For the first time in Marine Corp history male and female platoons will be working side-by-side at boot camp. Women enlisting in the Marines is nothing new, in fact, women have been able to be a part of the branch since 1918, however, it wasn’t until 2016 that Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that women could take part in any military operations, including combat. This year 92 women are proud to be a part of the Marine Corps combat arms, and that number will only rise thanks to the Corps new male and female boot camp training.
Until now male and female recruits were sequestered from each other, however, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina this year, male and female Marines will get the chance to train together. The U.S. Marine Corps is the only branch that still separates males and females during training, however, it seems like it could be changing.
“On January 5, 2019, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, will start their training cycle with one female platoon and five male platoons,” the Marine Corps said in a statement Friday, first reported by ABC News.
While the change isn’t permanent, a Marine official shared that this was the perfect time to try and integrate both sexes. Normally the battalion is all male, however, the recruiting classes are typically smaller in the winter, thus it was the perfect time to test a partially integrated system out. They are only conducting the test on Parris Island and not on the West coast in San Diego at this time.
The all-female battalion will still be led by female drill instructors but the women will live in the barracks with their male counterparts. This didn’t come as an easy decision. Previously The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller was weary of the idea of men and women living together. “Our drill instructors stay with their recruits 24 hours a day, seven days a week the entire time they are there,” he shared at a press briefing in May, “I am not considering having men and women live together in an open squad bay.”
This comes about a year after the Marines United Facebook page was revealed, showing male Marines and other service members sharing explicit photos of female Marines without their consent. Neller said it was time to change as senators asked for accountability.
Today, the male and female marines work together on military exercises, completing the Combat Fitness Test, and enduring the Crucible, which requires recruits to face physical, mental, and moral challenges with only 8 hours of sleep over 54-hours. Men and women hike the last nine miles together.
“I think the more exposure male and female recruits have to working together early on it has downstream positive effects,” Posey said. “So they see male recruits see female recruits doing the same exact things they are to earn that Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and they know that they are a Marine just like them. And when they don’t see it, sometimes they don’t believe it.”