Successful modern militaries have one thing in common: each values the contributions of women in all professional specialties. One military community that is seeing an increase in the number of women in its ranks is the combat arms community. It’s more common because brave pioneers in this field have proven that women can lead the fight against the enemy.
launches the corporal. Charisse Briguera, an infantry marine with Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance, 4th Marine Division, and Marino (Private) Milagros Correa with the Uruguayan Marine Corps are two examples of women in the combat arms who serve as force multipliers for their countries. The two met while training side by side during Exercise UNITAS LXIII.
UNITAS is the world’s longest running multinational maritime exercise that focuses on improving interoperability between multiple nations and joint forces during littoral and amphibious operations in order to build on existing regional partnerships and build new, lasting relationships that promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the United States. Southern Command Area of Responsibility (i.e. Latin America and the Caribbean).
One initiative that U.S. Marine Corps Forces, the South, and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command highlighted in the exercise is the Women, Peace, and Security program. The initiative is based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in October 2000, which “reaffirms the important role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction”. .” It also encourages the equal participation of women and the integration of gender perspectives in United Nations peace and security efforts.
“Servicewomen from the region, and the world for that matter, enhance the mission through their unique contributions and they do so without lowering military standards,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Aries Hopf, head of WPS. at USSOUTHCOM. “These women are serving alongside their male counterparts under the same conditions, with the same challenges, and for the same goals – to better themselves, their country, and the overall security of the region.”
“Female soldiers in the region, and the world for that matter, enhance the mission through their unique contributions and they do so without lowering military standards.” Maj. Aries Hopf, head of the WPS at USSOUTHCOM
Exercise UNITAS LXIII (63), held this year in Brazil, gave the two women the opportunity to train as part of the multinational force and showcase the value women bring to the combat arms community. . The two experienced how nations train together in support of operations as well as duty aboard the San-Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) where Correa s embarked with several other nations as part of a combined force.
Briguera knew the path to becoming an infantry marine was going to be an arduous one, but she was dedicated enough to endure the trials and tribulations necessary to succeed. Although she received a lot of encouragement and support along the way, she also encountered some resistance.
“I was the only woman, with 100 men, several Marines came to me and said ‘you don’t belong here, you’re a woman, you’re weaker,'” Briguera said. “But I said to them, ‘Hey, I passed the standard. “”
Briguera’s goal wasn’t that different from Correa’s. She also wanted to serve in the combat arms occupation, but was initially told she would not be selected.
“My dad is an old chef, so he told me I couldn’t do it, that I didn’t belong in it. I wanted to join to prove that women can do it,” Correa said.
Correa’s father was very reluctant to join due to a perception of women’s ability to perform alongside men. Despite her father’s warning not to join, she insisted on being in the combat arms.
Briguera’s husband was apprehensive like Correa’s father, but both Briguera and Correa knew this was the life they wanted. It was a call to ambition and an inner drive that drove them both to break through socially constructed boundaries. Before Briguera joined the military, she worked with the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and Basic School. This experience ignited his passion to become an infantry marine.
“Before joining, I was actually working for the Marine Corps as a role player and started when I was 18. I’ve been working for them for 10 years now,” Briguera said. “It made me want to join. I have so much respect for the Marine Corps, like the way they conduct their operations and train with discipline, and it made me fall in love with what they make.
Photo by Lance Cpl. David Intriago
United States Marine Corps spear. Charisse Briguera, right, a rifle Marine with Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, in support of UNITAS Marine Air-Ground Task Force LXIII poses for a photo with Marina Milagros Correa (Marine Corps private Uruguayan) during Exercise UNITAS LXIII aboard the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), Sept. 18, 2022. UNITAS is the world’s longest running annual multinational maritime exercise that focuses on improving interoperability between multi-nation and joint forces during littoral and amphibious operations to build on existing regional partnerships and create lasting new relationships that promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. (US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Intriago)
Much like Briguera’s passion for the Marine Corps, Correa grew up in a military family which influenced his passion for service. The military was a part of their life before they joined and influenced their decision to join the organization and their determination to be in the combat arms.
“My dad and grandpa were in the military, so I grew up in a military household. I always thought it was cool to join the military,” Correa said. “I wanted to follow the traces of my family and I also wanted to prove my father wrong by showing that I could succeed in the military.”
A year has passed since Correa enlisted and she still loves what she does. “I like it a lot; it can be a lot of work sometimes. (Exercises like UNITAS) can be tiring on my body, but I like it,” she said.
Similar to Correa, Briguera has also been present for a year. She also appreciates the rigorous training along with the job.
“For me, it took several years and now I’ve succeeded. It’s the best feeling,” Briguera said. “You can give me any job, any workgroup, I won’t complain because that’s what I signed up for.”
Even from different countries and backgrounds, the two women have many things in common. They both had to overcome unfavorable opinions to pursue the same goal. Briguera and Correa have proven that women in the combat arms are the new normal. During exercise UNITAS, the two Marines bonded through their time on the ship and participating in challenging training events. In the true spirit of UNITAS, relationships were built and friendships formed, due to shared experiences and shared values.