University of Pittsburgh to study gender mainstreaming in Marine Corps training camps

Recruits from Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, clean their rifles during the Crucible at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC, September 24, 2020. The University of Pittsburgh is conducting a study to determine the best way to the Marine Corps to approach gender mainstreaming in its two training camps, the service announced Oct. 20, 2020 (Ryan Hageali / US Marine Corps)

WASHINGTON – The University of Pittsburgh is conducting a study to determine the best way for the Marine Corps to approach gender mainstreaming at its two training camps, the service said on Tuesday.

The study comes as the Marine Corps faces a looming deadline set in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that requires the end of service to training by gender within five years at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC , and incorporates training into the eight-year Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.

The Marine Corps wants “an independent and scientifically credible study of entry-level military training models to identify potential alternatives to increase gender mainstreaming in entry-level training,” Bradley Nindl, co-investigator principal and senior advisor for the study, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The study is a $ 2 million contract between the Marine Corps and the university’s neuromuscular research lab and the Warrior Human Performance Research Center, of which Nindl is the director. He is also a professor and vice-president for research in the school’s sports medicine and nutrition department.

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh will also partner on the study with the Department of Exercise Science, Insight Policy Research at the University of South Carolina and representatives. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland, according to the Marine Corps.

The study will begin Wednesday and is expected to last 18 months, according to Nindl. The results are to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but which is yet to be determined, he said.

“Synthesis of the results of this study by an entity outside the Department of Defense will ensure that the findings of the study are unbiased and that actionable recommendations are evidence-based. Reviewing the results through the peer review process will further corroborate the results, ”said Nindl.

The Marine Corps remains the only service that does not fully integrate recruits at all levels of training, and it only trains female recruits at Parris Island. Although the service has recently started bringing in male and female recruits at the company level at Parris Island, this is only done when there are a smaller number of female recruits during the slower training months.

The study will include interviews, focus group surveys, collection of data on physical performance, saliva samples for cortisol – a marker of stress, and monitoring of injuries, according to Nindl. One of the goals of the study is to examine “best practices” from other military services and see how they can be adapted to the Marine Corps, he said.

The study will focus specifically on “the sociological effects of increased gender integration and will examine training models that maintain the same level of discipline, fitness, attention to detail and camaraderie,” according to the Navy’s statement. Body.

Last month, Marine Commander Gen. David Berger said the Marine Corps faces two challenges in fully integrating training camps: finding enough female Marines to be drill instructors in every depot and infrastructure. recruitment.

Parris Island has limited barracks space for women, and San Diego doesn’t, so even getting women and men to train on both coasts can’t happen immediately, Berger said.

“It is certainly not as easy as building a few buildings, and we will be there,” he said of the infrastructure problems in the training camps.

In the meantime, the Marine Corps will conduct its own study in the winter by sending a group of female instructors to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to see how the service can train female recruits at the base for the first time, Berger said last. . month.

Despite the challenges, Berger said he would like to see as many companies as possible form platoons made up of men and women. @caitlinmkenney

About Michael G. Walter

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