WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps will soon allow women to attend its school for infantry officers, as part of a larger effort to determine how to expand the role of women in the Corps.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Marine Corps Times on Wednesday that the service is in the process of soliciting volunteers to attend the Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Va.
All Marine infantry officers attend the 10-week course after completing The Basic School. Dunford and other Marine officials have not said what the next steps will be for women who volunteer to attend the school.
The Marine Corps is expected to release a service-wide message soon about expanding career and training opportunities for women. The message will include information about women attending IOC.
The Corps earlier this year requested that Congress approve an exception to policy that would allow female company-grade officers and female staff noncommissioned officers who already hold certain military occupational specialties, such as communications, to be assigned to about 400 corresponding jobs with ground combat element units at the battalion level. The units include artillery, tanks, amphibious assault, low-altitude air defense, combat assault and combat engineers, but not infantry units.
Women will be considered for those positions starting in May.
Dunford also said there is a plan to evaluate male and female Marines against new physical fitness standards that are being developed. The information from all the new initiatives will be incorporated into a report later this year from the Corps to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.