A Lance Corporal Just Became the 1st Female Recon Marine

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Marines and sailors in the Basic Reconnaissance Course practice their helocasting skills at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and in San Diego Bay on Nov. 6, 2013. The 12-week training evolution provides the students with the basic knowledge of reconnaissance doctrine, concepts and techniques with emphasis on amphibious entry, extraction, beach reconnaissance, Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) operator skills and ground reconnaissance patrolling skills. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl Orrin Farmer)
Marines and sailors in the Basic Reconnaissance Course practice their helocasting skills at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and in San Diego Bay on Nov. 6, 2013. The 12-week training evolution provides the students with the basic knowledge of reconnaissance doctrine, concepts and techniques with emphasis on amphibious entry, extraction, beach reconnaissance, Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (CRRC) operator skills and ground reconnaissance patrolling skills. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl Orrin Farmer)

The Corps has its first-ever female reconnaissance Marine.

Lance Cpl. Alexa Barth completed the Basic Reconnaissance Course on Nov. 7, Marine officials confirmed. She's the first woman to apply to and complete the course, said Teresa Ovalle, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps' Training and Education Command.

Between 25% and 40% of Marines who attempt the 55-day course don't complete it, Ovalle said, adding that no other women have applied to take the course since Barth completed it.

Marine Corps Times reported Thursday that Barth completed the physically and mentally demanding course.

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She is expected to join the California-based 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in late spring or early summer, said Maj. Kendra Motz, a 1st Marine Division spokeswoman. The recon Marine has several more months of training to complete before being assigned to the unit.

The Basic Reconnaissance Course trains students in the basic skills needed to qualify for the 0321 military occupational specialty. That includes amphibious recon operations, ground patrolling and surveillance, land navigation and supporting arms, according to a course description.

All Marines who apply to complete Basic Reconnaissance Course must first complete a tough primer course that predominantly focuses on aquatics conditioning, Ovalle said. More than half of Marines who attempt that course typically don't finish it.

In fiscal 2019, which ran from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019, Ovalle said 695 Marines began the primer, called Reconnaissance Training and Assessment Program. Just 309 of them went onto start the Basic Reconnaissance Course.

Ovalle said all of the course events and requirements remained the same when Barth completed it.

"There were absolutely no changes to standards," she said.

Recon Marines conduct land or air insertions to gather intelligence, perform surveillance, or carry out small-unit raids, among other missions, in support of conventional operations. It's a demanding job, and the Corps typically offers Marines steep re-enlistment bonuses if they stay in the field.

In 2016, Marine officials announced that the 0321 MOS name would change to become gender-neutral, once recon and other combat fields opened to women. The reconnaissance man MOS was renamed reconnaissance Marine.

It was one of dozens of MOS titles that included the word "man" to be rebranded.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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