CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The first Riverine Combat Skills Course (RCS) class to include females graduated during a ceremony at Center for Security Forces Learning Site Camp Lejeune (CSFLSCL) Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 26.
The four females started the five-week course along with 56 males on Sept. 23 to be trained and evaluated on combat skills needed to perform their duties as a Riverine sailor. They were trained on weapon fundamentals and equipment, land navigation, offensive and defensive patrolling, and communications.
Chief Engineman Patricia Cooper, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Brittney Hellwig, Master-at-Arms Seaman Brianna Tran, and Master-at-Arms Seaman Angela Evans all agreed that RCS was a challenging course, but refused to let the fact that they were the first females modify their training in any way.
“It’s crossed all of our minds,” said Tran, a student from Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 2. “We’ve discussed it, but it’s something that we tried to keep out of our heads so we can keep our focus on the course. It’s better to keep our focus here. Even the guys have been very supportive and we haven’t had any issues with them thinking we couldn’t do it.”
Before the Riverine Forces and Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces (MESF) merged into the Coastal Riverine Force (CORIVFOR) in June, the Riverine community was only composed of male Sailors. Because MESF was an integrated force, the merger introduced females to the Riverine working environment and they became eligible for Riverine training.
“I’m excited to have females in the class,” said Lt. Michael A. Diehl, CSFLSCL site director. “The way we view it at the school house is that they are all students. Anyone who comes here with the right attitude, ready to learn, ready to take on what we teach, to accept the mission and to succeed and help their fellow sailor, in my book I’ll take any student like that any day of the week.”