- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

The U.S. Army’s first gender-integrated infantry office course has been completed by 10 of 12 women who took the challenge.

A graduation ceremony was held Wednesday in Fort Benning, Georgia, to celebrate 166 officers who attained the infantry’s iconic blue cord. Many of the female officers will now move on to challenges that include Ranger school and Airborne school.

Lt. Col. Matthew Weber, IBOLC’s commander, told reporters on Wednesday that completing the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course is one achievement in a long process.

“The training of an infantry lieutenant is a process until they step in front of that rifle platoon, and this is but the very first step in that process,” the officer said, Army Times reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said that soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Hood, Texas, are now preparing for their first female infantry platoon leaders.

“We are priming the pump and enabling success by initially focusing on two installations,” Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, head of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, told Army Times.

Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Davis, the senior enlisted soldier at the course, assured reporters that standards were not compromised to attain gender-specific goals.

“There’s no change in the way the course has been run. We’re in the business of producing leaders, and it doesn’t matter if they’re male or females,” the officer said. “This isn’t something new. We’ve been integrating females in the military for years. I’ve seen them firsthand on the battlefield doing exceptional work. … It’s Ranger, Ranger, Ranger. They want to be not, female Ranger — Ranger. Same thing with lieutenant. It’s lieutenant, lieutenant, lieutenant.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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