The United States Marine Corps (All Hail Chesty Puller. Oorah!) is making a bit of history today. When the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion of aspiring Marines began training at Parris Island this morning it included one all-female platoon, complete with female drill instructors. The rest of the platoons will be composed of men. The details are complicated and it’s not 100% integration for all activities, but the battalion will definitely be mixing the genders for a number of activities as they move through basic training. (The Hill)
At training starting Saturday, one of the battalions at the Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina will have a female platoon along with male platoons, according to a statement from the Marines.
“On Jan. 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 statement said.
“The decision was made by Marine Corps leadership in support of training efficiency and is a first in the history of Marine Corps recruit training.”
ABC News was the first to report on the change.
As it turns out, this isn’t actually a “policy change” on the part of the Marines. There are already female Marines and have been for some time. Usually, a large group of them will be sent to basic training at the same time and they’ll have their own training battalion. But this year the number of women who enlisted and qualified was much lower than usual. There were only enough for a single platoon, so this was deemed a measure of convenience and cost savings rather than having to form up a separate battalion for a single platoon of women.
The integration of the platoons is going to be far more extensive than previously seen, however. They will be sharing time in swim qualifications, drills on the rifle range and in all classroom education. They’ll also be sharing the same barracks, though it sounds like each platoon has their own bay so they likely won’t be sleeping in the same rooms.
Is this problematic? Not really, at least as far as I’m concerned. I have no problem with women serving in the military and actually encourage it. I’m just one of those dinosaurs who doesn’t want to see women in combat roles. That makes the question of women in the Marines a bit dicier because such a large proportion of their billets are specifically for combat roles.
If any/all of these women are destined for combat duty, perhaps integrating the training all the way would be the best approach. (Okay… possibly not sharing bays in the barracks, but everything else.) Ever since this debate of women in combat began we were assured that the standards and minimum requirements would not be relaxed for female members of the military. If that’s actually the case, then they should be able to make it through the same boot camp drills and tests as the men.
I wish them luck. I only had to go through Navy boot camp back in the day and that was tough enough. Marine Corps boot camp is insane. If they’ve found an entire platoon’s worth of women who can manage that feat, they’ve really done something.