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First female completes Marine sniper leader course; could become platoon commander

Integrated Task Force infantry Marines (Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/WikiCommons)
January 23, 2019

For the first time ever, the Marines may see a female commander on the battlefield after the first woman in history graduated from the rigorous Scout Sniper Unit Leaders Course.

The course, which takes place in Quantico, Va., lasts for three weeks and is designed to prepare “junior officer and noncommissioned officers to lead Marine snipers,” according to the Marine Corps Times.

The course is quite extreme, “teaching orders development, tactical decision-making, counterinsurgency operations, and training and familiarization with different U.S. and foreign sniper weapons and optics,” NewsRep stated.

They added, “at the conclusion of the course, the candidates must pass prompt and accurate information back to a hypothetical Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (SARC), beginning with a covert penetration toward the enemy target.”

The unnamed female Marine was also the second woman ever to complete the Infantry Officer Course, which she concluded in summer 2018.

The Marine Corps Times reported in March 2018, “No women have even attempted the Basic Reconnaissance Course or Amphibious Reconnaissance Course, and there are no female snipers.”

After passing the course, the female Marine could become the very first female ground intelligence officer.

Sniper platoon commanders are normally ground intelligence officers first.

The role of women in the Marines led to a 2015 study on how “gender integration would affect combat readiness in the arenas of speed and tempo, lethality, unit and individual readiness, survivability, and cohesion,” according to CNAS.

The study revealed that male-only groups performed better than male-female groups in 93 of 134 tested tasks, CNAS added.

Marine Corps advisers used the information from that study to contend that females will need to prove their capabilities.

The Marines have been more accepting of women’s roles in recent times than they have in the past.

In August, First Lt. Marina A. Hierl was the first woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon after being on one of two females out of 37, that passed the 13-week Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va., The New York Times reported.

“Men and women attending the Infantry Officer Course are evaluated by the same standards and are provided an “equal opportunity to succeed,” Capt. Joshua J. Pena, a spokesman for the Marines’ Training and Education Command said.

Capt. Neal T. Jones specifically requested that Hierl be sent to his unit. He said, “If you’re the first to do something, that implies you have so many positive traits. And that’s not always the case when it comes to every lieutenant — including myself.”