Offbeat The Marines Didn’t Think Women Belonged in the Infantry. She’s Proving Them Wrong.

17:41  09 august  2018
17:41  09 august  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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She ’ s Proving Them Wrong . Marina A. Hierl, the first woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon, with Echo Company troops in June in Australia.CreditThomas Gibbons-Neff/The New York Times.

She ’ s Proving Them Wrong . Marina A. Hierl, the first woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon, with Echo Company troops in June in Australia.CreditThomas Gibbons-Neff/The New York Times.

MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, Australia — First Lt. Marina A. Hierl watched a dozen Marines charge toward human silhouettes made of paper atop a nearby hill. Despite the early hour, the troops’ armored vests and camouflage uniforms were soaked with sweat. She stood back as they scrambled up the rocky incline, shouting and firing rifles.

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Maybe if we didn ’ t see women as liabilities, they could have helped us succeed where we failed alone. All I know is I would be lucky to have Tessa, with all her wit and grit, in my squad or serve under a Sebastian J. Bae served six years in the Marine Corps infantry , leaving as a Sergeant.

The idea that women don’ t belong in the infantry is just the latest variation of an old notion. It will prove Serrano wrong , as well. But the truth is, we don’ t have time to waste, because prejudice has a long reach. Recent studies of Marine personnel still show that blacks are significantly

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“Push left,” she said after the squad completed its mock attack and assembled around her, gulping from canteens as they awaited feedback. “And make sure you’re communicating.”

It was a fairly routine instruction to Marines training for war, coming from a lieutenant in a role familiar to the men: a young, college-educated officer who had little experience but had direct oversight of their lives.

But Lieutenant Hierl is the first woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon — a historic moment for a male-dominated organization that had fiercely opposed integrating female troops into combat, something that still unsettles many within the ranks.

That dynamic has been playing for months inside Echo Company, a group of 175 Marines and Navy sailors recently sent to the Northern Territory of Australia for roughly six months of training exercises and to act as a response force for the Pacific region.

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Women have served well in combat, but incorporating them into infantry units is not in the best interest of the Marine Corps or national security. No matter how masculine a woman is, she is still female and simply does not mesh with the infantry brotherhood.

254 Responses to Women Do Not Belong in the Infantry . Do i think women belong in the infantry right now? Give me an example of why it will help kill the enemy and I will prove you wrong out of EXPERIENCE.

Lieutenant Hierl is one of four platoon commanders in Echo Company. Her presence, first eyed with skepticism, appears to have been quietly accepted.

Thirty-seven women have attended the Marines Corps’ Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va., for 13 weeks of combat evaluations and mileslong hikes carrying heavy loads. Only two women have passed.

Of those two women, only Lieutenant Hierl has been given a platoon of roughly 35 men to lead.

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

Last fall, Lieutenant Hierl was among the handful of new lieutenants who reported to duty with the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines at Camp Pendleton in California. The battalion is made up of about 1,000 troops divided into five companies, including Echo.

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Serrano went so far as to call women who want to join the infantry “selfish,” because they ’re putting their career before the needs of the Marine Corps. “ Marine Corps infantry is not broken, so let’ s not ‘fix’ it,” she writes. Think Again.

She has proven she can hike close to 10 miles carrying more than 150 pounds, meet mental tests and One of them described the new infantry officer as a "humble" Marine known for always being History of women in the US military 01:26. "I think it is great," said a second female Marine , who

When the commanding officer of Echo Company, Capt. Neal T. Jones, learned that Lieutenant Hierl had been assigned to the battalion, he asked that she be sent to his unit.

“If you’re the first to do something, that implies you have so many positive traits,” Captain Jones said. “And that’s not always the case when it comes to every lieutenant — including myself.”

Captain Jones and Echo Company’s most senior noncommissioned officer, First Sgt. Paul G. Quesada, decided not to tell the unit about Lieutenant Hierl before her arrival. She would be treated like any other new officer.

Young enlisted Marines generally view new officers with skepticism and, sometimes, hostility. New lieutenants — the most junior rank of officers — must prove themselves to earn respect as they navigate the pressures of a close-knit infantry company.

