Since the grueling Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course was first opened up to women in September 2012, 14 female officers have attempted and failed the test (and, of course, a lot of men have also failed; around 20 to 25 percent of Marines are typically dropped from the taxing course). And since that time, all 14 of these officers have not been allowed to take it a second time, unlike many of their male peers.
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Sage Santangelo called attention to this in an essay published last weekend in The Washington Post’s Outlook section:
I wish there’d been more time to train to the endurance test’s demands.
I also would have liked to have had the opportunity to try the course again. The Marine leadership has said it doesn’t want female lieutenants taking the course multiple times, at least until combat positions are available to women, because it doesn’t want to delay the rest of their training. Yet many of the men who failed alongside me in January are back at Quantico, training to retake the course in April.
Santangelo also wrote that these men were more likely to pass the course in Quantico, Va., the second time around, since the uncertainty before the test exacerbates its difficulty.
Now, thanks to Santangelo’s essay, that’s going to change. Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, said during an appearance this week that the rules will be changed to allow female officers to take the course a second time.
“I talked to my folks and I said, ‘We’ve got to fix this,’ ” Amos said. “So we are.”
Amos was asked about current rules during a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council. His remarks were first flagged by Seapower magazine.
Santangelo, reached Friday, deflected praise for the shift and said she hoped the end result would be more opportunities for female Marines.
“I can’t take credit for spurring the change; I merely wanted to present my thoughts and opinions in order to provoke a discussion,” she wrote in an e-mail. “This is not about me and the focus should not be on me. In the end, I hope that continued discussion on all of this will further enable more female Marines to take challenging opportunities and be set up for success in the future.”
Amos called Santangelo’s article “superb,” saying that he offered her a chance to go to Afghanistan while she awaits a flight training opening.