The Marine Corps is on the defensive for a second time in February 2018 over changes to its famous Infantry Officer Course (IOC).
Military communities were abuzz in early February 2018 when officials confirmed that successfully completing the Combat Endurance Test (CET) — the rigorous first stage of IOC — would no longer be a requirement for passing the 13-week course.
The Corps answered criticism on Feb. 7, 2018 but found itself in the same position this week as new standards for IOC's training hikes were revealed.
The course previously required a Marine to complete nine hikes, of which six would be evaluated more carefully and passage was required on five of the six. The new standard evaluates just three of the Marine's hikes, though he must pass all three, Marine Corps Times reported Feb. 21 2018.
Brig. Gen. Jason Q. Bohm, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Training Command, told the newspaper that changes were made to better reflect operational reality.
"Technically, what we have done is we have modified graduation requirements, but we actually tie our requirements now more to the T&R [Marine infantry training and readiness manual] standards," he said. "The course is as hard as it's ever been. We did not do away with any training events."
Marine Corps Times noted that only one unnamed female Marine has successfully completed the course, although officials have countered that most IOC failures are men.
2nd Lt. Gregory R. Jaunal, student, Infantry Officers' Course, fires a mortar round during a mountain attack in the Bullion Training Area March 21, 2012. (Photo from DoD)
"Only 35 women have attempted the course, and only five of those have attended the IOC after the job field was opened to women," the newspaper reported.
Marine officers who graduate IOC moving forward will:
- Participate in a total of nine hikes while passing three evaluations.
- Conduct CET.
- Conduct 6 tactical field exercises.
- "Pass infantry officer physical standards requirements, including a 15 km hike with 105 lbs in 3 hours."
- "Cross a 56" wall unassisted in 30 seconds."
- "Conduct a ground casualty evacuation (214 lbs. dummy) in 54 seconds."
- "Lift an MK-19 heavy machine gun (77 lbs.) overhead and rush 300 meters to an objective in 3 minutes 56 seconds."
"[The change] was not about lowering attrition, it was about making students more successful to complete the course," Brig. Gen. Bohm added, the newspaper reported.