WASHINGTON — For the first time, a woman is set to become a Marine Corps infantry officer, a milestone in the Corps' 242-year history.
The woman, whose name has not been released, is scheduled to graduate from the physically demanding infantry officer course Monday.
She will be the first of more than 30 women to complete the 13-week course, since it was opened to females in 2012.
"The female officer within Infantry Officer Course has completed all graduation requirements and is scheduled to graduate with her peers on Sept. 25, 2017," the Marine Corps said in a statement.
The course poses big challenges for men as well. About 25% of males do not complete the course and end up in other positions in the Marine Corps.
Students in the course hike long distances with heavy combat loads and negotiate grueling obstacle courses, all conducted under stressful conditions meant to resemble infantry combat.
Women have engaged in combat extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. But until recently they were barred from combat arms jobs, such as infantry, tanks and artillery.
The Pentagon in 2013 ordered that all jobs be open to women, including combat arms.
Enlisted women have already entered Marine Corps and Army infantry units and other fields that had been previously closed to females.
In many ways, the infantry officer course at Quantico, Va., was one of the last hurdles. The Marine Corps is an infantry-centered service. Women make up only about 7% of the Marine Corps’ ranks, the smallest percentage of any service.