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Sgt. Heather Golden, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms
Women Marines will soon be serving in ground combat elements. A new research trial approved by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos will allow some senior officer and enlisted women Marines and sailors to be assigned in their current primary military occupational specialties to many of the units previously off limits to women.
This was prompted by a directive from the Secretary of Defense to access the impact women serving in other newly-opened positions and to begin evaluating where else women service members can effectively serve. This research includes the exemption to the Ground Assignment Policy, quantitative research and a total force survey.
Amos said he will take the combined information to make an “informed and educated recommendation on potential policy changes.”
Active duty and unrestricted Marine company grade officers, gunnery sergeants and staff sergeants serving in administration, logistics, communications, supply or motor transport fields may now be assigned to artillery, tank, assault amphibian, combat engineer, combat assault and low altitude air defense battalion staffs, according to All Marine Message 012/12.
Women Navy medical officers, chaplains and hospital corpsmen, ranked E-6 and E-7, can also now be assigned to these units.
All women assigned to GCEs will continue to serve on the battalion staffs in their primary job fields.
The Corps will also be gathering physical performance data. The research teams are looking for both men and women in entry-level training, and men from a current GCE to volunteer for three tests – heavy machine gun lifts, casualty evacuations, and marches under load. How well the group holds up to these pre-existing readiness standards will further help Amos make his final recommendations.
Amos also opened up the Infantry Officers’ Course to women graduates of the basic officer course before they attend the formal training for their primary MOS’. Data gathered from these volunteers’ time spent training with their male counterparts may lead to the Commandant also opening the Infantry Training Battalion to enlisted women as well.
However, these opportunities exist only for the sake of research, and any women graduates of either IOC or ITB will not receive infantry as a primary MOS.
The Total Force Survey is scheduled to be conducted this spring, and the Commandant said he is looking forward to the “input regarding potential changes to the current assignment policies related to female Marines.” He called on all Marines to share their experiences and opinions and said both will be invaluable to him as the Corps evaluates the results of all three parts of the research plan.
Amos said in the ALMAR that he is relying on leadership at all levels to ensure this research period is successful.
“I expect all leaders to be fully committed to providing every Marine the opportunity to compete and excel, while sustaining unit effectiveness, readiness and cohesion, and maintaining good order and discipline.”