Women Complete 54-Hour ‘Crucible’ Test To Become US Marines For First Time
A group of women have for the first time completed a 54-hour test known as ‘the crucible’ to become Marines and break one of the last gender barriers in the US armed forces.
A total of 53 female recruits from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego became Marines on Thursday, April 22, following the brutal challenge.
Described as a test of strength and spirit, the crucible was introduced as part of Marine Corps training in the 1990s and sees participants take part in simulations that mimic life on the battlefield.
The recruits had to patrol through a mock village and deal with the aftermath when it was struck by simulated machine gun fire and explosions, Reuters reports.
They practised how to extract casualties from the battlefield, with both men and women carrying other participants across their shoulders, while others lifted dummies on a litter as if they were wounded comrades. The participants had to pass the casualties over a wall, before moving on to sparring in a cage with other recruits and completing an obstacle course.
The challenge ended with a nine-mile (15km) hike, during which recruits carried rifles and 50lb (23kg) backpacks.
Female recruits and drill instructors looking to join the Marines were previously limited to the organisation’s other boot camp in South Carolina, but after successfully completing the crucible at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, the female recruits earned their Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblems.
Nineteen-year-old Annika Tarnanen, from Minneapolis, was one of 60 women who began training for the Marines in San Diego in January. Seven of the recruits dropped out due to injuries, and Tarnanen noted there’s ‘definitely a certain pressure to succeed’.
She continued: ‘There’s a lot of expectations for us.’
Another recruit, 19-year-old Emily Zamudio, expressed her hopes to ‘inspire more females to do male roles’. Having passed the crucible, Zamudio is a private first class who will join the infantry in a combat role as a rifleman.
The Marine Corps previously sought exceptions when former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter ordered for all combat roles to open to women in December 2015, but they were denied. Zamudio, from Madera, California, said: ‘I want more females to know that no matter what your size, you can do it.’
Staff Sergeant Amber Staroscik, who worked as a drill instructor at Parris Island before moving to the West Coast, acknowledged the significance of the situation after women were previously ‘always denied’ the same opportunities as men.
Staroscik expressed her hopes that allowing women to partake in the crucible will erase some of the gender biases within the armed forces.
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