Marines could be ending longtime policy of separating male, female recruits during boot camp

The only service branch of the U.S. armed forces that separates its male and female recruits during boot camp could be ditching that practice as soon as next year.

Lt. Gen. David Berger, the general nominated to lead the Marine Corps, made the announcement Tuesday during a Senate confirmation hearing.

"I talked to the commandant this morning about it and... I said, 'We have to look at this for perhaps next year,' and he said, 'Absolutely,'" Berger said, according to Military.com. "I think it's a discussion that he and I will have -- and the Marine Corps will have."

The website says those in favor of the change have argued that separating the two genders during training creates instant divisions and has led to tensions among male and female Marines in recent years.

Marines with the mixed-gender India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina.

Marines with the mixed-gender India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. (Cpl. Vivien Alstad/Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island)

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Advocates for maintaining the status quo say it ensures that recruits don’t get distracted while forming bonds with their drill instructors.

The Marines appeared to test the proposed changes earlier this year when a mixed-gender training battalion – the first of its kind, comprised of one female platoon and five male platoons – graduated from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina.

Outside of the recruits being housed in different living quarters, the training regimen remained the same.

"Combining platoons into a single company this training cycle offered an initial opportunity to assess some opportunities, challenges, outcomes and achievements in training, logistics and resources," Jessica Hanley, a spokeswoman with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told Military.com.

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Berger has said that training class performed “very well.”

"The statistics... for this company were the same as every other company -- a few areas higher, a few areas lower -- but it went great," he said, according to Military.com.