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A woman is about to become the Marines' first-ever female infantry officer

by Alexa Liautaud
Sep 22 2017, 6:44pm

UPDATE 10:18 a.m. ET 9/25: She graduated Sunday.

A woman will make history Monday when she becomes the Marine Corps’ first-ever female infantry officer — a job that required her to successfully complete a grueling 13-week course that no other woman has ever finished.

The lieutenant, whose name has not yet been disclosed, is anticipated to graduate from the Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Virginia on Monday, Major Amy Punzel, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps, told VICE News. Details about her identity will be released to the public upon her graduation, Punzel said.

That notorious 86-day course includes brutal endurance tests, strength training, and mental challenges, and typically about 25 percent of students — male and female — drop out. Four women have attempted and failed to complete the training since Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened up all combat roles to females in 2012, according to Punzel. And 32 women who also tried to pass the course failed in an experiment conducted before the Department of Defense’s policy.

Her achievement was applauded by veterans groups after it was first reported by the Washington Post Thursday.

But despite the outside praise, the lieutenant faces a long road internally. Some of the highest-ranking generals in the Trump administration having expressed sentiments against allowing women in combat roles.

“The idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in a speech in 2014. “It would only be someone who never crossed the line of departure into close quarters fighting that would ever even promote such an idea.”

Trump’s chief of staff, the retired four-star general John Kelly, once said he feared that allowing women in combat would lower the standard.

“There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles; why aren’t they staying in those other roles; why aren’t they advancing as infantry people?” said Kelly. “The answer is, I think will be, if we don’t change the standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any numbers — any real numbers come into the infantry, or the Rangers or the SEALs.”