Women drill instructors could start training male recruits after welcoming them at all-boys San Diego boot camp

According to a report in Military.com, female instructors could start training men at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in California, Commander Gen David Berger said on September 24


                            Women drill instructors could start training male recruits after welcoming them at all-boys San Diego boot camp
(Getty Images)

The US may still not find its first woman president but at the Marine Corps, history is waiting to be made. New male joinees who would step onto the famous yellow footprints at the uniformed services’ all-male recruit unit on the West Coast will soon be received by women drill instructors.

According to a report in Military.com, women drill instructors could start training men at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, Commander Gen David Berger said on Thursday, September 24. The move comes as part of a long congressional mandate seeking entry-level training for the Marines to be made co-ed. “All of our female drill instructors are on the East Coast. We're going to run a couple trials this wintertime actually moving drill instructors from South Carolina to San Diego [on temporary duty] and train recruits on the West Coast to see how this is going to work,” Gen Berger said during an event hosted by Defense One, as per the report. 

California Rep. Jackie Speier (Wikimedia Commons)

The women instructors undergo training at the Marine Corps’ East Coast base to lead recruits only at the recruit depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. It was not clear yet whether the women who will be assigned to San Diego in this year’s winter would train at the West Coast drill school or would be transferred to the California unit once they are done with training at Parris Island. 

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act seeks the Marines service to stop distinguishing the trainees by gender at Parris Island within five years and in San Diego within eight. 

According to Gen Berger, the Marine Corps still has to cover a long distance to meet the requirement of the Act since half of those enlisted to train on the West Coast “never see a female recruit at all”. 

“Nothing about the way we're organized right now lends itself to integrated recruit training,” he was quoted as saying by Military.com. 

The Marine Corps started training co-ed companies at its Parris Island unit in 2019 but the East Coast recruit depot lacks space to accommodate that set-up, especially during busy summer months when it sees long queues of trainees who arrive following their high-school graduations. Earlier this month, the Marine Corps released some of its plans for putting an end to gender segregation at the boot camp. According to the document laying out the plan, making recruit training co-ed is a “top priority” for the service.
“The outcome the Marine Corps desires for gender integration is for every male recruit to train alongside a female recruit within the same company,” the document, which was submitted to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, said. 

The Marine Corps has encountered issues over its practice of separating males and females at the boot camp, especially after combat jobs started opening for women and the service faced a scandal over ways male Marines saw and dealt with their colleagues. 

California Democratic Representative Jackie Speier said while introducing the measure that became law that the move would make the military stronger. Speier, 70, has a history of leading crusades against military sexual assault and has stood for gender equality and freedom from violence over the years.