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Marines moving women closer to the front lines
The Marine Corps is taking its first steps toward integrating women into war-fighting units, starting with its infantry officer school at Quantico, Va., and ground combat battalions that had once been closed to women.
The moves, announced by Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, in a message sent to all Marines on Monday night, are intended largely to study how women perform in formerly male-only units and reflect new Pentagon rules released in February allowing women to serve closer to the front line.
The new Pentagon policy continues the ban on women serving as infantrymen, Special Operations commandos and in other direct-combat positions. But it has opened the door to thousands of new jobs for women, who represent about 15 percent of the force.
The Army, which like the Marine Corps has excluded women from many jobs because of the physical demands or proximity to combat, is also studying ways to integrate women into ground combat units.
Although women are technically barred from combat roles, they have fought and died alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. forces could come under attack almost anywhere. More than 140 women have been killed in the two conflicts.
The Marine Corps is the most male-dominated of the armed services, with 13,800 women making up about 7 percent of its total force of 197,800.
Greg Jacob, a former Marine infantry officer who is policy director for Service Women’s Action Network, an advocacy group, said he was concerned that the corps might try to use data from the physical tests to prove that women are not strong enough to be infantrymen. But he also praised some of the new measures, saying that putting women into more frontline jobs would help advance their careers, stating that “It puts women in a position where they are more likely to be in an expeditionary or combat role, which in the future will be looked at when it comes time for assignments and promotions,”.
Read more on this at The Bulletin
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