The Marine Corps in February will start conducting gender integrated training at its San Diego boot camp, the service announced this week.
In a news release, the service said it would start training for males and females at San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
“Beginning February 12, 2021, an integrated company of male and female recruits is scheduled to begin their journey to become Marines at MCRD, after undergoing a two-week COVID-19 quarantine protocol,” the Marine Corps said. “This initial opportunity for male and female recruits to train concurrently at MCRD San Diego will serve as a proof of concept to validate requirements needed to sustain integrated training on the west coast in the future.”
The service also announced that it will graduate its first integrated drill instructor class in San Diego, Calif., on Wednesday. A class that includes 54 male Marines and three female Marines will graduate from MCRD San Diego, the release said.
The drill instructor graduates who become part of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion will lead February’s first integrated training class in San Diego, according to the service.
“In an effort to forge Marines of the highest quality, we must give them every opportunity to succeed. This is the first time we are able to give Marines who graduate from MCRD San Diego the same integrated experience that many of their peers at Parris Island have received already,” Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, the commanding general of MCRD, Western Recruiting Region, said in a statement.
“The opportunity and experience these young men and women will get in terms of training and learning from one-another is immeasurably important to prepare all of our Marines for success, and this also will get us one step closer to understanding the facilities and personnel needed to make this a sustained reality.”
While the Marine Corps has performed integrated training at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, S.C., it has yet to do so in San Diego. The service has been moving toward integrated training for years. Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in 2016 described the push toward integrated training as a “gradual” move.
Capt. Martin Harris, a spokesman for MCRD San Diego, said the training set to begin in February will emulate what the Marine Corps has done in Parris Island, with several male platoons and one female platoon training together for the 13 weeks.
But Harris noted that each battalion training at Parris Island has access to its own facilities to use, like obstacle courses and barracks, while recruits in San Diego have always shared facilities.
“What we’re trying to understand is what facilities and personnel – to validate what facilities and personnel will be needed in order to do this long-term, full-scale, by 2028, based on the [National Defense Authorization Act],” Harris told USNI News.