The US Marine Corps opened its Infantry Officers Course (IOC) to women in 2012 but none has yet graduated from the course. Before enrolling in IOC, soldiers must pass the grueling combat endurance test. It’s a 14-hour marathon of physical pain and mental stress which includes everything from basic pull-ups to land navigation and an obstacle course – all spread out over 16 miles. According to David Martin of 60 Minutes, over the past two years 20 women have tried the test. Only one has passed.
Second Lieutenant Melissa Cooling is one of the five women taking the test this year. Cooling is a 5’2” triathlete with a degree in biomedical engineering and a brother already in the Marine Corps. She was the only woman taking the test who allowed 60 Minutes to identify her. Her interview with 60 Minutes, which airs Sunday, March 15, 7pm on CBS, is timely as Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford must make a recommendation to the defense secretary by the end of 2015 — either supporting the opening of every combat job to women or requesting specific exceptions.