1st Enlisted Women Marine Infantry Trainees

Posted on: October 22nd, 2013 by Will Rodriguez 22 Comments
Women Marine on Obstacle Course photo by Chris Greg NYT

As part of the Marines effort to collect data on women serving in the Infantry the first enlisted marine infantry basic course consisting of 15 women started 28 Sep 2013.  The course is approximately 8 weeks long.

19 women Marines volunteered to try the course which is for data only.  They will not be awarded the prized 0311 Marine Infantryman designation should they graduate.  So far their progress is better than the women who have tried the Marine Infantry Officer Course, granted the officer course is more challenging where almost one in four fail compared to the 99% success rate for the enlisted course.  Nine of ten women marine candidates failed the first day of the ten week MIOC course.  The tenth Marine lasted a week before stress fractures caused her to quit the course.

Of the 19 enlisted women Marines who volunteered for the marine infantry basic training course four changed their mind, two failed entry PT and 13 remain.  On a recent six mile forced road march of the 263 Marines two men and two women failed to complete a .8% vs. %13 fail rate respectively.  The road marches increase in difficulty to 12 mi.  Drill instructors noted that marksmanship performance was the same.

There’s about a month left…

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  • HM1 (FMF) Ret.

    I will say this despite strong feelings on the subject as a whole. I am not surprised that more are graduating SOI V/S TBS at Quantico. TBS is an extremely harder program as it should be because they are making Infantry Officers. I would be throwing the BS flag down on the whole USMC if the numbers were not showing that.

  • clluelo

    fail rate is  alittle high and it gets worse correct. We will see what happens. I wish them luck

  • clluelo

    Do you know if the standards were lowered for this ?

  • clluelo Great question and the devil is in the details.  I’d like to know that specifically but will have to wait for some marine basic infantry enlisted training.
    The problem is that everyone’s focused on these tests and no one mentions that even completing basic is just the minimum standard to get to an infantry unit where the packs are heavier, the road marches longer and the time ine the field MUCH extended.  
    In my experience it was the weaker Soldiers that completed basic that had the most challenges at the unit where things really started to count.  We may be making some grand assumptions here based on completing basic.  If the women complete the course at the bottom of the stack that doesn’t bode well for sustained service in the Infantry.
    A small example is a score of 160pts (60% min in all events) is required to graduate Army infantry basic.  At the unit I served in throughout my career, any soldier scoring below 210 (70%) went on remedial PT and soldiers scoring under 240 were considered marginal.  NCO’s and stronger soldiers scored 260 or better.  
    If we find women consistently graduate at the bottom of the class chances are good they will never progress.  That’s supremely ironic considering the primary reason to opening branches that previously excluded them was to expand opportunity.

  • GodblessUSSF

    Not looking great for the women.

  • 5000area375

    I think humping a real ruck, not the training size weight will make all the difference in the world. Nothing like carrying 3/4 or more of your body weight on your back mile after mile hill after hill then being expected to drop rucks and run up that hill to get on line because the point element made contact. A ruck can make for funny stories. I remember fast roping from an MH-53 as soon as I cleared the rope and stood up to run to my security position I noticed that the rotor wash and ruck wouldn’t let me stop on the slight downhill. Well the slight down hill turned step. I went ass over head over boots over ass to the bottom. Or the times climbing down a hill when that tick shifts and sends you rolling. Still brings a smile.

  • clluelo

    majrod clluelo  I think I trained hard enough I would be able to go through any short term  basic training. After that when the day to day pressure on my bones and joints starts to have a detrimental effect i wouldn’t last too long. Unless I started training for this when I was a young teen and maybe took steroids, I can’t see the cost effectiveness of this
    Unless the Mil.is planning  to reduced the weight load on females ???  I won’t even go into unit cohesion , that is a timebomb !

  • dm8471

    clluelo My understanding is that they are being held to the same minimums, but the maxes are significantly lower for the females.

  • dm8471 clluelo where did you get that?  It would be very helpful to the conversation if that could be documented.

  • dm8471

    majrod dm8471 clluelo I’ll find it. When the Corps has talked about overhauling PT standards and making women do pull-ups they specified that women would have to do a minimum of three reps and eight to max. There’s been other articles going into much greater detail, but I will find them.

  • BSchroe

    I wonder how the  budget cuts and force reduction will effect this program ?

  • 5000area375

    This is a sacred cow. Nothing will be allowed to derail it. The commies have been pushing it for 30 years.

  • BSchroe I doubt there will be any significant impact.

  • Update to this story.
    Four of the remaining seven women completed the 12 mile road march.  
    The following class also had 13 women start of which three left in the first two weeks.

  • 5000area375

    So explodes the myth that every marine a rifle man and that all marines attend the same basic training.

