October 27, 2016
By Lorra B.
Fort Benning’s Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course hits a milestone as 10 women break through the glass ceiling and become the first to graduate and receive their Infantry Blue Chord.
They are the first official women infantry officers and that allows them to “lead an Army platoon of infantry combat soldiers,” reports Voice of America.
The 17-week course initially included 12 women though 2 failed to meet the required standards. 156 male classmates graduated along with the 10 women who met all required standards. There is a total of 11 female infantry officers within the US Army, Capt. Kristen Griest being the first.
The battalion commander of the course, Lt. Col. Matthew Weber, stated, “The training of an infantry lieutenant is a process until they step in front of that rifle platoon, and this is but the very first step in that process. It’s a critical one because we are very much focused on training and preparing the soldiers, the lieutenants, to ultimately lead a rifle platoon.”
Gender integration has become the new norm in the military Army officials say.
Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, who is the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, stated, “We have been integrating women into the military for years; they have fought and bled beside us for years. This is an important moment, but this is something that is in many ways business as usual.”
“Once they have completed all those courses, then we will have deemed them fit to lead whatever type formation out in [Forces Command] and they will depart Fort Benning.”
Gender-neutral standards have taken two years of hard work by Training and Doctrine Command, according to Military.com.
Brig. Gen. Peter Jones, commandant of the Infantry School, stated that the “culmination of two years of different work done by Training and Doctrine Command, with physical scientists looking at what is the physiology of moving weight and what is the difference between infantrymen and field artillerymen?”
“We have the scientific data that shows these are the propensity skills that you have to do and the physiology to do those.”
According to the Army, there have been no standard changes and no course changes to accommodate for the women, or men, who choose to take this course.
The names of the 10 graduating women have not yet been released.
By Lorra B