As more men and women train together at Marine Corps boot camp, the service is looking for a university that can complete an in-depth study of co-ed recruit training.
The Marine Corps is seeking info from public universities that can provide "objective, data-driven recommendations for policy change to enable better Entry Level Training (ELT) for Marine Corps recruits."
The notice was posted on the government contracting website FBO.gov last week.
The Marine Corps is looking for an academic study that focuses on four areas:
- Alternatives to the current Marine Corps recruit training model, which separates male and female recruits at the small-unit level at boot camp
- Costs associated with those alternatives
- The costs associated with the current model of separating men and women at boot camp versus then training together
- How perceptions about co-ed training might affect a prospective recruit's decision to join the Marine Corps.
Marine officials want the study to be reviewed by a university with no affiliation to the Defense Department. It would be due back to the Marine Corps by Feb. 1, 2021.
The notice states that the study on co-ed training should assume that men and women remain separated for their first phase of boot camp. Phase 1 is currently four weeks long, including receiving week when recruits arrive at the training depots.
In the three weeks that follow, they get lessons on military history, customs, uniforms, leadership and core values. They also learn basic first aid and practice close-order drill, hand-to-hand combat skills, and complete a swim week.
The notice also states those performing a study should assume men and women will remain separate at the platoon levels.
That's currently the case with the co-ed companies training together at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. They're assigned to the same company, which includes four all-male platoons and one that's just women.
The Marine Corps has been facing pressure from some in Congress to further integrate recruit training.
In June, Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and chair of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee, proposed an amendment that would prohibit separating men and women at the Marine Corps recruit depots.
The proposal would give the Marine Corps five years to make training at Parris Island co-ed, and eight years to start training women at its all-male recruit depot in San Diego.
"Fully integrating women is not only the right thing to do, it makes our military stronger," Speier said when introducing the measure. "The women Marines serving in recently opened combat positions that I have met are immeasurably brave, tough, and inspiring. Each of them have had to prove themselves, over and over again, to male peers and superiors."
This month, the Marine Corps began training its second and third co-ed companies at Parris Island. The first-ever co-ed Marine Corps recruit training company graduated at Parris Island in March.
Commandant Gen. David Berger told Military.com this summer more men and women would continue training together there.
Men and women at Parris Island do routinely train together, but not as part of the same company. Women are typically only assigned to 4th Recruit Training Battalion, which only trains female recruits.
The notice the Marine Corps put out last week on the academic study states the service "is committed to gender-integrated training to the greatest extent possible in accordance with relevant statutes."
The commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, it adds, has been tasked with "[developing] a study plan that encompasses the entry-level training transformation process, to include but not limited to, the extent and effectiveness of gender-combined recruit training and possible options to increase gender-integrated training during boot camp."
The study, the notice states, should leverage past research done on gender-integrated training dating back to at least 1992. Those doing the research will be called on to observe Marine Corps, Army, Navy and Air Force entry-level training, according to the notice.
Those interested in performing the study should submit their proposals -- 10 pages max -- to the Marine Corps by Friday.