  • 5000area375 Oh I think this won’t touch that often repeated perspective.
    To be fair the Marines do send everyone to the same basic but some of them do confuse the term Infantryman with Rifleman.

  • BSchroe

    Excellent point.  A great deal of differance.

  • YankeePapa

    majrod 5000area375,

    …Yes… Makes me crazy.  I went through both the “specialist” ITR (Infantry Training Regiment as it was called in 1968) and the Infantry ITR course.  I had spent 3 months at 3rd Bn Graduate Casual after I graduated, waiting for a paperwork snafu to be sorted out.  
    …While there, because they knew I was going to be there longer than a month… and because I typed and my boot camp scores were high… I was assigned as a legal clerk… and placed in charge of the Graduate Chasers.
    …The Battalion wanted me back and arranged my MOS accordingly.  But a few days before I graduated from specialist ITR… speed letter changed my MOS… I was to be an 0311.   
    …So everybody in Echo company goes home on leave… except for me.  I report to Delta company (at least they were in Quonset huts instead of Korean War leftover 10 man tents like Echo…).   Turns out that my specialist infantry training ended at the halfway point of the training that Infantry MOS types had to take.  
    …When I graduated from Delta company, I had my 03 (infantry…)  Now all of us had to bus up from Camp San Onofre to Camp Horno (all part of Camp Pendleton complex…) to pick up last numbers… 0311 rifleman (me) 0331 (machine gunner), 0341 (mortars) and so on.  Was called BITS…  In total we had more than three times the infantry training that the specialists did.  And of course the ongoing training when assigned to your unit…

    …Giving specialists Infantry training always a good thing.  They can, if need be, guard their own perimeter… fill a hole in the line in an emergency…  But I would not want to lead a unit of specialists into Hue City or Falluja…  The bullets don’t care how brave you are… you have to be more than brave and partially trained…

    …So yes, every Marine a riflemen… from grunts to typists to aviators.  But not Infantry… not Infantry… 


  • 5000area375

    Great write up and gives me a much better understanding. When I think rifle man I think infantry team wedge formation. That is my first thought and picture that comes to mind after that I picture a pvt with an M 16 or M 4.
    I have ran into several of the support types who would try argue that since they were marines they were equivalent to Army infantry.
    When you served with the Rhodesians was it with the RLI? I read a few books on Rhodesia and their suppress fire immediate action made much better sense to me than ours. For those not familiar with the Rhodesian method it was to drop to the ground and put two rounds in all the areas that you would consider firing from, instead of just gaining fire superiority.
    I think every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine should have some basic infantry training and refreshers every year regardless of MOS. if they are deployed and their base gets hit and is being over run the can probably expect no quarter and should be able to fight at a least a very basic level. That is just my thoughts.
    Thank you for the Wake Island acquisition alert. I am presently reading America Betrayed by Diane West. I would recommend it to anyone but fair warning it has a large number of acquisition alerts in it.

  • YankeePapa

    …Not the RLI… though that is where a significant % of American volunteers served.  Many other combat units in the country… BSAP, Territorials (reservists), Grey’s Scouts (Army Mounted Infantry Unit), Police Mounted Infantry Unit… Selous Scouts, SAS, Guard Force…others.  

    …When the Army was up against the wall at Bastogne, they threw cooks, bakers, clerks, etc into the front line.  The vast majority had fired a rifle in basic, but most of the rest of their skills were like close order drill… soldierly, but not helpful on a battlefield.  Some of the NCO’s had qualified with bolt action Springfields and had to be shown how to operate a Garand.  
    …The courage of those men under such circumstances was amazing.  One could hardly have blamed them had they run away.  But they stayed… many were killed and wounded.  
    …So giving all your specialists some infantry training is very much to the good.  But the training is like advanced industrial first aid… it is designed to get one through the circumstances that they are most likely to face… it is not a complete combat corpsman (medic) course.

    …  I suppose that some fool with advanced industrial first aid training (often find State Troopers with that level of qualification… includes emergency childbirth course) might swagger around and call himself a “medic…” but when faced with medic level damage, he would quickly learn the truth…  Medics have a realistic grasp of their (very real) talents and abilities… but you will never hear one call himself a “surgeon…”

  • 5000area375

    For some reason I forgot about the others. I knew a few like Bob Mckenzie were SAS, and R R Daly spoke highly of the American Major who was with him in the scouts. Guess is pre Alzheimer’s. I had a brain cramp for min and was thinking the RLI was only unit that allowed foreigners. Even though I know that is wrong.

  • LauraKinCA

    Irreverent…  yes… humorous… definitely… pertinent… I think so… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HmT5jqy-iE