The first gender-integrated Army basic training graduated 18 women on Friday at Fort Benning.
Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade graduated 137 infantry soldiers Friday, among them 18 women out of the original 32 women who joined basic training to be infantry, known as Infantry One Station Unit Training.
These 18 women will join the Army as the first junior enlisted female infantrymen, which comes a year after the Army repealed the ban on women serving in combat roles. Most of the women were between 100 and 120 pounds and around a height of 5’4 and under.
Since the decision to integrate women into infantry roles is fraught with heated disagreement and tension, the Army made sure in its release to emphasize that all standards during training remained the same for everyone.
“The standards remained the same from previous classes,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Tyrus Taylor, command sergeant major for the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment. “Gender integration didn’t add or take from what has been established here in 1-19. Male and female trainees all had to pass the same significant requirements to graduate.”
“The standards are still the standards,” said Lt. Col. Sam Edwards, commander of the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment. “Everyone, no matter their gender, must achieve all the standards to become an Infantryman.”
One of the female trainees said she liked the challenge of higher standards.
“I like the idea of having higher physical and mental standards,” one female soldier-in-training said. “It’s the most challenging part in the Army … you don’t get closer than that, we are the fight.”
According to Army Times, the male soldiers unanimously supported integration.
The training consisted of 12 weeks and 200 infantry skills taught and learned, including throwing a hand grenade 35 meters, running five miles in 45 minutes or less and navigating 12 miles with 68 pounds of weight bearing down on them.
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