Men walking on the famous yellow footprints at the Marine Corps“Historically, the all-male recruit depot on the West Coast will soon be accommodated by female drill instructors.

For the first time ever, female instructors could begin training men to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San DiegoCommandant General David Berger said Thursday. The move is part of a multi-year Congressional mandate the service faces to make its entry-level training a student.

“All of our female instructors are on the East Coast,” Berger said at an event hosted by Defense One. “… We will be doing some testing this winter moving drill instructors from South Carolina to San Diego [on temporary duty] and training recruits on the west coast to see how it will work. “

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Female drill instructors train at Marine Corps East Coast School to direct recruits only to Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Caroline from the south. It is not immediately clear whether the women who will be posted to San Diego this winter would train at the service’s West Coast Drill Instructor School, or be transferred to the California depot once their training is completed at Parris Island.

The National Defense Authorization Act 2020 requires the service to stop segregating interns by gender in Parris Island within five years and San Diego within eight.

Berger said the Marine Corps has a long way to go to meet the requirement, as half of all enlisted men who train on the West Coast “never see a female recruit.”

“Nothing in our current organization lends itself to integrated recruit training,” he said.

The Marine Corps began forming joint ventures at Parris Island last year, but the East Coast Recruiting Depot does not have the space to accommodate this setup during the busy summer months, when it receives an influx of interns after high school graduation. Men and women attending training camp at Parris Island interact with male and female instructors.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps released some of its plans to end gender segregation at training camp. The document says making the training of recruits a female student is a “top priority” for the service, adding that all-male recruiting firms formed only by men would become “obsolete”.

“The desired outcome of the Marine Corps for gender mainstreaming is that each male recruit trains alongside a female recruit within the same company,” reads the document, which was submitted to the Women in Service Advocacy Advisory Committee.

The Marine Corps has come under scrutiny for its tradition of separating men and women at training camp, especially after combat jobs open to women and the service faced a scandal that discovered disturbing ways The male Marines watched and treated their colleagues.

During the introduction of the measure that eventually became law, forcing the Marine Corps to move forward on plans to end the practice of separating men and women at training camp, Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, said the move would make the military stronger.

Speier is pushing for training camp to be integrated down to the peloton level. Until now, the mixed companies that completed their training at Parris Island have included all-male and female platoons.

Berger defended the concept Thursday, saying the Marines’ basic training differs from other branches in that it is continuous, with drill instructors living in the barracks with recruits, mentoring them and mentoring them “around the clock. “.

“In the other departments, the training day ends at a certain time, then you and I go back to our barracks, then the next training day is the next day,” he said. “Not in the marine world.

“So we’re comfortable where we are in terms of the level of integration,” Berger added.

– Gina Harkins can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ginaharkins.

Related: Here is the Marine Corps plan to end gender segregation at Boot Camp

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