10 female soldiers graduate infantry officer course, will attend Ranger School
WASHINGTON — Ten women who were commissioned Army officers in the spring graduated from the initial infantry training course Wednesday, becoming the Army’s first female infantry lieutenants.
The women were among 166 soldiers to complete the Infantry Officer Basic Leadership Course at Fort Benning in Georgia, a 17-week class that provides new officers the basic skills to lead a rifle platoon into combat, said Army Lt. Col. Matthew W. Weber, the commander of the unit that oversees the course. Officers are commissioned through ROTC, Officer Candidate School or the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
The infantry officer course is a “critical step” toward leading a rifle platoon, but the soldiers who graduated the Army’s first gender-integrated infantry class Wednesday will not join a combat unit for nearly a year, Weber said. They will attend additional courses to prepare them to serve in the traditionally all-male infantry. Those classes include the famously grueling Ranger School, Airborne School, Stryker Leaders Course and Mechanized Leaders Course, Weber said.
Eventually they’ll become platoon leaders at Fort Hood in Texas or Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“This, the training of an infantry lieutenant, is a process until they step into a rifle platoon,” Weber said. “This is but the very first step in the process.”
The Army did not identify the graduates by name, and the graduation ceremony was not open to reporters.
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