For the first time, two female soldiers have been admitted into the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course. Their admittance is experimental and the results will be considered by the Pentagon when deliberating the inclusion of women in combat units from which they are currently excluded.

The Infantry Officer Course is an intensive 86 day challenge that approximately 25% of participants fail. As participants in the course, men and women soldiers will undergo equal challenges and evaluation. Women are considered “just another student” to instructors like Capt. Brian Perkins. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will review the results of this women inclusive trial program next month when reevaluating the “physical standards” required for obtaining certain jobs in the military.

“If women remain restricted to combat service and combat service support specialties, we will not see a woman as Commandant of the Marine Corps, or CENTCOM commander, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Greg Jacob, policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network, said in May. “Thus women in the military are being held back simply because they are women. Such an idea is not only completely at odds with military ethics, but is distinctly un-American.”

Earlier this year, female soldiers responded to the limitations of women’s combat positions within the military through a lawsuit claiming violation of equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. This lawsuit took place after a new policy promising more positions for women resulted in no change. NPR claims “job-related physical requirements” have prevented women from entering the combat units in the past.

Media Resources: USA Today 10/3/12; Business Insider 10/3/12; Feminist Newswire 5/24/12; NPR 10/4/12.

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