Male and female Marine recruits are likely to continue to training separately at boot camp, but the service will look at ways for further gender integration for the most part, Marine Corps Times has learned.
On Thursday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller met with briefed Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Thursday about the service’s gender integration plan, including enlisted and officer entry-level training. During the meeting, Neller detailed the portions of the Marine Corps' entry-level training that are coedwhich Mabus learned that the Marine Corps has already integrated interactions at boot camp, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.
Mabus had given Neller until Friday to submit a plan to integrate boot camp and Officer Candidate School. Both sides will now work together to find potential opportunities for male and female recruits to train together, Marine Corps Times has confirmed.
"With insight provided by the detailed studies we previously conducted, we have built into the implementation plan the ability to assess all aspects and possible impacts throughout implementation," said Lt. Col. Eric Dent, a spokesman for Neller. "We are now ready to proceed in accordance with the plan and guidance that may be provided through the [office of the defense secretary of defense] Implementation Working Group."
A spokesman for Mabus declined to comment because he did not have specific information about the Marine Corps' gender integration plan or Thursday's briefing.
Earlier in the week, Marine Corps announced that 240 enlisted female Marines who successfully completed training for ground combat arms will officially be able to request lateral moves into those jobs.
As commandant, Gen. Joseph Dunford had asked that those jobs remain closed to women, but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter overruled him when he announced on Dec. 3 that he had decided to end all gender-based restrictions in the military.
But Mabus wrote a Jan. 1 memo to Carter that while the Marine Corps has an implementation plan for gender-neutral standards at enlisted recruit training, the service "does not fully address a plan to implement gender integration of enlisted recruit training and OCS."
Sgt. Theophlius Bush II leads female Marine recruits during a martial arts training session during boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. During a Thursday meeting with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller detailed portions of the service's entry-level training that are coed.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Jennifer Schubert/Marine Corps
In a separate memo to Neller, Mabus gave the Marine Corps until Friday to submit "a detailed implementation plan that addresses the gender integration of officer and enlisted basic training" that identifies the "specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings."
That prompted Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Marine veteran, to write to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter a Jan. 11 letter excoriating Mabus.
Hunter, R-Calif., wrote that Mabus' directive to integrate boot camp "came as a surprise to the leadership of the Marine Corps, including the commandant himself."
Hunter has been an outspoken critic of Mabus. He has called for the Marine Corps to become its own military department with its own secretary. In September, he called on Mabus to resign for dismissing a nine-month study in which male and female Marines performed combat tasks, which found mixed-gender teams performed less well than male teams and that women were injured at twice the rate of male Marines.
"The fact that the Marine Corps was not even consulted on such a change is disgraceful and disrespectful, and the actions of Secretary Mabus, especially knowing he has never served in the Marine Corps, amount to the desecration of holy ground – which to any Marine is recruit training," Hunter wrote in his Jan. 11 letter.