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Last summer, Marine Lance Cpl. Paula Pineda from Los Angeles was driving Marine trucks on Okinawa; now she wants to be a warrior — and to make history. It’s something Pineda has always wanted to do.

“Your adrenaline’s rushing, you’re pumping, trying to save lives, make a difference,” she says. “This is bigger than us. It’s bigger than us. Right now we can’t see the big picture, but in a couple years we’ll see the difference on how females can work alongside with males in the, in an infantry unit.”

Whether Pineda and the other women will work alongside male Marines in ground combat units is an open question. The Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in the unforgiving world of ground combat — infantry, armor and artillery units — but gave the armed service’s branches until January to ask for exemptions.

Now the Marines and the Army are running the necessary tests to see what female troops can do. Dozens of female Marines are taking part in this experiment at the desert base at Twentynine Palms for the next month.

As Women Try Out For Armor Units, ‘If You Can Hack It, You Can Hack It’

Photo credit: David Gilkey/NPR