The first batch of new female students arrived on Tuesday at Camp Pendleton to begin their required Marine Combat Training. The wave of female recruits is expected to increase to 1,700 new females added annually.
Recent graduate students of the Marine Corps’ Parris Island will become the first females enlisted to learn combat skills. The branch of training is called MCT-West—a part of the Marine Corp’s infantry training school.
Previously, they were sent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. However, the new military policy will transport all females who pass boot camp in the Western U.S. to Camp Pendleton.
The females arrived and were assigned to Golf Company of the Marine Combat Training Battalion. They will be fully mixed and integrated with the other male members of the unit for the entire 29-day course.
According to Training Command spokesperson Capt. Joshua J. Pena, the additional will not alter training in any way.
“Neither the course nor the training calendar will be altered at all because of this.”
MCT training is different from the hardened 59-day program required of Marines choosing to serve in full combat environments: rifle squats, machine gun teams, mortars, anti-tank weapon squads, and light armored vehicle crews.
MCT, on the other hand, teaches entry-level marksmanship, the proper reaction for an IED, basic first aid, and other important life-saving skills. In the past though, men at Pendleton trained alone.
The new initiative will change that, however.
“This initiative is part of a Marine Corps effort to enhance the entry-level training program for all Marines and to better reflect how the Marine Corps is structured in the operating forces,” explained Capt. Pena.
Many on the left signal that keeping men and women apart during training “sends a bad message” and “tells women they’re not good enough.” On the flip side, many others think it will simply lead to a decline in overall standards.
One commenter from Miliary.com follows the second crowd:
“The Critics of single gender boot camps are wrong. My experience has been that in integrated units, standards and goals will always go lower to compensate for the weaker members.”
In his view, segregation increases the training effectiveness at every level. Many veterans agree.
As military officials continue to roll out the new policy changes, the debate on genders in the military will likely continue to build.