In recent weeks, relations between Gen. Jim Amos and Marine Corps Times have grown so icy that the general challenged a reporter to complete a 13-week Infantry Officer Camp, a course so hard that 30 percent of all participants fail regardless of gender. At the crux of the cool invitation is a recent story by Marine Corps Times that used the word “flunked” in a headline, as in ““Two more female Marines flunk infantry officers training.”
The women indeed failed the training on their first day, a stat that isn’t terribly shocking since 10 percent of all participants don’t pass their first day and it’s considered to be among the hardest physical endurance tests the Marine Corps has.
Still, Amos said characterizing the womens’ performance as having “flunked” was “sensational and shameful.” It was the first letter he has written to the publication since assuming his role in 2010. “That description is callous and irresponsible, and doesn’t do justice to these two fine officers,” he wrote in a letter published by the publication this week.
Dan Lamothe, a reporter for Marine Corps Times since 2008, wrote the story. He declined to reveal to FishbowlDC whether the headline choice was his, but says he stands by his story and the headline choice. And come July he may be in those womens’ shoes if the general stays true to his offer.
“Honestly I’m not sure,” Lamothe said in an interview this week, when asked if he thinks the offer will come to fruition. “The invitation was laid out. I accepted. I’m not sure. I don’t know if’ I’d need to do all or portions. I have very little details at this point.”
Lamothe says his publication has been trying to cover the course since last summer, but to no avail, unlike reporters from NYT and USA TODAY, who have gained access to it. Women are now allowed to take part in the training and apply for jobs they haven’t been able to previously, which is why military reporters like Lamothe are pushing hard to cover it.
He doesn’t know all that the course entails, but he knows there’s an obstacle course, a lot of hiking, running, and some swimming. “They leave one piece of criteria vague because the want to see how people do when they don’t know what’s coming,” he explained.
That said, Lamothe knows he isn’t ready. Read more