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Integrating The Marines

 May 17, 2021 at 4:35 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, May 17th. >>>> What’s the next step for integrating marine bootcamp? We’ll have that next, just after the headlines…. ###### San Diego County public health officials have reported 108 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths. Latest numbers show about 63% of San Diegians are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the Sweetwater Union High School District says it will have vaccines available this week to all staff, and all students 12 and older. Those students will need parental consent, and either ID, or an accompanying parent or guardian confirm their age and identity. ######## The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s energy network, has stepped up energy supply and energy storage capacity ahead of this summer in an effort to avoid rolling blackouts. Severin Borensteen is the head of the energy institute at UC Berkely. He says rolling blackouts are un-likely, but could occur with intense heat waves. One difference this summer is the addition of batteries, which will allow the system operator to store electricity that was generated by solar operators during the day, and use it during times of peak demand. ######## May Gray weather continues today. Low clouds and light rain are expected in coastal areas, the western valleys and the mountains. It’ll be cool today with temperatures in the 60’s coastal and inland, high 80’s in the desert. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Now that one group of female marines has graduated boot camp in San Diego, the corps is still under a congressional deadline to end gender segregation. KPBS Military reporter Steve Walsh says the female recruits are moving faster than their leaders. 19 year old Emily Zamudio of Medera California is part of the first female platoon to graduate Marine boot camp in San Diego. The female platoon had the top scores in physical fitness and combat fitness -- over 5 male platoons in their company. “I’m just one step closer to being a better Marine, a better leader. This is just step one.” Female Marines call themselves The Fewer/The Prouder. Even fewer are in the infantry. “I love challenges. And finding out the infantry was a bigger challenge, I was like, give it to me. I want it.” Zamudio says the women felt accepted by their fellow male recruits in San Diego. She will soon head into an even more male-dominated environment. All the more reason she says to integrate Marines before they graduate out of boot camp: “I think getting us exposed as much as possible with each other would be beneficial when we get to the fleet. Which is another reason I think putting females in San Diego is a good start because the males that train here on the west coast don’t have any exposure to working with females.” In 2020, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California put a provision into the defense bill requiring the Marines to integrate the east coast boot camp at Parris Island South Carolina by 2025 and integrate San Diego by 2028. “I think the new younger generation gets it. It’s the baby boomers who are still stuck in this mindset that is 50 to 75 years old.” Speier says that means ending separate platoons the way the other services did years ago. The Marines continue to push back. Their leaders talk about having a secret sauce for building Marines...traditions built up over time...traditions that also have kept women from overseeing platoons of male recruits. “From before the time I was in the Marine Corps, I’ve always wanted to be a drill instructor.” Sgt. Ikea Kaufman was told she would never be a drill instructor in all-male San Diego -- Then last fall the Corp decided to experiment with having a platoon of women train on the west coast. Kaufman and two other women were quickly sent to drill instructor school. Their only option before the women arrived was to oversee a male platoon. “This is completely normal to me. I’ve been a part of sports all my life. Track basketball and that was all men and women...I’m one of nine, so I have five brothers, so this is nothing new to me, sir. I didn’t treat them any differently and they didn’t treat me any differently.” “I think the biggest lesson we learned is it can absolutely be done.” Colonel Matthew Palma is in charge of training at San Diego. The standards are the same as they would be for the men, but the Marines draw the line at ending gender segregation entirely. “There is something about our indoctrination process that is unique to us. I do think that keeping the squad bay the way it is, is going to be our position.” Keeping the squad bay the way it is means female-only platoons...and, despite the success of this recent class, female recruits are again on hold in San Diego. The law still says the Marine Corps must fully integrate by 2028. But senior Drill Instructor Amber Straoscik doesn’t want to wait that long. “There are people who don’t want to break away from tradition, but this isn’t breaking away from tradition. It’s introducing something to the tradition. It’s allowing us to be part of that, which ultimately could have been done a long time ago.” The Marines have asked the University of Pittsburgh to study how to integrate boot camp. The Marines hired the same university to study whether to allow women in combat roles - before the Defense Secretary ordered the Marines in 2015 to fall in line with the other services. Steve Walsh KPBS News. And that was KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on american military life and veterans. Funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting ########## Coming up.... The Navy wants to build high rise apartments in the Midway District, CDC says people who are vaccinated can go mask-free, and transitional kindergarten for all 4-year olds in California. We have all of that next just after the break. The Navy is looking to build some 10,000 apartments on its 70-acre facility in San Diego’s Midway District. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the project would also include a new transit center. AB: This is currently the home of the Navy's cybersecurity operations — an outdated warehouse from the 1940s. The Navy has been considering redeveloping the land for several years. Friday, it announced its preferred option: A row of high rise buildings with dense housing, office space and hotels. Revenue from that private development would fund a new cybersecurity headquarters for the Navy. And the regional transportation agency SANDAG would be able to fulfill its goal of building a "San Diego Grand Central" with a rail connection to the airport. CAPT. KENNETH FRANKLIN NAVAL BASE POINT LOMA COMMANDING OFFICER "This is an incredible opportunity for the navy and the community to work together, to not only provide SANDAG the modernized state of the art facility it needs, but also do something positive for the city of san diego." AB: A draft environmental impact statement also released Friday estimates the project would cause more congestion in the area. But Colin Parent of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego says the site's proximity to public transit and downtown still make it a better place for new housing than more suburban sprawl. COLIN PARENT CIRCULATE SAN DIEGO CP: We can and should look to using public transit and active transportation as a way to limit the number of car trips and reduce the number of car trips in big projects like this. And that's something that's part of the plan, but we should take a closer look to see how we can do more of that. AB: The public has 60 days to comment on the Navy's proposal, which does not need approval from the city. Two virtual town halls are planned for next month. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news. And that was KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen. ########## The California mask mandate remains in place but new CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear a face mask. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more about what this means for San Diegans. A step in the right direction for some Austin Scott, National City Resident “Yea it would be much nicer to not wear masks in doors as well, but i understand that it’s a process.” Austin Scott, an active gym member, says working out with a mask isn’t an easy feat, and with an increase of people now inoculated he believes the CDC is making the right move. Austin Scott, National City Resident “I do know we need to return to some type of normalcy eventually. So I do support taking the mask off.” The CDC says fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask and resume all indoor and outdoor activities. They also say social distancing isn’t needed for the fully vaccinated. The new guidance conflicts with California's state mandate, just this week Governor Gavin Newsom announced the masking mandate would remain in place until June 15. The California department of Public Health says they’re reviewing the CDC’s recommendations but the state’s mandate takes precedence. And while some people can’t wait to get rid of their mask collection, Isamara Duran, a local resident says she’s masking up regardless. Isamara Duran, San Diego Resident “I think it’s too soon. I think they still need to wear the mask. Even though you have the vaccine you still need to wear the mask because you can get the coronavirus still.” Tiffany Nguyen , a nail technician at Highland Nails in National City, says her nail salon isn’t relaxing safety protocols anytime soon. Tiffany Nguyen, Highland Nails “We need everyone to wear a mask and we wear a mask too. We have the cover right here to protect both of us.” Nguyen says no mask no service. “But I have the vaccine already, but I don't know about the customer. That’s maybe the young kids, right now, not everyone has the vaccine.” Big retail chains like Macy’s...CVS..and Walgreens all say they're reviewing their masking policy….however Trader Joes...Walmart...and Costco are the latest to ease masking requirements for locations where there are no state or masking mandates. San Diego County says they’re waiting for the state health department’s guidance before making any decision. Alexandra Rangel, KPBS news. ########## EVERY 4 YEAR OLD IN THE STATE WOULD GET ACCESS TO TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN UNDER A MAJOR EDUCATION SPENDING PLAN ANNOUNCED BY GOVERNOR NEWSOM LAST WEEK. KQED’S VANESSA RANCAÑO HAS MORE. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Allowing one cycle of female recruits to graduate from traditionally all-male San Diego is only the first step to fulfilling a Congressional mandate. Meanwhile, the Navy envisions a row of high rise, mixed-use buildings with a new transit hub on its 70-acre campus in San Diego’s Midway District. Plus, the CDC says fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask and resume all indoor and outdoor activities.