Their jobs as platoon leaders are peculiar: They have the most responsibility in the small units but often with less experience than the corporals and sergeants whom they lead.

Lieutenant Hierl, 24, grew up in Bethlehem, Pa., and worked on a horse farm throughout high school. Before graduating, she said, she knew little about the military, but opted for the Marines because, after meeting with a recruiter for the Corps, she thought that it “sounded good.”

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"The deck has been stacked against these women ," she added. They didn ' t have the conditioning or the right equipment in many cases." In light of that, it is no surprise Retired Marine Capt. Stanton Lee is a former civilian police officer, Marine infantry officer and enlisted Marine who served in Afghanistan.

The women who trained on tanks and armored vehicles say they proved they belong . Dober says that the training will identify some male Marines who clearly don' t belong in the infantry .

“I wanted to do something important with my life,” she said. “I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other.”

But her recruiter advised her to go to college first, steering her toward the Corps’ officer ranks.

In 2013, during Lieutenant Hierl’s sophomore year at the University of Southern California, Leon E. Panetta, then the defense secretary, announced that women would no longer be excluded from combat roles in the military. The directive would initially have the greatest effect on the ground warfare of the Army and the Marines, especially their infantries, which demand physical strength and endurance.

The moment remains a vivid memory because, Lieutenant Hierl said, it had not occurred to her that her gender could have kept her from leading Marines in war.

“I wanted to lead a platoon,” she said. “I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do.”

Over all, women make up about 15 percent of the military’s 1.3 million active-duty troops.

Most jobs in the Air Force and in the Navy have long been open to women — except in Special Operations units, like the Navy SEALs. A small number of women have tried, but have so far been unsuccessful, in joining those elite forces. Some training courses for those units have a roughly 80 percent failure rate for all applicants.

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Here’ s why they ’re wrong . Samantha MichaelsJan. “I said I wanted to be in the infantry ,” Marquez recalls. “All the men in the room laughed.” I don’ t think it can work.” Others surveyed worried about whether women might need separate facilities. “We never ask women if they want to work with men,” she says.

All spoke about becoming a Marine in terms of the challenge — of proving they had what it takes, and often, in the process, proving others wrong . To varying degrees, being a woman in the Marine Corps has tested all of them . Stephanie Schroeder said she was discharged after reporting a rape

The Marine Corps, which had initially challenged the Pentagon’s 2013 order and was overruled, allowed women into its infantry ranks in 2015.

There are 184,473 active-duty Marines, of whom 15,885 are women. Among them are 80 women serving in previously restricted combat roles.

By contrast, 740 female soldiers have been allowed into previously restricted combat jobs out of the roughly 65,000 women in the Army. Fifteen women have graduated from its arduous Ranger school, including Capt. Kristen M. Griest, who became the Army’s first female infantry officer in 2016.

“I do hope that, with our performance in Ranger school, we’ve been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military,” Captain Griest said when she graduated in 2015. “We can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men.”

Lieutenant Hierl has avoided publicity and is reluctant to talk about herself. The training mission in Australia, observed by The New York Times, was the first time that a journalist has embedded with a Marine infantry unit led by a woman. But she repeatedly sidestepped interviews and spoke sparingly for this article, insisting that she instead needed to focus on her job and on the Marines under her command.

But she did say that she wants to be seen by the Marines in her platoon as a leader, not as a trailblazer because of her gender.

Lieutenant Hierl’s arrival to Third Platoon was, as some put it, strange.

The platoon quickly became the punch line of what several Marines in the unit described as sexist, if unspecified, insults by others in Echo Company. But the novelty wore off, training continued and, over time, the jabs subsided.

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I know your dumbass is only 18 but what the fuck were you expecting joining Marine infantry post 9/11? That they 'd station you in Miami Beach for women to trip on your pecker? Go ahead, prove me wrong . IWAntToHoldYourGLand September 8, 2012. go wei gei gai . no pay no gay.

