Another gender-integrated Marine Corps boot camp begins training this week

Elizabeth Howe
October 31, 2019 - 9:29 am
Female Marine


The Marine Corps is experimenting with gender-integrated units training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and at the end of this week, a third unit will start up with the year-long integration experiment that began in January. 

The first gender-integrated unit — within 3rd Recruit Training Battalion — started training in January and graduated its males and females in March. Soon after graduation, a Marine Corps spokesperson communicated that the Corps was undecided about whether or not further integration would be implemented — despite no significant problems with the experiment. 

The Marine Corps's new commandant, however, saw no reason not to take the implementation further.

Male and female Marine platoons train together in boot camp for the first time

"We measured the same things in every company that goes through there — how well they did physically, how many injuries they had, all those sorts of things," Lt. Gen. David Berger said during his Senate confirmation hearing to become the next commandant. "The statistics...for this company were the same as every other company — a few areas higher, a few areas lower, but it went great. The program of instruction that we used in the Marine Corps we didn't change. We just changed where they were billeted, and it all worked out."

And so, a second unit — within 1st Recruit Training Battalion — started training in September. 

USMC move to integrate boot camp more ends; future unclear

The change has interested many in the Marine Corps community for years. Among those calling for changes were retired Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who experienced pushback from the Corps after first suggesting the branch integrate their boot camp.

“I would be interested in learning about the Marine Corps approach," Germano said in a January interview with Connecting Vets. "In other words, this seems to be a spur of the moment type of experiment as opposed to a well-thought-out campaign plan and that’s kind of disappointing to me. I do know that there are a lot of eyes on the service and there has also been in the past year a lot of evidence that indicates that integration really does improve trust and cohesion and I think that will make a difference for this class, in particular.”

Marine retired Lt. Col. isn’t totally sold on boot camp integration

Until this year, the Marine Corps remained the only branch of the military to have gender-segregated initial training. For recruit training, the first three battalions are all-male, while the fourth battalion has been historically all-female and led by female drill instructors. These most recent gender-integrated battalions each have four companies of males and one company of females. 

The fight for fully gender-integrated Marine Corps boot camp continues

The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the American military, with women making up 8.3 percent of the service, the lowest representation of women across the Armed Forces. 

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