The Marine Corps is nearing a milestone in its gender integration of recruit training.

In fiscal year 2024, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego — which used to train only male recruits — will have a gender distribution equal to that at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, according to Maj. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training and Education Command. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

The Corps is ahead of schedule: It initially projected reaching the equal distribution by fall 2026, Pena said via email to Marine Corps Times on Nov. 30.

Since 1986, the South Carolina boot camp’s 4th Recruit Training Battalion was the only unit that trained female Marines. Male recruits trained at either Parris Island or San Diego.

Congress’ 2020 defense authorization bill called for the Marine Corps to integrate recruit training by gender within five years.

In 2021, male recruits graduated from the 4th Recruit Training Battalion for the first time. The same year, female recruits for the first time graduated from Recruit Depot San Diego.

As the Corps shuffled some personnel to the West Coast, it closed 4th Recruit Training Battalion in June.

Although recruit training companies consist of both men and women, drill instructors and recruits within platoons remain of the same gender “to allow for proper execution of squad bay operations,” Pena said. Squad bays consist of several bunk beds in the same room.

Other military branches conduct co-ed training at the platoon-equivalent level, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

Less than one fifth of Marine recruits nearing the end of training said they would support integrating platoons by gender, a 2022 University of Pittsburgh-led study found.

“TECOM is committed to providing all Recruits with a standardized and rigorous training experience,” Pena said.

In 2022, 9.4% of active duty enlisted Marines were female, the lowest rate of all the military services, according to a Pentagon report.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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