Front lines

Marines are ready for female combat troops, but no women have signed up

Female Marine Corps recruits train in Parris Island, South Carolina. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

For the first time in U.S. military history, female Marines officially will be allowed to start training for combat roles this summer, though the Marines may face an unforeseen problem: so far no women have signed up for combat positions. Last year, 200 female Marines underwent combat training as part of an experiment as the military considered whether to allow women in combat roles, but of those women, none have chosen to leave their current roles in the Marines to pursue combat.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a giant rush of female Marines, or current female Marines, who want to be in the infantry,” Marine Capt. Ray Kaster told NPR. “It is a very difficult way of life. It is not a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s who you are; it’s what you do.”

The Marines were the only branch of the military to petition Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to keep combat roles closed to women, a request he declined when he announced in 2015 that all branches of the military would begin allowing women in combat roles this year. The Pentagon estimates that about 200 women will sign up each year for combat roles. Kaster conceded that there are “absolutely female Marines out there that can do the job.” It’s just that none so far have come forward to pursue the jobs in artillery, infantry, or armored vehicles.

Read the full story at NPR.

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