Within 4th RTBn., there are three companies: November, Oscar and Papa. Each company contains an average of two, 50- to 60-recruit platoons. 4th RTBn. only trains female recruits, and companies are staffed exclusively by female drill instructors and officers.
Female Marines have trained on Parris Island since Feb. 23, 1949, when 3rd RTBn. was activated. On May 1, 1954, 3rd RTBn. was redesignated as Woman Recruit Training Battalion and remained under this designation until 1976 when it was redesignated as Woman Recruit Training Command. At that time, Woman Recruit Training Command moved to a new battalion complex, which it still occupies.
On Nov. 1, 1986, Woman Recruit Training Command was redesignated as 4th RTBn. and became part of the Recruit Training Regiment. During January 1989, the 3rd RTBn. companies were redesignated as November and Oscar Companies due to reorganization of the regiment. In October 1996, Papa Company was activated in order to more effectively train the larger number of female recruits arriving on Parris Island. The 4th RTBn. complex was expanded in November 2001 with the addition of a new barracks.
Recruit training is now identical for both male and female recruits, but this is a result of many significant changes over the last 25 years. Some of the key changes were:
- 1978-First females graduate from Drill Instructor School.
- 1985-Females began firing the M16-A2 for qualification, which added an additional three weeks to the female schedule.
- 1988-Basic Warrior Training/Marine Combat Training was incorporated into recruit training for females, adding another two weeks to their schedule.
- 1996-Female drill instructors were allowed to wear the campaign cover, replacing the scarlet shoulder cord.
- 1997-Marine Combat Training was removed from the female recruit training schedule with the introduction of the Crucible, resulting in the current 12-week schedule for both male and female recruits. Females Marines subsequently began attending Marine Combat Training at the School of Infantry in North Carolina prior to follow-on military occupational specialty training. Female Marines throughout the Marine Corps also started conducting the physical fitness test that mirrors the male PFT, adding additional physical training into the schedule.
Roughly 2,400 female recruits come through 4th RTBn. each year, trained by the very women who have seen and been part of the transformation that has brought us to where we are today.