Marine pioneering effort to move women into combat

SAN DIEGO — Marine 1st Lt. Brandy Soublet is about as far from the war front as possible at her desk in the California desert, but she’s on the front lines of an experiment that could one day put women as close to combat as their male peers.

The Penfield, N.Y. woman is one of 45 female Marines assigned this summer to 19 all-male combat battalions. The Defense Department in the past year has opened thousands of combat positions to women to slowly integrate them and gauge the impact such a social change would have on the military’s ability to fight wars.

No branch is likely to feel that change more than the Marine Corps.

The small, tight-knit force is the most male of the armed services and prides itself on having the toughest and most aggressive warriors. The Corps historically has higher casualty rates because it is considered to be the “tip of the spear,” or the first to respond to conflicts. It also was among the last military branches to open its doors to women, forming the first female Corps in 1943, according to the Women’s Memorial in Washington D.C.



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