On September 21, 2017 the Washington Post triumphantly announced that the first woman had completed the Marine Infantry Officer Course:
In a historic first, the Marine Corps plans to assign a female officer to the infantry following her anticipated graduation from its grueling training program, service officials said Thursday.
Four days later came the NY Times Op Ed explaining that women Marines would be accepted as combat officers because their peers would know they are the real deal:
By integrating only women who have already met the infantry’s difficult training standards, the corps acknowledges that military readiness is paramount. At the end of the day, this newly minted infantry officer will prove herself by the way she carries herself around her fellow Marines. Peer leadership, too, will be important. Her classmates have seen her perform and can be powerful allies as she integrates into the operating forces.
Indeed, as the Op Ed concluded, this was the beginning of a brave new world:
I anticipate there will be little fanfare from the Marine Corps regarding the graduation. As The Times has noted, the Army’s graduation ceremony for its first female infantry soldiers made no mention that some of them were women — and that is as it should be. Monday’s graduation is important because it paves the way for women in combat arms not to be a big deal in the future. Like her male classmates, this officer has met an exceptionally high standard. Soon, she will be just one more Marine infantry lieutenant, picking up her first platoon.
But this brave new world where women were just as tough as the men and had to meet historic standards was not only short lived, it was a universe of one. Having proved that they could (by hook or crook) graduate one woman through the Infantry Officer Program without officially making the course much easier, the Marine Corps waited just over four months to stop pretending women could qualify without changing the rules. On Feb 7th, the Marine Corps Times announced Passing Combat Endurance Test is no longer required for infantry officers. According to the article this is such a minor change that it hardly merits noting. At the same time, it explains that the previous standard was so ridiculously high it had to be changed or women would be prevented from becoming infantry officers:
In a slight change to the grueling initial stage of the 13-week Infantry Officer Course, Marines will no longer be required to pass the Combat Endurance Test to move on.
The Corps has come under criticism for what some have claimed to be unnecessarily high standards to graduate from the course. To date, only one unnamed female Marine has successfully completed the entire course.
But Marine officials at Training Command contend the changes are not an effort to water down standards.
This is the official beginning of stage two for Marine infantry. Given that stage one lasted only four months, we should expect lightning progress moving forward.