Women . Family. Now they ’re in the workforce, it should be no surprise that they are working differently too. She says the fact that work doesn’ t pay as well as it used to and no longer guarantees much in the way of security means millennials feel it should at least be fulfilling or it simply isn’ t worth it.

Lance Cpl. Kai Segura, 20, is among the young Marines who make up a majority of Third Platoon and is its frequent, if unofficial, spokesman. He was suspicious of Lieutenant Hierl until she led the group back from an exercise in the Mojave Desert soon after she arrived.

Her seemingly casual pace turned out to be deceptively fast, forcing the other Marines into a near jog to keep up. That, Lance Corporal Segura said, showed that her physical ability was not in question — one of the many important, if sometimes peculiar, measuring sticks for a new officer.

In the months that followed, Lieutenant Hierl earned Third Platoon’s quiet respect. With help from Staff Sgt. Jesse Rodriguez, the platoon’s top enlisted Marine who serves as a sounding board and a mentor, they found their footing.

“She’s one of us,” Lance Corporal Segura said.

In April, the battalion arrived in Darwin, Australia. It was a notable change from earlier deployments over the past decade, during which the unit had fought in some of the bloodiest battles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two months later, Third Platoon and the rest of Echo Company split from the rest of the battalion in the country’s south and headed to the dusty shrub of the Northern Territory for their first large field exercise in Australia.

Wearing her hair in either a bun or a low braid, Lieutenant Hierl alternated with Sergeant Rodriguez in running Third Platoon through the training. As Lieutenant Hierl issued orders against the din of rifle fire, she dropped her usually reserved, soft-spoken demeanor for a firm tone that left no doubt about who was in command.

Over six days in June, Echo Company focused on a series of attack ranges. Initially broken into squads with low-level oversight, the platoons gradually came together, acting as a coordinated front of advancing troops and weapons fire.

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Lastly, many Marines wonder: can women be leaders in the infantry ? I suspect that only a small fraction of women will even attempt to join. But for those who do, I can only hope I am proved wrong , and that they succeed.

Each morning, Lieutenant Hierl woke before the rest of Third Platoon and crouched in a nearby tree line, poring over a map and a computer tablet to ensure that machine guns and mortars that were firing from the rear were angled correctly to avoid hitting the advancing Marines.

Toward the end of the exercise, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Warren Cook, and some of his staff drove three hours to the Mount Bundey Training Area from Darwin.

Colonel Cook said he was there to watch the entire company, but he largely appeared focused on Third Platoon — even as he took pains to not single out Lieutenant Hierl.

The Marines suspected the unusual level of attention on the platoon was because of the woman in charge — it was not the first time this had happened since she took command.

There are two other female Marines in the battalion, both in enlisted ranks. Colonel Cook said their performance has been at least equal to that of the men.

Over the next two days, Lieutenant Hierl led Third Platoon into its first attack range in Australia.

Her plan: advance down a sloping hill where combat engineers would use explosives to blow a hole in a fence. From there, the Marines would move to seize a pair of wooden bunkers.

On the platoon’s second and final run of the simulated attack, Lieutenant Hierl, again under the eye of senior officers, led Third Platoon into the draw.

Armed with thousands of rounds of ammunition, the Marines pushed toward the bunkers after mortar explosions subsided and machine guns stopped firing from a nearby hill. But as the platoon closed in, the radio operator assigned to Lieutenant Hierl noticed the device’s antenna had snapped off.

Unable to communicate with her advancing squads, the lieutenant first yelled, then jogged to an approaching corporal to issue orders.

Kneeling behind a tree and trying to fix the antenna, the radio operator did not realize he was no longer by Lieutenant Hierl’s side until she was hundreds of yards away. He ran toward his commander, struggling to keep up.

By the end of the nearly hourlong attack, Third Platoon had stopped shooting and was spread out atop a hill. One of the officers monitoring the exercise threw a tear gas grenade, forcing the Marines to put on gas masks.

The 38 men and one woman of Third Platoon were quickly indistinguishable, a kaleidoscope of green camouflage, tan bulletproof vests and black masks. One Marine struggled to put on the mask. It was not Lieutenant Hierl.

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