The Marines have always been an elite club. Their marketing slogan — “the few, the proud” — flaunts a philosophy of exclusion and domination. Their mandate — “every Marine is a rifleman” — is a reminder to civilian leaders that their primary purpose is to fight. They are not nation-builders.
The Corps is smaller and leaner than the other service branches, and is often the most resistant to change. It was a vocal holdout on ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy last year. With fewer than 10 percent women, they are also the most male of all the services. So the historic announcement that the Marine Corps will open up its infantry officer school at Quantico, Va., as well as some ground battalions, to female Marines was nothing short of a revolution 236 years in the making. Marines and progressive are not two words that are often used together.