The U.S. Marine Corps has relaxed hiking standards for prospective officers seeking to graduate from the service’s punishing Infantry Officer Course amid disquieting attrition rates.
Marines will still be required to participate in nine hikes as part of the course, but the shift has reduced the number of evaluated hikes from six to three, the Marine Corps Times reported on Wednesday. Marines are required to pass all three evaluated hikes to graduate, whereas previously they had to pass five of the six evaluated hikes.
The change is the latest easing of IOC requirements. In November, Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller quietly dropped the demanding Combat Endurance Test as a must-pass requirement to graduate from the 13-week course.
A former Marine Infantry Officer, who now serves as a congressional aide, said the modifications to IOC have raised flags among service members who feared the Corps would lower standards after the Obama administration opened all military combat roles to women in 2015.