Marine Boot Camp In San Diego Ready For First Female Recruits
San Diego is preparing for the first female Marine recruits who will arrive early next year. It is a historic moment in the 100-year history of Marine boot camp in San Diego, as the Marines slowly march toward integrating women into their basic training.
The Marines are under a Congressional mandate to end separate basic training for women. San Diego has eight years to integrate women. All female recruits currently train at Parris Island in South Carolina. In February, that will change with the arrival of the first platoon of 60 female recruits.
“All and all, recruit training is the same. The buildings are all the same. The training area is the same. There is not much we had to change,” said Col. Matthew Palma, commanding officer, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
In the short run, Palma said San Diego has done little more than covering windows in a barracks. Long term, San Diego wants the Corps to consider finding room to build a new barracks to accommodate women.
Critics have long charged that separating the sexes, while they learn what it means to be a Marine, has perpetuated a sexist culture, which can later lead to the harassment of women in the ranks.
“I think missing out on the opportunity to work alongside your fellow Marines in training, there could be the potential for biases. We try to deconstruct those biases in our instruction,” Palma said.
At San Diego, they try to expose marines to female leaders at MCRD, he said. The first three female drill instructors just recently graduated in San Diego. They will be part of the team used to train the first female recruits, along with other female drill instructors, some of them imported from Parris Island.
At the moment, the Corps is looking at every option, even creating a brand new, single boot camp at a new location. Palma stressed, opening up San Diego to women is still only a test. They have not been told whether they will continue to train female recruits beyond this historic, first class.
“I think while, although in practice it seems quite easy, there are things that we don’t know yet,” Palma said.
Part of the process of deciding how the Marines will finally integrate women during basic training.