When the Pentagon lifted a ban that did not allow women to participate in combat positions in January, it was positively received by the American public. In the past, military personnel argued that allowing women in these roles may change the unit's strategy, but 44 percent of households who know someone in the military told the Pew Research Center it wouldn't.
Now that the Pentagon has lifted this limitation, Congress expects that each sector of the military to issue a plan that would explain their approach to increase qualified training for women by 2016.
However, the Marine Corps chose to integrate women into their competitive infantry training this year—19 women finished the initial boot camp in September to be qualified for the nine-week training program. Contrary to belief, not a single part of the course was altered.
Out of the 19 women who made it out of boot camp, only three made it to the graduation ceremony on November 20. A fourth woman made it to the training's final test, but was injured during the 20-kilometer hike.
Laura Cannon, a 2001 West Point graduate who served in Iraq in 2003 for seven months, told NBC News that this change was long overdue.
"I'm so happy for these amazing women," Cannon said. "I just wish the military allowed us this chance much sooner."
During the 20-kilometer course, all trainees had to maintain a pace of 2.5 to 3 miles per hour, while carrying a rifle and a 82 to 90-pound backpack. Along with the three women, 221 men completed this process based training program.