The Corps has been mulling a new dress blue coat for female Marines, modeled in similar fashion to their male colleagues, for several years now.
On Tuesday, recruits with with Platoon 4040, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, were the first company to receive the new female dress blue coat, according to a posting from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
The new female blues feature the iconic mandarin collar as seen on the male dress blues, but do not have breast or lower pockets like the male uniforms.
In 2016, the Corps put out a forcewide message that it was planning to adopt a modified version of the female dress blue coat but cautioned it could take several years before a new coat would be finalized due to testing.
The push for the new female coat came in conjunction with sweeping Pentagon changes to opening combat job fields to women across the services and overall support for gender-neutral fitness standards.
Then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that he wanted uniforms that "don’t divide us as male or female, but rather unite us as sailors or Marines.”
A 2016 poll by the Marine Corps highlighted that the new female dress blue coat prototype was generally popular with enlisted and officer female Marines.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller approved the new modified female dress blues in a MARADMIN that went out January 8, 2016.
But the new uniforms were expected to be delayed.
“Due to prototype refinement, contracting, and acquisition timelines, initial fielding of the modified female dress blue coat is anticipated to take 24–36 months,” the MARADMIN states.
Papa Company is set to graduate Oct. 12.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.