The Marine Corps has announced that the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, which has been an all-female training unit since 1986, will be deactivated on June 15, 2023. The move is part of the Corps’ ongoing effort to integrate men and women into a single training pipeline at its iconic South Carolina training base.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island has trained recruits for over 100 years and holds a special place in the Corps’ history. Since 1949, it has been the sole base where all-female Marine recruits receive training, but until recently, that training kept the two genders separate. However, in 2019, the service graduated its first co-ed company of 50 Marines, marking a major step forward in the integration effort.
Until 2019, the 4th Recruit Training Battalion was the sole training unit for female Marine recruits. https://t.co/0kchHgPGYp
— Defense News (@defense_news) May 7, 2023
Despite the long history, the Marines have struggled to make progress on integrating their entry-level training over the last decade until Congress used its annual military policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to push the service along.
The 2020 NDAA required the Corps to stop separating trainees by gender at Parris Island within five years and at its recruit depot in San Diego within eight.
In recent years, Marine Corps memos have cited issues such as insufficient space and instructors as barriers to completing the integration. The decision to deactivate the female training unit, on the other hand, has been hailed as “a moment to celebrate progress” by the service’s top officer, Commandant Gen. David Berger.
“I’m proud to see our male and female recruits’ benefit from having access to the quality of all our leaders — at Parris Island and San Diego — through an unchanging, tough, and realistic recruit training curriculum,” Berger added in the press release.
Some reactions on the Parris Island social media accounts have noted that the move will help break down barriers between male and female Marines by making them go through an identical boot camp experience. “It won’t be long before there are female Drill Instructors who, as recruits, graduated alongside their male counterparts,” the Corps’ top enlisted official, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black, said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Marine Corps officials are aware of how the unit and its demise affect many female Marines. The branch plans a ceremony this summer at Parris Island “to formally deactivate the battalion, honor its legacy, and highlight the historic unit’s impact on the transformation of female Marines.”
The decision to deactivate the all-female Recruit Training Battalion marks a significant step forward for the Marine Corps in its efforts to build a more inclusive and diverse force.
While the move may be difficult for some, it is a necessary part of the ongoing effort to create a more equal and integrated Marine Corps. The upcoming ceremony at Parris Island will serve as a reminder of the unit’s legacy and the progress that has been made, as well as the work that remains to be done.