The Army’s newest graduating class of infantrymen at Fort Benning, Georgia, includes three women. These women will be the first junior enlisted females bearing the infantry military occupational specialty.
SOFREP had reported on women beginning One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Benning in January. That course is 16 weeks long, and the trainees still have some weeks before graduation. The three women who are graduating tomorrow were training ‘inserts,’ meaning they had completed some portion of basic training at a different location, and then transferred to the explicitly ‘infantry’ OSUT.
Their graduation, to include the symbolic “Turning Blue” ceremony, will be a first for the United States Army. While there are women who currently hold an infantry MOS, they did so having moved from another part of the Army into the infantry.
Since the decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat arms specialties, the Army has carefully approached the process of integrating women into the once off-limits specialties. The process began by opening the school of all schools, the U.S. Army Ranger School, for female students. After the trial proved that some women, although very few, can pass the notoriously difficult course, the Army moved to get women into leadership positions prior to the arrival of junior enlisted women into infantry units.
While Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey sought volunteers, specifically Non-Commissioned Officers, the level of participation did not meet expectations. To help the process along, women in the infantry will at first be restricted to serve in units at just two of the Army’s posts, Fort Hood and Fort Bragg.
These women are just the tip of the spear, as hundreds more officers and enlisted women and will be making their way through various training pipelines over the course of this year to fill combat arms jobs across the Army.
Women have attempted to pass the Army’s Special Forces Selection and Assessment, but so far none have successfully completed the course. One woman, who the Department of Defense will not identify, has been selected to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment after successfully completing the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.
Featured image courtesy of the U.S. Army