Words by Mike Weisbecker.
Well the Marine Corps has three female officers that have passed the Combat Endurance Test. This is the first step on the path to becoming an Infantry Officer in the Corps. One has passed it previously but was unable to continue with the training curriculum due to stress fractures in her feet. Of the three that passed recently, one attempted previously but failed.
One of the requirements when they volunteered was that their physical training test prior to attempting this would be held to the highest level of the male standards.
This is key to getting the force to accept that one day women will knowingly go into combat. I say knowingly because although women have been engaged by the enemy, wounded, captured, and killed in some cases, they have not been assigned to combat specialties. Especially with the way warfare is today. It’s not clear battlelines against enemies that are wearing standard uniforms. They don’t follow the Geneva Convention and some kind of Law of Armed Conflict. It’s more of a streetfight nowadays.
The standards cannot be lowered. There should never be two sets of standards for anyone desiring to be in the infantry or the more demanding trades in the special ops community. Do we want SEALS and SEALS Lite? No. We want all SEALS to go thru the schools with the same physical standards.
The women who want to accept this challenge will rise to the standards. Yes they will have to work harder at this. Deal with the pressure of those who want them to fail and fail hard. But once the first one passes the Infantry Officer Course for the Marine Corps, this will inspire more to attempt it.
I’ve worked alongside women in aircraft maintenance in the Air Force. The ones who wanted to be there, who learned the job, who gave a damn, they kicked ass and took names. They had to work way harder to be accepted due to the stigma of the ones who didn’t want to be there, who looked for ways to shirk their responsibilities. It was much easier for the male counterparts of the shirkers to get away with it because it is a male dominated trade.
We need to get to a point where it doesn’t matter what their gender is. As long as the standards are the same, the goal is to get qualified infantry officers. If they have passed the same course, carried the same weight in their packs, climbed and conquered the same obstacles as the men, they will be followed.
To these three women I say good luck and Semper Fi…