It finally happened.
No more wondering if it will really play out. No more counting the failed attempts. No more guessing about when or where it becomes real.
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based First Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment received three new joins today.
All infantry Marines. All women.
What does that mean? Well, for starters it means that Marine Corps Infantry is no longer an ‘all balls’ profession. With women successfully completing infantry training and becoming bona fide Marine infantrymen (I know…it’s not a gender inclusive name..but it never had to be), it means that more are likely to follow in their footsteps. These first three women infantry Marines probably won’t be the last.
This historic milestone also means that there will be some growing pains, as 1/8 (and other combat arms units) adjusts their culture, their training plans, their logistics schemes, and possibly some of their TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures).
Will the adjustments be significant? Likely not. The Marines have historically been pretty good about adapting to new conditions, and overcoming challenges together. This new reality will be no different.
But, I don’t envy those three young women. They have overcome great cultural, political, and gender-bias challenges to get where they are today. And more challenges await. No sugar coating: the infantry men whose ranks they joined today won’t simply shut up and color because Washington told them to.
There will be hi-jinks. There will be raw attitudes. There will be bias, contempt, and possibly even hatred. But everyone will have to figure out how to move on together in order to accomplish their mission, as Marines. And, generally, Marines are good at that.
Personally, I salute those three women. A rifleman, a mortarman, and a machine gunner. They just made history.
I hope it turns out to be a shining moment for them, for their fellow infantry Marines, and for the Marine Corps as a whole. But I guess we’ll see.