More female recruits will head to San Diego as Marines shutter historic Parris Island battalion
Stars and Stripes May 4, 2023
The Marine Corps is deactivating its formerly women-only recruit battalion at Parris Island and will train more female Marines in San Diego, moves that come a year after the service completed a shift toward gender-integrated recruit companies.
The 4th Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina will close next month, the service said in a statement Wednesday.
The battalion was established in 1986 and was one of several all-female training units that existed at Parris Island from 1949 until recent years, when it opened to men.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger described the disbanding of the battalion as “a moment to celebrate progress.”
“I’m proud to see our male and female recruits benefit from having access to the quality of all our leaders … through an unchanging, tough and realistic recruit training curriculum,” Berger said in the statement.
All female Marine Corps recruits were trained at Parris Island until last year, when women began arriving for training at the service’s West Coast depot in San Diego.
Female recruits are expected to be split evenly between the two locations by next year, the Marine Corps statement said.
The Corps is the service with the highest percentage of men in the military. Fewer than 10% of active-duty Marines are women, according to the most recent Defense Department figures. The service was the last to train men and women separately.
A June 2022 Marine Corps study on gender-integrated recruit training found that it dispelled negative biases and stereotypes, while increasing trust, motivation and competition.
Meanwhile, survey respondents identified romantic distractions among recruits and physiological differences as some of the difficulties they experienced in mixed units.
Recruits reported wanting more integrated training, as well as mixed-gender drill instructor teams, according to the study.
The 4th Recruit Training Battalion will be deactivated during a ceremony June 15.
“It won’t be long before there are female drill instructors who, as recruits, graduated alongside their male counterparts,” Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Troy Black said in the statement. “They will train recruits and make Marines with that experience.”