Six of the Army’s first female airborne grunts hit another milestone in November, when they earned their Expert Infantryman Badges at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The women were among 287 successful soldiers out of 1,007 who began the testing on Nov. 14, 82nd Airborne Division spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino told Army Times on Wednesday.
“Within the crucible of ground combat, the most disciplined, the most practiced, the best trained will be successful,” he said. “Those basic warfighter skills are really what we test through the EIB program.”
The EIB test, which is open to infantry and Special Forces soldiers, includes 30 basic infantry skills and tasks that must be completed with fewer than three errors.
Those include weapons proficiency, movement under fire, response to chemical attacks, and treating injuries from overheating to open head wounds and broken bones.
“This historic achievement is a reminder of the great things we can achieve when women are seen and treated as equals and given the same chance to contribute to their country,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, a combat veteran, said in a Wednesday statement to Army Times.
News of the women earning the EIB was first reported by The Fayetteville Observer.
The program only recently opened up to women, following the 2016 lift of the ban on women serving in direct combat jobs.
“These six incredible women prove exactly why the Department of Defense was right to allow women to serve in all military roles, an action that was long overdue,” Duckworth said. “Remember, women have served attached to infantry units for decades without being formally assigned to the unit — so even when they met the requirements, they technically they could not earn the EIB until now.”
As noncommissioned officers re-classed into the 11 series from around the Army, the first class of female infantry officers graduated from training at Fort Benning in fall 2016, followed in spring 2017 by the first 18 women to complete infantry basic training.
To date, female infantrymen have been assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
The Army on Wednesday announced it would start assigning female infantrymen to Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and Fort Bliss in Texas, the Associated Press reported.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.