Marines expand women's roles, getting them closer to the front lines

US Female Marine, Gunnery Sargeant Michelle Mollen of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines Regiment, patrols in Garmser, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on March 12, 2011.
Credit: Adek Berry

The US Marine Corps is exploring the expansion of women's roles to allow them into ground combat battalions previously reserved for men, in light of the new rules released by the Pentagon in February, the New York Times reported

Marine Corps commandant General James Amos issued an ALMAR (a memo that goes out to all Marines) on Monday that detailed the new opportunities for women. 

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The corps will “begin assigning active duty, unrestricted, female company grade officers, gunnery sergeants, and staff sergeants…to artillery, tank, assault amphibian, combat engineer, combat assault, and low altitude air defense battalion staffs in order to facilitate our research effort,” the memo reads. 

Women soldiers will be permitted to serve on the ground level in support roles, like communications and logistics, but will not be assigned to front-line or infantry units, Time Magazine reported

The changes will also allow female officers to attend the Marines' infantry officer school at Quantico, VA, according to Stars and Stripes

The new policies open up thousands of jobs to women, who make up around 15 percent of the US armed forces, according to the Times. 

The Marines will conduct a complete force-wide survey this spring, during which they will solicit input from Marines to help evaluate revisions of the existing policies, Stars and Stripes reported. 

“I’m not one bit afraid of the results of this,” General Amos told the Times. “I’m very bullish on women.”

The Marine Corps is the most male-dominated branch of the armed services, according to the New York Times. There are just 13,800 women in its total force of 197,800, accounting for just 7 percent.  

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