In early March, 39 women checked in to the School of Infantry-West to start a 29-day course in combat training reserved for Marines in non-infantry roles.
It’s the first time in the Corps’ history that male and female Marines trained together at the Marine Combat Training Battalion course, or MCT, on the West Coast.
And, on Tuesday, those Marines graduated from the course at Camp Pendleton, California.
“Thirty-five women and 328 men graduated with Golf Company at Marine Combat Training Battalion,” Marine Corps Training Command said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times.
A total of six Marines ― four female and two male ― did not complete the course, the Marine Corps said. “Those who did not graduate will continue training with a new company.“
There are two MCT courses: The other is located aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. That course has been integrated for some time, according to Marine spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena.
The Corps has been pushing gender integration across the force as it looks to bolster its ranks with more female Marines. The Corps currently sits at just over 8 percent female, and with a goal of increasing that number to 10 percent.
Lack of exposure to female colleagues and leadership has been a repeated criticism of the Corps. It can create a false perception that female Marines aren’t meeting the same standards, some say.
The Marines’ gender integration progress has come under criticism from vocal critics like the Service Women’s Action Network who contend the Corps’ plans haven’t gone far enough.
Gender integration at SOI-West is another step by the Corps to expose young male Marines to their female peers.
Despite integration at SOI-West, the top Marine has no plans right now to open the doors of the San Diego, California, recruit depot to female recruits.
“We don’t need it right now,” Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller told reporters in early March.
There are female drill instructors at the San Diego recruit depot training male recruits.
Female recruits attend boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, where the Corps has made recent changes that have male and females at times integrated and working side by side.
The Corps hopes to train roughly 1,700 female Marines at the West Coast MCT every year, Pena previously told Marine Corps Times.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.