Broken Feet and Hurt Shoulders: Male Marines Have Far More Injuries Than Women at Infantry Officer Course

Marines in the Infantry Officer Course drag a cherry picker back to their trench during a live fire training exercise at Range 410A aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., June 9. (Lance Cpl. William Chockey/Marine Corps)

The Corps’ 13-week Infantry Officer Course, or IOC, has a reputation of being one of the most physically demanding courses in the Marines. Only two women have thus far successfully navigated the school.

But, despite the low graduation rate among female candidates at IOC, their male colleagues have had far more injuries over the past two years.

From June 2016 until June 2018, there were 41 reported injuries at IOC, but only one was a female Marine who sustained a bruised rib, according to data obtained by Marine Corps Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The injury rates further question a controversial study pushed by the Marine Corps in 2015 that highlighted that mixed gendered grunt squads underperformed male teams. That study also suggested female Marines might sustain higher injury rates in the infantry.

The results shed some light on the otherwise tight-lipped school that has been spotlighted in recent years over what some activist groups have perceived as unfair standards and practices that have stymied female success at the Marine schoolhouse.

As a matter of perspective, 18 women have graduated from the Army’s elite Ranger School, according to Army Times.

A female lieutenant in the Infantry Officer Course hangs during the obstacle course portion of the initial Combat Endurance Test at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, July 2, 2013. (Thomas Brown/Staff)

However, the data is less than a perfect representation of injury rates along gender lines at IOC.

Few women have even attempted the IOC course.

As of June 2018, roughly 38 women have attempted IOC, about eight have attended since the job field was open to women, and thus far, only two have graduated.

Marine Corps Times had requested nearly 10 years of data to more than adequately cover the time span women have been allowed to attend IOC.

But Marine officials said IOC only maintains data spanning two years. This means much of the data pertaining to the first group of female Marines to enter IOC is unavailable.

By April 2015, 29 women had already failed IOC as part of the Corps’ initial integration study, putting the data obtained by Marine Corps Times outside this important time period.

The data also doesn’t adequately cover injuries that may have been sustained prior to recent changes to hikes and graduation requirements implemented at IOC. Changes that may have been made to boost graduation rates but also reduce injuries at the school.



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