ELIZABETHTOWN – Twenty-seven sailors, including three women, graduated from riverine training when they completed the Cape Fear Final Skills Assessment on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
The event was held on the Cape Fear River near Elizabethtown.
The assessment, for students attending both the Riverine Security Team Member and Riverine Crewman courses, was administered by the Center for Security Forces Learning Site Camp Lejeune, and the women now qualify for some of the first Navy billets opened when then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta ordered the removal of gender-based barriers to service in January.
When Panetta announced the rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, he ordered all military services to submit detailed plans for enabling women to serve in ground combat roles and other roles that had not been available to them, such as Navy submarines. He directed the completion of this process by 2016.
Master-at-Arms Seaman Audrey Warren, an RSTM graduate, said that she wants to experience everything the Navy has to offer and the lifting of the restriction is allowing her to do that.
“Our command was happy to send us,” Warren said. “They said, ‘Go!’”
All the students graduated two classes before beginning RCC and RSTM at Camp Lejeune in August and concluding those courses during the assessment.
They first attended the Expeditionary Combat Skills course in Gulfport, Miss., comprising a month of rifle and pistol marksmanship and combat shooting, basic combat first aid and other skills needed to perform high-risk operations in a safe, proficient and professional manner.
Then they built on these skills with an emphasis on combat mindset during the Riverine Combat Skills course at Camp Lejeune.