The Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego may see its first female drill instructors training recruits as early as “this winter,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Thursday.
The Corps' West Coast recruit depot has never trained any female recruits and only a few female drill instructors have ever had a tour on the base as part of their second tour of the drill field, where they were assigned as operations chiefs and drill instructor school instructors, Training and Education Command spokesman Capt. Sam Stephenson told Marine Corps Times in a Thursday email.
But that will soon change as the Corps was directed by Congress to fully integrate both recruit depots at the platoon level in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where all female recruits are currently trained, has five years to integrate boot camp, while San Diego has eight years to complete the integration process, according to the law.
The Corps will first start work on creating the facilities required to train male and female recruits side-by-side before moving on to training the required number of female drill instructors to staff both recruit depots, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
“The infrastructure the facilities part is key is the first step that cost money and we have to put that in motion now," Berger said at Defense One’s state of the Marine Corps event.
Berger said the next step is figuring out how to “balance” the number of female drill instructors between the recruit depots and suggested that the Marine Corps may send some female drill instructors to San Diego starting this winter.
“We are going to, I think, run a couple of trials this winter time actually moving drill instructors from South Carolina to San Diego ... and training recruits on the West Coast and seeing how this is going to work,” Berger said.
The emailed statement from the Marine Corps' Training and Education Command did provide any details about the plan to send female drill instructors from Parris Island, South Carolina, to San Diego.
“No female drill instructors have attended Drill Instructor School or trained recruits at Marine Corps Depot San Diego to date, though that is our goal for the future,” Stephenson said in the email.
Stephenson did say the Marine Corps has already learned a lot from the numerous mixed-gender companies that trained in South Carolina, which will be used to integrate San Diego.
“The Marine Corps has a wealth of information learned from the nine iterations of gender integrated companies that were trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island over the last year that will be used when gender integrated companies begin in San Diego,” he said.