By guest contributor Jeremiah McCloud
The Marines have gotten some bad press lately. With all the stupidity we’ve seen from male Marines over social media, it’s easy to overlook the history currently being made by their female peers.
Case-in-point: Second Lieutenant Lilliana Polatchek just became the Marine Corps’ first (and, so far, it’s only) female tank officer.
Lieutenant Polatchek graduated on April 12th from the U.S. Army’s Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course, completing nearly 100 days of training with a rigorous curriculum to become proficient as a commander of the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank.
That’s right, she’ll be commanding tanks.
Polatchek has orders to join 2d Tank Battalion, located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
She’ll soon be tearing through Lejeune’s tank trails, likely upsetting ‘Range Control’ (the operations control group that oversees the use of all Lejeune’s training areas on a daily basis) with all the dirt her tanks chew up.
This news is phenomenally more positive than the garbage about male Marines degrading and dishonoring their fellow female Marines in private social media groups, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The Corps could use some victories to outshine the unfortunate lack of discipline displayed by some among its ranks.
There may still be some growing pains as Marine Corps combat arms units continue to adjust their culture, their training plans, their logistics schemes, and possibly some of their TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) to facilitate the full integration of women into what have historically been all-male roles.
Will the adjustments be significant? This is uncertain. The Marines have historically been pretty good about adapting to new conditions, and overcoming challenges together. The new realities presented by women taking on roles previously reserved only for men will be no different. Only time will tell if the Marines can make a real go of this.
Additionally, and with no sugar coating, the men whose ranks Lieutenant Polatchek joins in the armor community won’t simply shut up and color because Headquarters told them to. There will likely be hijinks. There will be raw attitudes. There will be bias, contempt, and possibly even hatred.
Ultimately, everyone will have to figure out how to move on together in order to accomplish their mission as Marines. Generally, Marines are good at that.
Personally, I salute Lieutenant Polatchek. She gets to join such historical Marine Corps figures as Opha May Johnson (the first female Marine), and Brigadier General Margaret Brewer (the first female Marine general officer).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeremiah D. McCloud is an OpsLens Contributor and former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. McCloud spent nearly four years as an enlisted Marine, then attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he earned a BS in International Relations. McCloud deployed to Afghanistan, and has since acquired an MBA from the University of Virginia in International Business and Communications.