Infantry Training Battalion helps another student with his pack following a 5-kilometer hike during the first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. The students will complete 10-kilometer, 15-kilometer and 20-kilometer hikes throughout their training iteration. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

A student with Infantry Training Battalion helps another student with his pack following a 5-kilometer hike during the first week of training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., Sept. 28, 2013. The students will complete 10-kilometer, 15-kilometer and 20-kilometer hikes throughout their training iteration. Fifteen female Marines were given the opportunity to attend the training after boot camp for the first time in Marine Corps history as part of ongoing research into the acceptance of women into combat-related job fields. The female Marines go through the same training and are held to the same ITB standards as their male counterparts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)


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CAMP GEIGER, N.C. --

The first female Marines to ever attend infantry training with the Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, N.C., completed the first week of training Sept. 28. 

Fifteen female Marines began the training following graduation from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., as part of ongoing research on the incorporation of women into combat-related jobs.

The research is a result of the lifting of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Assignment Restriction earlier this year, which required all services to implement a plan to completely integrate women into combat positions by 2016. 

The 15 female students were among 119 recent graduates from recruit training. Forty-eight of the women met the initial physical requirements for the course, but only 19 volunteered to join Infantry Training Battalion, or ITB. Four later opted out of the training, instead choosing to attend Marine Combat Training, a course required for all Marines, regardless of occupational-specialty. 

All Marines attending the infantry training are expected to meet the same physical standard, known as the “ITB standard,” during scored events — regardless of gender.  The standards of the battalion have not changed; they are the same standards outlined by the Marine Corps prior to the start of the current research.

The remaining 15 students chose to go above and beyond what is required of female Marines by attending the infantry course. Upon completion of the course, the female Marines will not be awarded the 0311 infantry job designator and will proceed to their previously selected occupational specialty training.

“I asked them why they are doing this,” Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hayden, a combat instructor with delta company at ITB said. “Their answer to me was that they wanted a challenge. I think all Marines come to the Marine Corps for a challenge, and this was a way for them to put in a little more effort and do something that most people wouldn’t volunteer for.”

The students spent the first week completing rigorous physical screenings to include the physical fitness test, the combat fitness test, the high intensity tactical training assessment and a 5-kilometer hike.

Hayden said he and his fellow combat instructors aren’t treating any of the Marines differently.

“These are Marines,” Hayden said. “No matter what, they’re going to be treated the same as every other Marine.”

One female Marine did not meet the physical fitness test minimum score and chose to drop from the current cycle to work on her strength before attempting the training again with the next cycle. 

One female Marine did not meet the combat fitness test minimum score and chose to opt out of the training entirely.

One male Marine also dropped from the training for failing the physical fitness test. 

Since the female students are attending the training on a voluntary basis, they are permitted to drop on request at any point during the training with no penalty. 

In order to accommodate female students into Infantry Training Battalion, a few adjustments had to be made — including dedicating an existing squad bay for the exclusive billeting of female students and bringing over three female combat instructors from Marine Combat Training, or MCT, to serve as gender advisors to the ITB staff and to provide positive leadership to the female students participating in the research study. The female instructors went through one training cycle with ITB to familiarize themselves with the instruction before assuming their roles during this iteration.

The first half of the infantry course roughly mirrors the 29-day training cycle all non-infantry Marines complete at MCT. The second half, however, delves into more specific infantry skills. This is the part of infantry training where instructors say many of the Marines begin to struggle. 

The instructors said injuries are one of the main reasons students drop from training.

“It is rigorous training for the body, but they have youth on their side, so a lot of them can put up with it,” 1st Sgt. Shawn Hebert, first sergeant of delta company, Infantry Training Battalion, said. “All of these young Marines are pretty strong mentally, but physically — our minds want to go forever, but our bodies end up failing us.”

Among other collection requirements, the question of whether female Marines are able to withstand the physical rigors of entry level infantry-training is a key data point behind the research at ITB. The Marine Corps plans to continue to send female Marines through the course for the next year, or until they have gathered data from 250 to 300 female students.

“This is definitely historic for the Marine Corps,” Hebert said. “The Marines are going to do great things ... I feel privileged to be here at the Infantry Training Battalion.”


ImageCombat Imagecombat training Imagefemale infantry Imagegrunts Imageinfantry Imageinfantry training battalion Imagemarines Imageschool of infantry ImageUnited States Marine Corps Imageusmc Imagewomen in combat roles ImageWomen in service

9 Comments


  • 0311-Infantry/ Force Recon 41 days ago
    Fox Co Plt 2073 Semper-Fi till we die
  • Colonel Blimp 245 days ago
    Is this change good for the Marine Corps as an organization that is paid and trained to fight America's enemies? That is the question that must be answered. Will the presence of females be detrimental to a combat unit's cohesion and effectiveness?
  • Afghan 0311 263 days ago
    I went through ITB w/ D Co back in 2008. This is an absolutely terrible idea. We're called infantryMEN, for a reason.
  • Proud Aunt 268 days ago
    My niece is one of the 15 courageous, strong and proud marines to be part of this historical opportunity for women. I couldn't be more proud of her!
  • Airman 291 days ago
    Semper Fi ladies!
  • Anonymous 295 days ago
    Why are we allowing this? The training has every likelihood of causing permanent injury to these female Marines... For Christ's sake, they are not men! There were times, I didn't think I'd make it, and I am a man, and at the time was in excellent physical condition.
  • R 299 days ago
    What do you mean she "chose to drop from the current cycle"? She failed the PT test, so she GOT dropped.
  • ole jarhead 299 days ago
    Why do they need their own squad bay?
  • Zachary Abraham 299 days ago
    This is the example the marine corp should be setting that any person can do any job in the corp as long as they meet the standards of the course.

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