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Three female Marines just became the first women in a ground combat unit
PARRIS ISLAND, SC - JUNE 21: Female Marine Corps recruits wait for a turn to shoot on the rifle range at the United States Marine Corps recruit depot June 21, 2004 in Parris Island, South Carolina. Marine Corps boot camp, with its combination of strict discipline and exhaustive physical training, is considered the most rigorous of the armed forces recruit training. Congress is currently considering bills that could increase the size of the Marine Corps and the Army to help meet US military demands in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Three female Marines just became the first women in a ground combat unit

In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued an order that all military positions must be opened to women, including combat units.

Now three women stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., are set to make history serving as the first female Marines in a combat unit.

Newsweek reported Thursday that Lieutenant John McCombs, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, indicated that one of the female infantry will serve as a riflewoman, one as a machine gunner and one as a mortar Marine.

The women's names and ranks are not being released at this time, but they will report to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

The Marine Corps Times notes that all three women graduated from the School of Infantry and were part of the Marines' gender integration research:

“The Corps applauds the time and efforts of those Marines who volunteered,” [said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Philip] Kulczewski said. “As we continue to move forward, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that the men and women who earn the title ‘Marine’ will be ready, and will provide America with an elite crisis-response force that is ready to fight and win.”

President-elect Donald Trump's policy on women serving in combat units is not well-known. However, his pick for Secretary of Defense, Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, told Military Times in September that "shortsighted social programs" could make the U.S. military less effective.

The defense authorization bill that passed recently did not include the controversial draft provision requiring women to sign up for the Selective Service. The debate about women's fitness to serve in combat units is ongoing.

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