The first females to become Marine Infantry will share tents with their male counterparts during field exercises, officials from Camp Lejeune announced.
“We’re not changing any of our tactical posture or breaking unit cohesion or adjusting anything to accommodate mixed genders while we’re operating in a field environment replicating tactical conditions,” Maj. Charles Anklam III, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina told reporters.
Three women became infantry Marines on January 5, 2017. The nation’s first female rifleman, machine gunner, and mortar Marine all have their own rooms, bathrooms, and showers while in the barracks but will find themselves “side-by-side” with male marines while in the field.
“Our female Marines will find themselves side-by-side their male counterparts in a fighting hole or in their living conditions for the execution of field or deployed duties,” Anklam said in an interview on January 20.
Anklam states that the Marine Corps has not encountered any unexpected challenges while integrating the female Marines into the infantry unit thus far. There have been small accommodations made for the women, but none of the changes have been deemed difficult decisions by military officials.
“Typically you’ll find within an infantry battalion like in this building, we’ve got a downstairs and an upstairs head facility,” Anklam told reporters. “We’ve been able to allocate one of those for the use of female members and then the other for male members.”
Capt. Katharine Gibbons-Neff is the battalion’s logistics officer and serves as part of the unit’s female leadership cadre. Military officials state that having Gibbons-Neff’s input has helped provide valuable insight for the traditionally all-male leadership.
Lt. Col. Reginald McClam, battalion commander, is one of many who has applauded the new female infantry Marines and has expressed gratitude for Gibbon-Neff’s input, but he states that no accommodations will be made that could threaten the integrity of any operations carried out by the infantry unit. To McClam, the operations of the United States military are both sex and gender-neutral.
“This is what I told the staff,” McClam said, “I joined the Marine Corps to lead Marines and sailors. I didn’t take an oath of office that said I was going to lead male Marines or female Marines or male sailors or female sailors. I said I would lead Marines.”