- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A third pair of female Marine lieutenants has failed to complete the Corps’ Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va.

The Marine Corps Times embedded a reporter with the latest class of candidates. It reported Wednesday that one of the women was pulled for falling behind schedule. The other made it to the course’s end but did not meet its standards, as did six men, the newspaper said.

Corps commanders have said they will not lower standards to ensure that women can qualify for direct ground combat units. The Pentagon last winter lifted the ban on women in such jobs, but it has opted to conduct two years of study on how sex-integration would work for infantry, armor and special operations.

“The women seemingly failed primarily due to struggles with upper-body strength,” embedded reporter Dan Lamothe wrote. “In one example, they both struggled to climb a 20-foot rope required twice. One Marine made it all the way up it once, but could not do it again. The other woman — and a couple [of] men — were unable to make it up the rope one time.”

In October, two women failed to complete the course, one because of a foot fracture. In April, two other female lieutenants were unable to finish the 13-week training regimen, which is designed to create ground combat commanders.

The Marine Corps has been asking female officers to volunteer to enter the Infantry Officer Course as part of a broader assessment of what female candidates have to change to complete training.

A Corps memo sent to Congress, and obtained by The Washington Times, said it is developing a “predictive mechanism.”

“The Marine Corps’ high standards cannot be lowered, nor can we artificially lower them to ensure a certain percentage of females will qualify,” the memo states. “Conversely, we will not artificially raise standards.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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