Female Marines Make History at Camp Pendleton

female marines

By Debbie Gregory.

It seems fitting that during National Women’s History Month, on March 6th the first wave of female Marines arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to begin combat training course that, on the West Coast, was previously open only to males.

The women will be the first enlisted female students to learn basic battlefield skills at the Marine Combat Training Course (MCT-West,) part of Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry.

The MCT-West program is for non-infantry Marines, with training that includes learning the basics of combat marksmanship, how to react to roadside bombs, lifesaving medical care and other skills. MCT is a condensed replica of the School of Infantry that produces 0311 riflemen. After completion of recruit training, Marines not holding an infantry job attend MCT to maintain the Corps’ mantra of “every Marine a rifleman.”

About 1,700 female Marines are expected to go through combat training each year at Camp Pendleton. Female boot camp graduates recruited from states west of the Mississippi River will be sent to Camp Pendleton, while the others will continue to be sent to Camp Lejeune.

The women are assigned to Golf Company, Marine Combat Training Battalion and will be fully integrated with male Marines for the duration of the 29-day course.

Women comprise about 15 percent of the entire active-duty force in the military.

At only about 6.8 percent, the Marine Corps has the fewest number of women in the Armed Forces. The percentage in the Navy is 16.4 percent, the Army has 13.6 percent, the Air Force has 19.1 percent, the Coast Guard has 15.7 percent, and the National Guard and Reserve forces have a combined 35 percent.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Majority of Female Marines Opt for Pull Ups in New Fitness Test


By Debbie Gregory.

Female Marines want to show that their physical abilities have improved over the last few years. Some 65 percent of them voluntarily performed pull ups during their annual physical fitness test (PFT) this year. This is a vast improvement from three years ago when fewer than half of female recruits in boot camp couldn’t complete three pull ups.

Last year saw a massive overhaul to the Marine Corps’ PFT, with major changes to upper-body strength requirements designed to make equal demands on female and male troops.

All Marines have the option to perform push ups or pull ups. Pull ups, which are more difficult to perform, are the only option to anyone who seeks to get a perfect score.

For women, depending on which of eight age groups they fall into, they can max their score with between three and 10 pull ups; male Marines can max out with between 18 and 23.

The vast improvement this year “is a marker for how this change has incentivized female Marines on the PFT,” said Brian McGuire, deputy force fitness branch head for the standards division of Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

Four years ago, only around 1,000 of all female Marines chose pull ups; three years ago, the number increased to more than 1,700; two years ago, more than 1,900 opted for pull ups; and last year it was just under 2,000, or roughly 14 percent of all female Marines, according to McGuire.

Marines, both male and female, must declare in advance which event they want to execute. If they opt for pull ups and fail, they are not allowed to then switch to push ups.

The updated upper body strength standards come on the heels of combat jobs being opened to women.

The Corps is promoting a pull up training plan designed by a female officer to increase success, as well as developing a program to make professional fitness instructors available to the force.

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