The first class to include women in U.S. Army Infantry One Station Unit Training, or OSUT, began today at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Infantry OSUT is a combination of basic training and advanced individual training, designed to take a civilian, teach the basics of infantry weapon systems and battle drills, and graduate them as infantrymen for service in active duty units of the Army.
This basic training class is part of a previously announced plan to integrate women into the ranks of combat arms and special operations units with previously closed military occupational specialties (MOS).
According to sources at Fort Benning, few new accommodations were necessary to integrate the female trainees. New barracks were allocated for females with their own bathrooms, but otherwise training will proceed fully integrated.
While this is the first class of infantry trainees to begin with women, four other women who had previously conducted basic training in a different location have recently “inserted” into OSUT, to complete training and graduate as infantrymen.
If they successfully meet graduation requirements and earn the 11B (infantryman) or 11C (mortar infantryman) MOS, the female infantry privates will serve either at Fort Hood, Texas, or Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Female officers of infantry and armor branches have already completed their basic officer’s courses and are being assigned to these posts.
This is part of an effort to integrate previously all-male units with a “leader first” strategy. By placing women into leadership positions before female privates arrive, the Army hopes it will serve as motivation and provide an example for the newly enlisted soldiers.
Another reason behind assigning combat arms women to only two army posts initially is logistical in nature. Adjustments will be needed to the infrastructure for units that have traditionally only needed to support male soldiers.
According to Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, they have not seen desired amounts of Non-Commissioned Officers volunteer to transfer into the infantry career specialty. “There are no quotas. I’m adamant about this. This is a standards-based process,” Dailey said. “We’re going to integrate females into combat arms whether 100 female NCOs sign up or zero.”
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Army