A female Marine has become the first woman to complete the infamously difficult infantry officer training.
The lieutenant has made history, but would like to keep her identity private. She graduated in Quantico, Virginia on Monday.
Not only is she the first woman to complete the training, but she is set to be assigned to lead a platoon of 40 men.
Current female representation in the military is low, with only 15 per cent of US active duty troops being female.
It was only in March 2016 when Barack Obama allowed women to fill any position in the military, including combat roles.
Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller voiced his pride on Twitter at the woman and her fellow graduates.
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) September 25, 2017
In order to graduate to the leader, hopefuls must pass through the gruelling 13-week training course.
This particular marine’s training started in July with 131 Marines, only 88 of whom actually graduated.
The training is so difficult that 10 per cent of would-be officers fail on the first day, with around a quarter dropping out over the course of the scheme.
There have previously been 36 women who have attempted the infantry officer training, but this officer is the sole finisher.
Most men never become infantry officers. 43 Marines dropped from the class. She and the other 87 LTs met the high standards of IOC.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) September 25, 2017
Former Marine captain Teresa Fazio said the female officer would be a major asset in Afghanistan.
She wrote in the New York Times:
Female troops are invaluable for searching houses and communicating with local women, gaining access to spaces and information that, because of local custom, male troops cannot get.
It won’t be a smooth ride for the officer though, as she faces stiff prejudice from within her own Corps.
A 2012 study conducted by the think tank CNA revealed around 76.5 per cent of male Marines who had served in combat units were opposed to the prospect of a woman in combat arms.
Of course, times have changed since then and there is much wider integration now, but attitudes might not be quite so open as the official recruitment policy suggests.
Still, she’s clearly as tough as these men, so she’s still not worth messing around with.