The Marine Corps provided hints about its plans for gender integrating boot camp at the platoon level in a report to Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services released in the September meeting notes.
The Corps will first provide the required facility upgrades for gender integrated training then will shift its focus on training a sufficient cadre of female drill instructors, according to the report dated July 30 sent to DACOWITS.
The Marine Corps is the only service without fully gender-integrated basic training, something that Congress required the Marine Corps to change in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Platoon-level gender integration now required at Marine boot camp, as lawmakers still question recruit safety
And though the Corps will still be allowed to have separate-gender squad bays ― where recruits sleep and shower ― with the passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act the rest of training must be fully integrated down to the platoon level.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina has to integrate boot camp at the platoon level within five years, according to the law passed in December of 2019.
Between January 2019 and April 2020 the Corps has completed nine training cycles that consisted of one all female platoon and five all male platoons, aboard Parris Island.
The program was stopped in part due to COVID-19 and in part because the summer months see the most amount of recruits travel through the training depots and put the largest logistical strain on the depots, the report said.
The Corps has never had training gender integrated at the platoon level.
The Corps will have eight years to integrate boot camp at MCRD San Diego, California, the Corps’ west coast facility where currently only male recruits are trained.
“Modifications will have to be made at each installation,” in order to allow men and women to train side-by-side the report said.
Planning has already started “to identify the requirements, shortfalls, and cost estimates to meet the NDAA requirements,” the Marine Corps reports to DACOWITS said.
The Marine Corps did not immediately provide answers about how far into the planning process it was, or when upgrades are expected to be completed.
Once the facilities are successfully upgraded the Corps will start to train the increased number of drill instructors required to fully staff both recruit depots.
With Parris Island having 128 female drill instructors, slightly surpassing its goal of 116 female drill instructors, the Marine Corps currently is not facing a shortage of female drill instructors, the report said.
But once female recruits start flooding into the San Diego recruit depot the Corps will have to quickly increase the total number of female drill instructors.
As part of that increase the Corps will start having female Marines attend the MCRD San Diego Drill Instructor school.
The Corps also plans to explore options such as “transfers from MCRD PI (Parris Island) and assigning second tour female Drill Instructors to MCRD SD (San Diego),” the report said.
In a search for possible improvements to Marine Corps boot camp the branch is in the process of of soliciting a study from an “outside agency,” either a public or private university or college, to analyze what goes on at the two recruit depots.
The study will “determine alternatives, if any, to the Marine Corps’ approaches to gender integrated recruit training,” the DACOWITS report said.
The study is expected to be awarded before October 2020, and the results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal before the end of fiscal year 2022, the report said.
Applicants will have until Sept. 9 to submit their applications to the Marine Corps, Capt. Sam Stephenson, told Marine Corps Times in a Tuesday email.