The Army announced Friday it has 22 women nearly ready to be commissioned as officers within its infantry and armor units—a historic first, USA Today reports. The Pentagon ordered all combat positions be opened to women three years ago, and that rule takes effect this year. The 22 women—13 for armor units, nine for infantry—are currently going through officer training and are expected to be commissioned as second lieutenants within the coming weeks. The Army believes it's important to have women in officer roles within ground combat units before bringing in general recruits. On the other side, 29 women have attempted the Marines' infantry officer course, but none have yet passed.
Interest from women in joining the infantry and armor units is unclear, and both the Army and Marines are expecting a small number of women to sign up—at least at first. (As USA Today explains, women have served in combat already, but "ground combat fields," including infantry, armor, and Special Forces, have long been closed to them until now.) According to the Army Times, 25-year-old ex-cop Grace Barnett became the Army's first female infantry recruit when she took the oath of enlistment earlier this month. Barnett, who wasn't aware she was going to be the first, says she's excited about "being on the front lines." "Being able to get down and dirty with it. Being able to be in the middle of it," she tells the Times. "Being able to serve and fight. Protect my country." (Read more US Army stories.)