U.S. Marine Female Engagement Team in Naw Zad, Helmand
U.S. Marines Captain Elizabeth Jackson, 27, of Hamden, Connecticut (left) of the Civil Affairs Group of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment moves to give health care classes at the Naw Zad Women’s Center in Naw Zad district in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 30, 2011. The purpose of U.S. Marine Female Engagment Teams is to interact with the female part of the Afghan population and render support to communities across the whole spectrum from education to health care, employment opportunities, economic development and security. Image: Simon Klingert/Flickr

Change doesn’t come easy to the United States Marine Corps,” Amos told an audience at the National Press Club. “But when it does, when it’s rooted, it lasts forever. So I think we’ll work our way through it.”

A key challenge will take place next month as female Marine officers attend the grueling infantry officer school at the Marine Corps’ Quantico, Va., base as part of an experiment to gauge whether women can handle the course’s extreme physical and mental challenges. So far, two women have volunteered to go through the 13-week course, which historically sees attrition rates of 20 percent to 25 percent when only men are participating.

“I need to get past hyperbole and get past intuition and instincts, and I need to get facts,” Amos said, adding that the Marines intend to maintain the same standards for men and women. “If you’re going to be infantry officer, you will spend 13 weeks at Quantico going through some very, very difficult training. So that’s the standard, the measure of an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.”

Read the rest of Lolita C. Baldor’s Associated Press article here.

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