1st Woman Completes Marines' Urban Leaders Course

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Autumn Taniguchi, a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, simulates a patrol during an Urban Leadership Course (ULC) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 24, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Ana S. Madrigal)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Autumn Taniguchi, a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, simulates a patrol during an Urban Leadership Course (ULC) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 24, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Ana S. Madrigal)

One of the Marine Corps' female infantry riflemen hit another milestone when she became the first woman to graduate from the service's Urban Leaders Course.

Lance Cpl. Autumn Taniguchi, with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, finished the three-week course that prepares leathernecks to lead troops in urban environments on May 3.

"This course is not easy," Taniguchi said, according to a Marine Corps news release. "I didn't expect it to be easy, but it also helps to show me that I can do more than I thought I could."

The Urban Leaders Course, which is led by 1st Marine Division Schools at Camp Pendleton, California, covers room clearing, close-quarters battle and combat marksmanship. Students are taught to make challenging leadership decisions in an urban setting through realistic training scenarios and live-fire ranges.

None of the course standards has changed since women began serving in infantry roles, the release states, adding, "Every Marine who undergoes the training is expected to execute the mission regardless of gender."

Seeing Taniguchi complete the course gives women in the Marine Corps another thing they can say they are able to accomplish, said Staff Sgt. Ken Rick, Urban Leaders Course chief instructor.

"Not necessarily begging for acceptance but proving to the males that they can do this," Rick said in the release.

Taniguchi credited the instructors with giving the students the knowledge they needed to pass the course. Rick said they focus on tactics and what Marines can expect to see in urban warfare, but more than half of the course is devoted to teaching students how to be creative thinkers.

"You're not going to be given every single tool on how to accomplish the mission, [but] because you're a Marine, you're going to get it done regardless," he said.

Taniguchi said she's not out to pave the way for other women, even as she accomplishes firsts no female Marine before her has accomplished.

Her decision to become a grunt "wasn't anything special," she said. "I just wanted to be in the infantry."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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