Nearly two years after the military opened up all combat roles to women, a female officer is joining the Marine Corps infantry. The woman, a lieutenant whose identity has not yet been disclosed, is the first female officer to complete the Marines' infamously intense training known as the Infantry Officer Course.
A quarter of all trainees drop out over the course of the program—which includes rigorous tests of physical strength, endurance, and weapons and navigation skills—and 10 percent give up on the first day. Thirty-five other women have attempted the course since the Marines first opened it up to women in 2012, but all failed to complete the training.
The lieutenant is expected to graduate on Monday (after returning equipment and completing a few "administrative" tasks). But she has many more challenges ahead, Kyleanne Hunter, a member of the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services, told the Washington Post, including winning over the men in the infantry platoon she will lead, and "coping with outside attention and critics who want her to fail."
A 2012 survey found that the majority of Marines were opposed to gender integration. Though the Corps' leadership has worked hard to change the culture of the service, it was rocked by a scandal earlier this year when more than 1,000 Marines were caught sharing nude photos of their female colleagues.