Secretary of the Navy orders gender-neutral Marine Corps boot camp, job titles

A detailed plan to integrate recruit training and Officer Candidate School is due January 15 and will be implemented by April.
By Fred Lambert Contact the Author   |   Updated Jan. 10, 2016 at 8:57 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps has been ordered to draw up plans for coed boot camp and Officer Candidate School following a recent move to open up all combat roles to female military personnel.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus sent the Jan. 1 memo to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, requesting a "detailed plan" for integrating genders in the branch's entry-level training.

"In this submission, identify where, if anywhere, this training is already integrated, where it is separate, and specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings," the Marine Corps Times quoted the memo as saying.

The plan is due Jan. 15 and is scheduled for implementation in April.

The same day, Mabus sent a second memo ordering a review of military occupational specialty titles to ensure they are gender neutral.

"The idea is not to go in there and change the name when 'man' is incorporated as part of the term," an official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Times, referring to iconic titles such as "infantryman," "rifleman" or "midshipman."

"... But when the word 'man' appears as a separate word ... they want that name to be changed," the official said.

The memo comes after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ordered all military occupational specialties open to women, without exceptions.

"They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat," Carter said at the time. "They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men."

Earlier calls for full gender integration in the U.S. military were met with the most resistance by the Marine Corps, which was the only branch to request that some combat fields remain closed to women.

Mabus rejected internal studies performed by the Marines that concluded mixed-gender groups performed less effectively than all-male units, saying biases toward women among those conducting the research steered the outcome.

In response, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote to Carter complaining that Mabus "openly disrespected the Marine Corps as an institution, and he insulted the competency of Marines by disregarding their professional judgment, their combat experience and their quality of leadership."

The Times quoted Commandant spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Dent as confirming the receipt of both letters and as saying the Marines are "working diligently to meet the intent of the Secretary of Defense's policy."

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