The previously all-female 4th Recruit Training Battalion has graduated four of its first-ever male platoons alongside two female platoons and included the first male drill instructors assigned within the battalion.
On March 26, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, completed training and graduated with the coed mix at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, according to a Marine Corps statement.
Company staff included both male and female Marines. Platoon staff comprised of drill instructors of the same gender as the recruits they were training.
Previously male staff such as company and series commanders, first sergeants and chief drill instructors had been assigned to 4th Battalion. But the assignment of male drill instructors to Papa Company for the four male platoons was a first, according to the statement.
The Marine Corps is the last of the four services to integrate its entry-level training.
The Army began integrating its basic training in 1994, the Navy in 1992 and the Air Force in the mid-1980s.
Papa Company Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Gregorio Montes said male and female recruits training together in the same company is nothing new aboard the depot.
“The training is the same and the standards are the same,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your training company is … we’re doing the same thing, the same training evolutions. With [male drill instructors] being at 4th Battalion, we’re just bringing it to light. We’re going to show that we are training the recruits the same and making the same standard of Marine.”
Papa Company Commander, Capt. Adan Rivera, said in the press release that having males assigned to 4th Battalion showed that male and female recruits are held to the same standard.
“The recruits, when they go out and [conduct physical training], they will be side-by-side working out together,” he said. “When they go on the rifle range they’ll be shooting right next to each other.”
To brand-new recruits, it’s the first introduction to Marine Corps training so that’s just the way it’s done.
“I honestly didn’t pay that much attention to it,” Pfc. Jahlil Johnson said in the press release. “It was when we had the first meeting with the senior drill instructor, when he said, “you’re making history,” I was like … wow, okay this is a big thing. At first I don’t think anybody grasped what was going on, it was like “we’re here to train, let’s train.”
Historically, all female recruits were assigned only to 4th Recruit Training Battalion. That was until Jan. 5, 2019, following pressure from Congress, when India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, began its training cycle with one female platoon and five male platoons. Following that change, female recruits have been assigned to all four of the battalions at Parris Island, South Carolina.
From January 2019 to April 2020, the Parris Island, South Carolina, recruit depot completed nine training cycles with one all-female platoon and five all-male platoons.
In February, the Corps kicked off coed training at its only other boot camp, in San Diego. That also followed the integrated companies model with an estimated 60 female recruits forming a platoon with Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, alongside male recruits.
With the graduation of the coed 4th Battalion, the depot is now training its 15th coed company, Capt. Bryan McDonnell, depot spokesman, told Military.com.
The 4th Battalion squad bay is smaller than some of the other squad bays at Parris Island, South Carolina, McDonnell told Military.com.
Because more recruits arrive in the summer months, the depot had the right mix of male and female recruits to assign them to 4th Battalion and use that space, he said.
That’s because the coed companies live in the same barracks building but stay in different squad bays to sleep and bathe, he said.
Further integration is headed to the depots. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act gave Parris Island, South Carolina, five years and San Diego eight years to incorporate integrated male and female platoons, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
Female recruits have trained at Parris Island, South Carolina, since Feb. 23, 1949. They began as 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, which was redesignated in 1954 as the Woman Recruit Training Battalion. It was redesignated Woman Recruit Training Command in 1976.
A decade later, in 1986, the command then became 4th Recruit Training Battalion as part of Recruit Training Regiment. Papa Company was activated in 1996 to accommodate the higher number of female recruits arriving at Parris Island, South Carolina according to the Marine Corps statement.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.