Marine Corps Lowers Standards for Grueling Infantry Officer Course.

As they battled rising attrition rate, the Marine Corps decided to make modifications to its challenging Infantry Officer Course, including lowering the hike requirements associated with the program. Top officials say that they aren’t looking to water down the standards, but instead align them with the real-world requirements seen today.

The number of evaluated hikes required to pass the Infantry Officer Course, according to a report by the Marine Corps Times, was recently lowered, mandating that only three of the nine hikes participants complete be evaluated. Completion of the Combat Endurance Test has also been removed as a graduation requirement.

Marines will still have to participate in all nine hikes as part of the program. However, instead of requiring them to pass five out of the six evaluated hikes, those hoping to become infantry officers will have to pass the three hikes that are not subject to evaluation.

In recent years, the Marine Corps has struggled when it comes to meeting graduation goals. In 2014, the attrition rates were recorded as high as 25 percent, and the Corps had missed its target for nearly a decade.

Since the new modifications were put in place, the Marine Corps managed to achieve its target last year, which was the first time it has done so since 2008, according to Brig. Gen. Jason Q. Bohm, the Marine Corps Training Command’s commanding officer.

The changes were designed to ensure that the hike requirements more accurately represent the standards dictated by the Marine Corps infantry training and readiness manual, a set of standards that is formally reevaluated every three years.

While attrition rates that fall below 10 percent are considered acceptable, Bohm is hoping to see the number reach 5 percent or lower.

“That was a principal driver behind us making modifications to the course,” said Bohm. “It was not about lowering attrition; it was about making students more successful to complete the course.”

The Marine Corps has previously been the subject of criticism for the grueling nature of the 13-week course.

According to the Corps, the changes “actually tie our requirements now more to the T&R [training and readiness manual] standards.”