The first three female Marines graduated from the Marine Corps School of Infantry this Thursday at Camp Geiger, N.C., a year and a half after the Marine Corps announced it would begin accepting female service members in its infantry training courses. The course began with 15 female Marines who volunteered for the training.

In addition, Harlee Bradford, a Marine who completed most of the required training before sustaining an injury, is expected to graduate with the following class. There are 19 additional female Marines attending the infantry school in later classes.

While the School of Infantry, the Marines' training course for the enlisted ranks, can now boast of its first female graduates, the Marines' officer training course has not yet had a woman successfully complete training since they first began attending last year.

Although the three Marines who graduated Thursday successfully completed the demanding training course, meeting the same requirements as their male peers, they will not be allowed to serve in infantry roles. Marine Corps regulations still restrict which positions women can serve in, a policy that is under review and expected to be amended based on evaluations of the pilot program being run in training environments like the infantry school.

Female graduates will report to another school to complete an additional training course in the job field where they will eventually serve.

Meanwhile, the 221 male service members that passed the training will go on to serve in infantry positions in the Marine Corps.

Marine officials say they want to study how female service members perform in the course and evaluate their completion rate as part of a three-year review to determine how to integrate women into combat roles.

The three graduates began training in September, completing extensive field exercises, training on weapons systems, patrolling and other tactical tasks. Men and women trained together during the infantry school but, per Marine policy, the female Marines were housed in separate barracks.

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