A female Marine has passed the grueling Marine Corps Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC).

Earlier in November, Lance Corporal Alexa Barth became the first-ever female to graduate from the 12-week course.

Although Lance Cpl. Barth has been awarded the coveted 0321 military occupational specialty (MOS), which distinguishes her as a Recon Marine, she is currently going through more schools, alongside her colleagues, before being assigned to an operational Recon unit.

This process is called accession pipeline training. It includes a number of general schools, for example Airborne, Combat Diver, Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion (SERE). Marines also have to complete their MOS schools during this time, for example, Special Operations Medic Course (SOMC), Radio school, etc.

Once she joins up with her team, the female Marine will become the first-ever special operator since combat arms and SOF jobs opened to females.

To put to rest any doubts from naysayers that her path to graduation was anything less than legitimate, sources from within the Recon community said to SOFREP that Lance Cpl. Barth “passed everything and actually excelled. There was no interference at all from headquarters.”

Although many females have already tried for the Special Warfare career fields in the Air Force, none have been successful thus far. Some have graduated from Ranger School and received the Ranger Tab; but none have graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP), which is necessary for an assignment to the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. The difference between Ranger School and the 75th Ranger Regiment is that the former is a leadership course open to qualified personnel from across the military whereas the latter is the military’s — and arguably the world’s — premier light infantry Special Operations unit.

BRC has an attrition rate of over 50 percent and is considered one of the most difficult SOF selections programs in the military. Before graduating BRC, Lance Cpl. Barth had already completed the Basic Reconnaissance Primer Course (BRPC), a preparatory course designed to improve graduation rates in BRC. BRPC might be a preparatory course but that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, this is where the bulk of the attrition in the Recon pipeline occurs. The course lasts for approximately five weeks.

The Marine Recon career field has faced its fair share of issues in the last two decades. The creation of the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), which ‘stole’ whole Force Recon companies from the Recon community, has been a significant challenge. Now, the career field has to compete with MARSOC for recruits, thereby exacerbating the existing difficulty of attracting quality candidates in the community.