The U.S. Marine Corps is considering scrapping its longstanding practice of having male and female recruits train separately during boot camp, after its first coed class reportedly graduated without a hitch.
What are the details?
On March 29, the Marine Corps' first mixed-gender training battalion graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. According to Military.com, the experiment of weaving female recruits into traditionally all-male units "could serve as a model for more co-ed training companies moving forward."
Lt. Gen. David Berger — the nominee for incoming Marine Corps commandant — addressed the issue during his Senate confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee Tuesday, saying such a policy change could occur sooner rather than later.
During the hearing, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) requested that Berger provide a brief summary of how the Parris Island experiment went, and asked, "If confirmed, based on those results, would you pursue further gender integration during Marine Corps basic?"
"That company graduated a few weeks ago," Berger replied, "We started with about 50 females as part of the company, as you're probably aware, ma'am. We measure the same things in every company that goes through there: how well they did physically, how many injuries they had, all those sorts of things.
"The statistics — to answer immediately, your question — for this company were the same as any other company," the nominee continued. "There were a few areas higher, a few areas lower, but it went great. The program of instruction that we use in the Marine Corps, we didn't change. We just changed where they were billeted, and it all worked out."
Berger said he had just spoken with the acting commandant about further gender integration.
"What I asked him is, we need to look at this perhaps for next year and he said 'absolutely.' So, I think it's a discussion he and I will have and the Marine Corps will have, but the class that entered in January and graduated a few weeks ago did very well," Berger said.
Military.com noted that Marine officer candidates already train together, but "the service remains the only branch to train its female and male enlistees in separate units."