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Marines consider integrating men and women for boot camp

Marines with November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion wait in line Nov. 9, 2018 to have their uniforms examined by base fitters at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. (Staff Sgt. Tyler Hlavac/U.S. Marine Corps)
May 02, 2019

The Marine Corps’ trial period that mixed male and female soldiers into one combined training unit concluded Friday, and the branch could implement combined boot camp battalions permanently.

The recruits graduated at Parris Island, S.C., closing the “experiment,” however the Marines are discussing plans for a permanent change that could go into effect as early as next year, Fox News reported.

The first in Marine Corps history, a female platoon was merged with five male platoons to train as one combined battalion and reside in the same housing complex, although they did occupy separate floors. In the past, female Marine recruits would reside in a completely different section of the base.

Lt. Gen. David Berger, the general nominated to lead the Marine Corps said, “I talked to the commandant this morning about it and… I said, ‘We have to look at this for perhaps next year,’ and he said, ‘Absolutely. I think it’s a discussion that he and I will have — and the Marine Corps will have.”

“The statistics… for this company were the same as every other company — a few areas higher, a few areas lower — but it went great,” Berger added.

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Brig. Gen. James Glynn, commander of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, said, “the intense training needed to “make a Marine” stayed the same. But, because all six platoons in Company I — one all-female and five all-male — were located in the same building complex, they saw each other a bit more. They ate at the same chow hall and marched to meals together. When they got up for physical fitness in the morning, the platoons lined up together.”

When asked if the Marines would do this again, Glynn responded, “The jury is still out on that. As conditions permit in the future, we could pursue it. No one looked at this and said we don’t want to do it again.”

The Marines are the last branch of the military that separates its male and female recruits during boot camp, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Those who support the change in policy said that the separation divides the Marines and strains the relationships, but those who oppose the change argue that the separation eliminates distractions during an important time when recruits should be connecting with their drill instructors.

Jessica Hanley, a spokeswoman with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command said, “Combining platoons into a single company this training cycle offered an initial opportunity to assess some opportunities, challenges, outcomes and achievements in training, logistics and resources.”

Pvt. 1st Class Harley Mesiemore, 19, said, “I showed up to train — everybody trains the same. I was focused on myself and getting through the week and just getting out of here.”

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