Mist clings to the ground and the sun won't make an appearance for another three hours. The 263 Marines of Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, shoulder their bulky packs and set off.
The air is still cool, but 85-pound packs are heavy. Soon the Marines are sweating through their camouflage uniforms and noncommissioned officers are moving between the two files of Marines, shouting encouragement and encouraging stragglers to keep up.
The Marine Corps has been training infantrymen here since 1953. This year is different. Among Delta Company's 263 Marines are 13 women who have volunteered to participate in a closely watched experiment into the feasibility of integrating females into the infantry. The infantry is among a handful of military jobs that remain male-only preserves.
The women, who are shouldering the same packs and wearing the same combat uniforms as the men, are barely distinguishable from the men as they trudge in the darkness.