Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Different Drill: Marines Still Segregate Men and Women

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Different Drill: Marines Still Segregate Men and Women

Article excerpt

ALONE AMONG the armed forces, the Marine Corps segregates its recruits - and their drill instructors - by sex.

When the Marines explain why they do it that way, nobody mentions fear of sexual harassment. Instead, the talk is about the most efficient way to make Marines.

"The transition from civilian to military life is pretty traumatic," says Lt. Col. Angie Salinas, who commands the 650 women recruits who make up the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, S.C. "It's an entirely new lifestyle," Salinas said in a phone interview last week. "We think the single-gender environment helps recruits to create a new military identity. "They're challenged within their own identity as women. And they have a woman as the ultimate role model - their drill instructor. To any Marine, the drill instructor is the one person you remember for your entire career." The other services integrate recruit training to some degree: The Army puts women together with men within the platoon - the key unit of 40 to 80 recruits who live and train together. The Navy generally follows the Army pattern. The Air Force lumps women into one platoon (the Air Force calls it a "flight") but integrates that flight with all-male flights in the next-higher level unit, called a squadron. There are exceptions. Army recruits in strictly combat specialities like infantry will train in all-male units. The Navy likes a 50-50 male-female split in its boot-camp platoons - but because fewer women than men join, many men go through boot camp in all-male platoons. The Army, Navy and Air Force all use men and women interchangeably as drill sergeants. A young male recruit may find himself being screamed at by a woman, while a young woman in the next platoon may be standing at nervous attention in front of a man. The Marine Corps stays with the old way, in which men train men and women train women. …

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